Why Astros should approach potential Houston homecomings with an abundance of caution

NOT SO FAST

The Houston Astros received some disappointing news this week when it was revealed that Kendall Graveman would be out for the season with shoulder surgery.

Which means Houston is losing four members of their top-notch bullpen from 2023. The Astros pen is a big reason for their success the last couple of years, and now they only have two relievers that can be trusted in Ryan Pressly and Bryan Abreu.

Plus, they haven't signed anyone of note to replace them. This week, reports surfaced about the Astros having interest in bringing back Hector Neris. Neris is reportedly seeking a 3-year deal in the neighborhood of $50 million.

That's close to the disaster of a contract they handed Jose Abreu last year, and both players are in their mid-thirties. As good as Neris was last season, it's hard to imagine the Astros signing Neris to a massive deal like this. It's just not what they typically do. Or should do for that matter.

But they need to do something. Outside of Pressly and Abreu, nobody in their current bullpen has any substantial record of success in the big leagues. And that includes Rafael Montero. He had one good year and has been completely ineffective in high leverage situations before and after 2022. With an ERA over 5 in 2023, we're not counting on that guy, and for good reason.

Could Phil Maton be an option to bring back? The Athletic's Chandler Rome reported that Maton has received less interest on the market than some anticipated. He could be an option, and would be significantly more affordable than Neris.

So what are the Astros going to do?

Check the video above as we break it all down.


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Raners defeat the Astros, 4-2. Composite Getty Image.

Josh Smith homered twice with four RBIs to lead the Texas Rangers to a 4-2 win over the Houston Astros on Sunday.

Smith had a two-run shot in the first and added another one with two outs in the eighth to push the lead to 4-1. It’s the first multi-homer game of the 26-year-old’s career.

The Rangers won the last two games of the series after dropping Friday’s opener 6-3. They also got a 2-1 victory Saturday thanks to Nathaniel Lowe’s RBI single in the 10th inning.

Jake Meyers cut the lead to 1 with a solo home run in the third but the Astros went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position to fall to 50-46 entering the All-Star break.

Texas starter Max Scherzer allowed four hits and a run with six strikeouts in four-plus innings in his fifth start of the season.

Jon Singleton walked before a single by Jeremy Peña with no outs in the ninth. There was one out in the inning when Singleton scored on a groundout by Joey Loperfido to cut the lead to 4-2. Trey Cabbage grounded out to end it and give Kirby Yates his 16th save.

Ronel Blanco (9-4) permitted two hits and two runs with five strikeouts in six innings. He settled down after his tough first inning and retired the last 12 batters he faced.

Marcus Semien singled to start the game but was out at second when Corey Seager grounded into a foreceout. Smith gave the Rangers an early lead with his towering shot to the second deck to make it 2-0.

Meyers opened Houston’s third with a shot to the seats in left field to cut the lead to 2-1. Jose Altuve singled with two outs and stole second base but Scherzer struck out Alex Bregman for the third out.

The Astros had a shot to tie it or take the lead in the fifth. Peña and Meyers both singled before Loperfido walked to load the bases with no outs in the inning and chase Scherzer. Josh Sborz (2-0) took over and escaped the jam by striking out Mauricio Dubón before retiring Altuve on a pop up and Bregman on a groundout to end the inning.

Seager walked with two outs in the eighth before Smith connected again to give him 10 home runs this season.

Altuve reached on a fielding error by Smith with one out in the eighth before Bregman singled off José Leclerc. Jacob Latz took over and struck out Yordan Alvarez before Yainer Diaz grounded out to leave Houston emptyhanded again.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rangers: 3B Josh Jung (fractured right wrist) swung 15 times off a tee using a regular bat Sunday. Manager Bruce Bochy said he would continue increasing his activity during the break as he nears a rehabilitation assignment.

Astros: RHP Justin Verlander (neck discomfort) threw a bullpen session of 25 pitches Sunday. Manager Joe Espada said he looked “really good” and would throw another bullpen session during the break.

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