The Houston Astros' bullpen ... yeah, I got nuthin'.

      December 21, 2012 @ 17:03:36 PDT

In our industry, educated guesses can usually extract saves in such situations. Thank goodness the season doesn't start tomorrow.

If the roster doesn't change, the best bets to sit in the closer discussion for the AL West's newest squad: Wesley Wright, Sam Demel and the newly added Jose Veras. Boom. Well, more like ... Thud. Ugh.

Veras is your prototypical project arm - great stuff, horrific control. You'll remember a similar profile for the much-hyped, now-afterthought Juan Abreu for this very team. Veras getting his stuff together would have the most upside of any of these options.

The southpaw Wright pitched many important innings for the 'Stros last year. This grounder-friendly hurler seemed to strike out folks by accident last year; the fact his two-seamer dominates his arsenal usage says that's not his primary motive. He isn't necessarily a lefties-only guy, but that's his skills lean.

Demel boasted some sleeper hype a few years ago with the Oakland Athletics and Arizona Diamondbacks but didn't have an extended shot in either locale to capitalize on it. Maybe the 75 hitters he punched out in 66 1/3 innings at Class AAA Reno last year will get him restarted.

Fireballers Fernando Rodriguez and Rhiner Cruz could be involved, as well, but they'd be inseason pickups at best, unless hype builds for them in camp.

My guess and preference would be Demel. He has the best combo of polish and upside. However it turns out, this rebuilding squad is willing to experiment with what is (rightfully) considered the easiest position to construct. They don't care about fantasy players. Jeff Luhnow is laughing at us. Power to him.

Unless they dive in and buy a stable option, Houston will be the last team for which I'd dip into the saves pool. Sometimes such dice rolls pay off, but Houston's back-end picture once again looks primed to wind up as craps.

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About Tim Heaney

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.

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