Friday, May 15, 2015

Welcome Back, Jose Veras

The Astros just signed Jose Veras to a Minor League contract.  He will, presumably, be stashed in Fresno after heading to Extended Spring Training, unless there is an injury, or one of the other relievers turns into a pumpkin.  The Astros 'pen has looked good, with only Deduno sometimes struggling, and perhaps Thatcher as well.

This is a solid signing, especially because they don't have to add Veras to any rosters immediately.  If the Astros are still in contention come mid-summer, then this signing means they shouldn't have to trade for an extra arm for the stretch run.  Plus, the bullpen options in Fresno haven't been great, so 'pen depth is a great thing to accumulate at this point of the season.

Of the 'pen options in Fresno, we should have a quick look to see how the various other options are progressing at the highest minor-league level.  Remember that the PCL is predominantly a hitter's league, so perhaps the peripheral stats mean more when evaluating these guys.

At the beginning of the season, James Hoyt was likely considered the next righty to be called up, and he currently has a 8.16 ERA and a WHIP of 2.09.  His strikeout rate of 10.7 K/9 looks impressive, but that is combined with a walk rate of 4.4 BB/9.

The best remaining relievers have been Jordon Jankowski (being used exclusively out of the 'pen this year, and who carries a 2.45 ERA, 1.64 WHIP with an 11.3 K/9 and an excretable 6.4 BB/9) and Richard Rodriguez (2.45 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 5.6 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, used in a number of multi-inning stints).  Neither of these guys should inspire much confidence at this stage of their careers, but they may put it all together and develop into solid arms in the future.  Tyson Perez is also having a solid season (2.77 ERA, 0.54 WHIP, 6.9 K/9, no walks in only 13 innings pitched).

So not many other options there, unless one was to consider Rodriguez for the long-man role.  Jankowski needs to show better control, and all four of the Fresno guys mentioned in this article (especially Perez) need more innings to evaluate them.  None of those guys will inspire much confidence come mid-summer, if a 'pen arm is needed.  This makes the Veras signing look wise.

Plus, Lance McCullers Jr isn't heading to Fresno to relieve, although that could be a role for him later in the year in the Houston 'pen.

This signing was probably helped by the warm relationship that Veras and the Astros have shared ever since the Astros handed him closing duties for half of 2013, then re-acquired him in 2014 after he was ineffective for the Cubs.  Which is pleasing to hear, especially given the amount of flak the Front Office has copped over the various PR disasters of the last few years.