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Looking in retrospect: Bryan Abreu was an off-the-planet star in 2022

The great Astros’ bullpen had an unexpected but brilliant performer in Abreu.

World Series - Houston Astros v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Four Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

When you’re coming off a year where you posted a 5.75 ERA in 31 games as a reliever, there’s no way you can expect to make a quality jump like the one Bryan Abreu had in 2022. Not even if your advanced stats suggested a turnaround might have been on the way. After a difficult 2021, Abreu was an absolute star for the Astros in the championship season.

Abreu dominated from the beginning to the end. His start to the season was pretty average but then he turned into a savage reliever that only hung zeroes and got hitters out…

Bryan Abreu’s stages:

  • April 8 – May 23: 13 Gms, 19.1 IP, 18 H, 7 ER, 8 BB, 27 K, 3.26 ERA, .685 OPS
  • May 28 – October 5: 42 Gms, 41 IP, 27 H, 6 ER, 18 BB, 61 K, 1.32 ERA, .512 OPS

All these numbers combined for a season he finished with a 1.94 ERA across 60 1/3 innings with four wins, no losses, two saves, and eight holds. Add 88 strikeouts, a 2.12 FIP, a 1.177 WHIP, and a 13.1 SO/9 mark and you’ll get pure dominance. Armed with a 97.2 MPH fastball, that’s the kind of season Abreu just had for Houston.

In 2022, there were only six relievers that logged at least 60 innings, 85 strikeouts, and closed the season with an ERA of 2.00 or below. The other five are Cardinals’ Ryan Helsley, Mets’ Edwin Díaz, Twins’ Jhoan Durán, Brewers’ Devin Williams, and Rangers’ Brock Burke.

Thanks to Abreu’s great second half, it got even better! He was one of only four pitchers in the Majors to register an ERA not higher than 0.70 across at least 25 games after the All-Star Game. Braves’ Raisel Iglesias, Guardians’ Sam Hentges, and Dodgers’ Evan Phillips were the others.

In the second half, 25-year-old Abreu was just nasty. That’s what his 0.66 ERA and his 0.915 WHIP over 27 1/3 innings said. In 27 appearances to finish the regular season, Abreu surrendered only 15 hits and two earned runs with 10 walks and 39 strikeouts. Over the final two months of the campaign, opponents hit for a .173/.256/.235 slash line (.490 OPS) against him.

In high-leverage scenarios, Abreu took it to an even higher level. Rivals went 3-for-31 against him with one extra-base hit and 15 punchouts, besides averaging .097/.237/.129.

Maybe we’ll see more of Abreu in highly dangerous environments and he’ll have a bigger chance to prove what he’s made of during the upcoming season. But so far, so good for the rising star.