Astros Player of the Day: Ryne Stanek

Nov 1, 2022; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Houston Astros relief pitcher Ryne Stanek (45) pitches against the Philadelphia Phillies during the fifth inning in game three of the 2022 World Series at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Astros Player of the Day: Ryne Stanek

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 the spring.

Today’s Astros Player of the Day is relief pitcher Ryne Stanek.

Stanek re-signed with the Astros for 2023 on a one-year, $3.6 million contract following the best season of his career.

Stanek, 31, posted a career-best 1.15 ERA over 54.2 innings, along with career-best numbers in FIP (3.02), hit rate (5.9/9), and home run rate (0.3/9). Combined with his usual high strikeout rate (10.2/9), Stanek was able to overcome his persistent control issues (5.1 BB/9).

Stanek is primarily a two-pitch pitcher with a four-seam fastball that hits triple digits and a low 90s slider.

For his career, Stanek has been equally effective versus left-handed hitters (. 211 AVG .669 OPS) and right-handed hitters (. 207 AVG .661 OPS), although he was actually better against lefties (. 175 AVG .501 OPS) than righties (. 198 AVG .594 OPS) in 2022.

Stanek would probably be a seventh-inning type setup guy on most teams, but the Astros’ tremendous bullpen depth has pushed him further down the pecking order. With Ryan Pressly, Rafael Montero, Bryan Abreu, and Hector Neris in front of him, Stanek is a high-end middle reliever in Houston with some setup duty. Because of Houston’s bullpen depth, Dusty Baker can rotate his relievers to keep them fresh, not needing to utilize the same reliever three days in a row or four times in five days.

Some regression is to be expected, as his walk rate makes his other numbers (ERA, H/9, WHIP) unsustainable. However, he should still be a solid middle relief arm in a stacked bullpen that will likely get more work than it did a year ago, with Justin Verlander no longer on the team going into the seventh almost every start.

The sixth inning will be a key inning for Houston this year with Lance McCullers injured to start the season, and Hunter Brown unproven at the MLB level. Despite being a middle reliever, Stanek will have a key role on the team bridging from the starter to the back end of the pen. That role is often a weakness on most teams, Stanek makes it a strength in Houston.

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