Is this a make or break semi-season for Chris Devenski?

Many players have up and down years in their careers. For Chris Devenski, the 29-year-old, who joined the Astros from the White Sox in the Brett Myers trade way back in 2012, it has been more like up followed by a steady downward trend.

Devenski and his hard to hit changeup made the team out of Spring Training (what no Summer Camp?) in 2016 and was nails as he came in 4th in the Rookie of the Year contest. That season in 108 innings he went 4-4 with a sparkling 2.06 ERA and 0.914 WHIP pitching mostly in relief along with five starts. He was still very good in 2017 making the All-Star team as a setup man with a 2.68 ERA as his strikeouts rose from 8.6 to 11.2 K/ 9 IP, but his HR rate quadrupled as it rose from a minuscule 0.3 to 1.2 / 9 IP.

Things only worsened from there in 2018 as his ERA went up to a so-so 4.18, his HRs/ 9 IP went up to a poor 1.7/ 9 IP and his hits per 9 IP rose from 5.6 to 8.0. In 2018 he also missed significant time with a hamstring injury, which probably affected his performance. In 2019, the guy who had been a high leveraged performer in his first four seasons was still being used, but not nearly as trusted as his ERA bloated to 4.83. He seemed to see more time in games that were already decided either way and he had become eminently hittable.

This season, even if it is a short one is critically important to Chris Devenski. The opportunity is there for him. Will Harris, who was the best pitcher out of the bullpen, and workhorse Hector Rondon are gone. Joe Smith, who was expected to be a veteran presence picking up some of that slack is not in camp and may well choose to opt-out of 2020. Devenski is eligible for arbitration one more time after this season and then for Free Agency after 2021, but lack of production could get him released this season or non-tendered after the season.

But, a good season like he produced in 2017, could get his career off life support and set him up for a decent payday in 2021 and perhaps much better in 2022 and beyond.

Devenski has shown up in Summer Camp slimmed down and with what looks like a changed delivery. He knows he has the opportunity to grab an important role with what should be a contending club, but more importantly, he has the opportunity to cement a place in the small fraternity that consists of major league players for years to come.


32 comments on “Is this a make or break semi-season for Chris Devenski?

  1. What’s changed my mind is the way he (always) came into camp shredded, and looking strong. Recall he used to be gym buddies with Musgrove and Hoyt in the offseason. He also has parents that took him off the street (hanging out with the skate boarders), and moved his family at an earlier age to be around a better crowd. They’re in the scrap metal business and Chris talks about what a great example they set as hard workers.

    The reason it is *not* a make or break year to me now is his Very Affordable price tag, and experience the others don’t have.

    If he starts getting knocked around though, that could change things in a NY minute, given our current depth pushing the envelope.

    One of the plusses I was corrected on a few months ago, I’d thought he’d lost separation from fastball and changeup (speeds), but Rob in Cypress showed me his velocity is still sitting 95+. That makes a huge difference if he can still find 97. Super impressed so far this year, and it shows with Dusty too. That tells me our internal grades are even higher than our perception.


  2. I just thought of something I wanted to pen, before I forgot. Yesterday, Greinke took a quick chance to catch Toro off guard, and it was a sweet moment in time where vet says to rookie, stop showboatin’ and doing your dance in the box. He quick set a curve with no windup, and caught Toro flat-footed. The pitch was just off the plate, but I thought it was a good lesson. Get your head in the game.

    Toro in my eyes … Not sure which way to go with im. I know the Astros had him as a higher grade than Rojas, as the 2nd best bat in the system next to Tucker; but Astros delayed Toro in AA, and promoted Rojas (which added value to the Greinke deal). Luhnow was going to keep Toro.

    Well, now we have a new regime. The nail in coffin is if he cannot overall handle a bat from both sides of plate, because he will be expoited. The other developing factor is hitting coaches, and being an instinctive player. I give Toro the edge over Diaz in 2021. If you had to pick one — given the money is about 2M difference. Would you trade Toro as a piece in a deal? And besides bullpen, what would you want at deadline?

