Examining the role for Blake Taylor in Houston
We've discussed the Astros' bullpen ad nauseam over the last few days. From potential signings to power ranking available free agents, a good deal of discussion has revolved around potential upgrades for an already stout bullpen.
Houston does have a couple of internal candidates that could see more prominent roles in 2023, so we'll take a look at each.
First is a forgotten reliever that was limited to only 16 innings in 2022 before experiencing left elbow discomfort. Blake Taylor spent much of the year on the IL, but could play a much bigger role in 2023.
In his 16 innings of work, Taylor posted a 3.94 ERA and a 1.56 WHIP. His ERA was a big jump from his first two years in the league and he allowed hitters to make a much higher quality of contact than they had on him in prior years.
The inflated ERA could be due in large part to his extreme splits. Taylor again owned lefties in 2022, holding them to a .592 OPS and allowed only one extra-base hit--a double. Righties on the other hand touched Taylor up to the tune of a .250 batting average against and .726 OPS.
This was actually a less extreme split than his career numbers against righties and lefties. Over his three seasons, Taylor has all but neutralized lefties. They have hit only .159 with a .518 OPS. Righties have experienced a great deal of success on Taylor, batting .265 with a .785 OPS.
His struggles against righties severely limit his ceiling in the modern game. With the new three batter minimum, he is all but assured to see at least one right hander per appearance. Are his struggles against righties worth putting him on against a lefty when relievers like Ryne Stanek and Hector Neris dominated lefties from the right side? Likely not.
Is the demand for a left-handed reliever overstated? In all honesty, yes. Taylor carries a solid amount of potential, but his ceiling is limited until he learns to retire right handers. Taylor will liekly serve as an innings eater next season.
He will throw in games with Houston up big in the latter innings or trailing big and attempting to preserve the bullpen. Which is fine--every team needs an arm like this.
The Astros have a spot for Blake Taylor next year if they don't land a huge upgrade. And they could do far worse than him. Worst case, he's a slightly better than average innings eater. But if he can retire righties, he'll be an elite arm. We look forward to seeing Blake back next season.