With pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training Wednesday, the Houston Astros will look to sort out their bullpen early on. It is a continuously fluctuating area every season and is no different heading into 2019.
For the Astros, this is an area of the team that is always experiencing turnover. There are always new pitchers joining the team via free agency and trades, most of the time during the Winter Meetings. However, this past Winter Meetings saw little movement from Houston. Thus, most of the arms are returning from last season’s roster with more competition from the minor league invitees.
Houston Astros 2019 Bullpen
With the recent news of SP Wade Miley signing with the Astros on a one-year deal, this leaves only one spot left in the starting rotation. This makes the competition in the bullpen that much more interesting
Brad Peacock is expected to take the final spot in the starting rotation. With some other guarantees of Josh James and now Chris Devenski signing one-year arbitration deals, that leaves only four more spots on the 25-man roster for the bullpen to fill out.
A dangerous arm
Lefty Framber Valdez burst onto the scene in 2018 for the Astros. Valdez had a short time to impress when he made his MLB debut on August 21, 2018. In just over one short month of action, Valdez threw a 2.19 ERA alongside a record of 4-1 on the season. In those eight appearances (five starts) by Valdez, he struck out 34 batters in his 37.0 innings pitched.
A lot of his strikeouts, 11 of his 34 to be exact, have come from the bottom left corner, outside the strike zone. He can fool batters and make them chase at a pitch that is not hittable, thus being able to contribute to the low ERA. Look for him to make a big impact in 2019.
Too many pitchers
For the Astros, it seems like they have too much talent in the bullpen. That is something that has not been the case for Houston until recently. With pitchers like Ryan Pressly and Reymin Guduan, Houston will have some good competition this spring with multiple arms trying their hand at the major league roster for Opening Day. Of course, prospect Forrest Whitley will be trying his hand at the major league roster. His best chance now is to make it as a bullpen arm to start the year as a long reliever.
Opening Day Roster Prediction
As previously mentioned, the bullpen is a hotbed of competition this Spring. Devenski will most likely take the closer role, putting Roberto Osuna as the set-up man in the seventh and eighth innings. Valdez and James will be the two long-relievers in the bullpen. With two spots left, it will be Joe Smith as another option in the set-up role/short-reliever. With that final spot in the rotation and the 25-man roster, it will be Hector Rondon that will fill in a short-reliever role to fill out the six bullpen arms to start 2019.
The Astros enter this season with legitimate World Series aspirations thanks to a powerful lineup and dangerous rotation. Fans will only hope Houston’s 2019 bullpen can complement the team during a deep playoff run.
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