Astros Opening Day roster projection 2.0: Top reliever absent, new starter emerging?

Opening Day is less than three weeks away.
Houston Astros starting pitcher Cristian Javier (53) pitches
Houston Astros starting pitcher Cristian Javier (53) pitches / Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports
4 of 4

Astros Opening Day bullpen (8)

  • Josh Hader
  • Rafael Montero
  • Seth Martinez
  • Brandon Bielak
  • Ryan Pressly
  • Bennett Sousa
  • Parker Mushinski
  • Joel Kuhnel (NRI)

The Astros bullpen will be missing top reliever Bryan Abreu on Opening Day. For those who've forgotten, MLB handed down a two-game suspension after Abreu hit Texas Rangers slugger Adolis Garcia during last year's ALCS. Rather that suspend Abreu during the postseason, his punishment was deferred until the regular season.

But the back end of the bullpen should be able to hold up until he returns. While the Astros will be without Kendall Graveman, Houston is now home to one of the best relievers in the game after inking Hader to a five-year, $95 million contract this offseason. He'll be joined by Ryan Pressly, who'll now operate in the eighth inning as Houston's setup man.

Montero is looking to bounce back after a rough go of it last season. He's likely to be joined by the left-handed duo of Bennett Sousa and Seth Martinez. Both southpaws have performed well this spring.

The final few spots in the bullpen are up for grabs. Mushinski has looked good so far, and Kuhnel continually pounds the strike zone with 95-plus. Both pitchers have an inside track to find a home in the Houston bullpen heading into Opening Day.

Look for the Astros to give that final spot to Bielak. The right-hander is out of minor-league options and could act as the long man with Houston set to play 20 games in 21 days to begin the 2024 season.

More Astros News from Climbing Tal's Hill