Kent Emanuel came almost out of nowhere this season. At 28 years old (29 on June 4), Emanuel has been a member of the Astros organization since 2013. Almost a decade later, he made his debut with the MLB team and made a good impression in his first two appearances, both as a reliever.
But even though you weren’t probably expecting him to be one of the first call-ups for the Astros this year, he could be a pretty useful piece for the bullpen, especially if he keeps throwing like this.
After 9 2⁄3 innings over two appearances, he’s surrendered six hits and two earned runs (two home runs to Albert Pujols and Shohei Ohtani). But Emanuel has registered NO walks and seven strikeouts so far.
Manager Dusty Baker could use Emanuel as a long reliever to help dose the workload of short relievers and starters, especially considering how the organization has used him since he made his Minors debut.
Between 2018 and 2019 in Triple-A, Emanuel compiled 185 2⁄3 innings of work. And guess what? He only started 17 games in 59 appearances over that course, which means he was often used as a long reliever who could also start from time to time.
There’s no doubt the Astros can use Emanuel’s stamina in the long run. Just to have a reference, take a look at every Astros’ pitcher with seven or more relief appearances of 2-plus innings since 2019:
- Josh James (14)
- Framber Valdez (10)
- Chris Devenski (9)
- Collin McHugh (7)
- Brandon Bielak (7)
James is talented, but so injury prone. Framber is now a member of the starting rotation. Devenski and McHugh are no longer with the team. Of that group, Bielak is the one man standing right now, but he may probably have more upside than Emanuel and be thrown into more high-leverage scenarios.
So it could be important for Baker and the Astros to have Emanuel around for a while, especially when you have an army of injured hurlers such as Justin Verlander, Valdez, Jake Odorizzi, Pedro Báez, Enoli Paredes, James, and Austin Pruitt.
As long as Emanuel keeps dominating and showing that insane control of his pitches, he should remain in the bullpen.
Should the Astros count on Kent Emanuel as an useful long reliever?
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