Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart
The Astros, regarded by some as the "EXTREME MONEYBALL" franchise, have approached the offseason just as that moniker would lead you to expect: by throwing money at every high-priced reliever on the market. Andrew Miller passed, opting for less money and a razor, and both Zach Duke and David Robertson said no thanks on their way to Chicago. But Jeff Luhnow persisted, and on Wednesday he found a couple of late-inning arms willing to take his money.
Gregerson earns the nod for being the iron man of the pair, having tossed more than 400 innings over the past six seasons. He made two trips to the disabled list during that span, including once in 2009 due to shoulder inflammation, so durability wouldn't appear to be a concern. And maybe it shouldn't be, except Gregerson is the rare bird whose primary pitch is a slider—a predilection that raises eyebrows and, depending on your beliefs, red flags. Astros fans should rest well knowing Gregerson does throw other pitches—mostly a high-80s sinker, though he'll toss the occasional upper-70s changeup—and that he's a legitimate late-inning reliever until his body says otherwise, be it due to wear or tear.
Neshek, meanwhile, has dealt with enough injuries and personal traumas for the both of them. He topped 50 big-league innings in a season last year for the first time since 2007, and celebrated the occasion by being dominant. Although Neshek used to pitch off his slider like Gregerson, he threw more sinkers than sliders last season, and has continued to use his low-70s changeup more often than in the past. Neshek is perhaps best known for his deceptive mechanics, as it appears as though he's going to drop down and throw submarine before coming to the plate from a side-arm slot. Health provided, he too should pitch near the end of games.
It's worth noting that both Gregerson and Neshek have been roughly platoon neutral over the past three seasons. As a result, they should be interchangeable with Chad Qualls as late-inning choices. Gregerson, whose contract includes closer-related incentives, could be the favorite for the ninth-inning job, but don't be surprised if Neshek picks up a few saves next season as well. However A.J. Hinch sorts things out, the Astros should have an improved bullpen, and given that they've ranked last in the majors in ERA in each of the past two seasons, you can excuse Astros fans who feel relieved.