The stealth Astros’ pitching rebuild

The Astros have ranged from being a good to an excellent team between 2015 and 2021. You would not think that the word rebuild would be used in the same sentence as the word Astros, for a team that won a championship in the last four seasons, appeared in two World Series and appeared in four AL Championship Series.

But when you look at the Astros’ pitching, it is impossible to not think of what has been an almost complete rebuild. Here is what the Astros’ pitching staff looked like two short seasons ago. This was the opening day pitching staff in 2019.

Position 2019
Starter Justin Verlander
Starter Gerrit Cole
Starter Collin McHugh
Starter Wade Miley
Starter Brad Peacock
Closer Roberto Osuna
Reliever Ryan Pressly
Reliever Hector Rondon
Reliever Will Harris
Reliever Chris Devenski
Reliever Josh James
Reliever Framber Valdez

At the 2019 trade deadline, the Astros traded for Zack Greinke, who is on the current team, but basically, from the beginning of 2019 to now, the only pitchers who are a real part of both staffs are Ryan Pressly and Framber Valdez. Current closer Pressly was the setup man back then to Roberto Osuna. Framber pitched well at AAA in 2019 and below average at the major league level bopping between a starting spot and the bullpen. Josh James is still in the organization and has gotten a late call up after recovering from injury, but he is a question mark heading to the playoffs.

The Astros have replaced the whole starting rotation in two short years, the closer and most of the bullpen.

That is a startling rebuild for such a successful team, driven mostly by free agency and injury losses. But the interesting thing about the changeout is the continued success of the staff. The 2019 staff led by co-Cy Young contenders Verlander and Cole was 1st in the AL with a 3.66 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and .221 Batting Average against. But the 2021 staff is just a hair off of that as they are Tied for 2nd with 3.67 ERA, 4th in WHIP with 1.13 and Tied for 2nd in BAA at .226.

The most fun part of the Astros going forward may be that they have control of most of their current starting staff, other than Zack Greinke for a number of years. Building around Framber Valdez, Lance McCullers, Luis Garcia, and Jose Urquidy should be an enjoyable exercise going forward.

The one question mark about the Astros pitching staff is how dependent they are on coach Brent Strom, who turns 73 in 6 weeks. Hopefully, he has groomed his assistants to pick up the torch when he decides to take it easy. Or maybe he will outstay another manager.


24 comments on “The stealth Astros’ pitching rebuild

  1. I was going to say that the common thread for the two staffs is Brent Strom.

    I have read articles that quote Strom stating that he is high on Bill Murphy and Murphy is in the system. Josh Miller is the current “Co-” pitching coach and I look at what he has done… I am at a loss…

    Anyway, after the lackluster effort at the bat again today I have to wonder what the guys are doing lately… sleepwalking? Nineteen innings of being shutout.

    The club has taken on the identity of their manager and have done so for a complete season.


  2. Well Corpus tonight is following the lead of the Astros. 5 hits for Corpus and no runs. NWA 1 hit and 1 run. However, it was a triple that scored on a balk. It is only the 3rd, so time to turn it around for the Hooks.


  3. Just a thought about Marwin Gonzalez. Perhaps the thinking right now is Diaz replaces Carlos next year. That opens up a Utility position for Marwin. In the minors, Hensley and Kessinger can field. Neither is great at hitting with the nod presently going to Hensley. Hinojosa and Perez make way too many errors to even be considered currently. So I don’t see a “promotable” infielder currently at AA or AAA. So again, perhaps Marwin is not the best choice but the FO is hedging its bet on 2022. Again, just a thought.


  4. Odorizzi probably pitched his best game so far….with 6 strikeouts.
    You have to actually WIN games, instead of waiting to see if Oakland losses.
    The pitchers have pretty much held up their part of the deal, it’s the rest of these guys who aren’t holding up THEIRS. Oakland lost tonight .

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Toro drove in the only runs the M’s scored the last two games. The score in those two games was Toro 5, Astros 0. Abe, Adolis Garcia, and Whit Merrifield are our new Albert Pujols/Adrian Beltre/Juan Soto level nemeses.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I know you guys are getting tired of my whining about getting distance between the Astros and Oakland…but it’s absolutely IMPERATIVE to keep more than a 2 or 3 game ahead of them! They are absolutely salivating to put this team in their dust! So…YES they have to start winning, instead of waiting for Oakland LOSE! Oakland won today.
    And no… I’m not going to stop ranting about it! SO THERE!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Go win a series, guys. Stay hungry, focused, and motivated. At this point, due to getting outcoached and outhustled by lesser teams, you can’t coast. You will still have to play really good, smart, situationally-aware baseball just to make the playoffs. Every at-bat matters. Every inning is important.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. -Everything else aside, Jose Siri deserved a callup. Did everything asked of him this season. And did it well.
    – Mr. Bill is right. Astros not playing well. It’s their fault they are not running away with the AL West. They are like wet firewood.
    – Jose Altuve is messed up.
    – Well, we shall see how this playing better against winning teams shakes out this weekend. San Diego is desperately trying to hang on in the NLWC race.
    – Astros starting pitching has been good. The batters put up way too many zero run innings. Vaunted offense looks like haunted offense.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As the resident Correa apologist, I think everyone was quick to jump on his comments about it being his last year in Houston unfairly. I fully expect him to play elsewhere in 2022, but also believe if Crane were to match the offer there would be a realistic chance that Correa would accept. That hasn’t been the case with a number of guys in the past – Randy Johnson, Beltran, and Gerrit Cole spring to mind. At the same time, it’s unfair for me to criticize a guy for accepting an offer a team made, but it’s looking like the Astros and Blue Jays both overpaid for Alex Bregman and George Springer. As a fan, I think we should direct our frustration at the organization when it doesn’t adequately prepare for the departure of free agents or lets a player leave at what would be a good or reasonable contract cost…all things considered.

      Liked by 2 people


      Why do I keep imagining Jay Black, flanked by the Americans, singing:

      “Correa-Mia Why … must we say good-bye?
      With each passing week, when you speak, we’re mystified!
      Carlos, clear the air, will you be here …or there?
      Will you wear that star at least til win-ter time!
      Correa-Me Oh My! Correa -Me Oh My!

      Liked by 2 people

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