The bullpen will take a huge step back next season
Now to the bad news. While the Astros had some quality arms in the the back of their bullpen in 2023, the group was middling as a whole. Houston's bullpen ranked just 18th by fWAR in baseball last season and 17th in FIP despite having the sixth best bullpen ERA in MLB.
The Astros' relief corps does return key contributors Ryan Pressley and Bryan Abreu in 2024 which is great. However, they lost one of their best relievers in Hector Neris when he opted for free agency along with Phil Maton and Ryne Stanek. Altogether, that means Houston has to find a way to cover for the loss of guys that accounted for 185 bullpen innings last year.
Complicating matters is that the Astros' payroll situation means that quality replacements for those guys may not be coming. Houston was connected to free agent Jordan Hicks before the Giants scooped him up and Robert Stephenson makes logical sense as another option, but there hasn't been any indication that the Astros are willing to pull the trigger on a deal for a reliever that costs real money especially with Rafael Montero's ill-advised deal still fresh on their minds.
Even if the Astros add a bullpen arm, expect some regression for the group in 2024. Despite having the guys they had in the 'pen last year, Houston's relievers were lucky to significantly outperform their FIP in 2023 and now with some of their more reliable relievers now set to sign elsewhere, it looks like Houston's luck has finally run out.