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Houston Astros World Series: Closer Ryan Pressly Keeps Coming up Big

Paul Conlon
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - NOVEMBER 02: Ryan Pressly #55 of the Houston Astros delivers a pitch against the Philadelphia Phillies during the ninth inning in Game Four of the 2022 World Series at Citizens Bank Park on November 02, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - NOVEMBER 02: Ryan Pressly #55 of the Houston Astros delivers a pitch against the Philadelphia Phillies during the ninth inning in Game Four of the 2022 World Series at Citizens Bank Park on November 02, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /
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While not the hardest thrower or biggest name, Ryan Pressly might be one of the most dominant closers in the history of the Houston Astros.

10 years into his career, take a look at what he has accomplished as he helps lead the Astros to World Series victory.

It’s hard to overstate what Ryan Pressly has meant to the 2022 Houston Astros. The 33-year-old right-hander has contributed his relief pitching efforts to two no-hitters this season and has yet to allow an earned run in the playoffs. And while pitching in the second no-hitter in World Series history—as well as directly benefiting from Chas McCormick’s phenomenal World Series catch—might bring the Texas native the most attention, perhaps Pressly has gone under the radar for what he means to the Astros’ on-field success.

Quite possibly the loaded Astros squads of the last half decade do not advance so deeply into the playoffs without him. Consider this—going into Game Six of the World Series, Pressly has pitched in exactly 40 playoff games in his career, all in an Astros’ uniform, boasting a career postseason ERA of 2.63. He averages 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings and collectively holds opposing hitters to a stingy .186 batting average.

In an era of baseball where closers are often valued above all else for how fast they throw, it’s hard not to appreciate Pressly for dominating with a moderately above average 96-mph fastball. His on-field success demonstrates that while pitching velocity can be important, so are location and movement.

And movement is precisely Pressly’s bread and butter. According to Baseball Savant, Pressly’s curveball and fastball spin rates rank as some of the very best in baseball. Meanwhile, his fastball-slider-curveball-change up repertoire keep hitters off-balance and guessing.

Over the last three years, Pressly has found his calling as a closer, accumulating 76 saves. However, before that he only earned one save throughout his entire career while pitching for Minnesota before becoming an Astro. The question remains—was he undiscovered for the role of a closer or was he still developing?

Nevertheless, Astros manager, Dusty Baker, obviously recognizes Pressly’s importance in achieving a championship. The 6-2 righty has been called upon to pitch in four of the Astros’ five World Series games so far against the Phillies.

After 10 years of stats to decipher, the case can be made that Pressly is now elite. For the ’22 regular season, he finished seventh in the majors among all closers by securing 33 saves. Among the six closers who finished the regular season ahead of him in saves, none surrendered less walks than Pressly, while only one closer, Cleveland’s Emmanuel Clase, surrendered less hits.

Indeed—Pressly features impressive control. In 499 career regular season games, he has hit only 10 batters. And of the 2,162 batters Pressly has faced in the regular season throughout his career, he has only allowed 156 walks. In effect, when the Astros have needed a key out, opposing hitters have at-best about an eight percent chance of walking against the two-time All-Star.

Ryan Pressly has now completed 10 MLB seasons. In 528 career innings of work, he has accumulated a very respectable 3.20 career ERA. And within three of his last four seasons, Pressly has proven his durability, giving the Astros at least 50 appearances and finishing with a sub-3.00 ERA.

Pressly’s ’22 postseason

During Pressly’s nine games of action in the ’22 postseason, the veteran righty has pitched 10 innings, surrendered three hits, and fanned 13 batters—all while averaging more than 12 strikeouts per nine innings.

Facing the Phillies in the World Series, Pressly has allowed no runs, one hit, and struck out five. Moreover, against Philadelphia’s talented offense, Pressly’s walks plus hits per inning pitched sits at a ridiculously low .429.

To put that WHIP statistic into context, usually anything below 1.00 is considered elite. But to be less than .50 speaks to Pressly’s on-field dominance. Sure—it’s only a limited sample size because those numbers come from only four games of World Series action against the Phillies, but Pressly seems locked in and in the prime of his career, ready to help close out the ’22 World Series in the Astros’ favor.

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