The 2018 Houston Astros definitely had the talent to repeat as World Series champions, but ran into a Red Sox team that simply had even more.
While the Stros promise to be fearsome again next year, so do the Sox, making it an imperative for Houston to improve further if they want to upset the new World Series champs. They know that their window to win is right now, so they could be set for an active winter.
So Bryce Harper to #Astros was almost a done deal. That GM Jeff Luhnow is clearly trying to build a dynasty in Houston. However, if I’m him, I’d focus on building a bullpen— Chris Camello (@Chris_Camello) November 10, 2018
While outside acquisitions will certainly go a long way to helping the 2019 Astros achieve their lofty expectations, one of the biggest keys to their success is a player already on the roster.
Roberto Osuna was supposed to be the missing bullpen piece that got the Astros over the hump last year, leading them to acquire the embattled closer in a mid-season trade. He missed 75 games last year, mostly while still in Toronto, due to a domestic violence suspension. He returned to pitch 23 games for the Astros, saving 12 games down the stretch and pitching to a stellar 1.99 ERA.
Then, when the Astros needed him most, Osuna fell flat, allowing five runs in that pivotal Game 3 loss to Boston. Houston would go on to lose the next two games to be eliminated from the postseason.
Remember that time that Roberto Osuna came in to a 1-run game in the ALCS and promptly gave up 5 runs? Good times.— Brian Fraser (@brianpfraser) November 12, 2018
The one thing that the Astros have been missing over the last couple of years has been a lock-down closer. They still won a World Series despite this problem by relying heavily on their starting pitching depth to hide their bullpen
We saw the Red Sox use a similar strategy this postseason to win the Fall Classic, with the all-hands-on-deck approach becoming the new norm. Still, Boston had a go-to closer in Craig Kimbrel, and while he was not always perfect, the veteran fireballer was good enough to get the job done propelling them to the title.
If the Astros want to reach the mountaintop once again in 2019, they will need Osuna to step up and be the dominant closer that they have been searching for.