Does Hector Neris complete the Astros’ bullpen?

The Astros signed free agent reliever Hector Neris to theoretically take the place of Kendall Graveman in the back of their bullpen. The former Philly fireman was a bit shaky as a closer in the first part of 2021 but excellent as the set-up man in the second half of the season. With the Astros losing relievers Graveman, Yimi Garcia and Brooks Raley, it may sound foolish to say the Astros will not further bolster the bullpen, but let’s talk about that a bit.

The magic number here is eight …… probably. The Astros have typically gone with an eight-man bullpen during the regular season based on recent roster construction. Extra points if you can name the eight pitchers who comprised the bullpen to start the 2021 season.

Ryan Pressly, Ryne Stanek, Joe Smith, Brooks Raley, Blake Taylor, Bryan Abreu, Enoli Paredes and Brandon Bielak. In the rotation, Bielak was the long reliever with Cristian Javier, Smith was later sent off to Seattle with Abraham Toro for Kendall Graveman and Rafael Montero, and Paredes and Abreu fell out of favor.

So, looking at eight as THE number for the bullpen, what does that look like today?

  1. Ryan Pressly. Pressly has grabbed onto the closer role and should be holding on to it in 2022. (5-3, 26 saves, 2.25 ERA, 0.969 WHIP in 2021)
  2. Hector Neris. After his closing struggles in the first half of the season, he settled in with a 2.70 ERA after the All Star break and a high strikeout rate. He may be slotted for that 8th inning set-up spot. (4-7, 12 saves, 3.63 ERA, 1.170 WHIP)
  3. Ryne Stanek. Stanek did a solid job in the eighth inning slot but gave the bullpen depth when he slid into the seventh inning spot after the Graveman trade. (3-5, 2 saves, 3.42 ERA, 1.215 WHIP)
  4. Pedro Baez. Baez missed almost the whole 2021 season due to injury, appearing in four games in August before going down again.  His return could be a massive boost to the back end of this bullpen. (In 7 years with the Dodgers – 21-15, 3 saves, 3.03 ERA, 1.096 WHIP)
  5. Phil Maton. Maton’s 4.97 ERA in his couple of months with Houston was a little ugly, but…. If you drop one mop-up crash and burn where he allowed 5 runs in 0.1 innings (where three runs scored after he was replaced by Graveman), he was 4-0 with a 3.24 ERA in his other 26 appearances. On top of that – he was absolute nails in the playoffs, allowing 1 run in 12.1 innings with 14 Ks. He gives the Astros another quality arm out of the bullpen. (6-0, 4.73 ERA, 1.455 WHIP with Clev/Hous)
  6. Blake Taylor. Taylor followed up a great but short rookie season in 2020 with a solid 2021 season as the better of the two lefty relievers in the Astros’ bullpen. (4-4, 3.16 ERA, 1.406 WHIP)
  7. Rafael Montero. Montero was very good in 2019, decent in 2020 and awful in 2021 before being traded to the Astros. He had four scoreless appearances with the Astros before being injured and missing the end of the season. (5-4, 7 saves, 6.39 ERA, 1.541 WHIP).
  8. Cristian Javier or Jake Odorizzi. Unless there is a trade – one of these guys would likely be in the rotation, and one would be in the bullpen. It seems ridiculous to think they would keep Javier in AAA as a starter. This gives the Astros options for long relief and for the rotation that many teams would love. Odorizzi (6-7, 4.21 ERA, 1.252 WHIP) Javier (4-1, 2 saves, 3.55 ERA, 1.184 WHIP)

If anyone falls by the wayside, there are other options.

  • Peter Solomon. The 24-year-old pitched very well in a six-game call-up with the team and certainly deserves another shot at the big time, especially if Montero is really a frog instead of a prince.
  • Josh James. Since his breakout rookie season, James has been bad or hurt or both. He has always shown some good flashes, but one wonders whether this is his last chance with the Astros before moving on.
  • Brandon Bielak. Bielak burst forth early in 2020 before plummeting in the same season. He was decent in 2021 in primarily long relief. He certainly could be brought up when the other arms are being over-used.
  • Shawn Dubin. Dubin’s performance in 2021 forced him onto the 40 man roster, and they may be aiming to keep him as a starter, but he better be on speed dial if the team needs help anywhere.

The Astros may go out and pick up more bullpen help, perhaps another left-hander, but in reality, it could be argued that they don’t need additional help.



18 comments on “Does Hector Neris complete the Astros’ bullpen?

  1. In looking at players (Lyles is just one example) that have a -0- or Negative WAR, yet are getting multiple years and millions, I don’t think the Astros have to sign anyone. But I expect them to kick the tires on a few of the free agents – if and when the lockout/strike ends.


