Houston Astros

Houston Astros Fantasy Baseball Daily Bullpen Updates and Closer Depth Chart

Closer1st in line2nd in line2023 CloserUpdated
HOURyan PresslyRafael MonteroRyne StanekRyan Pressly5/8/22

* = closer-by-committee

Previous updates:

May 8, 2022
Houston Astros – Ryan Pressly was much better in his second appearance since returning from the IL as he pitched a perfect inning for his fourth save of the season. Fantasy owners will hope that Pressly can put his knee injury behind him and get back to pitching like he did last season.

Hierarchy remains: Pressly | Montero | Stanek.

May 7, 2022
Houston Astros – Ryan Pressly got a night off after a rough Thursday, which left the save chance to Rafael Montero. He pitched a clean inning for his 3rd save while lowering his ERA to 0.73. Pressly has not looked like the all-star from last year, but he’s earned a bit of a leash. Montero is putting some pressure on with each scoreless outing though.

Hierarchy remains: Pressly | Montero | Stanek.

May 6, 2022
Houston Astros – Ryan Pressly returned from a stint on the injured list Thursday and was not effective. He allowed two hits, including a two-run homer, on 21 pitches (just 12 strikes). His ERA sits at 6.23. On the bright side, he did pick up the win on Thursday when Houston rallied in the bottom of the ninth, and the usage suggests he’s back as the team’s closer. But he hasn’t really looked right this year, so this situation is worth monitoring, especially with the way Rafael Montero (0.79 ERA, 0.97 WHIP), Ryne Stanek (2.08 ERA, 1.04 WHIP) and Hector Neris (0.69 ERA, 0.62 WHIP) are pitching.

Updated hierarchy: Pressly | Montero | Stanek.

May 3, 2022
Houston Astros – Rafael Montero picked up his second save in the past four days on Monday and moves to the top of this committee, which will collectively cede the closer role back to Ryan Pressly upon his return.

Updated hierarchy: *Montero | Stanek | Neris.
* = closer-by-committee

April 29, 2022
Houston Astros — As Ryan Pressley continues to spend time on the IL, manager Dusty Baker has now had two different men convert a save this week, and neither one went to Hector Neris. After Ryne Stanek converted on Wednesday, Rafael Montero doing the honors on Thursday. Montero did allow a solo shot in the ninth, but otherwise he has looked sharp this season.

Updated hierarchy: *Stanek | Montero | Neris.
* = closer-by-committee

April 28, 2022
Houston Astros — It took a while for Houston to pick up its first save in Ryan Pressly’s absence, and it went not to Hector Neris but Ryne Stanek, who was throwing 100 MPH heat. With Pressly eligible to return but not yet ready, Dusty Baker could stay with the hot hand in Stanek, or pivot to Neris or Rafael Montero, each of whom he noted has closing experience.

Updated hierarchy: *Stanek | Neris | Montero.
* = closer-by-committee

April 16, 2022
Houston Astros — Ryan Pressly was placed on the IL with knee inflammation. The move is backdated to April 14. Hector Neris will get first crack at saves, but Ryne Stanek will also be in the mix. Also expect Phil Maton to see some higher leverage work in his absence.

Updated hierarchy: Neris | Stanek | Maton.

March 21, 2022
Houston Astros — Ryan Pressly will return as the closer for the Astros after having an All-Star season last year. The Astros signed former Phillies’ closer Hector Neris and he should serve as the primary set-up man for Pressly. Ryne Stanek was an important part of the Astros bullpen last year and he should return to a late-inning role. Enoli Paredes had a forgettable 2021 season after showing promise in 2020 but will hope that spending time with Closer Monkey favorite Fernando Rodney can help him bounce back in 2022.

Starting 2022 hierarchy: Pressly | Neris | Stanek.
Holds candidates: Neris, Stanek, Phil Maton.

September 29, 2021
Houston Astros – Ryan Pressly was unavailable on Tuesday because of some knee trouble, but he should be fine for Wednesday. We’ll keep an eye out to see if Pressly actually is fine. Be prepared for the Astros’ closer to be used sparingly, though, as Houston’s magic number to clinch the division is one. Kendall Graveman, placed on the paternity list Tuesday, or Ryne Stanek could vulture a chance this weekend.

Hierarchy remains: Pressly | Graveman | Stanek.

September 7, 2021
Houston Astros – Brandon Bielak pitched the final three innings in a blowout, earning his first save. He does not factor in to the Astros usual late inning plans.

Hierarchy remains: Pressly | Graveman | Stanek.

August 20, 2021
Houston Astros – Christian Javier was called upon Thursday to secure his second save after Ryan Pressly pitched the ninth in a tie game. While he doesn’t normally figure into the late-inning plans for Houston, Javier has been effective out of the bullpen this season (2.84 ERA overall with 107 Ks in 85.2 IP).

Hierarchy remains: Pressly | Graveman | Stanek.

August 4, 2021
Houston Astros – With Ryan Pressly wrapping up his time on the paternity list, the Astros turned to Kendall Graveman in the eighth to face the heart of the Dodgers’ order. Graveman overcame a single and a HBP to get out of the frame unscathed. Ryne Stanek then pitched a perfect ninth inning to collect his second save of the season.

Hierarchy remains: Pressly | Graveman | Stanek.

July 28, 2021
Houston Astros – As we reported yesterday, the Astros acquired Kendall Graveman from the Mariners. Dusty Baker said after the trade that Ryan Pressly will remain the team’s closer, though Graveman gives them a great option when Pressly isn’t available.

Updated hierarchy: Pressly | Graveman | Stanek.

July 27, 2021
Houston Astros – The Astros acquired Kendall Graveman from the Mariners. Expect Graveman to handle the eighth inning and provide a big boost for a beleaguered bullpen.

Updated hierarchy: Pressly | Graveman | Stanek.

July 26, 2021
ouston Astros – Cristian Javier, who started 9 games before getting moved to the bullpen, pulled a disappearing act on Sunday, entering the game with the bases loaded and no outs in the 7th, and getting out of the jam without allowing a run. He stayed on for the 8th, earning his fifth hold of the season, along with a spot in this hierarchy.

Updated hierarchy: Pressly | Stanek | Javier.

July 8, 2021
Houston Astros — Joe Smith returned from the injured list on Wednesday and the Astros are hoping that the 37-year-old will step into the higher-leverage role they anticipated for him at season’s start. He will compete for the seventh inning with Brooks Raley and Blake Taylor.

Updated hierarchy: Pressly | Stanek | Smith.

July 5, 2021
Houston Astros – Brooks Raley picked up his second save of the season on Sunday with a scoreless 10th inning. Ryan Pressly and Ryne Stanek weren’t available, as you would’ve known if you read the Vulture Save Watch yesterday.

Hierarchy remains: Pressly | Stanek | Raley.

June 10, 2021
Houston Astros — Joe Smith was placed on the IL with elbow soreness, opening the hierarchy door for 33-year-old lefty Brooks Raley. Meanwhile, swingman Cristian Javier picked up his first career save on Wednesday with a scoreless four-inning outing.

Updated hierarchy: Pressly | Stanek | Raley.

May 29, 2021
Houston Astros — The Astros bullpen gave up seven runs in the 10th inning, but there was still some good news, as Ryan Pressly returned from neck stiffness to pitch a clean ninth inning with the game tied. Houston will need Pressly to be in good form because there are not many reliable options behind him in their bullpen. 

Hierarchy remains: Pressly | Stanek | Smith.

May 27, 2021
Houston Astros — The league’s most stable bullpen got a shock Wednesday night as Bryan Abreu was summoned to protect a three-run lead in the ninth instead of Ryan Pressly. Abreu walked two, but managed to strike out Albert Pujols to earn his first career save. After the game, Dusty Baker explained that Pressly had a stiff neck and couldn’t turn his head. No word on a possible IL stint, but Pressly owners may want to stash Ryne Stanek just in case.

Hierarchy remains: Pressly | Stanek | Smith.

April 29, 2021
Houston Astros — As we predicted, Ryan Pressly was given the night off on Thursday, and Ryne Stanek grabbed his second career save. VUL — TURE — SAVE — WATCH!! *Clap clap clapclapclap*

Hierarchy remains: Pressly | Stanek | Smith.

April 27, 2021
Houston Astros – Ryne Stanek continued his strong season (11.1 IP, 2.38 ERA, 17 Ks), picking up the 8th inning hold last night ahead of Ryan Pressly. Stanek has been one of the only reliable arms in Houston’s pen thus far, and would likely get the save chance on nights that Pressly is unavailable.

Updated hierarchy: Pressly | Stanek | Smith.

April 25, 2021
Houston Astros – Although we focus primarily on saves, we are still a website dedicated to bullpens and for that reason, we feel like we should at least mention Kent Emanuel’s relief outing yesterday. In his major league debut, Emanuel threw 8.2 innings out of the bullpen. We expect the Rays were taking note and will probably start to deploy their pitchers in a similar fashion moving forward.

Hierarchy remains: Pressly | Smith | Stanek.

April 4, 2021
Houston Astros – Brooks Raley recorded an unlikely save for the Astros yesterday. Raley came on with the Astros up 4 in the 8th inning and the bases loaded. He got out of the jam and then after the Astros added 4 more runs in the top of the 9th, he came back out to finish off the Astros’ victory. 

Hierarchy remains: Pressly | Smith | Paredes.

March 24, 2021
Houston Astros – Pedro Baez is back with the team after a COVID-19 diagnosis but might not be ready for Opening Day. Enoli Paredes has been throwing 97-99 mph this spring and could get some late-inning looks behind Ryan Pressly until Baez is ready. 

Updated hierarchy: Pressly | Smith | Paredes.

March 3, 2021
Houston Astros — Houston’s bullpen was heavily reinforced in the offseason, with Joe Smith returning after a 2020 opt-out, Pedro Baez and Ryne Stanek signing on as free agents, and Steve Cishek joining the team on a minor-league contract. Ryan Pressly, who took over the ninth when Roberto Osuna was injured, should stay in the closer role, with Baez and Smith getting him the ball.

Starting 2021 hierarchy: Pressly | Baez | Smith.
Holds candidates: Baez, Smith, Cishek, Enoli Paredes.

September 20, 2020
Houston Astros — Brooks Raley, who has been great since being traded to the Astros, struck out a pair in an 8th inning hold ahead of a Ryan Pressly save yesterday. Raley has now picked up two holds and a save in his last three appearances and should continue to be used in the late innings.

Updated hierarchy: Pressly | Scrubb | Raley.

September 19, 2020
Houston Astros — Brad Peacock didn’t last long in Houston this season, returning to the IL after only two weeks and three appearances. With Chris Devenski similarly sidelined, we welcome Josh James to the hierarchy for the first time.

Updated hierarchy: Pressly | Scrubb | James.

September 18, 2020
Houston Astros – As predicted, Ryan Pressly got the night off Thursday, but so did Andre Scrubb, as lefty Brooks Raley instead was called upon to secure his first major league save. With two lefties due up in the ninth, Dusty Baker turned to Raley, who has been very effective against lefties this season (.148 BAA, .466 OPS against). 

Hierarchy remains: Pressly | Scrubb | Peacock.

September 8, 2020
Houston Astros – Blake Taylor was placed on the IL yesterday with elbow soreness. With so little experience in the Astros bullpen, we figure that veteran Brad Peacock — just activated from the IL himself — will get some high-leverage work pretty quickly.

Updated hierarchy: Pressly | Scrubb | Peacock.

September 4, 2020
Houston Astros – Old friend Chris Devenski is traveling with the team this weekend and could be activated soon. We haven’t seen him since July, but he could possibly compete for a setup role if he pitches well upon returning. 

Hierarchy remains: Pressly | Taylor | Scrubb.

August 18, 2020
Houston Astros – Two straight days of work meant an offday for Ryan Pressly on Monday, allowing Blake Taylor to collect his first save. “VUL, ture, SAVE, watch [clap, clap, clap-clap-clap].”

Hierarchy remains: Pressly | Taylor | Scrubb.

August 10, 2020
Houston Astros – Roberto Osuna’s season is likely over, as he was transferred to the 45-day IL on Sunday. Speculation continues that he will need Tommy John, and could potentially miss 2021 as well.

Hierarchy remains: Pressly | Taylor | Scrubb.

August 7, 2020
Houston Astros – Ryan Pressly, who has been battling blister issues lately, was…not great in a save situation Thursday, coughing up two runs without recording an out to take the loss. After the game, manager Dusty Baker said Pressly hadn’t had much work lately but was “confident to pitch.”  Assuming he can get his blister situation under control, Pressly is the best bet for Astros saves for now. Meanwhile, closer Roberto Osuna is on the IL and was recently recommended to have Tommy John surgery, according to a report, but he is seeking a second opinion first.

Hierarchy remains: Pressly | Taylor | Scrubb.

August 2, 2020
Houston Astros – As expected, Roberto Osuna’s arm injury has resulted in an IL stint. Ryan Pressly is the best bet to close in his absence.

Updated hierarchy: Pressly | Taylor | Scrubb.

August 2, 2020
Houston Astros — Roberto Osuna left yesterday’s game with an injury and is headed back to Houston for an MRI. The Astros also placed Chris Devenski on the IL. Ryan Pressly pitched the 8th inning yesterday and although it wasn’t a great outing, Pressly should take over as closer if Osuna misses an extended period of time.

Updated hierarchy: Osuna | Pressly | Taylor.

August 1, 2020
Houston AstrosIT’S HAPPENINGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG!!!!! Also, Andre Scrubb picked up a vulture save while the top arms got the night off, and Ryan Pressly could pitch as early as today. But don’t lose focus: it’s almost Rodney time, baby!

Updated hierarchy: Rodney | Rodney | Rodney | Rodney | Rodney.

