Like many teams, the Astros' 40-man roster is loaded with arms. Depth at pitching is an asset in the big leagues, as virtually every team will have to cycle pitchers in and out to cover innings over the course of a 162-game season. However, that also means that a lot of the arms that get carried on the 40-man roster both are the most expendable players and are also the guys most likely to clear waivers. Parker Mushinski fits the mold of a guy that could find himself getting shuffled off the roster in such a way.
Mushinski's limited big league playing time hasn't been terrible overall. In 21 appearances total over the last couple of years, he has posted a 4.91 ERA while striking out around a batter an inning. However, walks have been an issue for him in the minor leagues, and his Statcast profile points to some troubling trends regarding the quality of contact against him and his decidedly mediocre stuff. Given the Astros' other bullpen options available just on the 40-man alone, Mushinski is a guy the Astros could afford to lose, even if he doesn't clear waivers.
Kessinger is in a very similar boat to Hensley. In very limited playing time in the big leagues in 2023, Kessinger didn't do much to inspire confidence. He offensive numbers in the minors were respectable and he did hit for some power in 2022, but he has some lingering hit tool questions and his path to playing time is obstructed with Cabbage and Dubon around.
Complicating matters, the Astros have help from the minor leagues, and that help has a higher ceiling than Kessinger. Zach Dezenzo, Will Wagner, and Pedro Leon are lurking close to the big leagues, with first-round pick Bryce Matthews being a college bat that could move up quickly as well. If the Astros didn't have infield options, keeping Kessinger around would make sense. As things stand, he looks like 40-man filler.