Star Astros reliever toying with adding a new pitch heading into 2024 season

Adding a new pitch is never easy, but this Astros reliever is giving it a shot anyways.

Championship Series - Texas Rangers v Houston Astros - Game Seven
Championship Series - Texas Rangers v Houston Astros - Game Seven / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages

Spring training is the time to make changes and adjustments. For the Houston Astros, that mostly means that guys will be making slight mechanical adjustments or swing changes to get ready for the 2024 season. However, for Bryan Abreu, spring training could bring some more radical changes to how he goes about his business.

Coming into 2024, Abreu will again serve as a critical piece of Houston's late inning plans. With Hector Neris and Phil Maton leaving in free agency. Abreu is one of the few remaining reliable bullpen arms from 2023 and will be tasked with bridging the gap to veteran Ryan Pressly and, of course, new addition Josh Hader. For his entire big league career, he has done his job primarily throwing his upper 90s four-seam fastball and wipeout slider.

2024 is a new year, though, and it sounds like Abreu is toying with adding a changeup to his arsenal of pitches if it performs well this spring.

Astros' Bryan Abreu adding a changeup this season could unlock a ton of potential

Adding a changeup is often a change that pitchers make when they are trying to stay as a starter, and not a move that relievers typically bother making. However, Abreu revealed down at spring training that he used to throw a changeup before he was a pro, but scrapped it because he couldn't locate the pitch. After a lot of practice with it this offseason, he believes he has good feel for his changeup now and is hopeful that he can add the pitch back.

While adding a third pitch isn't something Abreu HAS to do to succeed (he has done just fine with his fastball and slider), adding a changeup could have some nice benefits. One, it would give him another weapon against opposing lefties. which could mean he could be used in more situations, especially when it comes to facing multiple left-handed hitters.

Second, having another change of pace pitch as a guy that throws hard would make him extremely difficult to time up. His fastball averaged 97.6 mph and his slider sat at around 87.4 mph. If he can throw and locate a changeup that maybe is in the 82-83 mph range, hitters' jobs get a whole lot harder against him.

Ultimately, we will know soon enough if Abreu's changeup is good enough for prime time. While the Astros' bullpen is still somewhat in flux, his spot is assured and you can bet on seeing him throw some changeups this spring to see if he can make it a permanent weapon going forward.

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