Astros’ Hunter Brown makes his case for a playoff roster spot

Hunter Brown #58 of the Houston Astros pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the second inning at Comerica Park on September 13, 2022, in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
Hunter Brown #58 of the Houston Astros pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the second inning at Comerica Park on September 13, 2022, in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images) /

Hunter Brown has a solid case for being on the Astros pitching staff come October.

The Houston Astros clinched the AL West Division title Monday night for the fifth time in the last six seasons. Hunter Brown threw three shutout innings in relief adding more credentials to his resume applying for a post season roster spot.

As the Astros continue to ride a dominating pitching staff to the overall best record in the American League, it almost seems unfair that Hunter Brown gets added as another amped up arm opponents have to deal with.

The old adage that you can never have enough pitching has finally been proven wrong by the 2022 Houston Astros who traded away a starting pitcher just to make room for all the talent they had in a six man rotation.

While Hunter Brown is the new kid on the block, he’s done nothing but impress in his short time in the major leagues. His numbers so far?

  • 2-0 record in two starts with three appearances boasting a 1.20 ERA over 15 innings pitched with 14 strikeouts against four walks with a 0.93 WHIP.
  • In three appearances Hunter Brown has already amassed a 0.6 WAR.

To put that in perspective last night’s starter who Brown relieved, Luis Garcia, has a 0.8 WAR over the entirety of the season in 26 starts.

Suffice to say Hunter Brown has impressed at the big league level. Has he impressed enough to get a spot on the playoff roster though?

Most likely not as a starter hence why the Astros tried him out of the bullpen last night coming in to start the sixth and go through the Rays batting order one time through.

He had his best numbers on the night against the top of the Rays order, with their 1-4 hitters going 0-5 against him with two strikeouts and three groundouts.

Brown clearly could be a solid option for a tandem start in the post season should an Astros starter be only able to make it five or six innings against an offense that works their pitch count up early. That would be especially helpful If the bullpen is fatigued in a series and Brown can come in and close a game out giving three to four innings.

Because of the Astros embarrassment of riches in the pitching department there are guys in the bullpen who have contributed at a high level to the team all year while Brown is the shiny new object Astros fans are all gawking over.

If Brown were to take a spot on the ALDS roster the assumption would be the Astros would only carry 12 pitchers for the shorter series meaning most likely the two guys out would be Phil Maton and Bryan Abreu.

While Maton’s regular season has been fine he was spectacular in October last year and has the best right handed arsenal for neutralizing left handed bats.

On the flip side Bryan Abreu has been lights out this year posting a 2.06 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 80 strikeouts across 56.2 innings pitched. But his postseason resume consists of 0.2 innings in the 2019 ALCS where he allowed two runs on two hits and two walks including giving up a home run.

That was obviously three years ago and Abreu is certainly a better pitcher now than he was then.

But if Brown is the future of your team would it not be wise to get him the postseason experience now especially if he seems to have the talent and ability to handle adrenaline?

Given how he pitched in his major league debut, then pitching in front of his hometown friends and family in Detroit for his second start, and now pitching against a potential playoff opponent on the road, he’s handled different levels of competition and adrenaline that make it seem as though he can handle whatever comes next.

Dusty Baker could also save him for the ALCS where in an elongated series of seven games could mean carrying 13 pitchers in case the series goes six or seven games. Nothing shows the value of a solid bullpen like last year’s ALCS against the Boston Red Sox.

Regardless Hunter Brown continues to put pressure on the rest of the roster as his high velocity fastball and slider mixed in with his devastating curveball make it hard to argue against him being added to an already stellar pitching staff.

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There’s still time left for everyone to make their case for a spot on the playoff roster, but Hunter Brown is pushing hard for his, and it’s hard to ignore.