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The potentially brilliant 2015 Houston Astros bullpen

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No, seriously.

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Astros ranked dead last in bullpen ERA last season, in all of baseball. With plenty of optimism surrounding the approaching season, many are advocating that the dire bullpen of last season needs a makeover. It isn't hard to understand why, either. However, don't be fooled by their horrible, collective ERA. The bullpen for next season has the potential to be brilliant, without even signing anyone. Yes, you read that correctly. The Astros bullpen could be among the best in baseball next year. Or close, anyway.

With Andrew Miller and David Robertson both available in the free-agent market, the temptation to spend big on a bullpen arm looms large over the Astros. So much so, the Astros are rumoured to be very interested in adding Robertson to the fold. Which, if you ask me, is a scary prospect. Huge money for a slightly overrated closer. But that's just me. Back to the point: the relievers who are already Astros, have the ability and the numbers to be great. And have the ability and the numbers to solidify the bullpen for next season.

The Astros had a total of twelve relievers who pitched at least twenty innings last season -- including Harris, who was just claimed off waivers from the Arizona Diamondbacks, and not including Josh Zeid, who was claimed off waivers by the Detroit Tigers. Of those twelve relievers, there are six -- if you push it a little -- who can play a big role in the bullpen next season. Their ERAs looked like this:

    Josh Fields - 4.45
    Tony Sipp - 3.38
    Chad Qualls - 3.33
    Jake Buchanan - 3.46
    Jose Veras - 3.03
    Will Harris - 4.34

Of those six, based solely upon ERA, you could maybe make the case that Veras, Qualls, Buchanan and Sipp can all be placed into the bullpen next year. Probably, at the most, as middle relievers -- if you push it, once more, maybe in a setup role. Add in Robertson to close, make a few trades, and there you have it: a competitive bullpen. While that could work, those seven guys alone, can make for a competitive bullpen. The Astros, as a largely sabermetrics based franchise, are likely to value these guys beyond their ERAs, as most franchises should in this day and age, though. Their metrics are as follows:

    Josh Fields - FIP of 2.09, xFIP- of 83 and a SIERA of 2.47
    Tony Sipp - FIP of 2.93, xFIP- 78 and a SIERA of 2.43
    Chad Qualls - FIP of 3.13, xFIP- of 83 and a SIERA of 2.44
    Jake Buchanan - FIP of 3.86, xFIP- of 92 and a SIERA of 3.35
    Jose Veras - FIP of 3.93, xFIP- of 93 and a SIERA 3.27
    Will Harris - FIP of 3.20, xFIP- of 84 and SIERA of 2.53

All of a sudden,Fields could be a legitimate lights-out, late-inning reliever. Sipp, the exact same as Fields. Harris, the same as Sipp and Fields. Qualls, similar but to a slightly lesser extent.  Veras, likewise. And Buchanan can be a handy middle reliever. With that pretty straightforward intermediate conclusion, I hope you get the point: this bullpen has potential.

It isn't a set in stone, given that the relievers will be excellent because their FIPs and SIERAs say so. Far from it, in fact. That said, it's still an intriguing prospect. It's hard to ignore. As a sabermetrics franchise, this bullpen may be given another chance to dominate major-league hitters. With the ridiculous cost of both Robertson, Miller, or even someone like Sergio Romo, sticking with the same guys may just be the best option. I present to you: the potentially brilliant Houston Astros bullpen.