One of the main reasons the Houston Astros are in first place in the American League West this far into the season has to do with their above-average bullpen.
How does a club featuring a starting lineup filled with players struggling to hit over .200 (except for otherwordly second baseman Jose Altuve, of course) win? Well, the new-look bullpen corps has been stellar. Newcomers Luke Gregerson, Pat Neshek and Will Harris have joined holdovers Josh Fields, Tony Sipp and Chad Qualls to post the A.L.’s second-best bullpen ERA (2.13, trailing only the Kansas City Royals).
As Gregerson told Brian McTaggart of MLB.com, all this bullpen success is working out exactly as he figured it would: "I’m not surprised at all the way this team is pitching. A lot of us have played together in the past and everybody’s career is going to show what we’re all capable of. I think there’s a couple of guys that are pitching better than they thought they might have, but I think the talent level is there and it’s just a matter of getting that confidence and consistency to really stretch it out for a long period of time."
Article continues below ...
Manager A.J. Hinch’s mix-and-match style is a hit among the relievers, too. As Neshek told McTaggart: "It’s pretty cool every night there could be a new guy pitching the seventh, giving one of us a night off or giving someone else a night off the next night. We’re relying on each other, and it’s a great sign."
That reliance has helped the Astros a lot so far in 2015, and if they keep it up the club will have a great chance of sustaining their early success.