July 20, 2020
Houston Astros — The strong Astros bullpen is a source of real concern, as neither Roberto Osuna (conditioning) nor Ryan Pressly (blister) are throwing off a mound right now, and Joe Smith is likely to opt out of the season. Chris Devenski and Bryan Abreu are the healthiest options at the moment, with Brad Peacock battling shoulder inflammation. We’ll keep Osuna up top because he could be ready for Opening Day, but don’t be surprised by some unusual early usage.

Updated hierarchy: Osuna | Pressly | Devenski.

February 24, 2020
Houston Astros — It’s been a nice, quiet offseason in Houston, and not much has changed at the back of the bullpen. The ninth belongs to Roberto Osuna, and Ryan Pressly is likely to own the eighth if he can overcome his knee troubles and revert to the amazing form he showed early last season. It’s not yet clear who will be second in line, with Brad Peacock, Joe Smith, and Chris Devenski all in the mix. Josh James could bring his 100 mph stuff to a setup role if he doesn’t get the nod as the team’s fifth starter. Another future starter who could get high-leverage work this season is 22-year-old Bryan Abreu.

Starting 2020 hierarchy: Osuna | Pressly | Smith.
Holds candidates: Pressly, Peacock, Smith, Devenski.

September 26, 2019
Houston Astros — After that bum Zack Greinke gave up TWO CONSECUTIVE HITS with one out in the ninth inning, Will Harris had to come out of the bullpen and show everyone just how this pitching thing is done. Note that Wednesday was Harris’s fourth straight no-hit appearance, while Greinke is on the record saying a no-hitter just isn’t worth the hassle! Maybe if the Astros would start Harris, they’d have won more than just 18 of their 19 games against Seattle this season.

Hierarchy remains: Osuna | Harris | Pressly.

September 21, 2019
Houston Astros — The Astros activated Ryan Pressly from the IL on Friday and he earned a seventh-inning hold in his return. Manager A.J. Hinch said that he has predetermined days and spots in which he wants Pressly to pitch, but he did not disclose those to anyone. Normally Pressly would be the handcuff to Roberto Osuna, but given Hinch’s comments, Will Harris may be the most likely reliever to vulture a save if Osuna needs some rest.

Updated hierarchy: Osuna | Harris | Pressly.

September 8, 2019
Houston Astros — The Astros gave closer Roberto Osuna the day off after pitching on Thursday and Friday.  Will Harris pitched a scoreless 9th for his second save of the season.

Hierarchy remains: Osuna | Harris | Rondon.

September 6, 2019
Houston Astros — Ryan Pressly will throw off a mound on Friday as he continues to work his way back after knee surgery. He could get some late-inning work before the end of the regular season as a tuneup for October.

Hierarchy remains: Osuna | Harris | Rondon.

September 3, 2019
Houston Astros – After a Roberto Osuna blown save in the 9th, the Astros retook the lead in the 10th, allowing Josh James to pick up his first career save. James has struggled with his control at times, but has electrifying stuff (14.27 K/9 in 52.1 IP this season) and is a reliever to watch for the Astros in 2020 and beyond.

Hierarchy remains: Osuna | Harris | Rondon.

August 25, 2019
Houston Astros — Roberto Osuna got a much needed day off on Saturday and Will Harris converted the vulture save chance.  Harris should continue to see save chances when Osuna is unavailable.  

Hierarchy remains: Osuna | Harris | Rondon.

August 23, 2019
Houston Astros — Righty Ryan Pressly is out for the next four to six weeks after arthroscopic knee surgery. Joe Biagini took his place, but ran into trouble while pitching the ninth with a six-run cushion, so Roberto Osuna, who’s been busy lately, tossed seven pitches to secure the save. Will Harris will continue to see high-leverage looks, but manager AJ Hinch prefers to use him in tight spots with runners on base, so he might not be used to begin an eighth inning very often. Holds will also be available for Hector Rondon and Joe Smith.

Updated hierarchy: Osuna | Harris | Rondon.

August 10, 2019
Houston Astros — The Astros activated Ryan Pressly from the IL and immediately handed him the ball in the eighth inning of a one-run game. He was solid in his return, striking out two while giving up a walk and a single to earn his 24th hold of the year. Pressly will slot right back into the primary set up role that he has excelled at all season. 

Updated hierarchy: Osuna | Pressly | Harris.

August 1, 2019
Houston Astros — Ryan Pressly did hit the IL with knee soreness, leaving Will Harris to take over the eighth inning. The acquisition of Joe Biagini adds to Houston’s bullpen depth, which includes Hector Rondon, newly reactivated Joe Smith, and Chris Devenski.

Updated hierarchy: Osuna | Harris | Rondon.

July 31, 2019
Houston Astros — With Ryan Pressly once again unavailable because of right knee soreness, the Astros turned to Will Harris in the eighth inning to help lock down a 2-0 win. The MLB transactions site lists Pressly as being on the seven-day IL retroactive to July 27, but the Astros haven’t officially announced anything and there’s seemingly no confirmation of such a thing. An IL stint wouldn’t be surprising at this point, but we’ll hopefully have a clearer picture later today.

Hierarchy remains: Osuna | Pressly | Harris.

July 28, 2019
Houston Astros — All-Star reliver Ryan Pressly is battling soreness in his right knee and the Astros are considering placing him on the IL.  Roberto Osuna has been a little shaky recently, giving up an earned run in his last three appearances, and five of his last seven.  If Pressly misses time, the Astros may be more aggressive in acquiring bullpen help at the deadline.  

Hierarchy remains: Osuna | Pressly | Harris.

July 25, 2019
Houston Astros — Will Harris got a seventh-inning hold on Tuesday and seems to have usurped that role from Hector Rondon (12.15 ERA in July).

Updated hierarchy: Osuna | Pressly | Harris.

June 15, 2019
Houston Astros – With the Astros ‘pen stretched thin, they called up Rogelio Armenteros, who pitched three scoreless innings to earn his first career save. Armenteros joins the Diamondbacks’ Jon Duplantier and Taylor Clarke as pitchers who recorded a save in their major league debut this season. Armenteros will likely be sent back down soon, but he couldn’t have asked for a better debut. 

Hierarchy remains: Osuna | Pressly | Rondon.

June 4, 2019
Houston Astros – Roberto Osuna got the night off after pitching in two of the last three, leaving Ryan Pressly to pick up his third save of the season.

Hierarchy remains: Osuna | Pressly | Rondon.

May 25, 2019
Houston Astros — The scoreless streak is over. Ryan Pressly gave up a leadoff homer to stop his record streak at 40 consecutive appearances. Pressly still earned his 11th hold on the year, while Roberto Osuna closed it out for his 13th save. There isn’t a better 1-2 punch in the majors right now than Pressly and Osuna.

Hierarchy remains: Osuna | Pressly | Rondon.

May 18, 2019
Houston Astros — Ryan Pressly turned in a web gem to set a MLB record with his 39th consecutive scoreless appearance, breaking Craig Kimbrel’s mark of 38 set in 2011. Pressly has been the best reliever in baseball thus far this year, but still has 20 games to go if he wants to break Kimbrel’s single-season record.

Hierarchy remains: Osuna | Pressly | Rondon.

April 11, 2019
Houston Astros — As we predicted, Ryan Pressly was given the save opportunity after three straight days of work for Roberto Osuna. Pressly converted to complete the sweep of the Yankees.

Hierarchy remains: Osuna | Pressly | Rondon.

April 2, 2019
Houston Astros – For the second straight game, recently-extended set-up man Ryan Pressly got the 8th inning ahead of Roberto Osuna. He looks to be the handcuff here going forward.

Updated hierarchy: Osuna | Pressly | Rondon.

March 21, 2019
Houston Astros — Ryan Pressly just signed a $17.5 million extension and has the edge over Chris Devenski at second in line.

Updated hierarchy: Osuna | Rondon | Pressly.

February 18, 2019
Houston Astros – Roberto Osuna is back for his first full season as Astros closer after an up-and-down 2018, which featured his long suspension, a surprise trade and a rough playoff performance. Still, Osuna is just 24 years old and was named by manager A.J. Hinch to be the undisputed man in the ninth. Behind Osuna is an impressive group that includes some with closing experience and/or nasty stuff: Ryan Pressly, Hector Rondon, Chris Devenski and Will Harris. Hinch has previously used Rondon in closing situations, so he would likely be the first man up should Osuna suffer an injury or falter.

Starting 2019 hierarchy: Osuna | Rondon | Devenski.
Holds candidates: Rondon, Devenski, Pressly, Harris.

September 30, 2018
Houston Astros – The Astros swept their doubleheader with the Orioles yesterday, and they rested closer Roberto Osuna in both games in an effort to get everyone innings before their days off.  Hector Rondon picked up his 15th save of the season in game 1 while Ryan Pressly picked up his 2nd save of the season in game 2.

Hierarchy remains: Osuna | Rondon | McHugh.

September 13, 2018
Houston Astros – Ryan Pressly became the 6th Astros reliever to record a save this season, as Roberto Osuna got the night off. It was a little surprising not to see Hector Rondon in a 1-run game, but he had thrown 25 pitches the night before, so it’s likely that Houston just wanted to give him some rest as well.

Hierarchy remains: Osuna | Rondon | McHugh.

September 4, 2018
Houston Astros – With a 3-run lead and with closer Roberto Osuna having pitched in the last two games, the Astros went piecemeal in the 9th inning, as Will Harris and Brad Peacock combined to get the last three outs. The pair would allow the tying run to reach the plate, but Peacock managed to get out of the inning to earn his third save.

Hierarchy remains: Osuna | Rondon | McHugh.

August 22, 2018
Houston Astros — AJ Hinch announced on MLB Network Radio yesterday that he’ll start using Hector Rondon in the seventh and eighth innings while relying on Roberto Osuna as the team’s primary closer. Hinch holds no regard for your fantasy team, however, as Rondon picked up the save on Tuesday while Osuna pitched the eighth. After the game, Hinch said that he had Osuna warming for the seventh in case he was needed to bail the Astros out of a jam. He also said that Osuna might have pitched the ninth as well had he not thrown 28 pitches in the previous inning. We think Hinch will stick to his word and keep Osuna as his primary closer, but be prepared for situations like tonight to arise where Rondon gets a save chance after Osuna is forced into a high-leverage spot in the seventh or eighth.

Updated hierarchy: Osuna | Rondon | McHugh.

August 21, 2018
Houston Astros — AJ Hinch announced on MLB Network Radio today that he’ll start using Hector Rondon in the seventh and eighth innings while relying on Roberto Osuna as the team’s primary closer. Ryan Pressly and Collin McHugh were also mentioned as late-inning options.

Updated hierarchy: Osuna | Rondon | McHugh.

August 7, 2018
Houston Astros – Recently acquired and reinstated from suspension for domestic abuse, Roberto Osuna made his Astros debut and was credited with the win, as the Astros would score 3 runs in the top of the 9th to beat the Giants. Rondon pitched the 9th as usual, and it appears as though remains the preferred option for the closer role. Osuna may vulture some chances due to match up or fatigue, but it’s Rondon’s job to lose.

Updated hierarchy: Rondon | Osuna | McHugh.

July 31, 2018
Houston Astros – The Astros traded one headache for another, acquiring Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna in exchange for Ken Giles. Osuna, eligible to return on Sunday, probably won’t close for the Astros, as Hector Rondon has been nails since taking over the job, but he’ll likely get the first bite at the apple should Rondon falter.

Updated hierarchy: Rondon | McHugh | Pressly.

July 28, 2018
Houston Astros — In an overnight trade, the Astros added Ryan Pressly from Minnesota. Pressly has been on a tear recently, riding a seven-game scoreless streak, and A.J. Hinch is impressed with his skills, even if he doesn’t know how he will use them just yet. Hinch may want to shake Pressly’s hand first, but we think Pressly jumps right into the hierarchy. Chris Devenski has been horrible lately, giving up eight runs without recording a single out over his past two appearances. Houston’s bullpen as a whole has bad recently, so they may not be done adding arms prior to the trade deadline.

Updated hierarchy: Rondon | McHugh | Pressly.

July 12, 2018
Houston Astros — A few hours after Ken Giles met his manager on the mound with a less-than-friendly salutation, GM Jeff Luhnow greeted Giles with his own F-word: Fresno. Yes, the once-dominant closer will be punching his ticket in the minors for the first time since his breakout rookie year in 2014. You really can’t go wrong with anyone else in the Astros’ stable of middle relievers: Will Harris has good K numbers and an ERA inflated by a high BABIP; Joe Smith has fashioned four scoreless outings since his return from the DL; Tony Sipp is an effective lefty; and even Brad Peacock’s recent struggles haven’t wrecked a very good season. But for second in line, we’ll bet on converted starter Collin McHugh, whose ERA has hovered around 1.00 all season, while he’s struck out 57 in 44 innings.

Updated hierarchy: Rondon | Devenski | McHugh.

July 7, 2018
Houston Astros — Brad Peacock entered a three-run game in the 8th inning, and when the Astros scored seven in the bottom half, he stuck around for the 9th. It did not go smoothly for him, as he gave up three runs on two homers in the but with a 10-run cushion, he managed to close out the game for his second save of the year. Peacock has fallen out of favor a bit with the Astros, which has more to do with his competition than with him pitching particularly poorly.

Hierarchy remains: Rondon | Giles | Devenski.

July 5, 2018
Houston Astros — We were a day late with our call on this one — Hector Rondon got a day off immediately after a 35-pitch outing, leaving Ken Giles to lock down the Independence Day save.

Hierarchy remains: Rondon | Giles | Devenski.

July 4, 2018
Houston Astros – Hector Rondon notched a four-out save on Tuesday. He has allowed just one earned run over his last 18 appearances and owns a 1.44 ERA with 40 total strikeouts in 31.1 IP this season. Safe to say at this point that the closer’s role firmly belongs to Rondon.

