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.

Houston Astros Workout
Houston Astros Workout / Rich Storry/GettyImages
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Forrest Whitley

Forrest Whitley was once one of the top prospects in the game of baseball. Ill-timed injuries and suspensions, as well as a loss of control, have done plenty to curb Whitley's once-bright future, but as we argued they should have done ahead of 2023, the Astros are finally converting Whitley to a reliever in 2024.

His stock isn't what it once was, but Dana Brown has been bullish on Whitley's chances with his pure stuff. He said Whitley has a chance to throw somewhere between the fifth and seventh innings.

He may not go on to become a Hall of Famer like Goose Gossage or Rollie Fingers, or even an All-Star like Jason Isringhausen, but there is plenty of precedent for failed starters becoming relievers as they crack the bigs. Whitley will have every chance to do just that.

Parker Mushinski/Seth Martinez

It's a safe bet one of Parker Mushinski or Seth Martinez will crack the Opening Day roster. Both have been shuttled back and forth between Triple-A and the big-league club the last couple of seasons. With Hader in the fold, and the addition of Sousa, Mushinski may be on the outside looking in, as Houston is unlikely to carry three lefties on their Opening Day roster.

Martinez isn't going to be a leverage arm for the Astros, but every team needs an arm that can throw multiple innings when a team is winning big or getting blown out. Martinez is a proven innings eater, and he's likely to crack the Opening Day roster. His 5.23 ERA was high in 2023, but he's only one year removed from a 2.09 ERA across 29 games in 2022.