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Astros will have closer by committee going forward

Astros manager A.J. Hinch won't name closer for the time being.

Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

What is that old saying in football? When you have a two-quarterback system, you really have no quarterback? Does that apply for closers too?

At the moment, the Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch doesn't have one guy he will call out of the pen to close games. That fact is more a reflection on the reigning closer Luke Gregerson. Gregerson already has blown five saves this season. Gregerson has given up runs in three of his last five outings, and game-tying home runs in two of three outings in June.

Gregerson's clear ceiling prompted the Astros to go out and get Ken Giles from the Philadelphia Phillies as the Astros closer of the future. Gregerson's recent struggles have prompted Hinch to announce the team was going to closer by committee with Gregerson, Giles, and Will Harris in the mix.

Hinch explained his thought process to the media before Monday's loss to the Rangers, as reported by the Houston Chronicle's Jake Kaplan:

"I hope a number of the guys get saves on this road trip," Hinch said. "That means we're winning games and in a position to get the last three outs with the lead."

"Right now I think our bullpen is deep and good enough to absorb somewhat of a committee approach," Hinch said before Monday's loss. "Now that being said, Will Harris and Ken Giles and Luke Gregerson are still going to get predominantly the most innings that are these leverage innings at the end of games. Michael Feliz is starting to inch his way back toward the back of the bullpen. He becomes an option, too."

After Giles failed to take the job from Gregerson out of Spring Training, Gregerson looked like that the right choice for much of the season. He had a 2.00 ERA in eight games in April with two earned runs allowed on four hits and he was 4-for-4 in save chances.

Gregerson showed some chinks in the armor with blown saves against the Indians, Red Sox, and White Sox during the month of May. But he completed four straight save chances before blowing up in June.

Giles hasn't been much better in 2016, he was 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in 11 games in April. Giles gave up 10 earned runs over 10 innings including four home runs while striking out 14 and walking four. Giles started to round into form in May with a 0-0 record with a 3.97 ERA in 14 games -- allowing five earned runs on nine hits. Giles had nine straight appearances without giving up a run during that time. But Giles ended May by giving up three runs over his last two innings.

Will Harris has been the Astros most consistent reliever this season, and frankly he's shown the confidence of a closer on the mound. He allowed one run in his first outing on April 7, since then he has allowed zero runs over 25 1/3 innings. Harris is 0-1 with a 0.35 ERA in 26 games with 0.71 WHIP, 29 strikeouts, and four walks.

Harris was the first to get a chance to pick up a save after Gregerson struggles against the Athletics. It will be interesting to see where Hinch goes from here, but the committee won't last.