Astros fans' biggest fear rears its ugly head after back-to-back losses to Yankees

Houston, we have a problem, and it's the bullpen.

Houston Astros relief pitcher Tayler Scott (50) reacts
Houston Astros relief pitcher Tayler Scott (50) reacts / Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Astros have had a difficult time scoring runs, and a difficult time keeping them off the board. One of those issues is sure to iron itself out, while the other could be problematic for the entire 2024 season.

The Astros can't seem to score runs outside the first inning. Through the team's first two games, Houston has just one after after the first frame. The Astros plated three of their four runs on Thursday during the first inning, and their only run during Friday's loss to the New York Yankees came in the first inning.

But 'Stros fans know that Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, and Kyle Tucker will get going soon enough. That shouldn't be a concern. However, the bullpen is already 0-for-2 this season, and that should scare the pants off Astros fans hoping to see their team return to the postseason in 2024.

Astros bullpen struggles once again in loss to Yankees

On Opening Day, it was Rafael Montero and Ryan Pressly who gave up the Astros' lead. On Friday, it was Tayler Scott. That trio of relievers has allowed four hits and four runs while issuing four walks and striking out just one batter through the first two games of the season.

The Astros entered the offseason with three of their top relievers hitting the open market. Rather than attempting to re-sign one of Phil Maton, Ryne Stanek, or Hector Neris, the Astros decided to go big game hunting. Houston inked Josh Hader, one of the top closers in the game, to a five-year, $95 million contract. But that deal will be worthless if the other seven relievers in the Astros bullpen can't hold the lead going into the ninth inning.

Parker Mushinski also pitched a disastrous game, and any hope the Astros had of coming back faded away after the left-hander allowed four runs on three hits in the eighth inning. Houston's one-run deficit became insurmountable after the Yankees took a 6-1 lead into the bottom of the inning. Only two of those runs were earned following a throwing error from Jeremy Peña and one on Mushinski himself.

The Astros will get some reinforcements ahead of Saturday's game against the Yankees with Bryan Abreu returning from a deferred two-game suspension he served following a postseason altercation with Texas Rangers' slugger Adolis Garcia. But Abreu's presence alone won't save the Astros if the rest of the relief corps can string together some quality innings.

More Astros News from Climbing Tal's Hill