Results tagged ‘ Henry Villar ’
We are roughly halfway through Spring Training and the roster picture is pretty much as cloudy as it was when camp opened a month ago, and perhaps even more so with the injury to catcher Jason Castro. With so many bodies still in camp, it’s been difficult to determine which players might have the leg up, but that will not deter me.
Here’s my guess on what the Opening Day roster will look like:
Comment: The Astros could still bring in another catcher in time for Opening Day, but for now I’m going to limit my prediction to the players that are still in camp.
Brett Wallace (L)
Comment: I still believe Wallace is going to win the first base job. Downs has looked good in camp and could bring some pop and versatility off the bench. Manzella has broadened his defensive scope and has looked good at the plate so far this spring. Angel Sanchez could still play his way into the mix, but his defense is an issue. Anderson Hernandez has played well, too.
Michael Bourn (L)
Brian Bogusevic (L)
Comment: The only spot up for grabs is the fifth outfield spot. Bogusevic probably has a leg up on Jason Bourgeois because he hits left-handed. He runs pretty well too, but not as well as Bourgeois, who could also play second base.
STARTING PITCHERS (5)
Wandy Rodriguez (L)
J.A. Happ (L)
Ryan Rowland-Smith (L)
Comment: The fifth spot in the rotation remains completely up for grabs. Right now, I go with Rowland-Smith over Jordan Lyles, who has looked good but is still 20 years old and has barely had his feet wet at Triple-A. Nelson Figueroa makes the club as the long reliever.
RELIEF PITCHERS (7)
Fernando Abad (L)
Comment: At this point, I see Lyon, Lopez, Abad and Figueroa as locks. Fulchino is healthy and pitching well, and Melancon appears to have a good chance. The last spot? Completely up for grabs. The injury to Alberto Arias may give some other guys a chance, and Villar as pitched well. Don’t count out Sergio Escalona or Enerio Del Rosario.
Here it is: the eighth and final installment of the Astros’ position-by-position breakdown. Today we’ll take a look at relief pitching, which general manager Ed Wade says is one of the strengths of the team. Before we get to the bullpen, here are the links to the previous seven entries in the series (click on the desired position to view the entry): catcher, first base, second base, third base, shortstop, outfield, starting pitcher.
2010 bullpen to begin season: Brian Moehler, Jeff Fulchino, Sammy Gervacio, Chris Sampson, Tim Byrdak, Matt Lindstrom and Brandon Lyon.
2010 end-of-season bullpen: Fernando Abad, Tim Byrdak, Gustavo Chacin, Enerio Del Rosario, Jeff Fulchino, Matt Lindstrom, Wilton Lopez, Brandon Lyon, Mark Melancon, Felipe Paulino, Henry Villar and Wesley Wright.
Others who made an appearance: Nelson Figueroa, Brian Moehler, Casey Daigle, Gary Majewski, Kevin Cash.
Combined 2010 stats of Astros relief pitchers: 24-23 record, 45 saves in 60 opportunities, 4.49 ERA (ranked 13th in the NL).
Free agents: None.
Arbitration eligible: LHP Tim Byrdak, LHP Gustavo Chacin, RHP Matt Lindstrom, RHP Felipe Paulino.
What happened: The Astros traded for hard-throwing Matt Lindstrom last December and plunked down $15 million on a three-year contract for Brandon Lyon to bolster the back end of the bullpen after losing both Jose Valverde and LaTroy Hawkins to free agency. Lyon developed a cyst in his shoulder and was behind all spring, opening the door for Lindstrom to win the closer’s job.
Lindstrom got off to a terrific start, posting a 1.40 ERA in his first 19 appearances and going 10-for-10 in save opportunities. He blew three saves and posted a 5.23 ERA in June and began battling back spasms that eventually cost him the closer’s job and forced him to the disabled list in August. Lyon took over as closer in early August and finished with 20 saves in 22 chances and a 3.12 ERA.
Lindstrom, who led the team with 23 saves, and Lyon became the first set of teammates to save at least 20 games in the same season since the 1992 Cincinnati Reds.
Wilton Lopez, who the Astros acquired on a waiver claim in 2009, took on an important role in the back of the bullpen and wound up pitching in 68 games and posted a 2.96 ERA. The Astros also got good mileage out of lefty Tim Byrdak and right-hander Jeff Fulchino, who battled injuries and wasn’t as sharp as he was in 2009. Fan favorite Chris Sampson had a good first half and was eventually sent to the Minors after some struggles and designated for assignment. Alberto Arias, who was injured in Spring Training, and Sammy Gervacio were quickly shut down because of shoulder troubles.
As the year progressed, the Astros got a good look at right-handers Henry Villar and Mark Melancon, who was acquired from the Yankees in the Lance Berkman trade.
What’s next: Astros general manager Ed Wade doesn’t plan to do much to the bullpen in the offseason and sees it as one of the strengths of the club. Lyon and Lindstrom will once again compete for the closer’s job in the spring, though both could again wind up finishing off games at some point. The Astros like what Lopez brings to the back end of the bullpen and envision Melancon as a future late-game reliever.
Arias, who had surgery for rotator cuff impingement, could be in the picture next year along with Gervacio, who missed most of the year with rotator cuff inflammation. Gervacio had mixed results in the Minors but showed some good flashes with the Minor Leagues. Fernando Abad had a good Major League debut in his 22 appearances and will be a left-handed option, along with Wesley Wright.
Who’s on the farm: Left-hander Douglas Arguello, the pitcher of the year at Double-A Corpus Christi, will be in spring camp next year competing for a job. Abad and Villar, both of whom came up late in the season, could lead the next wave of youngsters in the pen. Don’t forget Chia-Jen Lo, who missed much of last year with a partial tear of his ulnar collateral ligament.
Former first-round draft pick Brian Bogusevic, who was drafted by the Astros in 2005 as a pitcher before transitioning to the outfield in 2008, is among five Minor League players who will join the team Wednesday, the first day rosters can be expanded beyond 25 players.
The Astros announced Tuesday that Bogusevic, infielder Matt Downs, right-handed pitcher Henry Villar and left-handed pitcher Wesley Wright would be recalled. The club will also purchase the contract of catcher Brian Esposito. Bogusevic and Villar will be making their Major League debuts.
Bogusevic, 26, hit .278 with 13 home runs, 26 doubles, 57 RBIs and 23 stolen bases in 130 games for Triple-A Round Rock. This is his second full season as a position player after being drafted as a left-handed pitcher out of Tulane University.
Downs, who was recently claimed off waivers by the Astros, appeared in 29 games for the San Francisco Giants this year, primarily as a second baseman, and hit .244. In three Minor League stops this season with Round Rock, Triple-A Fresno and the Rookie Arizona League Giants, Downs has combined to hit .244 with seven homers and 32 RBIs.
Villar, 23, is 4-7 with a 4.15 ERA in 36 games, including 11 starts, at Double-A Corpus Christi, and Wright will be making his third appearance on the Astros’ roster. He has made 10 appearances, including four starts, overall for the Astros in 2010, posting a 1-2 record and a 6.28 ERA in 15 games, including 14 starts.
Esposito will be the third catcher on the roster after hitting .205 with two homers and 18 RBIs in 58 games with Round Rock and Corpus Christi this season. He is a veteran of 11 professional seasons, but has played in only one inning of a Major League game and has not had an at-bat.
To make room for Esposito on the 40-man roster, the club will transfer right-handed pitcher Brian Moehler from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL. Moehler is scheduled to go undergo season-ending surgery his lower abdomen Wednesday in Philadelphia.