3 relievers Astros should target after Giants took Jordan Hicks off the market

With Jordan Hicks off the board, who can the Astros turn to on the relief pitcher market?

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Jordan Hicks
Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Jordan Hicks / Jason Miller/GettyImages
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3. Astros should target free agent RHP Robert Stephenson

Robert Stephenson has been flying under the radar this offseason, and it's a bit of curious situation. Stephenson was 3-4 with a 3.10 ERA in 60 outings last season. Stephenson only logged 52.1 innings, but the numbers speak for themselves.

Stephenson owned a 38.3-percent strikeout-rate and 46.3-percent whiff-rate. Quite simply, Stephenson was a strikeout machine for the Tampa Bay Rays last season. SInce making the move from the rotation to the bullpen, Stephenson has often operated as a two-pitch pitcher with a fastball/ slider combo.

But last season, the right-hander added a cutter and went back to changeup as well. Stephenson was still able to keep his heater in the upper-90s, but turned to his cutter over 40-percent of the time.

The former first-round pick never found much success with the Cincinnati Reds, and was traded to the Colorado Rockies after the 2021 season. Unsurprisingly, his numbers skyrocketed in Denver's thin air, but Stephenson saw his numbers come back to earth after landing with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and redeemed himself this past season with the Rays.

The Philadelphia Phillies have been linked to Stephenson this offseason, as have other ball clubs. So if the Astros want to add the hard-throwing righty, now would be good time to get a deal done.

Slowly but surely, the relief market is beginning to dry up. Once the floodgates open, the Astros don't want to be left picking over the scraps. It's time for Houston to make a move and go get a solid reliever.

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