The Houston Astros are set to have one of the worst seasons in MLB history, as they won just 55 games last year and are moving to the American League West, where three of the leagues best teams lurk. Now, it’s not all bad in Houston, as the inferiority will give younger players or guys who haven’t had their prime time opportunity a shot in 2013.
One of those players is Jose Veras, who is slotted to be the teams closer this season, and has pitched with a remarkable five teams in the last four seasons. Veras is hoping that team number six will be the lucky one as he will be closing for the first time in his career. He has earned the right as he has kept his ERA below 4.00 each of the last three years, and has appeared in 151 games the last two seasons combined–Veras spent 2012 with the Milwaukee Brewers, and posted a career-best 3.63 ERA.
Transitioning to closer is going to be a tough move, but I think Veras has the tools, and the Astros have nothing to lose given their current situation. This will be Veras’ first year with the club, so pitching in Minute Maid Park may be rather intimidating to the 32-year old. It’s a little shocking that the Astros aren’t giving the role to someone with fewer miles on the tires. However, with youth in nearly every other position, maybe Veras can be a diamond in the rough.
If Veras does falter in the early going, don’t be surprised if Manager Bo Porter throws him in his familiar role of everyday reliever as Veras has excelled at that spot, eating more than 65 innings and striking out more than 75 batters each of the last two years.