People make absurd claims all the time, whether they promise exorbitant boosts in wins, losses or individual stats. So me standing here saying the Houston Astros‘ win total will spike from the bemoaned 51 of 2013 to upwards of 75 in 2014 may seem like a similar situation. But save that thought, for here is the factual and statistical proof to back up the claim.
First and foremost, the Astros’ bullpen from just a year ago lost 40 games on their own. That accounts for just over a third of their 111 losses. If there is one area the Astros have significantly beefed up on, it’s relief pitchers. Matt Albers, Chad Qualls, Darin Downs and Raul Valdez highlight the newest additions, with guys like Kevin Chapman still holding value from last year.
Bullpens are going to lose games, it happens. Just because the Astros added some decent mid-late relief pitching doesn’t mean they’re going to the playoffs. But cut that bullpen loss total in half and they already have the 70 games I’m speaking of.
Along with the bullpen help comes veteran innings-eater Scott Feldman, who is the starting pitcher that a young rotation needs. Keep in mind that the Astros rotation at the close of the 2013 year differed drastically from that of the beginning. Lucas Harrell and Erik Bedard combined for 29 losses on their own over 48 games. Compare that to a grand total of 12 losses over 40 games for the trio of Jarred Cosart, Brett Oberholtzer and Brad Peacock, all of whom will see improvement given another year.
No matter how you shake it up, the Astros combo of starting and relief pitching is fully capable of shedding 20 losses and placing them instead in the win column. Their added offense and rising prospects will give them the offensive weapons needed to provide much needed run support.
All in all, if the Astros don’t pull out 75 wins, it would be a sore disappointment.