Hierarchy remains: Rondon | Giles | Devenski.

June 29, 2018
Houston Astros – All signs are pointing towards this job being Hector Rondon’s to lose. On Tuesday, Rondon was ready to come in for the save when the Astros offense decided to get home run happy and blow the game open in the 8th, and last night AJ Hinch once again turned to Rondon to close out a 1 run game. Rondon did allow a hit, but struck out the other 3 batters he faced, giving him 38 K’s in 30 IPs so far this season. Hinch will probably still opt for other relievers on occasion, but we’ll consider removing Rondon’s asterisk in the near future.

Hierarchy remains: *Rondon | Giles | Devenski.
* = closer-by-committee

June 15, 2018
Houston Astros — Pitching in a spot normally reserved for a well-rested closer on Thursday, Hector Rondon pitched a clean ninth inning with a four-run lead. Rondon hadn’t pitched since Sunday. Ken Giles had the team’s most recent save on Tuesday night, but Rondon was unavailable that night due to his recent workload. Rondon stays atop this uncertain committee, but expect GIles to get saves, too.

Hierarchy remains: *Rondon | Giles | Devenski. 
* = closer-by-committee

June 13, 2018
Houston Astros – After Hector Rondon’s string of three saves in five days, the Astros turned to Ken Giles to get the final three outs of Tuesday’s win. Rondon was reportedly unavailable after his recent usage, giving Giles a chance to pick up his 11th save in 11 tries. Not only has Giles not blown a save chance but he also hasn’t allowed a run in any of those 11 opportunities. We’ll keep Rondon at the top of the hierarchy for now, but don’t be surprised if Giles gets another save chance and moves back to the front of the line.

Hierarchy remains: *Rondon | Giles | Devenski. 
* = closer-by-committee

June 11, 2018
Houston Astros – Hector Rondon picked up another save on Sunday — his third in five days. It happened rather quickly, but Rondon is now the most likely reliever to get the ball in the 9th inning in Houston. We do expect Ken Giles and Chris Devenski to still mix in from time to time.

Updated hierarchy: *Rondon | Giles | Devenski. 
* = closer-by-committee

June 10, 2018
Houston Astros — With the Astros clinging to a one-run lead on Saturday, they again turned to Hector Rondon to close it out.  Rondon converted the save chance and now has recorded each of the last two saves for the Astros.  Manager A.J. Hinch mentioned that they might set an Astros’ record for how many guys record saves this season.  He also said that he thinks Ken Giles will get save opportunities, but he is not going be afraid to use whoever is pitching well.  Giles stays at the top of the committee and Rondon slides into first in line based on his recent success.

Updated hierarchy: *Giles | Rondon | Devenski.
* = closer-by-committee

June 10, 2018
Houston Astros — Ken Giles allowed a run Thursday for the third time in his last five appearances (5 ER, 4 IP), ballooning his ERA to an unsavory 5.40. Should this continue, expect Chris Devenski, Hector Rondon and Brad Peacock to compete for save chances.

Hierarchy remains: *Giles | Devenski | Rondon.
* = closer-by-committee

June 7, 2018
Houston Astros — The resurgence of ex-Cubs closer Hector Rondon has given Houston another late-inning weapon. On Wednesday night, he took over for Joe Smith and got out of a tight spot in the eighth, then stayed on for the ninth to grab his first save since 2016. There’s nothing wrong with what Brad Peacock’s been doing, but there’s room for only three in the hierarchy, and with last night’s save, Rondon has earned a spot.

Updated hierarchy: *Giles | Devenski | Rondon.
* = closer-by-committee

May 30, 2018
Houston Astros — Ken Giles had thrown 35 pitches over the last two days, so with the Astros ahead by two in the ninth, AJ Hinch turned to Chris Devenski to close out a win. That was a nice idea, but Devenski gave up a two-run homer to send the game to extras. Giles was originally unavailable because of his previous workload, but that changed when the Astros threatened to take the lead in the 10th. Either way, Giles and Devenski remain the top two arms in the Houston bullpen.

Hierarchy remains: Giles | Devenski | Peacock.

May 19, 2018
Houston Astros — Ken Giles has converted the last four save opportunities for the Astros, so it finally seems safe to remove the committee tag.

Hierarchy remains: Giles | Devenski | Peacock.

May 10, 2018
Houston Astros — Two straight days, two straight uneventful saves for Ken Giles, but AJ Hinch’s love of matchups compels us to keep the committee tag, for now at least.

Hierarchy remains: *Giles | Devenski | Peacock.
* = closer-by-committee

May 4, 2018
Houston Astros — A save situation presented itself to Astros manager AJ Hinch on Thursday, but this time he used Will Harris with the team leading 5-3 over the Yankees. Harris did not deliver, loading the bases before departing. Brad Peacock then allowed a two-run single to tie the game and a fielder’s choice to give New York the lead and the win. Nowhere to be found was Ken Giles, who hasn’t been seen on a mound since he punched himself walking off of it. After the game, Hinch indicated he didn’t use Giles because he thought “Harris could get those guys out due to matchups.” Chris Devenski, who was well-rested, pitched a clean eighth but did not stay out for the ninth. For now, we’ll keep Giles atop this committee, with Devenski, who has been dynamite this year, lurking.

Hierarchy remains: *Giles | Devenski | Peacock.
* = closer-by-committee

May 2, 2018
Houston Astros — The Yankees weren’t the only ones hitting Ken Giles hard on Tuesday, as Giles’ streak of eight straight scoreless appearances (and seven straight without allowing a hit) came to an end thanks in part to a Gary Sanchez three-run homer in the ninth that broke a 0-0 tie. We’ll see if Giles can bounce back from this rough outing and protect both a lead and himself.

Hierarchy remains: *Giles | Devenski | Peacock.
* = closer-by-committee

April 26, 2018
Houston Astros — Don’t look now, but Ken Giles is on his way back, closing out the Angels with a 1-2-3 ninth after Chris Devenski pitched the eighth. Justin Verlander was impressed, even if Mike Trout almost did hit one out. If Devenski gets the next chance, we’ll keep calling this a committee; otherwise, Giles likely has the job back.

Updated hierarchy: *Giles | Devenski | Peacock.
* = closer-by-committee

April 23, 2018
Houston Astros – The Astros were up by 6 runs yesterday, but still opted to use their best relievers to nail down the win, and it was Ken Giles who emerged from the bullpen in the 8th inning, leaving the 9th to Chris Devenski. This will likely be a committee for the foreseeable future, but recent usage suggests Devo is a little bit more likely than Giles to get a save on any given night.

Updated hierarchy: *Devenski | Giles | Peacock.
* = closer-by-committee

April 21, 2018
Houston Astros — Ken Giles pitched the ninth inning with a lead for the first time since April 9th. Sure, it was a 10-run lead, but with Giles hurting, it had to be a relief for his owners to see him put together a clean inning. The next save opportunity will provide some clarity in Houston, but with Chris Devenski so valuable in a more flexible role, we think Giles still has the inside track to keep the closer’s job if he can stay healthy.

Hierarchy remains: *Giles | Devenski | Peacock.
* = closer-by-committee

April 20, 2018
Houston Astros — Manager A.J. Hinch revealed before Thursday’s game that Ken Giles has been dealing with back tightness that has “gotten a bit worse.” The tightness was the reason for his absence for the last couple days. Giles said after Thursday’s game that he believes he must have slept wrong, but he’ll be “ready to go” on Friday. So has his tightness gotten worse, or is he ready to go? We’ll see what happens Friday night, but consider handcuffing yourself with Chris Devenski in the meantime, if he’s available.

Hierarchy remains: *Giles | Devenski | Peacock.
* = closer-by-committee

April 18, 2018
Houston Astros — After Will Harris kept the Astros ahead, 4-1, through the eighth inning, it was Chris Devenski who got the ball for the ninth. Devenski converted the save and now leads Houston with a whopping two saves this season. AJ Hinch will always look for the best matchup, and Devenski has been terrific against left-handed hitters, two of which were due up in the ninth. Ken Giles owners have every right to be frustrated, as Hinch’s committee appears to be here to stay.

Hierarchy remains: *Giles | Devenski | Peacock.
* = closer-by-committee

April 15, 2018
Houston Astros — Manager AJ Hinch thinks Ken Giles will end up with the most saves at the end of the season, but he likes all his options to close games.  One of those options, Brad Peacock, gave up 3 runs in the eighth on Saturday to blow the Astros lead.  Giles pitched a scoreless ninth in a tie game.  At this point, it certainly looks like a committee in Houston, but Giles should still see the majority of save chances and has a chance to kick the committee if he can pitch like he did during the regular season last year.

Hierarchy remains: *Giles | Devenski | Peacock.
* = closer-by-committee

April 14, 2018
Houston Astros — In a one-run game with everyone available in the bullpen, it was Chris Devenski who got the call in the ninth, instead of Ken Giles. Devenski struck out the side around a single and a hit batsman to become the third Astro to earn a save this month. AJ Hinch has said previously that he won’t set full-time roles for the bullpen, and although he likes the flexibility of using Devenski and Peacock over multiple innings, we have to be honest and call this a committee. We still like Giles as the leader for saves, but the situation is more complicated than his owners would like.

Updated hierarchy: *Giles | Devenski | Peacock.
* = closer-by-committee

April 9, 2018
Houston Astros – Ken Giles got Sunday off after pitching in two straight games, which meant a second save chance for Brad Peacock, who is settling in very nicely to his bullpen role.

Updated hierarchy: Giles | Devenski | Peacock.

April 5, 2018
Houston Astros — Ken Giles owners have some reason for concern after A.J. Hinch chose a third inning of Brad Peacock rather than going to Giles with a one-run lead in the ninth. Hinch gave Giles a vote of confidence after the game, saying that the decision was all about “the way that Peacock was spinning the ball,” and that Giles would have come in at the first sign of trouble. Memories of Giles’s postseason struggles are unlikely to fade until he again proves himself effective in a tight spot.

Hierarchy remains: Giles | Devenski | Harris.

February 26, 2018
Houston Astros — Ken Giles had a postseason to forget, but won his arbitration hearing and is working hard this offseason, building up stamina to avoid a repeat performance. Backing him up will be change-up king Chris Devenski and a few sleeper options for saves: 29-year-old Hector Rondon, who struggled with the Cubs last year, but still put up 10.8 K/9; veteran submariner Joe Smith; and incumbent Will Harris, who continued to excel when healthy last season. We’ll start Harris at #3, but this team has a lot of high-quality late-inning options.

Starting 2018 hierarchy: Giles | Devenski | Harris.
Holds candidates: Devenski, Harris, Smith.

September 21, 2017
Houston Astros — Joe Musgrove’s journey to the bullpen is allowing the Astros to give a little more rest to Ken Giles and Chris Devenski ahead of the playoffs. Wednesday night, Musgrove picked up another save in a tight spot, and he could wind up challenging for the closer job next spring.

Hierarchy remains: Giles | Devenski | Musgrove.

September 17, 2017
Houston Astros – As predicted in yesterday’s Vulture Save Watch, Ken Giles got the night off.  However, instead of Chris Devenski getting the save chance, the Astros went with Joe Musgrove.  Musgrove pitched the final two innings to record his first career save.  Musgrove has stellar numbers since moving to the bullpen, and should continue to see time in the later innings down the stretch.

Updated hierarchy: Giles | Devenski | Musgrove.

September 15, 2017
Houston Astros – Closer Ken Giles secured his second hold of the season against the Angels on Thursday. Wait, what? Giles was used in the eighth inning of a 3-1 game and escaped with a clean inning. Giles did face the top of the order in a pretty important and tight spot of the game (gee, is everyone trying to be Andrew Miller these days?). He did his job and his not in jeopardy of losing his actual job.

Hierarchy remains: Giles | Devenski | Harris.

September 4, 2017
Houston Astros – Chris Devenski got the final six outs of Sunday’s game, earning his fourth save of the year. Ken Giles had pitched two of the last three (3 IP total) so the Astros, sporting an enormous division lead, decided to give him the night off.

Hierarchy remains: Giles | Devenski | Harris.

September 1, 2017
Houston Astros – Here’s a reminder that the Astros are off Friday as they return home to flood-ravaged Houston. If you’re in a daily update league you can slide Ken Giles or Chris Devenski (or whoever you have) out for a night. They’ll play a doubleheader this weekend to make up for the missed game. Oh, and in non-bullpen news, the Astros traded for future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander late Thursday night.

Hierarchy remains: Giles | Devenski | Harris.

August 30, 2017
Houston Astros – Will Harris looked sharp on Tuesday in his first appearance since July 5. He retired the side in the sixth inning on just eight pitches, including a strikeout.

Hierarchy remains: Giles | Devenski | Harris.

August 28, 2017
Houston Astros – The Astros activated Will Harris from the disabled list on Sunday; he should immediately become a good source of holds again, bridging the gap to closer Ken Giles.

Updated hierarchy: Giles | Devenski | Harris.

August 26, 2017
Houston Astros – Joe Musgrove pitched the 8th inning ahead of Ken Giles last night to pick up his 3rd hold of the year. Musgrove had a miserable run as a starting pitcher before being moved to the bullpen in mid-July. He has responded by only giving up 1 run in his 12 relief appearances, and hasn’t giving up a single run in August. While this isn’t enough to crack the hierarchy just yet, Musgrove appears to be on the rise in Houston and should continue to see hold opportunities.

Hierarchy remains: Giles | Devenski | Clippard.

August 20, 2017
Houston Astros – Ken Giles got the night off after a five out save on Friday night, and the Astros went with newly acquired Tyler Clippard in the ninth inning.  Clippard converted the save chance, and now has recorded saves for three different teams this season.  After a really rough stretch at the end of June and beginning of July, Clippard has settled in and not allowed any earned runs in August.

