#5 Rafael Montero
It's safe to say the Rafael Montero contract won't age well in Houston. Let's be clear--expecting Montero to repeat his 2022 season would be silly, but there are signs that Montero was a better pitcher than the numbers showed in 2023.
His 5.08 ERA and 1.53 WHIP simply cannot happen again in 2024. If he's going to get paid closer money, he needs to perform. His 4.46 FIP and 4.61 xERA say he was slightly better than his performance.
He showed signs of regaining form in the second half. After a nightmare 6.57 first half ERA, he posted a much more tolerable 3.10 ERA in the second half.
Although Montero has always been an erratic performer and probably shouldn't have gotten the crazy contract he did, it was an uncharacteristically high 9.7% walk rate that did him in. If Montero can get his BB/9 back to around the 3.0/3.1 number he'd sat at from 2019-2022, he'll perform much better in 2024.
It's unlikely he puts together a dominant year and justifies the big contract he signed, but look for his numbers to more closely mirror those of Ryne Stanek last year. With the Astros needing to rebuild their bullpen, an uptick in Montero's performance is an absolute must.