  2. When you look at this bullpen as a group it is strong. Having to decide between Odorizzi or Javier as a long reliever is a chore.
    You have to figure that having four pitchers coming off injuries, LMJ, JV, Baez and Montero, one or more of them might not be ready to go all out when the season starts. The depth to fill in for them is there.
    Abreu is the guy on the bubble. He has no options left and that means his place on the roster is in jeopardy. I’m not sure where he fits in.
    The one guy who really needs to get better to help this team win is Blake Taylor. He needs a reliable “out” pitch and he needs to stop walking so many batters if he is to keep his job.
    If we are to have a dominant bullpen, we need a good LH reliever.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I tend to agree with you OP, especially after seeing what the left handed back end of the Braves bullpen did, but….. in a free agent class where Brooks Raley is considered one of the best lefty FA relievers out there, I’m not sure I want the team to dip into that pool (after the lockout ends – knock on wood).
      If they could trade for a top lefty reliever – I would say go for it, but I think that is more likely to occur at the deadline when teams face the reality of who they are and aren’t.
      So, if I have Click figured out – he will float with what he has got and make a move or moves at the deadline if needed, when it might be a short term rental from a team that is phoning it in.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Jonathan Bermudez must have been protected for a reason.

    And I agree Dan, Click can and will tweak the pen come summer. Guys like Abreu and James have shown great stuff in glimpses, but can they put it together consistantly? And if Lyles can get 7 million, Odorizzi has real value. Maybe he brings a pen arm in a trade.


    • Not that I’m a big Odorizzi guy, but we need to have a health check on our starters, specifically McCullers before we trade him, but ….. if the pitchers are in good shape and they have guys like Dubin and Solomon (and Whitley???) in the wings – go ahead and look at unloading Jake O., who has some value out in the crazy mlb world

      Liked by 1 person

      • Odorizzi has value! Either pitching for us or being a good trade piece for someone Click wants to add to our team. From what I have seen before the lockout, teams want starting pitching and are, and will be, paying well for starting pitching. His outing in the WS got some attention and some teams will be trying to acquire him before the start of the season.


    • Bermudez will probably remain a starter in Sugarland at first, with that meaning he could be switched to the MLB bullpen if needed.
      If Parker Mushinski makes it through the Rule5 draft(when that happens after a new CBA is agreed upon), I think he will be a LH reliever in Sugarland. That puts him one step from the majors.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. In regards to the lockout, as I “sing to the choir” here, I don’t care for either side in this disagreement. Multi-millionaires fighting multi-billionaires means I could not care less.

    Just. Play. Baseball.

    Liked by 3 people

    • sargeh, I sure am with you. When Lyles got that 7 million at the buzzer, it was clear at that point there was no compassion coming from me..

      I just hope that this mess at the ML level does not impede those at the minor league level from realizing the new policies being put in place for housing and meals.


  5. Some thoughts:
    -I don’t see Neris as replacing Graveman. Graveman cried about being traded to us from Seattle, pitched for us for about five minutes and then chased the money to Chicago. Neris is the guy who actually signed with the Houston Astros. and then was smiling in the interview. He’s an Astros pitcher.
    – Seems like sour grapes when neither side cares whether there is a lockout. How do you pick a side between these two money grubbing factions.
    – Having Rob Manfred as your spokesman speaks volumes about the owners.
    – Having Max Scherzer speaking for the “the little guy” is total bullshit. The guy is going to make $43 million this year from the NYM and $15 million this year from the Nationals in deferred salary and he is going to speak for the little guys.
    It’s like “I just arranged for me to make a hundred times what you’re gonna make, but I’m gonna go see if I can’t get you a milkshake from the owners and an extra bus so I don’t have to sit next to you.”
    -Baseball writers and media people hate the owners and openly pull for the players to stick it to them.
    -Why should I care for a guy who says he loves his teammates so much and then turns down $160 million to play 5 more years with them?
    – One day, nobody will care about baseball.

    Liked by 2 people

    • We’ll said OP! I think you’ve hit the proverbial nail right on the head. Realistically I don’t believe that a majority of the owners or players give a happy rats ass about the fans. Yes there are exceptions but if they were honest, they’d tell us it’s really all about the money.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I may have worded that assbackwards. Meant to say majority of owners and players don’t give a happy rats ass about the fans. Of course I’ve never really seen a happy rats ass but then again there’s a lot of those Type of sayings that I’ve never seen too.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I just have to be zen and have patience about this lockout. These are not two of my stronger character points….
    – A lot of these negotiations center around time as this is a case where time definitely is money.
    Shift the clock on when arbitration kicks in or free agency kicks in and it literally means millions more or less for each player
    – The owners and their rules manipulation of call ups has always been bothersome. “Billy X needed another two weeks to work on his fielding – it has nothing to do with the fact we just gained another year of control”
    – On the other hand it’s always bugged me that unlike football (which is a much more risky sport to the players) – all of the baseball players contract is guaranteed and they still think they get a raw deal as a union.
    – In the end I don’t care who gets the upper hand in these negotiations, since as a fan
    I don’t have any hand at all. I just want there to be an agreement and a season

    Liked by 2 people

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