Relievers are volatile. Look no further than Rafael Montero. Houston gave Montero a three-year, $34.5 million contract extension this offseason.
Montero was fantastic in 2022, recording a 2.37 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. His playoff ERA was 1.93 and he continually performed when given the ball by Dusty Baker in October. But in the first seven seasons of Montero's career, he posted a 5.18 ERA and 1.56 WHIP, striking out only 8.9 batters per nine.
This year has looked more like the first seven seasons for Montero than 2022. Montero has thrown 53 innings this year, posting a 5.26 ERA and 1.45 WHIP. And those numbers have come down from where they once were.
Since July 1, Montero has a 1.88 ERA. Again, relievers are volatile.
But the Astros have a proven and consistent one on their roster, and an off-season reunion would be prudent.
The Astros have to bring back Hector Neris this off-season.
Houston can afford to let Ryne Stanek walk. They maybe can even get by without Phil Maton's rubber arm. But Neris is an arm they can't afford to lose. In 10 seasons, Neris has a 3.33 career ERA. He strikes out 11.3 batters per nine for his career and limits opposing traffic.
As an Astro, Neris has recorded a 3.00 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. He limits hard contact and is as durable as they come.
And of course, he was lights out in the playoffs, posting a 1.50 ERA and allowing only two hits in October.
To use the Astros "back of the baseball card" language, a high-dollar extension for a reliever with as rocky of a track record as Montero wasn't wise. But Neris has proven himself year after year. The bad contracts of Montero and Abreu cannot dissuade them from exercising Neris' club option (and looking into a possible extension). With so many relievers hitting free agency this offseason, the Astros need to do what it takes to bring Hector Neris back.