Matt Gage has been in professional baseball since 2014, and the 30 year-old lefty has thrown a total of 13 innings in MLB. Still, adding him to the 40-man is a significant move. We don’t know how it will wash out, but a few thoughts
- First, Matt Gage has learned how to miss bats. After the COVID season when he didn’t pitch, he came back and posted much higher K numbers. That likely caught Dana Brown’s eye.
- There are now three lefty relievers on the 40-man. We know that Luhnow and Click didn’t care about lefty-lefty matchups, and maybe Dana Brown will yield to Dusty a bit. If one lefty is set to make the team as a bullpen arm, then Blake Taylor and Peter Mushinski should come ready to impress. If all three impress, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the lefties gets dangled as trade bait early in the season.
- The reliever positions are mostly taken, especially with Gage in the mix: even if they open with a 5-man rotation (lots of days off to begin the season), that’s eight spots with six taken (Neris, Montero, Pressly, Abreu, Stanek, Maton). Seth Martinez was really good last year and really should be in line to make the team. There’s also Ronel Blanco and Enoli Paredes if someone falters. That’s a lot of depth, and one of those guys probably goes when Houston goes to a 6-man rotation, which I believe they will do for at least part of the season. Not to mention Hunter Brown’s potential for being stashed in the bullpen.
- There are still a lot of 40-man arms. With McCullers already showing signs of facing injury, the SP depth should be a priority. On the 40-man, that depth would be Bielak, Whitley, JP France, and Shawn Dubin. Some like Dubin as a reliever but at this point I wouldn’t be surprised if they let him continue to develop as a tandem starter in AAA. I thought France might be competing for a bullpen spot this Spring, but more likely he’s competing with Bielak, Whitley, and maybe Dubin to be the first starter called up from Sugar Land. And it appears a lot would have to happen on the injury / ineffectiveness front, in addition to a massive breakout, for a non-40 man starter (Jayden Murray, Tamarez, Colton Gordon, Arighetti, or someone else to be added to the 40-man and come into the picture as SP depth).