Updated hierarchy: Giles | Devenski | Clippard.

August 1, 2017
Houston Astros – For a time, the Astros seemed like the leaders in the Zach Britton sweepstakes, but they ended up standing pat. They did, however, have to put Will Harris back on the DL before he’d even made an appearance in the big leagues, meaning we welcome Luke Gregerson back to the hierarchy.

Updated hierarchy: Giles | Devenski | Gregerson.

July 29, 2017
Houston Astros – Will Harris has come back from the disabled list and should return to high-leverage work.

Updated hierarchy: Giles | Devenski | Harris.

July 19, 2017
Houston Astros – The Vulture Save Watch picked a winner in Luke Gregerson on Tuesday, but it was not a conventional save. Gregerson entered the eighth inning with the tying run on deck in a 6-2 game, picked up the final out of the frame, and then stayed on to complete the ninth for his first save of the season.

Hierarchy remains: Giles | Devenski | Gregerson.

July 15, 2017
Houston Astros – Will Harris has been placed on the disabled list with inflammation in his throwing shoulder, and will be out until at least next Friday.

Updated hierarchy: Giles | Devenski | Gregerson.

June 23, 2017
Houston Astros – Manager AJ Hinch was trying to give his primary relievers a day off Thursday with a big 12-3 lead, but his lesser relievers coughed up six runs back in the eighth inning to make things interesting. So, Hinch got Chris Devenski warming and closer Ken Giles stretching. With Devenski ready, Hinch opted to use him in the ninth, and he converted his third save. No, there’s no closer controversy.

Hierarchy remains: Giles | Harris | Devenski.

June 9, 2017
Houston Astros – The Astros have called up top pitching prospect Francis Martes. It’s not clear what his long-term situation looks like (for some, he projects as a starter), but he’s going to get work in the team’s bullpen out of the gate. The high-leverage looks will probably be few and far between for Martes (who actually has struggled recently in the minors), but in the recent past, top prospects have excelled in bullpen situations — Adam Wainright and Chris Sale, to name a few — before making the journey to being a full-time starter.

Hierarchy remains: Giles | Harris | Devenski.

May 28, 2017
Houston Astros – Will Harris pitched a perfect ninth inning with two strikeouts to pick up his second save of the year.  Ken Giles got the day off after pitching in two straight.

Updated hierarchy: Giles | Harris | Devenski.

May 19, 2017
Houston Astros – Sources told FOX Sports reporter Ken Rosenthal that the red-hot Astros are hunting for more pitching and are intrigued by Pirates closer Tony Watson. Nothing is imminent, the report said.

Hierarchy remains: Giles | Devenski | Harris.

May 11, 2017
Houston Astros – Will Harris relieved Luke Gregerson in a tight eighth inning on Wednesday and appears to be ahead of Gregerson in the Houston hierarchy. Harris earned 12 saves for the Astros last season and has eight strikeouts over his last four appearances.

Updated hierarchy: Giles | Devenski | Harris.

May 6, 2017
Houston Astros – Luke Gregerson has really been struggling lately, and it was Chris Devenski who got Friday’s call for a tenth-inning save after Ken Giles blew a chance in the ninth.

Updated hierarchy: Giles | Devenski | Gregerson.

May 3, 2017
Houston Astros – After Luke Gregerson allowed two runs without recording an out to begin the ninth inning, Will Harris came on to shut the door for his first save of the year. Ken Giles was rested after pitching in three of the last four games while Chris Devenski tossed 24 pitches on Monday to earn his night off.

Hierarchy remains: Giles | Gregerson | Devenski.

April 21, 2017
Houston Astros – Chris Devenski is off to a blistering start this year for the Astros and manager A.J. Hinch opted to use the reliever to finish the seventh and pitch the eighth and ninth innings, too, with a slim lead. Devenski ran into some trouble in the ninth — and actual closer Ken Giles was warming in the bullpen just in case — but Devenski closed the door for his first save of the year. But why him and not Giles? “I trust him as much as any pitcher I hand the ball to,” Hinch said, citing that his pitcher had such a clean eighth inning that he didn’t want to take him out. “He’s been exceptional.” Writers in Houston are calling Devenski the team’s relief ace — and who could blame them? He now has an astounding 25 strikeouts in 13.1 innings this year, good for a 16.88 K/9 mark. At worst, he’ll be in line for a number of holds and perhaps a few more save opportunities if he keeps this Andrew Miller-like impression going.

Updated hierarchy: Giles | Gregerson | Devenski.

April 15, 2017
Houston Astros – Chris Devenski isn’t in the Astros’ top three, but he’s worth your consideration if you’re in a deep league and need help with ratios and strikeouts. On the strength of a 12 MPH gap between his fastball and changeup, Devenski has 19 strikeouts over 9 innings so far this year — including three last night.

Hierarchy remains: Giles | Gregerson | Harris.

February 27, 2017
Houston Astros – Ken Giles will certainly hope for a better start to 2017 than he had last year. After losing the closer’s job in spring training, Giles yielded 10 earned runs over 10 innings in April. By mid-August, Giles reclaimed the closer job and never looked back, gathering 14 saves over the final two months of the year. The always reliable Luke Gregerson and Will Harris round out the Stros’ late-inning hierarchy.

Starting 2017 hierarchy: Giles | Gregerson | Harris.
Holds candidates: Gregerson, Harris.

September 25, 2016
Houston Astros — Things keep getting worse for Ken Giles.  A day after one of his worst outings of the season, he was hit by a line drive during batting practice on Saturday.  X-rays came back negative and he has been diagnosed with a contusion.  However, manager A.J. Hinch said it wasn’t good.  If Giles is unable to go the rest of the season, Luke Gregerson would likely fill in as closer.

Hierarchy remains: Giles | Gregerson | Harris.

September 24, 2016
Houston Astros — Ken Giles had a disastrous outing, blowing a save and dealing a blow to the Astros playoff hopes in the process. He entered with a two-run lead, but gave up a tying home run before loading the bases and getting yanked. After Michael Feliz gave up a three-run double, Giles was charged with six earned runs and the loss. Giles will hold onto his job, but with the Astros needing every win they can get, his leash will be shorter going forward.

Hierarchy remains: Giles | Gregerson | Harris.

September 22, 2016
Houston Astros — As we predicted, Luke Gregerson picked up a save on Wednesday with Ken Giles resting.

Hierarchy remains: Giles | Gregerson | Harris.

August 31, 2016
Houston Astros — Luke Gregerson is back and got the call in the eighth inning in his second appearance following an extended absence. Gregerson allowed a solo home run, but otherwise protected what became a two-run lead. With Will Harris having pitched the seventh, it appears as if Gregerson is once again the eighth-inning guy in Houston.

Updated hierarchy: Giles | Gregerson | Harris.

August 27, 2016
Houston Astros — Luke Gregerson remained unavailable with an ankle injury; although he hasn’t pitched in nine days, the team is hopeful that he will return over the weekend. Michael Feliz, Chris Devenski, and Pat Neshek have filled in for Gregerson.

Hierarchy remains: Giles | Harris | Gregerson.

August 13, 2016
Houston Astros — With Ken Giles out on paternity leave, A.J. Hinch said the team would “mix and match” in the ninth. But, in the end, the save opportunity fell to the most familiar face, Will Harris. Harris gave up a home run, but locked up his 12th save of the year. Luke Gregerson was activated from the DL on Friday, but did not pitch, and Hinch has said he wants to give Gregerson at least one low-stress outing to start. The save opportunity moves Harris up in the hierarchy, but don’t be surprised to see Gregerson fighting for high-leverage innings soon.

Updated hierarchy: Giles | Harris | Gregerson.

August 12, 2016
Houston Astros – In anticipation of his baby’s birth, Ken Giles — who pitched a scoreless inning Thursday — will not fly with the team to Toronto this weekend and will instead be placed on paternity leave starting Friday. Conveniently, Luke Gregerson is eligible to return from the disabled list on Friday after he had an encouraging bullpen session earlier in the week — though his exact return date has not been announced.

Hierarchy remains: Giles | Neshek | Harris.

August 11, 2016
Houston Astros — Luke Gregerson is eligible to return from the DL on Friday, so the Astros are hoping Ken Giles’s baby holds off until then also. If not, Pat Neshek will probably get the call in Giles’s absence.

Hierarchy remains: Giles | Neshek | Harris.

August 2, 2016
Houston Astros — Ken Giles has been pitching very well lately and will replace Will Harris as the Astros closer going forward. With Luke Gregerson hitting the DL with a left oblique strain, Pat Neshek should see more high-leverage innings. A.J. Hinch said that Harris will still be used in important spots, and also name-checked rookie Chris Devenski.

Updated hierarchy: Giles | Neshek | Harris.

July 7, 2016
Houston Astros — It wasn’t pretty for Luke Gregerson (1 ER, 3 BB), but he managed to grab the vulture save we foretold for him.

Hierarchy remains: Harris | Gregerson | Giles.

July 5, 2016
Houston Astros – In the last week, the Astros have used Luke Gregerson as Will Harris’s set-up man over Ken Giles. Giles has had a tough year following high expectations, and now seems to be second in line in Houston with Gregerson re-establishing his footing.

Updated hierarchy: Harris | Gregerson | Giles.

June 21, 2016
Houston Astros – Pat Neshek was originally credited with his first save of the season after recording the final two outs, up three runs with nobody on base against the Marlins last night. However, later on, his save was rescinded. According to the save rule, in order to qualify for a save in that situation, Neshek would have had to pitch the entire inning. Baseball is weird.

Hierarchy remains: Harris | Giles | Gregerson.

June 20, 2016
Houston Astros — Chris Devenski pitched the final 3.1 innings in a 6-0 Astros victory to earn his first career save and give the usual late-inning arms a much-needed off day.

Hierarchy remains: Harris | Giles | Gregerson.

June 19, 2016
Houston Astros — With Will Harris unavailable yesterday, the Astros went with Ken Giles in the ninth.  Unfortunately Giles was unable to hold the lead as he gave up two runs to tie the game.  Luke Gregerson struck out the side in a perfect eighth inning, and could challenge Giles for the role of backup closer when Harris can’t go in the future.

Hierarchy remains: Harris | Giles | Gregerson.

June 17, 2016
Houston Astros — Luke Gregerson could be back from the family-emergency list as soon as Friday (but maybe as late as early next week). He was placed on the list earlier this week to deal with an issue with his father. No other information was released.

Hierarchy remains: Harris | Giles | Gregerson.

June 12, 2016
Houston Astros — Will Harris ended his streak of 26 straight scoreless appearances on Saturday, but still recorded his third save of the season.  Harris has converted three straight save opportunities since Gregerson was demoted and he looks to be the primary closer for now.

Hierarchy remains: Harris | Giles | Gregerson.

June 10, 2016
Houston Astros — Asked Thursday morning whether Will Harris is the team’s closer, Astros manager A.J. Hinch said, “Get him in fantasy baseball and see what happens.” While we would have preferred he say, “Check with the Closer Monkey. He knows everything,” we’ll take Hinch’s comment as a public show of confidence in Harris. We’ll remove the closer-by-committee asterisk if Harris gets one more converted save opportunity.

Hierarchy remains: *Harris | Giles | Gregerson.
* = closer-by-committee

June 9, 2016
Houston Astros — Will Harris converted his second straight save opportunity since Luke Gregerson’s demotion. Harris hasn’t allowed a run since April 7, his first appearance of the season; that’s a 26-game streak. If he gets the next chance too, this probably isn’t a committee anymore.

Hierarchy remains: *Harris | Giles | Gregerson.
* = closer-by-committee

June 7, 2016
Houston Astros – Luke Gregerson pitched a clean eighth inning in his first outing in the post-Gregerson era. AJ Hinch had previously expressed a desire to keep Gregerson in the late-inning mix, but we did not expect him to go back to him so quickly.

Updated hierarchy: *Harris | Giles | Gregerson.
* = closer-by-committee

June 5, 2016
Houston Astros — Will Harris recorded the save today instead of Luke Gregerson.  A.J. Hinch confirmed that Gregerson will be removed from the closer’s role and other guys will get a look.  We will put Harris at the top of the hierarchy based on his save today and his 25-appearance scoreless streak.  Ken Giles picked up a save last week when Gregerson was unavailable, so he should see chances as well, and Michael Feliz has impressed recently and could also be an option.

Updated hierarchy: *Harris | Giles | Feliz.
* = closer-by-committee

June 5, 2016
Houston Astros — Luke Gregerson blew his second save in a row yesterday, and he now leads the majors in blown saves with five.  The Astros have other options as Ken Giles has been pitching better recently, and Will Harris hasn’t allowed a run in 24 straight appearances.  We will monitor this situation to see if A.J. Hinch is ready to change things up.

Hierarchy remains: Gregerson | Giles | Harris.

June 2, 2016
Houston Astros — Luke Gregerson blew a save on Wednesday, and after the game manager AJ Hinch took the blame, saying that he “fatigued” Gregerson. The Houston closer had indeed thrown over 50 pitches in three appearances over the last four days entering Wednesday, and some rest may do the trick. One bright spot for Houston was Michael Feliz, who has now thrown 10 straight scoreless innings, recording 17 strikeouts in that span.

Hierarchy remains: Gregerson | Giles | Harris.

May 27, 2016
Houston Astros — Just as the Vulture Save Watch called for, Ken Giles waltzed on out in the ninth inning Thursday night and picked up his first save since being dealt to the Astros. The inning wasn’t clean (1 ER, 2 H) and his overall numbers are ugly (5.75 ERA, 1.52 WHIP), but he had just come off a string of nine straight scoreless appearances. Since the beginning of May, his ERA has dropped by more than two runs. Hopefully, for the Astros’ sake, they are finally getting some return on their huge investment in Giles.

