Previewing the Astros' bullpen candidates who could replace Neris, Stanek, and Maton

The Astros back of the bullpen is elite. Before the game gets to Abreu, Pressly, and Hader, there are plenty of questions.

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Houston Astros Workout / Rich Storry/GettyImages
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Dylan Coleman

I believe the Astros stole Dylan Coleman this offseason. They capitalized on the Royals' 40-man roster crunch to land their next pitching lab restoration project.

Coleman recorded a 2.66 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 156 ERA+ from 2021-22. He walked 4.6 batters per nine, a pretty high rate, but his high-octane fastball and wipeout breaking ball pointed to a bright future. The wheels came off in 2023, as Coleman recorded an 8.84 ERA with a 2.02 WHIP. He lost total control of his fastball, walking over nine batters per nine innings.

A change of scenery should suit Coleman well. Maybe he never reclaims the form he displayed his first two years in the bigs, or maybe he does. Either way, he was a no-risk pickup.

In 14 appearances last year, Parker Mushinski recorded a 5.52 ERA. Joel Kuhnel posted a 4.66 ERA with a sky high 6.57 FIP. Seth Martinez had a 5.23 ERA in 35 appearances. The aforementioned Montero had a 5.08 ERA in 68 appearances. Even if Coleman doesn't top his 2021-2022, after an offseason with the Astros, he should have no issues topping the numbers many of the Astros middle relief arms posted in 2023.

Bennett Sousa

Look for Bennett Sousa to break out in a big way in 2024. He was unhittable in his brief Astros tenure, allowing only one hit in his 6.1 innings of work, striking out eight and walking none. Sousa floated around the league as a waiver claim, but he found something in Houston.

Sousa was ineligible for the playoff roster, but Dana Brown was adamant he would have made the team had he been eligible.

There is a lot to love under the hood with Sousa, in particular his slider. The Astros' landing of Hader gave them a surefire wipeout left-hander, but Sousa likely can eat innings to the tune of a mid 3.00-mid 4.00 ERA and neutralize lefties over the course of 162. He's likely found a permanent home in Houston.