Adam Ottavino could make the Astros bullpen dominant.
The most significant difference between the 2017 Astros and it’s 2018 counterpart was the bullpen. With Ken Giles and company in 2017, the Astros had to rely on starters such as Lance McCullers, Charlie Morton, and Collin McHugh as relievers. The front office addressed that last offseason and at the trade deadline. They brought in Joe Smith, Hector Rondon, Ryan Pressly, and Roberto Osuna. McHugh also moved to the bullpen and was a critical piece to the success.
With the losses of Dallas Keuchel, Charlie Morton, and Lance McCullers for 2019, McHugh will likely head back to the rotation. Josh James and Framber Valez could be options for the rotation or the bullpen. If McHugh is going to the rotation, they would need to look for an arm for the bullpen. Not just your average Joe, they have that in Smith, but a dominating setup guy. Maybe someone who pitched in Colorado last year.
What about Ottavino?
The 32-year-old Adam Ottavino is coming off his best year in 2018, where he had a 6-4 record with a 2.43 ERA while striking out 112 batters in 77 2/3 innings pitched. This is according to Baseball-Reference, where he also got six saves. According to Fangraphs, he also got a career-high 34 holds in 75 games pitched. Ottavino throws his fastball around 94 mph, slider at 81.4 mph, and a cutter at 87 mph.
Ottavino made $7 million in 2018, therein lies the problem, he will not be an easy player to sign. However, he is the type of pitcher the Astros seek out with his high spin-rates on his slider (2787 rpm) and cutter (2605 rpm) via Baseball Savant. We saw how much Pressly improved when he came to Houston.
However, the market price may be on the rise, and that price might take him out of range for the Astros. There will be a high demand for the right-hander who pitched well out of the Rockies bullpen. Even if the Astros are targeting him, would they do what it takes to outbid the competition? Once they decide on the per year value, the next question would be how many years could they offer? Unlike Tony Sipp after the 2015 season, Ottavino is probably seeking a longer-term deal.
Unfortunately, the long-term deals are going extinct quickly outside of the megastars out there. The Astros regretted the first two years of the Sipp deal, but he bounced back in 2018. They will look to try to get him for a price they want, but if they really want him, then they may have to go a little crazy.