Hierarchy remains: Gregerson | Giles | Harris.

May 25, 2016
Houston Astros — Don’t look now, but Ken Giles has “figured things out” to the tune of eight straight scoreless appearances, including last night when he protected a 2-2 tie in the 8th inning. Will Harris extended his own scoreless appearance streak to 18 games on Tuesday as he continues to impress, but with Giles pitching like the guy the Astros traded for in the offseason, we think the former Phillies closer will be the first choice for a save when Luke Gregerson is unavailable.

Updated hierarchy: Gregerson | Giles | Harris.

May 18, 2016
Houston Astros — Tony Sipp stumbled his way into an extra-inning save after Luke Gregerson’s third blown save of the season. Sipp is not a prominent factor in the Astros’ late-inning plans. Meanwhile, Ken Giles looked strong with a pair of strikeouts in the seventh inning to preserve a tie game.

Hierarchy remains: Gregerson | Harris | Giles.

May 6, 2016
Houston Astros — Ken Giles has been relegated to earlier appearances for a little while now, an attempt to “ease the burden of the eighth inning” off of his world-weary shoulders. Giles opened the seventh for Houston on Thursday and didn’t seem any more relaxed; he put the first two guys on, then watched Tony Sipp usher them home. Giles’s struggles this year may be the result of bad luck (with four HR allowed, his ERA is almost 3x his xFIP), but until he starts seeing better results on the field, we think Will Harris — who has pitched all three meaningful eighth innings for Houston this month — has moved ahead of him.

Updated hierarchy: Gregerson | Harris | Giles.

April 14, 2016
Houston Astros — Ken Giles has had a nightmare start to the season, which wasn’t helped on Wednesday when he took the loss after giving up a two-run shot in the 8th inning. Manager A.J. Hinch backed Giles after the game, saying that he was throwing hard and made good pitches, but we have yet to see Giles turn a corner on his rough start to the season. Meanwhile, Luke Gregerson still has a 0.00 ERA to go with his two saves this year, so Giles may need more than just a return to form in order to get back in the closer mix.

Hierarchy remains: Gregerson | Giles | Neshek.

April 8, 2016
Houston Astros — What happened to Ken Giles? A consensus top-five closer before the season, he was relegated to setup duty after a rough spring, a move that took him by surprise. After allowing a run in one inning against New York earlier this week, Giles came on in a tie game on Thursday with a runner on first in the seventh. He gave up a single and a three-run homer, ballooning his early ERA to 16.20. The home run allowed — his second of the year — matches his total for all of 2015.

Hierarchy remains: Gregerson | Giles | Neshek.

April 4, 2016
Houston Astros — After staying mum on Sunday, A.J. Hinch announced Monday that Luke Gregerson will be the team’s “primary closer.” While this is a bit of a surprise, Giles had struggled all spring, finishing with a 6.75 ERA and 1.61 WHIP. His strikeouts were still there, though, so he should be able to right the ship soon and will be in line for saves if Gregerson falters.

Updated hierarchy: Gregerson | Giles | Neshek.

March 31, 2016
Houston Astros — Luke Gregerson had an impressive spring training debut, as he struck out the side on nine pitches.  Manager AJ Hinch has said he could mix and match with his bullpen and that even if he does name a closer, he won’t be afraid to use that guy before the ninth inning if necessary. We still like Ken Giles to get the majority of save opportunities, but Gregerson could see some chances — and Giles may be on a shorter leash if he is declared the closer.

Hierarchy remains: Giles | Gregerson | Neshek.

March 24, 2016
Houston Astros — A bit of a closer controversy is developing for Houston after Ken Giles has struggled this spring. He finally turned in a clean inning on Wednesday, and manager AJ Hinch said after the game that he won’t have a closer determination until the team’s trip to Mexico, which begins Friday. Even with Luke Gregerson beginning to return from an oblique injury, our bet is that Giles will be the team’s closer on opening day.

Hierarchy remains: Giles | Gregerson | Neshek.

February 29, 2016
Houston Astros — Ken Giles finally became the closer in Philadelphia after the Jonathan Papelbon trade, and he excelled, collecting 15 saves and striking out 87 hitters in 70 innings. Now the 25-year-old should get the chance at his first full season as a closer — although Luke Gregerson isn’t too pleased about losing his job. Gregerson hasn’t thrown off a mound yet this spring due to a sore oblique. Pat Neshek could grab some vulture saves during the season.

Starting 2016 hierarchy: Giles | Gregerson | Neshek.
Holds candidates: Gregerson, Neshek, Tony Sipp.

September 27, 2015
Houston Astros — The Astros brought in closer Luke Gregerson to protect a five run lead yesterday.  He struck out the first two batters but then gave up four straight hits and hit a batter and was pulled.  Will Harris came on to get the last out and record his second save of the season.

Hierarchy remains: Gregerson | Neshek | Harris.

September 18, 2015
Houston Astros — Closer Luke Gregerson will be back with the Astros on Friday after missing Wednesday and Thursday’s games due to the birth of his first child. No word as yet on whether taking only two days off makes Gregerson less of a “wuss” than Trevor Rosenthal.

Hierarchy remains: Gregerson | Neshek | Harris.

September 17, 2015
Houston Astros — Luke Gregerson left the team to attend the birth of his first child. With the Astros in a race for the playoffs, we expect that this will be a short term leave; in fact, Gregerson wasn’t placed on the paternity list. Pat Neshek is the most likely candidate for saves, but manager A.J. Hinch said he won’t hesitate to use Neshek in the most important spots, whether or not it’s the ninth inning.

Hierarchy remains: Gregerson | Neshek | Harris.

August 21, 2015
Houston Astros — Reliever Josh Fields (0.95 WHIP, 2.20 ERA) was sent down to Double-A for the crime of having options. The Astros needed “a jolt of freshness” in their bullpen after playing three extra-inning games out of five and using six relievers on Wednesday, so they called up rookie Vince Velasquez. Fields cannot return to the team for the next 10 days, unless someone gets hurt, which takes him to September 1 roster expansion anyway. For now, we’ll move Will Harris to second in line. He has six holds and a fine K rate, and nailed down a save earlier this month.

Updated hierarchy: Gregerson | Neshek | Harris.

August 7, 2015
Houston Astros — After Luke Gregerson choked with a two-run lead in the ninth, Will Harris came in and picked up his first career save in the tenth — even though Pat Neshek and Josh Fields were each available. Harris has a 1.28 ERA and a sub-1.00 WHIP and, given Gregerson’s fairly average numbers, it’ll be worth keeping an eye on how Harris is used going forward.

Hierarchy remains: Gregerson | Neshek | Fields.

July 2, 2015
Houston Astros — Trivia question: When a relief pitcher (Luke Gregerson) enters the game in the 9th inning with his team up by one and retires the first three batters he sees (like he did last night) what does he earn? If you said “save” you’d be right…except if you were in Houston on July 1, 2015. The official scorekeeper decided that when Josh Fields surrendered a two-run triple in the top of the 7th, this made him unworthy of the win so he invoked MLB rule 10.17. This let him award the win to the “most effective” reliever. He decided that this was Gregerson and his perfect 9th inning, so instead of his 19th save, Gregerson picked up his third win. This isn’t the first time 10.17 has given a closer a surprise win in a save situation, and the rule even showed up in Game 7 of last year’s World Series. (although it was later overturned).

Hierarchy remains: Gregerson | Neshek | Fields.

June 27, 2015
Houston Astros — Chad Qualls was placed on the disabled list Friday with a pinched nerve in his neck. Josh Fields has been excellent this year, with a 0.90 WHIP and 35 strikeouts in 22.1 IP.

Updated hierarchy: Gregerson | Neshek | Fields.

June 17, 2015
Houston Astros – If the Astros protected passwords as well as Luke Gregerson protected leads, they wouldn’t have so many security breaches! Gregerson recorded his 17th save of the year and his second straight in as many chances, bouncing back well after a bad blown save almost 10 days ago.

Hierarchy remains: Gregerson | Neshek | Qualls.

June 8, 2015
Houston Astros – Luke Gregerson suffered a bad blown save on Sunday, allowing three earned runs and raising his ERA to 4.50. It was only his second blown save, so his job is probably safe for now, but what we’re focused on is the man who would likely replace him if he missed time. An inning earlier, Pat Neshek got his third consecutive 8th inning hold; Chad Qualls, meanwhile, has only pitched twice since May 26 and his results are one loss and one blown save. Until we see reason to believe otherwise, it seems Neshek is now the handcuff in Houston.

Updated hierarchy: Gregerson | Neshek | Qualls.

May 20, 2015
Houston Astros –Luke Gregerson entered the ninth with a four-run lead, but he allowed two earned runs on two hits and two walks before Pat Neshek recorded the final out for his first save of the season. After the game, manager A.J. Hinch said Gregerson will be unavailable on Wednesday because of his recent workload. Hinch also wasn’t sure if Gregerson’s recent struggles are related to off-field matters that put him on the bereavement list earlier in the month, but seemed to stand by his closer after the Astros got off to their best 40-game start in franchise history.

Hierarchy remains: Gregerson | Qualls | Neshek.

May 15, 2015
Houston Astros — Chad Qualls picked up the save for the Astros Thursday night, as regular closer Luke Gregerson had to miss another game due to a family emergency. Manager A.J. Hinch said Gregerson would be back Friday and shouldn’t need to leave the team again.

Hierarchy remains: Gregerson | Qualls | Neshek.

May 12, 2015
Houston Astros – Luke Gregerson will likely return from bereavement leave today, according to A.J. Hinch.

Updated hierarchy: Gregerson | Qualls | Neshek.

May 10, 2015
Houston Astros — With Luke Gregerson out, Chad Qualls picked up his 3rd save of the season.  Qualls will continue to close while Gregerson is out.

Hierarchy Remains: Qualls | Neshek | Sipp.

May 9, 2015
Houston Astros — As we retweeted on Friday evening, Luke Gregerson has been placed on the family emergency list to deal with a private matter. Gregerson cannot return until Monday and could be out until next Friday. Chad Qualls will see the save opportunities until Gregerson comes back.

Updated hierarchy: Qualls | Neshek | Sipp.

April 25, 2015
Houston Astros — After Luke Gregerson blew a save in the ninth and Pat Neshek gave up two-thirds of a three-run lead in the tenth, Chad Qualls grabbed a vulture save. Josh Fields was also activated from the disabled list; A.J. Hinch says that after a few low-leverage appearances, Fields could be used in “a number of roles.”

Hierarchy remains: Gregerson | Qualls | Neshek.

April 22, 2015
Houston Astros – Chad Qualls chalked another one up for the Vulture Save Watch with a clean ninth inning.

Hierarchy remains: Gregerson | Qualls | Neshek.

March 31, 2015
Houston Astros – Luke Gregerson will close for the Astros to start the season, manager AJ Hinch said this afternoon. Gregerson was the frontrunner for the job after signing a 3-year, $18.5 million contract with the Astros in the offseason, and solidified his status with a strong spring. Chad Qualls and Pat Neshek also had excellent springs, and will fill the 7th and 8th innings. It isn’t apparent who would fill in on nights when Gregerson is unavailable, but we’ll give the edge to Qualls, who closed last season.

Hierarchy remains: Gregerson | Qualls | Neshek.

March 6, 2015
Houston Astros — Houston bolstered its bullpen again this offseason, bringing in ex-A Luke Gregerson (3 years, $18.5 million) and dubious All-Star Pat Neshek (2 years, $12.5 million) to challenge incumbent Chad Qualls, the oldest player in Astros camp, for the closer role. We think Gregerson has the edge over Qualls, Neshek, and Josh Fields (in that order). New manager A.J. Hinch is confident in all his options and won’t rush into a decision.

Starting 2015 hierarchy: Gregerson | Qualls | Neshek.
Holds candidates: Neshek, Tony Sipp.

September 23, 2014
Houston Astros — Last offseason, Houston signed three free agent relievers: Chad Qualls, who has been a serviceable closer since May; Matt Albers, who made it into eight games before hitting the DL; and Jesse Crain, who earned $3.25 million for throwing as many pitches for Houston as your mother did. Now GM Jeff Luhnow says the team will again prioritize relief spending in the winter, in the hopes Houston can hit the rarefied air of “75 [or] 80 wins.” Keep dreaming that crazy dream, Jeff.

Hierarchy remains: Qualls | Fields | Sipp.

September 11, 2014
Houston Astros — With a lefty-heavy Mariners lineup in the 9th, it was Tony Sipp (mentioned in Wednesday’s VSW) who earned the save last night. It’s Josh Fields who will get most of the save chances as long as Chad Qualls is hurt, however.

Updated hierarchy: Qualls | Fields | Sipp.

September 10, 2014
Houston Astros — Interim manager Tom Lawless chose Josh Fields to close out the Seattle Mariners; after the game, we learned that Chad Qualls was day-to-day with a minor injury.

Hierarchy remains: Qualls | Sipp | Fields.

September 8, 2014
Houston Astros – After Chad Qualls blew his fourth save of the season against the A’s on Saturday (invoking Pedro Martinez in the aftermath), the Astros sent Tony Sipp and Josh Fields out for the 9th inning on Sunday. Sipp got the first two outs, and Fields got the last one for his third save of the year.

Hierarchy remains: Qualls | Sipp | Fields.

September 6, 2014
Houston Astros – Tony Sipp recorded his third save of the season last night, as he pitched two scoreless innings and struck out four batters.

Hierarchy remains: Qualls | Sipp | Fields.

August 29, 2014
Houston Astros – Chad Qualls, who earlier this month was nursing a few minor injuries, got Thursday off after pitching in back to back games. Tony Sipp picked up his second save of the season in his place.

