Nov 5, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros relief pitcher Ryan Pressly (55) reacts after the Astros defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in game six and winning the 2022 World Series at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Welcome to Gallery Sports’ Houston Astros Spring Training player spotlight, Astros Player of the Day. We will look at a different Astros player each day throughout spring training.
Today’s Astros Player of the Day is relief pitcher Ryan Pressly.
After signing a two-year, $30 million extension with an option for a third, Pressly’s 2022 season started poorly. With his velocity down, he made it through his first three outings without allowing a run but walked two in blowing a save in Arizona, after which he landed on the IL due to right knee inflammation.
Upon his return almost four weeks later, Pressly blew a save against the Tigers when he allowed a two-run homer to Jeimer Candelario, but from that point on, it was business as usual for the Astros closer.
Pressly did not allow a run the next eight times he took the mound and compiled a 2.66 ERA in 45 appearances after that game against the Tigers. He converted 30-of-32 save chances while striking out 39% of the hitters he faced while walking less than 7%. He was even better in the playoffs, where he did not allow an earned run in 11 innings.
Since becoming the Astros closer in 2020, Pressly has an 0.96 ERA in 26 postseason games, 11-for-11 in save chances, and he’s gone 15 straight games without allowing an earned run.
The 34-year-old right-hander features a fastball that averaged 94.5 MPH in 2022 to go with a slider and a curveball. He only threw his fastball about a third of the time last season, but opponents hit .292 against it while posting a .521 slugging percentage. The other two pitches are what make him special.
Pressly threw his slider to righties 46.2% of the time, and they hit just .118 against that pitch with a 52.6 percent whiff rate. His slider usage drops below 30% against lefties, replacing it with a curveball that held them to a .111 average with a 37% whiff rate.
A two-time All-Star, Pressly isn’t the flashiest closer in baseball. He doesn’t light up the radar the way some might like, he doesn’t take the mound to an entrance song that will ever go viral, but time after time after time Pressly gets the job done, and the 2018 trade that brought him to the Astros for Gilberto Celestino and Jorge Alcala will go down as one of Jeff Luhnow’s finest moments as Astros general manager.