The Astros are not a team with many holes. With a staff fronted by three aces, a lineup peppered with stars, and a bullpen anchored by the likes of Roberto Osuna and Ryan Pressly, Houston’s squad currently holds a 33.6% chance of winning the World Series, per Fangraphs’ MLB Playoff Odds calculations. It seems somewhat unfair, then, that such a squad would find a way to get even better heading into October, but that’s exactly what they may be doing now that rookie reliever Bryan Abreu is on the scene. The 22-year-old arm has been so impressive in his first MLB action, in fact, that he may be forcing himself onto the Stros’ postseason roster, according to a report from Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle (link).
Abreu, the club’s second-ranked pitching prospect behind Forrest Whitley, has debuted here in the second half with 6.2 innings in which he has punched out ten hitters while walking just three. This production comes on the heels of some shaky bottom-line results in Triple-A this year (5.05 ERA in 13 starts and 20 appearances) that obscured more impressive underlying numbers (11.86 K/9, 3.99 FIP). “He’s nasty,” Hinch told Rome last Sunday. “His breaking ball is as good as anyone we have or anyone that we have had over the last few years. You see the funny swings and the uncomfortable takes, and you realize why the organization was so high on him.”
As noted in Rome’s article, manager AJ Hinch found room for another rookie reliever, Josh James, on 2018’s postseason rosters when James finished the year with a string of impressive appearances. Could Abreu be making a similar case? While Hinch told Rome that no conversations about the postseason roster will begin until the club clinches the AL West, the reporter projects that Will Harris, Pressly, and Osuna are certain locks for the playoff pen. After that, James, Hector Rondon, and Joe Smith are “logical inclusions”, and the impending return of Brad Peacock could account for the final spot. If any injuries befall one of these Houston mainstays–or if Peacock shows signs of rust upon returning–Abreu may be held in firm consideration for postseason action.