Updated hierarchy: Qualls | Sipp | Fields.

August 28, 2014
Houston Astros — Chad Qualls learned on Wednesday afternoon that he would be staying in Houston; unfortunately, he blew the save that night with another awful outing against Oakland. The A’s have been responsible for three of Qualls’s four blown saves and 11 of his 18 earned runs. In non-Oakland games, Qualls has a 1.52 ERA.

Hierarchy remains: Qualls | Fields | Sipp.

August 23, 2014
Houston Astros — Chad Qualls was back on the mound Friday night, pitching a scoreless 9th to finish off an Astros win.  He appears to be over the tightness in his lower back that kept him from pitching on Wednesday and Thursday.

Hierarchy remains: Qualls | Fields | Sipp.

August 21, 2014
Houston Astros — Chad Qualls was unavailable with back stiffness on Wednesday, and Bo Porter surprised everyone by calling on Jose Veras for the save. Veras had pitched only once in the past week, and he let the tying run get as close as the warning track, but he still managed to pick up his first save in six opportunities this season. Josh Fields pitched the eighth and Tony Sipp had thrown 27 pitches on Tuesday, so let’s not get too excited about Jose just yet. Qualls’s injury is not expected to be serious.

Hierarchy remains: Qualls | Fields | Sipp.

August 1, 2014
Houston Astros — After Josh Fields allowed the tying run in the eighth inning, Chad Qualls suffered his second loss in as many days by allowing the game-winning home run in the ninth. Qualls isn’t in any danger of losing his job, but fantasy owners will be hoping he gets back to his consistent form as quickly as Nolan Reimold’s homer left Minute Maid Park on Thursday night.

Hierarchy remains: Qualls | Fields | Sipp.

July 30, 2014
Houston Astros — After a clean eighth from Josh Fields put Houston in the rare position to close out Oakland, Chad Qualls gave up five runs to pick up the loss. After the game, Bo Porter defended Qualls, saying that he has been the team’s best reliever all year. And Tony Sipp and his overlooked 12.2 K/9 ratio shed a single tear.

Hierarchy remains: Qualls | Fields | Sipp.

July 25, 2014
Houston Astros – Though seemingly a prime trade candidate, Chad Qualls is extremely unlikely to be moved, according to Astros GM Jeff Luhnow. Qualls, who is signed through 2015 and has a team option for 2016, has been a wonderful surprise for both Houston and his fantasy owners, and appears to still be a reliable bet for saves for the remainder of the season.

Hierarchy remains: Qualls | Fields | Sipp.

July 24, 2014
Houston Astros — Although he admits that he’s been burned before and remains “very guarded,” Houston GM Jeff Luhnow still hopes Jesse Crain and Matt Albers will return to give the Astros a few innings this year in exchange for their combined $5.5 million in salary. Finding the saddest part of that sentence is left as an exercise for the reader. In far less depressing news, Josh Fields has struck out 18 men and allowed only three baserunners in 9.1 innings since his return from the DL. He has the edge over Tony Sipp.

Updated hierarchy: Qualls | Fields | Sipp.

July 15, 2014
Houston AstrosChad Qualls may have pitched himself out of a job in Houston, and not in the way you may think. He’s been solid in the closer’s role, and we think the Astros will trade him to a team that will have him throw primarily in the eighth inning. Tony Sipp has also been great, which means he may get dealt to a contender as well. That leaves Josh Fields as the lone ninth-inning option in Houston. If Sipp stays, Bo Porter may go to Sipp outright or elect to use Sipp and Fields in a committee. SELL+: Chad Qualls. BUY: Tony Sipp, Josh Fields

July 5, 2014
Houston Astros – Josh Fields was activated from the DL yesterday and immediately used in a big spot in the 7th inning.  He gave up a hit to the first batter, which allowed an inherited runner to score and tie the game, but he struck out the next four batters he faced.  Fields was pitching well before his injury and his strikeout potential (41 Ks in 28.2 innings) makes him a good candidate for high-leverage spots in the later innings.

Updated hierarchy: Qualls | Sipp | Fields.

June 30, 2014
Houston Astros – Chad Qualls has been nursing a minor groin injury, so rather than use him on three straight days, Bo Porter called for Tony Sipp in the 9th inning on Sunday. Qualls was warming up just in case and should be fine for the next save chance.

Hierarchy remains: Qualls | Sipp | Veras.

June 27, 2014
Houston Astros – Yeah, okay, he had an 8.10 ERA with the Cubs in a memorably awful two months earlier this year, but it wasn’t that long ago that Jose Veras was literally the only reliable reliever in the Houston bullpen. The Astros, who signed him to a minor league deal a few weeks back, just called Veras back to the bigs, where he’ll slide into the hierarchy based on experience alone. In our hierarchy and in the real life bullpen, Veras replaces Kyle Farnsworth (who, interestingly, was also holding a spot in both places based on experience alone), who was sent to the minors to make room.

Updated hierarchy: Qualls | Sipp | Veras.

June 17, 2014
Houston Astros – Josh Fields became the latest Astros arm to hit the disabled list with soreness in his throwing forearm. Kyle Farnsworth should see time in Fields’ stead. In addition, Houston signed former closer Jose Veras to a minor-league deal.

Updated hierarchy: Qualls | Sipp | Farnsworth.

June 13, 2014
Houston Astros – Chad Qualls blew just his second save of the season and allowed his first run since April 19 before the Astros walked off winners in the 10th. Prior to that, Darin Downs earned a hold with an inning of work spanning the seventh and eighth frames. However, the southpaw faced three lefties and won’t be a major factor in the Astros’ late-inning plans.

Hierarchy remains: Qualls | Sipp | Fields.

May 30, 2014
Houston Astros – One million points to the person who picked up Josh Fields right after he was called up from AAA on May 14. When the one-time closer was sent down, his ERA was an even 12.00. Since returning? 8.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 2 BB, 13 K. Fields got the win last night, pitching two clean innings before giving way to closer Chad Qualls, who now has an 11.1-inning scoreless streak of his own. Tony Sipp, meanwhile, who was signed off the scrap heap, and still has a 0.00 ERA through 9.2 absolutely dominant innings (1 H, 1 BB, 13 Ks). That adds up to a 29 scoreless innings for the top three Astros relievers. What the hell is going on here?

Updated hierarchy: Qualls | Sipp | Fields.

May 18, 2014
Houston Astros — The Astros signed former Mets closer Kyle Farnsworth and immediately used him in the 8th inning with a 3-run lead.  He struggled, giving up 2 runs while only recording 2 outs, but the Astros don’t have much else, so Farnsworth should continue to see time in the later innings.  Chad Qualls pitched a perfect 9th inning for his 3rd save of the season.

Updated hierarchy: Qualls | Sipp | Farnsworth.

May 17, 2014
Houston Astros — It sounds like manager Bo Porter is tired of having a different guy blow each of the Astros’ save opportunities so he has finally chosen one guy.  Porter said yesterday that Chad Qualls will be their closer moving forward.  Qualls has not allowed an earned run in his last 9 outings.

Hierarchy remains: Qualls | Sipp | Zeid.

May 15, 2014
Houston Astros — Last September, we called the Houston bullpen a “hellscape.” It’s somehow worse now. Jesse Crain won’t be added to any roster for another two weeks. Matt Albers is out until mid-June. And now Anthony Bass is on the DL with a strained oblique. To make matters worse, Josh Fields — who has somehow allowed 14 runs in his last 3 IP — is replacing him on the roster. This hierarchy looks a lot like Cerberus.

Hierarchy change: Qualls | Sipp | Zeid.

May 6, 2014
Houston Astros – Raul Valdes was designated for assignment, with LHP Darin Downs called up to replace him. The Astros also signed Tony Sipp, who will be their best left-handed option behind Qualls and Bass in the bullpen.  Hierarchy change: Tony Sipp to 2nd in line, replacing Raul Valdes.

May 3, 2014
Houston Astros – Bo Porter said on Friday that Josh Fields would be used in lower-leverage situations.  Porter went on to say that he still does not have a set closer, but he mentioned Chad Qualls and Anthony Bass as the main guys he would use in the 9th. Hierarchy change: Qualls | Bass | Fields. 

April 28, 2014
Houston Astros – Raul Valdes got his first save of the season on Saturday, and on Sunday, he was summoned to get the final out of the game. It wasn’t a save this time around, but Valdes has as good of a chance as anyone to get a few more 9th inning look in Houston. Hierarchy change: Raul Valdes to 2nd in line, replacing Anthony Bass.

April 27, 2014
Houston Astros — The Astros entered the 9th inning with a 4-run lead but they had to make it interesting.  Most of the usual suspects in Houston’s bullpen had thrown a lot of pitches on Friday, so manager Bo Porter went to lefty Raul Valdes after the lead was cut to one.  Valdes struck out both batters he faced for the save.  Nobody is pitching well in the Astros bullpen, but Valdes could see more save opportunities if he can continue to get lefties out.  No hierarchy change.

April 26, 2014
Houston Astros – Things somehow keep getting worse for the Houston bullpen, as Matt Albers hit the DL yesterday while would-be closer Josh Fields got destroyed again.  It’s still probably Fields and Chad Qualls who are the best bets for saves in Houston, though Anthony Bass or fresh face Jose Cisnero (who closed for the Astros for like 30 seconds last year) could still be in the mix.  Unless you’re in the deepest of leagues, it’s unlikely you want any of these guys.  Hierarchy change: Chad Qualls to Set-up, Anthony Bass to 2nd in line, Matt Albers to DL.

April 24, 2014
Houston Astros — So much for pleasant bullpen news out of Houston. Pitching for the third straight day, Josh Fields coughed up the lead and the ballgame on two singles and a three-run blast. With Matt Albers unavailable with shoulder tightness, Bo Porter didn’t have many other options. More bad news: Jesse Crain still hasn’t thrown a pitch in rehab, and won’t be up for at least a month. No hierarchy change.

April 23, 2014
Houston Astros — It’s nice to have a relaxing Astros update for a change. Josh Fields got the save on Tuesday, and he didn’t even allow a hit! No hierarchy change.

April 20, 2014
Houston Astros – The Houston committee continues to struggle, with Chad Qualls being the latest to blow a save in a horrific 9th inning on Saturday.  We’ve previously complained that Matt Albers hasn’t gotten any opportunities despite being the best arm in the bullpen (which he reinforced yet again with a clean 8th inning yesterday), and we have to think that after yesterday, he has at least moved ahead of Qualls in the Houston hierarchy.  Hierarchy change: Matt Albers to Set-up, Chad Qualls to 2nd in line.

April 13, 2014
Houston Astros – It seems like every pitcher in the Astros bullpen (except of course Matt Albers who has pitched the best) gets a chance to close out games.  Manager Bo Porter went to Kevin Chapman for the 9th inning with the Astros up 1 and he promptly gave up the game tying homerun on his 2nd pitch.  Anthony Bass ended up getting the save in the 10th inning.   Bass now has 2 saves (which is more than the 1 k he has on the season) but it’s hard to say that he is the guy moving forward.  If you have bunch of free roster spots go ahead and pick up everybody in the Astros bullpen.  Otherwise pick your favorite and hope for the best.  Hierarchy change: Anthony Bass to 2nd in line, replacing Matt Albers.

April 11, 2014
Houston Astros – After Chad Qualls pitched the 8th, Josh Fields came on for the 9th inning in a 5-run ballgame yesterday.  But Fields, who previously had been considered the likely leader of Houston’s closer by committee, had his worst outing of the year, allowing three runs to score.  With Matt Albers on paternity leave, Anthony Bass was called upon to bail Fields out, and Bass picked up his first save of the year.  Houston’s bullpen is more volatile than any other team’s in baseball right now, so Bass could certainly get another opportunity like this in the future, but for now, we still consider him to be behind Fields, Qualls, and Albers.  No hierarchy change.

April 7, 2014
Houston Astros – So, unfortunately, it looks like the Astros are serious about this committee thing.  On Sunday, Chad Qualls was called upon to put out an Anthony Bass fire, and retired the final two hitters for his first save of the year.  Of the three relievers that Bo Porter tapped to share the stopper role in Houston before the season started, it’s actually Matt Albers who has been the best — he’s thrown 4.2 scoreless innings with 6 strikeouts and 0 walks.  But so far, Qualls and Josh Fields are the ones with one save apiece.  We still like Fields the best of these three, as he’s been used only twice, and both times was given the keys to the 9th inning.  But get used to seeing Qualls and Albers in the Vulture Save Watch indefinitely.  Hierarchy change: Chad Qualls to Set-up, Matt Albers to 2nd in line.

April 2, 2014
Houston Astros – Josh Fields picked up the save for the Astros tonight, pitching a sterling 9th after Matt Albers threw a strong 1.1 innings ahead of him.  Chad Qualls was nowhere to be found.  Fields said for much of the spring that he wanted the job, and Bo Porter has already talked about using Qualls and Albers against lefties, suggesting Fields is the guy when there’s a righty-heavy ninth inning, which should be more often than not.  Though this will probably still be a committee on paper, Fields now has the edge and has become the 4th middle reliever from our preseason top 15 to already ascend to a closer position.  Hierarchy change: Josh Fields to Closer, Matt Albers to Set-up, Chad Qualls to 2nd in line.

April 2, 2014
Houston Astros — In the first sign that Houston’s closer-by-committee system will be as unpleasant for fantasy owners as it is for the players involved, putative “closer” Chad Qualls was summoned Tuesday in the eighth inning, up six. We still think he has the inside track at the most save opportunities with Jesse Crain out, but it’s best to think of anything you get from any Astros pitcher as gravy. Specifically, the gravy that dog food makesNo hierarchy change.

