Luhnow: Astros could look for ‘flamethrower’ to add to bullpen mix
The Houston Astros’ bullpen has been one of the strongest elements of the club’s 2015 turnaround, led by closer Luke Gregerson and an array of middle relievers including Pat Neshek, Will Harris, Chad Qualls and others.
However, their collective average fastball speed, according to the Houston Chronicle’s Evan Drellich, is 90.2 mph – so they aren’t exactly being an effective group due to their reliance on overpowering ‘stuff’ as much as smart pitch execution.
With that in mind, general manager Jeff Luhnow told Drellich that the club could be in the market for hard-throwing reliever: "I think you can always use another good arm. You look at the arms we have in the bullpen: we’ve got a sinker baller, a slider guy, different looks. Neshek is a funky guy. The one guy we’re probably missing is the flamethrower guy. Could we be a better team with a guy like that at the end, in the mix those last few innings? Probably, but those guys are hard to find. Certainly we’re going to keep our eyes open."
Gregerson, meanwhile, doesn’t seem to think the bullpen needs more external help. As he said to Drellich, "I don’t know, you guys probably should stay out of the background and stop listening to that kind of stuff. I think the team’s doing well. These guys battle every day, and just like any bullpen go out there and have a hiccup every once in a while and bounce back for the next day and I think this team’s handled it very well. Try to move forward doing the same thing.”
Drellich notes that the Astros could look in-house for bullpen help, since they have a few options in the minor leagues – including Vincent Velasquez, who was just optioned back to Double-A Corpus Christi in order to keep him fresh for the second half.