With Roberto Osuna likely out for the year, the Houston Astros will have to get creative to pick their next closer.
If you can’t name more than three members of the Houston Astros bullpen, don’t worry, neither can we. And they just took another shot in the arm, pun intended, with the news closer Roberto Osuna will be going on the shelf for the foreseeable future.
Osuna had to leave the game the other night with what is being called right elbow soreness, ahem Tommy John Surgery. He’ll be headed for an MRI to see what the damage is, ahem Tommy John Surgery. If he’s lucky he’ll avoid Tommy John Surgery, though either way it sounds like his 2020 campaign is over.
In parts of three seasons, Osuna has saved 51 games, including a league-leading 38 in 2019. After taking over as the full-time ninth-inning guy for the Astros when he was acquired at the trade deadline in 2018, Osuna has been the only closer the Astros have known.
With a roster full of injured arms, Osuna joins Chris Devinski, Brad Peacock, Joe Biagini, and Jose Urquidy on the shelf. When the bullpen door swings open who will get the call to close out the ninth inning lead for the Astros.
Fernando Rodney and basically any young reliever on the Houston Astros roster.
At one point this season the Houston Astros featured ten rookie arms on their pitching staff. There are more pitchers on the roster with uniform numbers in the 90s than pitchers on the roster with major league saves to their credit.
While a handful of these guys appear on the Top 30 Prospect list for the organization, none of them has lengthy closing experience on their resumes. Both Triple-A Fresno and Double-A Corpus Christi featured closers by committee last year, grooming not one pitcher to eventually step into the role the big league club now has a vacancy for.
The Astros have been battling injuries all season and managing them with a forced youth movement, though have made deals with two pitchers who have a little more experience. Hector Velazquez was acquired from the Baltimore Orioles, though he has zero career saves.
Fernando Rodney was signed to a contract, after being left without a team for the entire offseason, summer camp, and first week of the shortened season. He has closing experience, with 327 career saves to his name.
Rodney was a member of the World Series Champion Washington Nationals a year ago, though has been blasted in recent years. At age 43 he is more entertainment value than closer value.