March 23, 2014
Houston Astros — Manager Bo Porter has said that he will go with the dreaded closer by committee to start the season.  Chad Qualls has the experience so we still expect him to see the most save chances, at least at the beginning of the season.  Josh Fields, Matt Albers, and lefty Kevin Chapman should be in the mix and Porter also recently said that Anthony Bass has emerged as an option.   No hierarchy change.

March 13, 2014
Houston Astros — A spotty history and two legitimate competitors combine to drop ursine righthander Chad Qualls to the bottom of our spring rankings. To add insult to injury, Matt Dominguez trounced him in the second round of Astros March Madness. Ranked #30 in our preseason closer rankings.

March 7, 2014
Houston Astros – The Astros enter 2014 with one of the most wide open bullpens in all of baseball.  After stumbling to the finish line in 2013 with one of the worst cadre of relievers in recent memory, Houston picked up Chad Qualls, Matt Albers, and Jesse Crain to bolster the back end of their bullpen.  Josh Fields, Chia-Jen Lo, Josh Zeid, and Kevin Chapman are among those likely to fill out the bullpen, and depending how it shakes out, nearly any of those guys could conceivably be the closer by the end of April.  We like Qualls out of the gate, as manager Bo Porter said in February that he values Qualls’s previous experience.  Fields finished the season as closer last year, and has said openly that he wants the job, so he could be Qualls’s early competition.  Crain would likely be challenging for the position as well, were he not a little bit nicked up.  And though Zeid finished last season strong, we’ll give the 2nd in line spot to Albers, based on his tenure.  Starting 2014 hierarchy: Closer – Chad Qualls, Set-up – Josh Fields (Jesse Crain injured), 2nd in line – Matt Albers.

September 24, 2013
Houston Astros — One week into our prediction, Josh Fields and your mother are tied in recent saves, and she has a decided advantage over his recent 2.00 WHIP. No hierarchy change.

September 17, 2013
Houston Astros — It was a slow night for closer news, so we’ll take the time to point out that, over the weekend, Bo Porter confirmed what we’d suspected for weeks: Josh Fields is officially the Astros closer. We forecast him to earn precisely one more save than your mother over the next two weeks, and she might be easier on your WHIP. No hierarchy change.

September 12, 2013
Houston Astros – The ever-in-flux Astros bullpen went to Josh Zeid for the last out of the 8th inning on Wednesday, and then left him out there for the 9th, where he picked up his first career save.  After a rough stretch in August, Zeid has only allowed four earned runs in his last 13 innings, which is good enough for a prominent role in Houston.  Hierarchy change: Josh Zeid to Set-up, Kevin Chapman to 2nd in line.

September 10, 2013
Houston Astros — Chia-Jen Lo entered with a one-run lead in the seventh and exited with a one-run deficit. Lo has been pretty bad over the last three weeks (9 ER, 8 H, 7 BB, 7 K, 7.2 IP), and lefty Kevin Chapman — who earned the win with a clean eighth on Monday — has to have passed him for vice-president of the Astros’ putative closer committee. Josh Fields still holds the top job, although his latest save included a solo home run by former Sacramento Kings center Mariners shortstop Brad Miller. Hierarchy change: Kevin Chapman to Set-up, Chia-Jen Lo to 2nd in line.

September 6, 2013
Houston Astros – Josh Fields picked up a four-out save on Thursday night.  Though we’ve listed him as our “closer” for the past month, regular readers of this page know that he’s rarely been actually used in that fashion — there was just no one else who was pitching well enough to be promoted on our hierarchy, so Fields remained at the top of the pecking order by default.  Given the general ineptitude displayed by almost everyone else given a crack at the 9th, however, the Astros finally turned back to Fields, and the righty delivered.  Last night’s successful outing will probably earn him the chance to take the job and run with it.  No hierarchy change. 

September 5, 2013
Houston Astros – The Astros are attempting to have every player in their bullpen blow a 9th inning lead at some point, and last night, it was long man Erik Bedard’s turn.  Bedard, who ended up getting the win after Houston rallied in the bottom half, isn’t likely to see many save opps going forward as he’ll usually be pitching multiple innings at a time.  No hierarchy change.

September 4, 2013
Houston Astros — The one positive story in Houston’s bullpen — Kevin Chapman beginning his career with a streak of no earned runs in 13 appearances — came to its eventual end on Tuesday night. As a competent lefty, Chapman likely has several good seasons ahead of him. No hierarchy change.

September 3, 2013
Houston Astros — If you’re still chasing saves right now, you’re probably in your fantasy playoffs — and if you’re in your fantasy playoffs, you’ve probably stayed far away from the hellscape of the post-Veras Houston bullpen. The events of Labor Day won’t inspire you to change that sound plan: after a solid sixth and seventh from putative closer Josh Fields, Kevin Chapman let an inherited runner score to tie the game. Chia-Jen Lo came out for the ninth, which might have been enough to edge him past Fields in our hierarchy. If, that is, Lo hadn’t loaded the bases in time for a Chris Colabello grand slam. On the bright side, Houston’s minor league teams have the best combined record in baseball. No hierarchy change.

August 27, 2013
Houston Astros — With Josh Fields (three straight appearances) and Chia-Jen Lo (31 pitches) unavailable on Monday, Josh Zeid was first out of the bullpen in a save situation. Zeid was used ahead of Kevin Chapman, who is still being wielded mostly as a lefty matchup guy — which is precisely why he was summoned after Zeid put runners on second and third. Jordan Lyles, who threw 115 pitches against the Blue Jays just last Friday, wound up with the save after Chapman walked his man, but Chapman holds his spot in the Houston hierarchy: Astros relievers are likelier than most to need matchup help in save situations. No hierarchy change.

August 26, 2013
Houston Astros – After picking up the save on Saturday, Chia-Jen Lo was summoned in the 9th inning on Sunday, ready to tighten his grip on the Houston closer role.  However, Lo had an absolutely miserable outing, as the first four hitters he faced reached base, including three by walk.  After walking in the game-tying run, Lo faced one more hitter, then was yanked, and eventually was saddled with the loss, as the Astros continue to look for someone to seize hold of the closer role.  No hierarchy change.

August 25, 2013
Houston Astros – Chia-Jen Lo picked up his second save of the season on Saturday night.  Since the Veras trade the Astros have alternated between Josh Fields and Lo. Fields picked up saves on 8/5 and 8/14 and Lo picked up saves on 8/13 and 8/24.  Both guys are worth owning right now if you are desperate for saves and the next couple save opportunities could clarify whether or not one of these guys will become the primary closer.  No hierarchy change.

August 20, 2013
Houston Astros — Infielder Jake Elmore pitched the eighth inning of an 11-run blowout last night, retiring three Rangers in order and quite possibly earning the next shot at an Astros save. Hierarchy change: Jake Elmore to 2nd in line, replacing Kevin Chapman. Okay, just kidding. No hierarchy change.

August 19, 2013
Houston Astros — Kevin Chapman got the last two outs on Sunday to pick up the save for the Astros.  Chapman is a left-hander who has only pitched a full inning once in his seven appearances since getting called up.  He is not a threat to take the job full time but he could see an occasional save opportunity based on match-ups. Hierarchy change: Kevin Chapman to 2nd in line, replacing Josh Zeid.

August 17, 2013
Houston Astros – The Astros held a two-run lead entering the 9th inning on Friday, and Chia-Jen Lo began warming up.  Houston would tack on four runs in the top of the 9th, ruining the save situation, but Lo would pitch the bottom half anyway, extending his scoreless streak to 7 appearances.  Josh Fields got the first two save chances since Jose Veras’s trade, but Lo got the third and would likely have gotten the fourth last night if there had been one; the Taiwanese righty might be in the driver’s seat for saves now in Houston.  No hierarchy change.

August 15, 2013
Houston Astros — The latest reliever to leave the Houston organization? Aussie former set-up man Travis Blackley. Meanwhile, Philip Humber, who hadn’t been seen since he gave up 5 runs in less than an inning three months ago, coughed up a one-run lead in the seventh. Did we mention you’re pitching the sixth for the Astros tomorrow? Get to Oakland by 8:30 am; they’ll cover your cab fare from the airport, but no tip. No hierarchy change.

August 14, 2013
Houston Astros — One challenge in figuring out the Houston bullpen is that they win so very rarely — last night’s victory was but their second in August and fifth in over a month. This time, it was Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia-Jen Lo who got the call for the save, although he was inches away from losing the game to a Chris Young home run. It’s likely still a committee arrangement, but we’ll be watching to see if Bo Porter rides Lo again. No hierarchy change.

August 13, 2013
Houston Astros — With the departure of Wesley Wright to Tampa for cash considerations, the lowly Astros are down to one player — Erik Bedard — who makes more than 6% over the league minimum. No hierarchy change.

August 8, 2013
Houston Astros – Just a week and a half ago, Jose Cisnero was almost everyone’s pick to close for Houston after the trade of Jose Veras.  Now, after another rough outing yesterday, Cisnero is headed to the minors.  Also in Astros news, Josh Fields followed up a dominant first save chance with a hideous second appearance, as he gave up 3 runs in the 9th inning to the Astros.  Though he was never officially the full time closer, last night’s drubbing will make it less likely that he gets the next save chance.  If he does get passed over next time, Chia-Jen Lo is the next best candidate; he’s got a 0.00 ERA through 4 innings.  Hierarchy change: Josh Zeid to 2nd in line, replacing Jose Cisnero.  Josh Fields to Hot Seat.

August 7, 2013
Houston Astros — On Tuesday night, Jose Cisnero entered the game with two on and one out in the sixth inning, his team trailing by three — a vitally important spot in the game. Unfortunately for Cisnero and the Astros, he immediately surrendered a three-run homer, then scattered three walks and a solo shot among three retired batters. The Astros are still closing by committee, but we have to acknowledge that Josh Fields has the best shot at the next save opportunity, with Chia-Jen Lo also moving in front of the struggling Cisnero. Hierarchy change: Josh Fields to Closer, Chia-Jen Lo to Set-up, Jose Cisnero to 2nd in line.

August 6, 2013
Houston Astros — Houston’s bullpen situation isn’t getting any clearer. Monday night, Bo Porter played matchups in the ninth, using Wesley Wright to start the eighth, then summoning Josh Fields to face Mike Napoli with two outs. Fields, who was selected from Boston this offseason in the Rule 5 draft, struck out Napoli, then stuck around for the ninth; all he did there was strike out the side for his first career save. Although some on Twitter are ready to anoint him the new closer, we suspect this is just what an actual closer-by-committee approach looks like — note that Fields has a 6.00+ ERA, has allowed baserunners in six straight appearances, and pitched the eighth down a run on Sunday. Four strikeouts in four at-bats is quite a statement, though, and if Porter wants to return to a more conventional ninth-inning approach, Fields has a strong case. Hierarchy change: Josh Fields to Set-up, Chia-Jen Lo to 2nd in line.

August 3, 2013
Houston Astros – The Houston Astros got their first save opportunity since the Jose Veras trade and four relievers combined to blow two late inning leads.  Unfortunately that doesn’t tell us much about what is going to happen moving forward.  Jose Cisnero started the 8th inning facing the top of the Twins lineup and promptly gave up 3 hits and a run to tie the game.  Wesley Wright and Josh Fields combined to finish the 8th.  The Astros took the lead again in the top of the 9th.  Fields stayed on to start the 9th but gave up a leadoff walk.  Chia-Jen Lo came on with 1 out and gave up the tying run.  The most notable absence in all this was Travis Blackley, but other than that it is hard to know who Bo Porter will go to next time since all his relievers failed him this time.   Hierarchy change: Jose Cisnero to Closer, Chia-Jen Lo to Set-up, Josh Fields to 2nd in line.

August 1, 2013
Houston Astros – The Astros have played two games since dealing Jose Veras, and neither has netted them a save situation, but the clues that have been presented continue to suggest that Jose Cisnero gets the first crack at the closer role, despite Bo Porter’s insistence that he’s using a committee.  Yesterday, Cisnero pitched the 9th in a blowout, picking up a strikeout while allowing 2 hits and no runs.  No hierarchy change.

July 31, 2013
Houston Astros — Bo Porter, who is 2 1/2 years younger than Mariano Rivera, is telling us that any of his seven relievers could be used at any point after the sixth inning. We remain convinced that Travis Blackley and Jose Cisnero have the inside track. No hierarchy change.

July 30, 2013
Houston Astros — In the aftermath of the Veras trade, we suspected the Astros might return to the mediocre Hector Ambriz to protect their vanishingly rare late-inning leads. Houston had other ideas, however, optioning Ambriz to Oklahoma City and recalling two relievers no one has ever heard of: Chia-Jen Lo and Josh Zeid. The seventh-inning role is in flux and could be filled by any of several lousy options: Josh Fields and his sparkling 6.35 ERA, lefty Wesley Wright, who boasts a 1.46 WHIP, or even Lo, who was pitching in the low-A New York-Penn League just five weeks ago. We think Zeid, who had a 10.92 K/9 ratio and 13 saves in 15 opportunities at AAA, is the best of the bunch. Faint praise. Hierarchy change: Josh Zeid to 2nd in line, replacing Hector Ambriz.

July 29, 2013
Houston Astros – Jose Veras has been traded to the Detroit Tigers. Jose Cisnero is the best bet to close in his absence.  Hierarchy change: Jose Cisnero to Closer, Travis Blackley to Set-up, Hector Ambriz to 2nd in line.

July 17, 2013
Houston Astros — With Houston as bad as expected, Jose Veras is extremely likely to be traded this July — but he’ll probably move into a setup role wherever he ends up. Jose Cisnero is expected to succeed Veras, if necessary. TRADE DEADLINE BUY/SELL: BUY+ Jose Cisnero, SELL+ Jose Veras.

