H-Town Sports

Houston Sports Blog - Real sports cities have TWO Conference USA teams

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Bring Back Charlie Kerfeld!

Despite the team's blistering 10-5 start, Astros fans are a wee bit worried at this point of the young season. And it's not the typical hand-wringing over a complete lack of offense this time, as the 'Stros are putting runs up and collecting clutch hits in a manner usually reserved for the postseason. No, this year it's the once formidable bullpen that has us reaching for the Pepto.

By now, we're innoculated against the horror of Mike Gallo's 9.82 ERA. Or at least I am, because I grab the closest bottle of Drano every time he enters a game. Speaking of Gallo, it appears that he's corrupted fellow "lefty specialist" Trever Miller. After posting a sublime 12.27 ERA in seven appearances, Miller went on the DL today. I'm convinced this is part of Gallo's sinister plan to ensure that he is once again the only left-handed option out of the bullpen. As it seems "lefty specialist" on the Houston Astros may be the only job in the entire world that has absolutely zero accountability, I've decided that I am going to tie my firstborn's right arm behind his or her back for the first ten years of his/her existence in a brilliant attempt to garner a life of privilege for my family. But I digress.

Chad Qualls' 9.35 ERA, however, is another story. Qualls looked like he had the stuff to be the next great closer last season, but this year he's been hit hard in his eight appearances. With the influx of young arms in the starting rotation, Qualls will be counted on to pitch the seventh inning most nights; if he doesn't get it together, he'll singlehandedly offset the offense. Lights Out Lidge is sporting a 3.12 ERA and five saves in eight games, but his location doesn't seem to be as sharp as it was last year, much to the delight of all those sportswriters who started a cottage industry of "Has he lost it?" reports after last year's NLCS. The only semi-bright spot in the pen has been Dan Wheeler; he appears to have retained most of last year's mojo and remains a good option for the eighth inning. But Wheels can't do it alone. If the 'Stros have designs on the playoffs, the bullpen is going to have to come around.


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