(Editors note: Since this was written Roberto Osuna has pitched, although he was not present during pre-season workouts. Presumably he is still working his way into shape as “closer.”)
Unfortunately, the Astros are beginning the 2020 season without their closer, Roberto Osuna, and carrying a bunch of young relievers such as Bryan Abreu, Blake Taylor, Brandon Bailey, Cristian Javier, and Enoli Paredes. Besides, they lost Joe Smith, who opted out of the campaign. Among the few veterans, Ryan Pressly is slated to have a huge role this season.
Pressly is taking over the closer role until Osuna is ready to make his 2020 debut. Then, he will go back to his usual setup role. But the Astros need him to prove his struggles are gone, they need him to be what he was in last season’s first half.
The Texas native was nothing but unbelievable through June 19, when he had a 0.81 ERA, four walks, 37 strikeouts, and a .162/.189/.239 opponent slash line across 33 1⁄3 innings. Pressly got to the All-Star break carrying a 1.36 ERA with a 6/47 BB/K ratio in 39 2⁄3 frames.
But things got a little uglier after July 17. Since that date, the 31-year-old allowed 12 hits and eight earned runs in 13 episodes (5.54 ERA). That incredible slash line mentioned above was not incredible anymore: .240/.321/.420. Plus, he suffered a right knee issue that made him lose a month between August and September.
In the postseason it was the same story. From Game 1 in the ALDS to Game 2 in the World Series, he allowed 12 hits and eight runs (seven earned) over 3 1⁄3 innings, along with three bases on balls.
After losing experienced relievers Will Harris, Héctor Rondón, and Collin McHugh to free agency, the Astros are going to require the best version Ryan can be on the mound, besides crossing their fingers to have Osuna back soon and get the best out of the youngsters.
Among Abreu, Taylor, Bailey, Javier, and Paredes have only seven MLB games combined: all by Abreu in 2019. As an additional fact, Astros pitchers averaged 30.2 years of age. This year, the group of 15 announced by the team just days ago averages 27.5 years.
Pressly has been GREAT since joining the team, back in 2018. He owns a 1.85 ERA after 81 appearances, with 1.7 BB/9 and 12.1 K/9. For the team’s pitching to succeed, they need that kind of production out of the veteran hurler.