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September 3, 2013

Baseball Therapy

Do Young Pitchers Fail to Develop When the Bullpen Implodes?

by Russell A. Carleton


Autumn came a little early to Houston this year. You might not have noticed, but the Astros recently became the first American League team to be formally eliminated from the playoffs. It’s not that anyone really expected the Astros to contend this year, but then again, I picked the Angels to win the World Series at the beginning of the year. Shows what we know.

The good news is that the Astros can now focus their efforts on next year (or 2015). And some of their neighbors have been kind enough to offer a little advice. After a recent Rangers-Astros series, this quote appeared in a column by Randy Galloway of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Bad teams have bad bullpens. That’s always a given. The Astros may have the worst bullpen in the history of baseball. The Rangers wait out the starting pitchers and then bring out the fangs on that bullpen.

The talk in the Rangers clubhouse this week centered on high praise for the collection of good young arms in the Houston rotation. Four of the five starters are considered double-plus prospects based on what I was told.

“The owner down there needs to get off his wallet and spend some money for some veteran bullpen guys next season,” said one Rangers voice. “Those kid starters have a future, but they are being beaten up mentally by pitching well and never getting a win out of it. That’s a shame for them, but, yeah, good for us, I guess.”

Pity the poor Houston starters, I guess. The Astros, as of Saturday night, had notched 25 blown saves collectively, running neck and neck with the Diamondbacks and Cubs for the dishonor of leading MLB in that category. (Kevin Chapman added another on Monday.) It must be rough for a starter, particularly a young one, to know that if he goes out there and throws six strong innings and leaves with a 5-3 lead, that all that hard work might be undone in the form of not getting a “win.”

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