With the trade deadline looming, the Houston Astros are on the clock. As a team, they need to decide if they want to make an attempt to compete in the second half of the season. If they do not, they can just stand pat and trade off a few players for prospects. If they do, they are going to have to decide just how much they are willing to give up to fix their biggest hole — the bullpen.
The bullpen is the Astros’ Achilles heel. There is almost zero confidence in any of the relievers out there other than Chad Qualls. They wasted money on Matt Albers and Jesse Crane in the offseason and are back to where they started at the end of last year. To get anything positive out of these relievers — a single pitch thrown during a game in Crane’s case — for the rest of the season would be a blessing.
The Astros don’t need phenomenal relief help, just reliability. They just need pitchers who can go into the game and get outs steadily while not giving up multiple runs. The Astros need a steady bullpen that is consistent enough to prevent manager Bo Porter from changing pitchers every two batters because he doesn’t trust anyone. There are several ways the team can go about this.
The Astros have one of the best minor league systems in baseball. If need be, they can call up anyone from their triple-A affiliate in Oklahoma City. They could also trade away players from their farm system they do not feel will be in the long-term plans for the team to get bullpen help. The last option is trading away major league talent to get bullpen help.
Whatever the Astros choose, they need to do it quickly if they want to try and compete this year. Time is running out to make a trade with the deadline approaching at the end of the month. If the Astros are content with losing for another year then they can stay as is. If they want to compete, they have to make some changes to the bullpen.