    My pick is a big bat. Nobody ever asks what if JD Davis last year was our Howie Kendrick in the WS. Hmmm? If you watched any NYM baseball last year, Davis was tattooing the ball! *Terrible defender and he was surplus, admittedly.

    -So, who would you target as a playoff bat, that you might be willing to trade Toro, or Diaz? To add another, I am guessing that Freudis Nova has the kind of value that AJ Reed had in 2017 — and should be added in a trade at 20-21 years. We have Mayfield, Straw, Pena, Kessinger, Dauri Lorenzo and Yohander Martinez. We should trade Nova SOON

    Sorry to get off subject Dan. Seeing where that thought led

    Also, I’m so excited about Pedro Leon I can hardly stand it. have you seen the recent video from BA?


  3. Hogging the comments, just to mention that Espada and the A-ball coach Sutil are playing IN THE FIELD today! This seems a clear indication we’re pretty well set on backfields and clocks and velocities. Trying to stay healthy.

    Pretty brilliant strategy.

    We got our team, bring on the world.


  4. Nick Tanielu just made a spectacular catch. Correa way over-threw 1B and Nick had the hops to get it.

    Correa said, “Wooooow.”

    He had a shirt off pic this offseason, and Man! This dude is stout.
    That’s another depth guy that never gets credit.


    • Here’s how I’d rank the pitcher prospects
      * denotes better than middle rotation ceiling

      Ivey (saving the year)
      Solis (” “)
      Jairo Lopez
      Blake Taylor
      JA Lopez
      *Alex Santos
      Solomon (pending word)
      and 30 more…


      • Disregard the asterisk, this is how I have the prospects arranged right now in terms of passing their respective tests at age, and on pace to their future value.

        Some have fallen off pace, like Ivey and Solomon, but assuming they will assume the position.

        Without seeing Brown Santos these days, I’m taking a guess there in relation to the others.

        A couple names that should jump out at you, ahead of schedule are UT’s Blair Henley, who really surprised some folks.

        JA Lopez can throw 100.

        And Nivaldo Rodriguez was added to the 40-man last yr, which speaks volumes.


  5. Jojanse looked good! Striking out Bregs and Reddick.

    Toro, yes, he was reading the blog. Answers with vigor.
    And did you notice the absolute laser he threw to nickT from 3rd? We got to see that 70 arm!


    • In good spirits, Sarge. Productive day.

      It was a good test for the vets and prospects.

      Tucker, I believe, he and Straw are here to stay!

      Was really nice seeing Torres and Conine — super impressed there from two guys only pitched in A-ball. Conine had two bad calls, or would have struck out Reddick (he ended up giving up a double to), flashing a wicked curveball.

      Astros have stayed mainly with Maldy and Garneau at catcher, and let Stubbs in the OF yesterday. Pobably trying to get each catcher in tune with their respective pitchers. Garneau is already just using winks with Greinke, telling me they’ve already discussed sequences, and know what ea other are thinking.

      Funny thing about that is watching our catchers hding signs when runner on 2B.

      Astros will be in KC next Monday!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh wow! He does resemble those two. Tiant always looked to the centerfield seats and Valenzuela always looked to the sky. Torre sat least does turn to show his back as they did. Thanks for this.


    • Thanks, RT.

      What these studies never point out (and I’d already seen the extensive work and follow Tony Adams on twitter, where he tracked every pitch and sound) — what these never point out is that other teams suspected us of stealing signs since Day 1 of 2017, just like we suspected them. Beltran said we were behind in sign stealing and we had McCann and Espada to prove it, coming directly from Yanks org. Plus we had the biggest thieves Bregs and Cora. Plus, we had dark arts with Luhnow Goldstein and Koch-Weser.

      Those teams employed dummy signs, so just because our algorythm figured out the dummy’s, they could use a 3rd base coach to trump it. In fact, what was happening against us (when Cintron shot the Yanks the bird on their dugout camera, affixed to Hinch’s signs to the catcher!) — everyone knew what was up.

