Astros’ rotation or bullpen: What worries you the most?

Even with the uncertainty around Yordan Alvarez as the start of the season comes roaring down upon us, for the majority of Astro fans, the lineup is not the focus of most of our worries.

Yes, Martin Maldonado and Dustin Garneau are not Willson Contreras or J.T. Realmuto. Yes, Josh Reddick (or Kyle Tucker) are not a defending All-Star like their two OF mates George Springer and Michael Brantley. But a lineup that features Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, Brantley, Springer, Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel should be plenty solid even if one or two are missing or slumping.

No, the rotation changes have been the more significant concern throughout the off-season, but they may be neck and neck with the worries about the bullpen at this point in the Summer Camp.

The Rotation Concerns.

  • After the 2019 season, losing starters Gerrit Cole (who could easily have been the Cy Young Award winner), Wade Miley, who was 11-4 with a 2.99 ERA on August 9th, before limping into a 14-6 record and a 3.98 ERA, and Collin McHugh, who was 58-35 in 6 seasons with 110 starts for the Astros were a red flag.
  • Having Jose Urquidy, who was penciled into the 4th spot in the rotation, not appear at Summer Camp through at least the first two weeks due to an unexplained reason (which is interpreted as a COVID related reason).
  • Having Josh James, who was penciled into the 5th spot appear late-appearing to camp due to the birth of a daughter. This concern was a bit mitigated by a decent first appearance in an intrasquad game.
  • Having both Austin Pruitt and Brad Peacock, who could have been considered for a starting spot struggle with injuries to this point in camp.

What is hopefully not a concern are the first 3 spots of the rotation, Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke and Lance McCullers Jr. 

The Bullpen Concerns.

  • After the 2019 season, losing their most solid reliever in Will Harris and a solid hand in Hector Rondon, who made 130 appearances between them last year.
  • Having Joe Smith, who pitched well after coming off of an Achilles injury in 2019, put on the Restricted List as he decides whether to pitch this season.
  • Losing Collin McHugh….while he could have been considered for the rotation, he also came out of the bullpen 85 times the last two seasons, so it is a loss there too.
  • Both Pruitt and Peacock being injured is a problem for the bullpen also as they would be asked to be multi-inning relievers in a season where that may be a real necessity.
  • This far into camp, Roberto Osuna, the Astros closer has not thrown off a mound for non-injury reasons. Ryan Pressly would be expected to pick up the closer’s role, but he is battling a finger blister problem.

Obviously, the Astros have a lot of young arms that might pick up whatever slack there may be in either the rotation or the bullpen including Bryan Abreu, Framber Valdez, Cy Sneed, Cristian Javier, Rogelio Armenteros, Forrest Whitley and others. There is hope that Chris Devenski can bounce back from a tough 2019 and help shore up the ‘pen.

But in a short season, bad (short) starts can put a real strain on a bullpen. Blown leads and saves can be a psychological burden on the whole team.

Which area worries you the most? Or are you concerned at all?


48 comments on “Astros’ rotation or bullpen: What worries you the most?

  1. Dan, you’re bright and early today! You arrived with the sunrise. I continue to look at this 60 game stretch as an exhibition seasons of sorts. I’m already looking forward to real baseball in 2021. I really want to see what our young pitchers are capable of. And we’ll see a lot of them. For right now, the pen is going to be throwing 4 and 5 innings a day. Then it will be 3 or 4, hopefully. I think Verlander is the only guy close to a 7 inning start for now. So the short answer from me would be that the pen is the larger concern, but what I’m most intrigued with.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well as baseball sage, Chip Bailey always said – the team needs to add a couple new competent faces every season and it looks like the pitching side will need at least that.
      I’m really pulling to see Javier. That kid was a killer last season and was apparently really good yesterday vs. Verlander. I’m trying to think of the last time we had a rookie start the season in the rotation for us. I’m drawing a blank right now.


  2. This article I am linking gives a Fangraphs ranking of 181 pitchers they considered to be starters for a 60-game season. they seem to like Astros starting pitching.
    #3. Justin Verlander
    17. Zack Greinke
    43. Lance McCullers Jr.
    56. Josh James
    64. Jose Urquidy
    118. Brad Peacock
    120. Forrest Whitley.
    No mention of my buddy Framber, who I have a hunch may be the Game 5 starter.


