The Astros didn’t waste any time trolling new bullpen addition Pedro Baez.
Houston finally came alive in MLB free agency, adding to their beleaguered bullpen in a big way last week. The Astros signed Baez, previously of the rival Los Angeles Dodgers, to a two-year deal in what was a universally-praised move, as the righty had a 3.03 ERA in his seven seasons out West.
The one caveat on Baez — and it’s not necessarily a negative in terms of on-field production — is his long windup. It takes some getting used to for fans, and definitely extends innings far longer than expected for a player with a more-than-respectable ERA. So, how do the Astros plan on embracing that?
“We’ll plan to use him in the seventh inning just to give everyone a little bit extra time to get a beer before they stop selling beers at the end of that inning,” Astros GM James Click joked when asked by a reporter on Friday.
Is Baez’s addition alone enough to fix the Astros bullpen?
Frankly, Houston’s entire pitching staff could use some work. Justin Verlander, the team’s ace, will be out until at least August due to Tommy John surgery. The bullpen still needs one more back-end addition to be able to carry the rotation, assuming that’s Click’s vision.
The recent addition of Ryne Stanek, plus the pending decision to bring back Joe Smith, make for a nice core alongside Baez and Ryan Pressly. What the Astros are truly missing is a genuine closer, and Click admitted that on Friday.
“It’s something that I think all of us would like to have, and it can certainly make you feel better about your bullpen than if you don’t have someone who maybe has done it in the past,” Click said.
As slow as this free agency season has gone, the Astros still have plenty of time to form a formidable ‘pen. Baez was a great start.