Houston Astros: Blake Taylor continues to shine amid bullpen injuries

Houston Astros pitcher Blake Taylor (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Houston Astros pitcher Blake Taylor (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

The Houston Astros bullpen has been plagued by injuries to start the season, but rookie reliever Blake Taylor has been a bright spot.

It seems like every pitcher that has come out of the Houston Astros bullpen this season is making their major league debut, and that is mostly true. Over the first six games of the season, seven Astros relievers made their big league debuts. All seven of these rookies have been fairly solid over the first week of the season but one has especially stood out and that is Blake Taylor.

Taylor was acquired by Houston this offseason in a deal that sent outfielder Jake Marisnick to the New York Mets. Prior to this season, Taylor had only pitched 11.1 innings at the Triple-A level Taylor, but he was included on the Astros 30-man roster due to the many injuries in Houston’s bullpen and the fact that the bullpen needed a left-handed arm.

Taylor, who admitted he cried when he found out he had made Houston’s 30-man roster, made his big league debut in the Astros season opener against the Mariners. The left-hander made quick work of the Mariner hitters, only needing nine pitches in an impressive 1-2-3 inning to begin his major-league career.  Taylor is roaring back from Tommy John’s surgery that he sustained back in 2015, with this being one of his best campaigns since then so far.

After a great debut, the 24-year-old has made three more appearances out of the bullpen for

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Houston and has been impressive in all of them. So far on the season, Taylor has pitched a total of six innings scoreless innings while only allowing two hits and striking out seven.

Taylor is a two-pitch guy. He has a four-seam fastball with riding life that sits in the mid-90s and tops out at 96 mph and a slider with good break and depth that sits in the low-80s. He also has the ability to go multiple innings, as he spent the majority of his minor league career as a starter before converting to a full-time reliever in 2019.

There is no doubt that Taylor, who is the only left-handed arm in the bullpen, has the stuff to be a successful reliever, but the big question entering the season was his control. Taylor had control issues in the minor leagues that resulted in a high walk rate but showed improvements in his control once he became a full-time reliever last season. So far the young lefty has shown no sign of control issues, throwing 50 of his 73 pitches for strikes and has yet to issue a walk.

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If Taylor continues to pitch at the level he has to begin the season, he will play a prominent role in the Astros bullpen even when guys like Roberto Osuna, Ryan Pressly, and Chris Devenski are fully healthy. As the only lefty in Houston’s bullpen and the ability to pitch multiple innings, Taylor will be an extremely important piece to the success of the Astros relievers.