The Astros’ 2024 bullpen took on more uncertainty when they took another hit with news of a season-ending injury of veteran right-hander Kendall Graveman. Graveman underwent shoulder surgery last week, which ends his 2024 season.  While the Astros likely say this coming down the pike for their season, it still winnows the staff’s longevity in innings heading into spring training.

Surgery Ends Kendall Graveman’s Season

2023 Season

Last season, the Astros picked up Graveman for the second time in as many seasons. At last year’s trade deadline, Graveman was acquired and started off with a solid performance to end the regular season. In 23 appearances, Graveman posted a 2.42 ERA in August and September to close out the season. However, he wasn’t available to pitch in October due to discomfort in his shoulder.

In preparation for the upcoming Spring Training starting next month, Graveman underwent a program of rest and rehab. According to the Astros, this was the plan before returning to a flat-ground throwing program. However, the discomfort returned shortly after starting this process.

This is not the first time that Graveman has notched a long-distance stint on the injured list. “Any time you miss a season, I don’t care who you’re with or what it is, it’s tough,” Graveman commented on his injury. “I’ve done it once before and it was not really fun. I will say I grew a lot during that season, last time, when I had Tommy John surgery in 2018. I think I came out of it better.”

2024 Astros Pitching Outlook

The hope remains that this second time around, Graveman can find his groove once again upon returning. His absence throughout the 2024 season provides another hit to the Houston bullpen. Free agents leaving the roster, including Hector Neris, Phil Maton, and Ryne Stanek (all of whom remain unsigned) have cut the Astros down by 185 innings from last season. Graveman’s injury pushes them well over 200 lost innings heading into the season.

General manager Dana Brown has said finding relief pitching for the team in 2024 remains a heavy focus of the offseason. The agents of those departing pitchers mentioned above have been in discussion about a return offer. That said, other teams have expressed interest in the pitchers as well.

Internal candidates remain a high probability for the defending American League West Champions. The starting rotation looks to be strong heading into the season. After the return of Lance McCullers Jr. and Luis Garcia, likely before the All-Star Break, the Astros could lean on displaced starters. Until then, the Astros will either need to pull off a few signings or uncover talent during Spring Training. However, they could just limp along until the rotation and bullpen settle themselves out.

 

Photo Credit: “Houston Astros Minute Maid Park” by pscf11 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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