This is not to blame the crash and burn of the bullpen on one man, Chris Devenski, because the failure lately has been a team effort similar to the team’s offensive production. But just in the wrong direction. Devo was the poster boy for how good the bullpen was and now he is a focal point for how much they are struggling. So let’s take a quick look at Devenski and at other members of the bullpen.
Devenski. His overall numbers for the season are good to very good (2.82 ERA, 0.841 WHIP, 11.7 K/9 IP in 44 games and 60 IP). But a few numbers highlight his recent struggles. In his last 10 appearances he has a given up four HRs and has a 7.00 ERA. In his first 34 appearances he had given up four HRs and had a 2.09 ERA. In his first 37 games he only allowed 4 of 22 inherited runners to score. In his last seven games he has allowed 5 of 10 IRs to score. In his first 12 games he was striking out 16.4 batters per 9 IP. In his last 32 games he is striking out just under 9 per 9 IP. Is it overwork? Well not lately – he has only gone 2 IP twice in his last 12 appearances and has pitched less than 1 IP four times in those 12 games.
Michael Feliz. It is hard to remember that through June 5, Feliz had been one of the better members of the bullpen with a sterling 2.10 ERA in 23 appearances and allowing 6 of 17 inherited runners to score. Since then he has a 9.00 ERA in 19 appearances and has allowed 7 of 9 inherited runners to score. His ERA has soared to 5.04 and his WHIP has bloated to 1.478. He is on the DL with throwing shoulder soreness which might be a good explanation of what has happened to the young man.
Will Harris and Brad Peacock. In his 2+ seasons with the Astros, Harris has been all you could ask out of a reliever who was asked to man the seventh, eighth and occasionally the ninth inning. His numbers are sterling with the Astros (2.23 ERA, 0.967 WHIP, 4.19 Ks/walks in 168 appearances). So his absence as he fights shoulder soreness opens a big hole in the late inning pecking order of the Astros’ bullpen. Similarly, Peacock’s very successful role as substitute starter has opened another gash in the bullpen that is not being filled successfully at this time.
Tony Sipp. The good news is that Tony has taken that really bad 1.603 WHIP of 2016 and reduced it to a decent 1.313 in 2017. Unfortunately, the bad news is his bad 4.95 ERA has risen to a brutal 6.47 ERA this season. Left handed batters have a poor .226 BA against him, but a very good .810 OPS. Now the Astros went out and traded Nori Aoki and Teoscar Hernandez for Sipp’s rental replacement Francisco Liriano and in his first appearance he gets out a RH batter (good) and then gives up a hit and a walk to two left-handed batters (bad) on the way to losing a precious lead to the Rays.
James Hoyt/Francis Martes/Reymin Guduan/Dayan Diaz. With the absence of Harris and Peacock – folks like Hoyt, Martes, Guduan and Diaz have had to make 63 appearances out of the bullpen. This has resulted in some ups and more downs over the last quarter of the season. Folks are getting experience, but games are being lost too.
The bullpen as a whole. With the exception of Ken Giles who has been strong lately, the Astros’ bullpen has been a shambles and has fallen from an early season perch in the top 3 in the AL to where they have the 12th best ERA at 4.44 and as they say, with a bullet…..downward.
What can be done?
A few thoughts:
- Looking down….. maybe bring up Jumbo Diaz, Brendan McCurry or Kevin Comer or bring back James Hoyt?
- Looking outward ….. see if there is a good reliever that can pass through revocable waivers and who can be had for the rest of the season?
- Looking forward….the team really needs Will Harris back and probably need to send Brad Peacock back to the bullpen when and if Lance McCullers returns to the rotation.
What do you think?