  3. Sounds like we made the KC trip, and awaiting word on how much rain.

    So, I did some forecasting, and I don’t mind saying, we are definitely in a new phase of Astros pitching! A projected 30-man roster:

    JV / LMJ / Greinke / James / Javier
    Devo / Whitley / Bielak / Abreu / Framber / Torres

    Bregs / CC / Tuve / Gurriel

    Brantley / Springer / Reddick

    Garneau / Maldy / Stubbs

    Straw, Tucker, Diaz, Toro,
    Dawson (build trade value); Tanielu (best available); Jones (highest upside).

    4 spots available in bullpen
    Bailey, Taylor, Paredes, Biagini, Nivaldo, Scrubb

    Liked by 1 person

      • We’ll take what we can get for now.
        Osuna Smith Pressly is a pretty big hit.

        Time to see what Next man Up means in Houston.
        The 2018 QC Bandits set the all-time MiLB mark for K’s
        The 2019 Fay’ville club almost matched it.

        These guys are way too early to have to *make a difference*, but trial by fire is the best way to find out what kind of mettle we have.

        With a little luck, it might hearten those still considering extending with us, that the future is bright and worth fighting for!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I think Urquidy and Osuna will be available the first week of August. I think Whitley would be available 10 games into the season, because that would give him an extra year of eligibility. That is, if the Astros think he is ready to help them. My feeling on the bullpen is that it is not as important the first four weeks of the season because you have a lot of guys out there. It becomes more important when the roster trims down to 26.
    With no minor leagues this season, it seems like it might be time to put Bielak and Javier in the bullpen. They have proven themselves and I just think it’s time to utilize their ability to throw strikes.


  5. I would not say I’m worried, but the bullpen definitely will have more new faces this year. Time for some of our minor league arms to show us what they can do in the majors. Not sure what Dusty or Strommie see in Biagini.

    Based on who’s pitched so far in Summer Camp, my guess would be Framber as the #5 starter, at least against the Dodgers with lefty batters Bellinger, Pederson, Muncy, Seager & Lux.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Toronto can’t play in their home stadium and are looking for a MLB stadium to play in.
    So come on down to the Astrodome and move the rats out of the way……

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Looking at the weather radar from Kansas City it looks like the Astros – Royals have a window of good weather to play, but it might behoove them to start the game before the schedule 7:05 start as things look a little dicey the later in the evening you wait.


  8. Speaking of Toronto and A-Woj, eight years ago today was a 10 player trade between the Astros and Jays. Here is an article from a Jays blogger’s point of view:



  9. 6 -3 final. Pretty good pitching by Astros. LMJ was sharp and Cy Young was good with just a single mistake. Good way to start off.


      • Klondike Sneed says, “No Problem! Just glad to be here.”

        Btw, Pressly made the trip, so he should be available on OD. The blister should be resolved.

        I still want to see Paredes and Torres too, after James today.


  10. Watched the game this morning on MLB Network. LMJ looked good. Not perfect, but good against a pretty solid lineup for the Royals. His fastball sat 94-95 all night and his change up worked well except for the Perez home run.
    Bregman looks great, Correa looks bad. Springer had a good game. It is so hard to believe he may only have three months remaining as a member of the Houston Astros.


  11. The Astros play the Royals again today at 1:05 PM behind Josh James and it is on my cable on the MLB Network – so if you have that – enjoy


    • Yes, sir, got my popcorn all set up.

      After a strong showing yesterday, I suggest Sneed cemented his spot over Bailey and Armenteros as his main competition. My guess is Bailey gets to answer today.

      The other hot competition is LHP, with Framber who’s vying for SP5 or long relief; and Blake Taylor trying to give us value for the Marisnick swap. Where Cionel Perez is, who knows? The Rox let Jake McGee go and CTH suggests we should grab him. That writers is out of touch.

      We have guys like Conine, Torres and Paredes to sift through before we go looking in scrap bin. After seeing the absolute latest today, I’ll start on Top 50 prospects, and 30-man decisions coming down to the wire.

