Ryan Pressly meltdown is more evidence Astros badly messed up bullpen hierarchy

What has happened to Ryan Pressly?
Houston Astros pitcher Ryan Pressly (55) is taken out of the game. Mandatory Credit: Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports
Houston Astros pitcher Ryan Pressly (55) is taken out of the game. Mandatory Credit: Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports / Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

It's impossible to throw the Houston Astros' entire late-game collapse at the feet of Ryan Pressly, but the right-hander is certainly partly to blame for the 4-2 loss at the hands of the Seattle Mariners.

Pressly, and the porous Astros defense, ruined an outstanding outing from struggling Astros starter Hunter Brown. The 25-year-old pitched arguably his best game of the season with six innings of four-hit ball. Brown allowed just one run and struck out nine Mariners batters.

But it all fell apart in the eighth inning with Pressly on the bump. The reliever blew his fourth save of the season, and Astros fans are wondering where the bullpen goes from here. Is it time for Pressly's role to change once more?

Should Bryan Abreu replace Ryan Pressly as the Astros setup man?

The Astros (somewhat) blindsided Pressly with the addition of Josh Hader this past offseason. It's hard to complain when the front office brings in one of the best closers in the game, but for Pressly it was a bit of a slap in the face. While the former closer took the demotion to being the Astros setup man in stride, it's possible Pressly harbors a bit of resentment with his current role on the team because this year has not gone well for him.

But it may be time for Astros manager Joe Espada to reshuffle the bullpen once more. With Hader having cemented his role as Houston's closer, should Espada to hand the reins of setup man over to Bryan Abreu? The right-hander came on in the seventh inning of Tuesday's game and dispatched of the Mariners' hitters in 1-2-3 fashion with a pair of punchouts.

In 27 appearances out of Houston's bullpen, Abreu owns a 3.25 ERA and 40 strikeouts. Pressly's stats are much less flattering with a 5.31 ERA over 20.1 innings pitched. Pressly has made 22 appearances on the season and has struck out 28 batters.

Ryan Pressly has not looked like the pitcher than Astros fans know and love

Pressly is not getting hitters to chase pitches outside the strike zone at the same rate they were last season, and that's likely why his ground ball rate has dropped as well. Last season, Pressly's 35% chase rate was among the best in baseball, but that number has fallen to 31.9% in 2024.

Abreu, on the other hand, is one of the top strikeout artists in the game. The 27-year-old is striking out one of every three batters he faces and has a 34.3% whiff rate, according to Baseball Savant.

The numbers suggest that a change might be in order, but does Espada have the guts to make a move? It seems unlikely, but how many more games does Pressly have to give away before the Astros' skipper wises up and inserts Abreu into the setup role?

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