July 4, 2013
Houston Astros – The Astros optioned Hector Ambriz to the minors.  Jose Cisnero and Travis Blackley should see time in the set-up role.  Hierarchy change: Jose Cisnero to Set-up, Travis Blackley to 2nd in line.

June 27, 2013
Houston Astros – In pitching a scoreless 8th inning last night, Jose Cisnero lowered his season ERA to 2.14.  The young righthander has yet to give up a run in the month of June.  Despite his general competence (a quality not found in most Houston relievers), he hasn’t gotten much high-leverage work; he only has four holds on the season.  But his usage last night is an indication that Bo Porter might be trusting him with more big-game spots.  Hierarchy change: Jose Cisnero to 2nd in line, replacing Travis Blackley.

June 17, 2013
Houston Astros – Travis Blackley got the last out of the 8th inning on Sunday, earning his 11th hold of the season.  In recent weeks, he’s often shared the 8th inning with Hector Ambriz, and has become the go-to lefty in the Houston bullpen, ahead of the struggling Wesley Wright.  Hierarchy change: Travis Blackley to 2nd in line, replacing Josh Fields.

June 4, 2013
Houston Astros – Josh Fields, back from a long stint on the disabled list, was immediately thrust into a high-leverage eighth inning against Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. Hierarchy change: Josh Fields to 2nd in line, replacing Wesley Wright.

June 3, 2013
Houston Astros – Jose Veras was given a day off on Sunday after pitching five of the previous six days, as mentioned in the Vulture Save Watch.  Hector Ambriz picked up his second save of the week in his place.  No hierarchy change.

May 31, 2013
Houston Astros – Also predicted in yesterday’s Vulture Save Watch was a potential opportunity for Hector Ambriz, who struck out two in a solid 9th inning for his first career save.  (It was a good day for the VSW, even despite Mike Matheny’s baffling decision to go to Mitchell Boggs rather than Trevor Rosenthal in the Cardinals game.)  No hierarchy change.

May 21, 2013
Houston Astros — Hector Ambriz is again the first choice for Houston in the eighth innings of close games, while lefty Wesley Wright has been used in earlier matchup situations. Hierarchy change: Hector Ambriz to Set-up, Wesley Wright to 2nd in line.

May 10, 2013
Houston Astros – Hector Ambriz had a terrible outing on Thursday, taking the loss after allowing 4 baserunners while only recording one out; his ERA had climbed to 6.23 by night’s end.  Hierarchy change: Wesley Wright to Set-up, Hector Ambriz to 2nd in line.

May 3, 2013
Houston Astros – Hector Ambriz pitched the 8th inning with Houston up by a run last night, so he’s still the best guess as to who would close if Jose Veras were unavailable. But behind him, the Astros bullpen doesn’t present many options. The team sent Rhiner Cruz to the minors on Thursday, leaving reliable lefty Wesley Wright as the only real option. We’ve been reluctant to add Wright to the saves chart though, as he’s been a matchup guy his entire career, but the Astros probably don’t have any alternatives at this point. Hierarchy change: Wesley Wright to 2nd in line, replacing Rhiner Cruz.

April 21, 2013
Houston Astros – Rhiner Cruz pitched last night with the Astros getting blown out.  He only allowed one run but he allowed six base runners in 1.2 innings and has given up at least one run in his last four appearances.  Hector Ambriz pitched a scoreless eighth inning on Friday night with the Astros up one and seems to have taken over the set-up role again.   Hierarchy change: Hector Ambriz to Set-up, Rhiner Cruz to 2nd in line

April 14, 2013
Houston Astros – Jose Veras blew his first save opportunity of the season last night.  He is still the closer, but remains on the Hot Seat as he has not pitched very well so far this season.  No hierarchy change.

April 12, 2013
Houston Astros – Josh Fields was placed on the DL earlier this week, adding more uncertainty to the least-defined bullpen in baseball.  The Astros are yet to have a save opportunity, so little is known outside of closer Jose Veras.  Rhiner Cruz pitched the 8th inning ahead of Veras in a blowout a few days ago, and he’s had the best start of any Astros reliever, with a 1.69 ERA in five appearances.  Hierarchy change: Rhiner Cruz to Set-up, Hector Ambriz to 2nd in line, Josh Fields to DL.

April 3, 2013
Houston Astros – The Astros got their first look at their (non-Bedard) bullpen in a loss to the Rangers last night, and it wasn’t pretty, as five relievers combined to give up six runs in three innings.  The only reliever to perform well was Josh Fields, who struck out the only batter he faced.  Fields, a former first round pick, is coming off a solid spring, where he posted a 2.53 ERA over 10.2 innings.  Lefthander Wesley Wright, meanwhile, is one of the team’s more experienced relievers, but will likely be used as a matchup guy regardless.  Hierarchy change: Josh Fields to 2nd in line, replacing Wesley Wright.

April 1, 2013
Houston Astros – Erik Bedard, the team’s fifth starter, picked up a 3.1-inning save last night.  Bedard isn’t expected to start for several days and may not appear out of the bullpen for the rest of the year.  However, this doesn’t mean Jose Veras’s job is safe by any means.  He struggled in Spring Training and the World Baseball Classic, and the team has said that he will have to earn his closer spot.  A few bad outings, and the Astros may look elsewhere.  Jose Veras to Hot Seat.

February 24, 2013
Houston Astros – Starting 2013 hierarchy: Closer- Jose Veras, Set-up- Hector Ambriz, 2nd in line- Wesley Wright.

October 2, 2012
Houston Astros – Though Wilton Lopez was available, the Astros went to Wesley Wright for the final four outs on Monday. However, this was a match-up play, as Wright faced off against several lefties in earning his first save of the year. No hierarchy change.

September 24, 2012
Houston Astros – Wesley Wright pitched in the 5th inning on Sunday, and isn’t likely to see any more save opps, even if Wilton Lopez is unavailable. These chances will likely go to Jose Valdez, the team’s AAA closer who was called up in September. Hierarchy change: Jose Valdez to Set-up, Wesley Wright to 2nd in line.

September 12, 2012
Houston Astros – Jose Valdez pitched a perfect 8th inning ahead of Wilton Lopez on Tuesday, earning his second hold of the season. Valdez, a hard-throwing righty, was closing for Houston’s AAA team, where he amassed 66 Ks in 48.2 innings. Hierarchy change: Jose Valdez to 2nd in line, replacing Fernando Rodriguez.

August 5, 2012
Houston Astros – The Astros placed Francisco Cordero on the DL earlier this weekend, and last night, Fernando Rodriguez pitched the 7th inning ahead of Wesley Wright and Wilton Lopez. Lopez earned his first save. Hierarchy change: Fernando Rodriguez to 2nd in line, Francisco Cordero to DL.

July 30, 2012
Houston Astros – Some speculated that Francisco Cordero’s decent outing on Sunday may have saved his job, but tonight, he was the first man out of the bullpen for the Astros. Coming on in the 7th inning, Cordero allowed an inherited runner to score, then gave up the tying run. He also pitched to one batter in the 8th, allowing a leadoff double, before being lifted. Based on his usage tonight, and his general awfulness in his return to the National League thus far, Wilton Lopez looks like he will finally get his shot to finish games. Hierarchy change: Wilton Lopez to Closer, Wesley Wright to Set-up, Francisco Cordero to 2nd in line.

July 26, 2012
Houston Astros – Francisco Cordero blew his second save in two days, making him 0/2 since joining the Astros. After the game, Brad Mills did not say he was removing Cordero from the closer role, only saying that Cordero would not close on Thursday because he’d thrown a lot of pitches over the previous two days. Cordero remains on the Hot Seat at best, and could be removed from the role entirely soon. If that happens, Wilton Lopez would take over in the 9th. No hierarchy change.

July 25, 2012
Houston Astros – When the Astros named Francisco Cordero closer, Wilton Lopez owners groaned, rightfully saying that the youngster was a significantly better pitcher than the 37-year-old righty. But Lopez owners may get their wish soon, as Cordero got shelled in his first save opportunity as Astro, allowing three runs and five baserunners before getting yanked. Francisco Cordero to Hot Seat.

July 21, 2012
Houston Astros – The Astros have traded Brett Myers to the Chicago White Sox. Saturday evening, Astros manager Brad Mills told an MLB.com reporter that Francisco Cordero will close. Wilton Lopez will continue on in his set-up role. Hierarchy change: Francisco Cordero to Closer, Wilton Lopez to Set-up, Wesley Wright to 2nd in line.

July 21, 2012
Houston Astros – The Astros acquired Francisco Cordero from the Toronto Blue Jays in a 10-player trade on Thursday. Cordero becomes an interesting player to watch, as he’ll likely assume the set-up role immediately, and could ascend to the closer spot if Brett Myers is dealt. Hierarchy change: Francisco Cordero to Set-up, Wilton Lopez to 2nd in line.

July 17, 2012
Houston Astros – Wilton Lopez has returned from the disabled list and resumed his 8th inning duties on Monday, throwing a clean inning on Monday ahead of Brett Myers. Lopez could get save chances if and when the Astros deal Brett Myers. Hierarchy change: Wilton Lopez to Set-up, Brandon Lyon to 2nd in line.

July 12, 2012
Houston Astros – The Astros are looking to move Brett Myers, whose has a $10 million option that will kick in if he finishes 45 games. This makes him an interesting trade acquisition, as cash-strapped teams may be reluctant to move him into the closer role if they acquire him. Unfortunately, this also hurts his value, as it further decreases the chance that he’ll close wherever he lands. Brandon Lyon would inherit the job if Myers is dealt, which seems likely at this point. TRADE DEADLINE BUY+: Brandon Lyon. SELL+: Brett Myers.

June 26, 2012
Houston Astros – Fernando Rodriguez gave up 2 more runs on Monday, and his ERA now sits at 6.28 for the season. While he was one of the more reliable relievers for the Astros in 2011, he’s struggled all year long. Lefthander Wesley Wright, meanwhile, now has 10 holds on the season and often stays in to pitch to righthanded hitters. Hierarchy change: Wesley Wright to 2nd in line, replacing Fernando Rodriguez.

June 19, 2012
Houston Astros – Brett Myers had a stunning outing on Monday, allowing 8 hits and 5 runs while only recording two outs. He threw 40 pitches– the most an Astros reliever has ever thrown without getting out of an inning– and was finally yanked for Xavier Cedeno, who picked up his first career save. But despite the horrific outing, Myers has only blown one save on the year and his job is not in jeopardy. No hierarchy change.

June 18, 2012
Houston Astros – Wilton Lopez hit the disabled list on Sunday. Brandon Lyon (2.81 ERA) moves up and stands to nab any save chances when Brett Myers is unavailable. Hierarchy change: Brandon Lyon to Set-up, Fernando Rodriguez to 2nd in line, Wilton Lopez to DL.

June 4, 2012
Houston Astros – Wilton Lopez has quickly and quietly ascended in the Houston bullpen, and pitched the 8th inning ahead of Brett Myers on Sunday. Fernando Rodriguez’s usage has been sporadic, and he has fallen behind Lopez and Brandon Lyon in the Astros pen. Hierarchy change: Wilton Lopez to Set-up, replacing Fernando Rodriguez.

May 20, 2012
Houston Astros – Brandon Lyon, who is completely healthy for the first time in a while, has been solid all month, lowering his ERA to 1.76. With Fernando Rodriguez unavailable, Lyon pitched the 8th inning yesterday, setting up for Brett Myers. Hierarchy change: Brandon Lyon to 2nd in line, replacing Wilton Lopez.

May 2, 2012
Houston Astros – Wilton Lopez, who pitched parts of the 7th and 8th innings last night, has surpassed veteran Brandon Lyon on the Astros depth chart. Hierarchy change: Wilton Lopez to 2nd in line, replacing Brandon Lyon.

April 24, 2012
Houston Astros – Brandon Lyon has been slipping behind Fernando Rodriguez on the Astros’ depth chart, a fact that was made clearer last night when Brad Mills called upon Lyon to pitch the sixth inning, down three runs. Hierarchy change: Fernando Rodriguez to Set-up, Brandon Lyon to 2nd in Line.

March 19, 2012
Houston Astros- Brett Myers was moved from the starting rotation to the bullpen after the trade of Mark Melancon and will start the season as the closer. Brandon Lyon, who started the season as the closer last year, figures to the get the first shot at closing if Myers struggles. Starting 2012 hierarchy: Closer- Brett Myers, Set-up- Brandon Lyon, 2nd in line- Fernando Rodriguez.

Dec. 15, 2011
Houston Astros- With the trade of Mark Melancon, the Astros will probably give Brandon Lyon another shot at closing. Lyon, in the 2nd of a 3-year, $15 million deal with Houston, was hampered by injuries last year but will be healthy to start the season. Hierarchy change: Brandon Lyon to Closer, replacing Mark Melancon.

Aug. 29, 2011
Houston Astros- David Carpenter logged a save in the 11th inning last night, after the Astros had used up Melancon and several of their stronger relievers. No hierarchy change.

Aug. 26, 2011
Houston Astros- With Sergio Escalona on the DL with elbow tendinitis, Wilton Lopez has reclaimed his role, pitching in three straight games. Hierarchy change: Lopez to 2nd in line.

Aug. 21, 2011
Houston Astros- Sergio Escalona struck out 3 in 1.2 innings of work last night, and has been called upon more often than Wilton Lopez in close, late-game situations over the past several weeks. Hierarchy change: Escalona to 2nd in line, replacing Lopez.

Aug. 18, 2011
Houston Astros- Fernando Rodriguez pitched the 8th inning in Houston’s 4-3 win against the Cubs. The Astros don’t get many save opportunities, and when they do, they’ve been mixing and matching in the 8th, but Rodriguez has had a strong month and has moved past Wilton Lopez on the Houston depth chart. Hierarchy change: F.Rodriguez to Set-Up, Lopez to 2nd in line.