The Houston Astros acquired Roberto Osuna prior to the deadline last year and he was brought along slowly. Now, he’s morphing into a more dangerous weapon.
The Houston Astros already have a very good bullpen on paper heading into the 2019 season. That is without several spots in the bullpen that have yet to be filled. That’s how good the men that are already slated to be in the bullpen are.
AJ Hinch confirmed a couple of days ago that Roberto Osuna will enter the season as the Astros closer. They have two really good options to bridge to him as well. Ryan Pressly is a dominant reliever with one of the best curveballs in the game. Hector Rondon is a stud reliever with a closing history.
Beyond those three guys, the team also has Will Harris and Chris Devenski entrenched in bullpen spots. Harris is incredibly solid yet unspectacular and is nearly always reliable. Devo had a rough 2018 but is ready to bounce back to form and earn his manager’s trust in 2019.
All five of those guys are all, at the very minimum, very good pitchers for the Houston Astros. But, there is a reason that Osuna is headed into the season as the man that will most consistently get the ball in the ninth innings, in those save situations.
Osuna, heading into his age 24 season, is one of the best and most dominant relievers in all of baseball. However, he doesn’t quite fit the traditional dominant closer mold. Most closers typically have a crazy dominant fastball and slicing slider and that’s it.
Osuna has typically rocked a four-pitch arsenal of a fastball, slider, cutter, and changeup. Literally, every single one of those pitches has been a plus pitch throughout his career, according to FanGraphs. However, he isn’t satisfied with that is working on bringing a sinker back into pitch arsenal.
Hinch told Brian McTaggart of MLB.com the following, “He’ll be able to execute it. What’s different about him from a lot of other backend relievers is he’ll be able to execute it if he finds a feel for it, and if that’s the case, it’s another weapon for him.”
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Another weapon. Osuna is a closer that is seeking to enter the 2019 season with another weapon. He’s trying to enter his first full season with the Houston Astros as a closer with five weapons in his arsenal. That’s a vast array of weapons for any pitcher, let alone a closer.
Osuna’s sinker is far from a finished project but it’s very good as it stands. He needs to work on locating the pitch more consistently for it to climb up his hierarchy of weapons. But, if he can do that this spring, he will, without a doubt, be one of the most dominant pitchers in all of baseball, regardless of role.
The other guys I mentioned above help make the Houston Astros bullpen great and one of the best in baseball. However, Osuna is what makes the bullpen one of the most dangerous ones in baseball. His pitch arsenal is a rarity and incredibly dangerous.
If can get his sinker going, a pitch that could net a lot more strikeouts and groundballs, he will become an infinitely better weapon for the Houston Astros, and he is already a really great one. Having Osuna trotting to the mound in the 8th or 9th inning to close out games should give this time a whole heck of a lot of confidence heading into 2019.
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Roberto Osuna split last season between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Houston Astros. His stats for the Astros were particularly impressive, He had a 1.99 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, and 19 strikeouts to only 3 walks. Expect more of the same in 2019.