Nick Turchiaro-USA Today Sports

Gustave and Peacock Off to Quick Start in Race for Astros Final Bullpen Spot

In the Astros first spring training game, Jandel Gustave and Brad Peacock delivered strong performances. So, how do they factor in to the battle for the Astros final bullpen spot?

As the Houston Astros endure the grind of Spring Training, one aspect of the club that management to which management will not have to pay much attention is the bullpen. The starting rotation and mixing of lineups are the main priorities here, as the Astros have a lot of veteran pitchers and plenty of options when it comes to the bullpen.

But, there is one battle to be had during Spring Training for the Astros bullpen, and that is which Astros pitcher will take that last spot on the Opening Day roster. When you look at the big picture and think of how this 25-man roster could turn out, it seems the Astros will have to make many key decisions between now and the April 3 opener.

For right now, we'll assume for the sake of argument that the Astros will carry 12 position players, including: 

  • Brian McCann (C)
  • Evan Gattis (C/DH)
  • Yuli Gurriel (1B)
  • Jose Altuve (2B)
  • Carlos Correa (SS)
  • Alex Bregman (3B)
  • Marwin Gonzalez (UTIL)
  • Nori Aoki (LF)
  • Carlos Beltran (LF/DH)
  • George Springer (CF)
  • Josh Reddick (RF)
  • Jake Marisnick/Tony Kemp

That 12th spot will be a tough call for A.J. Hinch, as it depends on whether the Astros want to have a 5th outfielder on the major league roster or an extra infielder. In any case, the Astros will have another pinch running option as both Marisnick and Kemp can steal more than a few bases. The other candidates for this coveted 12th spot would be Teoscar Hernandez, A.J. Reed, Tyler White, or Preston Tucker if they can force themselves into contention during spring training.

Then, the 12 pitchers that the Astros are definitely going to carry into Opening Day would be this group:

  • Dallas Keuchel
  • Lance McCullers
  • Collin McHugh
  • Charlie Morton
  • Mike Fiers
  • Joe Musgrove
  • Chris Devenski
  • Tony Sipp
  • Will Harris
  • Ken Giles
  • Luke Gregerson
  • Michael Feliz

Yes, some of the guys on this list have something to prove during Spring Training. Sipp, Feliz, Fiers, and Musgrove will all have to battle but at the end of the day I would expect the Astros to carry all of them in based on their 2016 performance. Musgrove was arguably the best pitcher down the stretch for the Astros last season, and Sipp is a left-handed weapon that the Astros do not have otherwise.

The battle for the 25th spot will come down to a few pitchers, including Brad Peacock, Jandel Gustave, Brady Rodgers, James Hoyt, and perhaps David Paulino as well. With that in mind, these are the guys who really need to impress Hinch, Jeff Luhnow, and pitching coach Brent Strom in the next few weeks. 

Peacock and Gustave, who pitched in the spring training opener on Saturday against the Tigers, certainly got off to a nice head start after solid outings. Peacock, who started the game, pitched two full innings for the Astros before being relieved. In those two innings, he worked around a couple of hits to deliver two scoreless frames while also striking out Victor Martinez.

Although it was only a small sample size of one inning, Gustave came in right after a hectic situation in which the Astros gave up a lot of runs and completely shut down some potent offensive weapons for Detroit. In his inning of work, Gustave struck out Justin Upton and James McCann in the middle of a smooth 1-2-3 inning. 

Command has been an issue for the Astros 25th best prospect (according to MLB.com), so it is great to see that Gustave was able to come in the game and avoid getting into any unfavorable counts and did not allow any walks. Gustave projects as a closer with a high-powered fastball, so we want to see these clean, efficient innings from him as much as possible.

Yes, in the big picture this was only one game for the Astros. But, with as many pitchers as the Astros need to judge in the next five to six weeks, every appearance counts. For Jandel Gustave and Brad Peacock, their future prospects with the Astros are looking brighter down in Florida.


Astros Insider Top Stories