      All this is a charade to sell the news on a bogus attack. What’s horrible is they hinged it on Sept 13 when the city was underwater and everyone was freaking out! A memo?! That every GM which didn’t read it to their teams, they said, didn’t get read in Houston? C’mon.

      They, all the teams, were using dugout video, or CF video.

      Courts have ruled it is “too attenuated” to judge any effect either way. It was a stand-down to let all media outlets hurl epithets: look how badly our fans felt the shame. And now the league covering up a letter which would implicate NYY, you see, without even apologizing or setting the record straight? Shame on Manfred and the witch hunt.

      Did we knowingly cheat, yes. Did other teams, and were they caught and accused, yes. Why didn’t MLB put the hammer screws on other teams? This is all about players being tight-lipped when there’s no other Fiers stooges? It’s such a terrible look what this league has done, that I hate the “IT” topic.

      Frankly, if I was a player and the banging gave me false info bc the other team figured it out, I’d be ticked! Enough to bust two laptops, to be honest (wink wink)

      Like coronavirus, though, we’ll get through it.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It reinforces a couple things to me:
    1) They were a very talented team and did not need to do it
    2) Even though overall it may not have helped them – if it helped them just once in a game 2 or game 5 extra inning classic the Dodgers have a gripe.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Brantley with a three run bomb just inside the LF foul pole. If he adds that oppo stroke to his repertoire, it would be nice! Valdez settles down after giving up Brantley’s homer.
    Bregman with two RBI doubles and Gurriel singles him in on the second one. Valdez is pitching against Bielak.


  8. Saturday, Devenski relieved Bielak and looked more comfortable with his new delivery. Devenski showed a reliable breaking ball which seemed to be fooling hitters and was whipping across the strike zone.


  9. Alright, chippie’s and Dansters, you’ll get to see Luis H. Garcia today! Try to remember the “H” because some claim he’s the 3rd best prospect with same name. I beg to differ. He led all minor league in K/9, has only pitched A-ball.

    Nivaldo is one you’ll enjoy his unique sinking action.

    Javier, I’d luv nothing more than for him to take the reigns SP5 from Day 1 and don’t look back. He has that kind of ceiling to get to our middle rotaton.

    Brian McTaggart
    Justin Verlander will make his final tune up before Opening Day today in a 3 p.m. intrasquad matchup. Verlander will be opposed by RHP Cristian Javier, while RHP Joe Biagini, RHP Nivaldo Rodriguez and RHP Luis Garcia are all scheduled to pitch in relief.

    I’ve noticed something of Strom’s technique he mentioned on his podcast (Perry Husband teaches). Our guys try to throw at the handle of the bat, because it gets around slower, thereby increasing “effective velocity”. Strasburg tied us up well he said in the World Series. Our prospects are giving our vets a good look is what I meant, in relation to going to work inside.

    here is some Javier footage in his callup last Fall. Blowng by Kendrick


  10. Some summer camp observations:
    – Javier looked really good today. Some of his wildness has been tamed.
    -Verlander gave up a single and a double and had two in scoring position with none out. He faced Springer, Altuve and Brantley. He got them all out without giving up a run.
    – Luis Garcia threw one too many fastballs to Dawson and paid dearly for it. Dawson went oppo to left. At least, I think it was Dawson. No announcers and no camera shots on the batter’s back.
    – Checking into Pedro Leon, I believe he might be in the majors next year playing for Houston.
    – Biagini seems to have a difficult time getting three outs in one inning. He works himself hard.
    – Seems like the two games in KC will go a long way to determining the bullpen. So far, no Osuna, no Pressly and no Smith.


  11. – Josh James has been named the starter for game 4 of the Mariners series.
    – The KC series might be cancelled due to bad weather. The Astros will talk to KC in the morning and make a decision. We might look to see the Astros working out again in MMP for the next two days instead of flying out.
    – Would not be surprised to see Javier make this team. Sure wish we could see Whitley again and have him just blow everyone away and make this team.
    – Forgot to mention above that Pruitt and Peacock will probably also start the season on the DL.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s