      Looking back doing the same now for 3 years, one of the big whiffs by so many last year at the end of Spring was Jose Luis-Hernandez, later known as Urquidy. Finding those gems in our prospect rich stable is half the fun.

      Last night, Jim Stevenson shared his personal notes the first time he saw Josh James. I’d debated one of the smartest pitching gurus a few years ago. He said #3 upside, and I contended Astros #2 for Josh James. Can you imagine, a 34th round pick, who was mostly a position player growing up? WHAT A FIND, like so many of his; Laureano, Toro, Mayfield. All these cost nothing, and were developed by an expert staff. Our ace in the hole, being taught the Astros way.

      We should see Pressly today perhaps, who will take one of the rookies spots.

      Can Whitley secure a spot? yes.


  12. Single stat comparison for today’s game….
    Glenn Sparkman who started 23 games for the Royals last season struck out 5.4 batters per 9 IP.
    Josh James pitched in 49 games for the Astros last year out of the bullpen (one lone start) and struck out 14.7 batters per 9 innings.

    That is a gap….


  13. The Keystone KC’s walk Springer and then boot Altuve’s single to right (beautifully hit the other way) allowing George to score all the way from first.


  14. I have the game on with the sound off – anyone know why Pressly started instead of the announced James?
    Pressly did look sharp


  15. So apparently they held off pitching James because they thought they might have rain delays and interrupt his start, so they will have him pitch a simulated game tomorrow back at MMP.


  16. In the meantime, our prospects are destroying them.
    De Goti for $2,000
    Taylor Jones had huge exit velos in AAA, takes a knee-hi FB to deepest pack CF.
    Nick Tanielu is not to be outdone, and crushed one.
    Enoli Paredes is a “Go!” Astronaut.
    What great warm-up, and statement to the league.
    I want to re-iterate a post from months ago. When our prospects prove up very soon, the ones ranking us #29 in 30 teams will be eating their sorry words.
    Like, how do they have a job?
    Abreu gave up 3 but we went right back to well. He delivered.
    Devo is looking INcredible.
    Pressly is nails.
    Think of getting Alvarez and Urquidy back full strength.
    A solid team all the way around, with Two Hall of Famers, one beat out by McCullers. Extend that man!

    I saw an old patron from here asked today, ‘do you think Astros offer Brantley a QO?’ Most everyone said yes, or depends on Springer.
    I’ll say No Way do we offer it. We’ll be fine without him. Save the money for elsewhere bc we have the athletes to fill in the OF next year and especially beyond.
    What we would do is offer him 2/22, but his agent will never take it. Like Marwin and Castro, we have to part company. We’re paying Leon $4M.

    Right this moment Scrubb worked himself out of trouble nicely.
    Mayfield doubles off the top of the wall after Toro rips one into RF.
    This team is loaded.
    Diaz 2 RBI single Auto-Matic


    • I love your enthusiasm GoStros (and yes I believe the Astros are a very good club), but these are the sorry Royals. I’ll get more excited on the weekend (at least I hope so). But it is nice to see baseball live on TV with our team being featured.


      • Remember last year, we flew into SEA and they were 13-2 hottest team in baseball. We swept them, and they were never really the same again.

        I’m envisioning that meme of Mr. T.
        More pain in store.

        Now, onto the task of seeing who gets left off “the list”. Very painful cuts ahead.


  17. – Pressly looked devastating. Today he threw like the pre-injury Pressly.
    – Paredes pitched today like a guy who should make this team in the bullpen. Struck out the side in his first inning and got himself in trouble but settled down after a visit and got out of it with two more Ks.
    – Astros bats exploded. Except Correa’s. – – I’d expect Josh james to throw a bullpen tomorrow.


  18. New to the site and bullish on the Stros chances in 2020. The key will be the young pitching and our studs staying healthy during the 60-game sprint. Josh James will be a difference-maker if he can prove to be an effective starter. What’s the skinny on Osuna not being ready for camp? Did anybody else cringe when Altuve, opting not to slide, clanged into KCs catcher yesterday? That collision did not look good from this fan’s eyes. (Hope he’s okay!) I think Abreu needs to let his freak-flag-fly and go after hitters with his naasty schtuff. He can’t nibbler. Here we go!


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