Houston Astros: 2017 was sign of development for Musgrove and Hoyt

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 27: Manager manager A.J. Hinch
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 27: Manager manager A.J. Hinch /
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Houston Astros
LOS ANGELES, CA – NOVEMBER 01: Manager A.J. Hinch (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

The Houston Astros still possess a talented roster filled with inexperienced players. Some of them took steps forward, even if one or two took a few steps back. Musgrove and Hoyt were part of the former, not the latter.

Every championship team has at least one weakness. For the Houston Astros, their offensive machine didn’t provide many issues on the field. But the bullpen did in several instances, especially during the postseason.

The club needs to address its scarcity of southpaw relievers, as it hasn’t had a dominant one in the previous few seasons – Tony Sipp had a good year in 2015. That could – maybe should – be the team’s leading priority as the offseason reaches its tipping point.

But Houston boasts a solid right-handed relief corps with a mixture of veterans and youth that it can lean on. Relievers as a whole ranked 17th in the league last year.

There was a significant gap between the team’s elite pitchers and the ones sitting in the bottom of the league rankings.

Both Ken Giles and Chris Devenski ranked in the top 50 in ERA among relievers, but both sat in the top 25 in strikeouts. Will Harris was also fairly reliable, ranking 60th in the league ERA.

However, after them, there weren’t many Astros pitchers that kept players off the bases. The next-highest ranked reliever in ERA was James Hoyt at 143rd.

Manager A.J. Hinch can’t rely solely on his dominant trio, although Brad Peacock could also be an option in the pen. Peacock did boast a solid ERA but doesn’t count in the relief-only rankings.

Despite the large gap, some players in the pen took strides forward, even though a few took steps back. Tony Sipp, the team’s lone lefty in the pen for the first half of the year, suffered a poor season.

Joe Musgrove and James Hoyt, however, are two examples of guys heading in the right direction, despite posting some shoddy numbers at times.