Hinch confident in 'pen with Gregerson unavailable
As closer gets day off, Astros manager knows he can rely on depth
HOUSTON -- The depth of the Astros' bullpen has paid off during the A's series, as closer Luke Gregerson had to be relieved by Pat Neshek to finish off Tuesday's victory. Manager A.J. Hinch has several solid options at his disposal with Gregerson resting Wednesday.
Hinch said veteran Chad Qualls, who served as Houston's closer last year, was certainly able to close any time Gregerson was out, and Hinch is not afraid to use Neshek or left-hander Tony Sipp in those situations. The manager hasn't been shy about putting Will Harris and Josh Fields into high-leverage situations, either.
The Astros' bullpen 2.24 ERA ranked second in the American League entering Wednesday.
"The depth of the bullpen has been very good all season," Hinch said. "You're never going to go through an entire season with everything mapped out perfectly. You need multiple guys to step up and take important outs. The versatility of our guys -- Tony Sipp against right-handers and Will Harris against left-handers -- are not the traditional roles, but they can get those guys, too."
Gregerson allowed four earned runs and five hits in his past three appearances, and he wasn't available Wednesday after throwing 69 pitches while working three of the previous four games. In the eight games prior to Wednesday, Houston's bullpen had pitched 27 2/3 innings. The good news is the Astros are carrying eight relievers.
"You never complain about any kind of a win, but we've used the back end of our bullpen quite a bit over the past week or so. We need a breather," Hinch said.
• Left-hander Brett Oberholtzer (blister) won't travel with the club on the upcoming road trip. He'll throw a bullpen session in Houston on Thursday, and he will have a session of live batting practice before he will make at least one rehab start at a Minor League affiliate, either Double-A Corpus Christi or Triple-A Fresno, to ramp up his day-to-day activity.