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.