The Emergence of Bryan Abreu in 2023

Bryan Abreu
(Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

The emergence of Houston Astros pitcher Bryan Abreu was unpredictable, yet perhaps now more welcome than ever. With his high velocity fastball and a sharp breaking slider, he has become one of most effective relievers in the game. In those high-leverage situations, Abreu is the primary name called out of the bullpen.

So Far this Season

So far in 2023 Abreu has appeared in 35 games with 35 2/3 innings pitched. In those innings, he has 55 strikeouts, two saves, and holds a 2.02 ERA. His main pitch is a slider that generates many ground ball outs. He also features a four-seam fastball that generates an extremely high number of swings and misses. That is why he is one of the top leverage relievers in the majors, and is ranked in the latest SportRelay scoreless outings.

Signed at 16

The emergence of Astros Bryan Abreu was unpredictable, partially because it took him six years to even make the big league roster. The Astros signed the right-hander when he was 16-years old back in 2013. He spent time in their farm system as a starter, and reliever never really putting up eye-popping statistics.

Struggles in the Major Leagues

He made his big-league debut as a reliever in the 2019 season. He appeared in seven games, and even made the Astros’ playoff roster. However, the next two seasons he was not in the best shape, and battled weight issues. He struggled with his command and the location of his pitches, and his ability to throw strikes seemed lost.

His Development

Abreu’s development emerged last season with the help of pitching coach Erick Abreu (no relation), who had worked with him at different levels in the Astros farm system. Bryan Abreu was given a new workout plan for his health, and staying in shape. There was also an adjustment on his position on the mound, and Erick worked on Abreu’s confidence. The regimen seems to have worked.

Breakout in 2022

The emergence of Astros Bryan Abreu started last season when he became a dominant setup pitcher. He finished with a 1.94 ERA while striking out 13.13 batters per nine innings in 55 games during the regular season. He set career highs in games played and innings pitched, as well as strikeouts. Another facet to his rise last season was the continued improvement in control, and command over the course of the season.

His production after the All-Star break really made him an elite reliever by season’s end. He struck out hitters at a better rate than any other pitcher on the team in 2022, and was exceptionally proficient at preventing the home run. In the playoffs, he threw 11 1/3 scoreless innings with 19 strikeouts. His ability to make left handers swing and miss might be his most intriguing attribute, and was a major force behind this team winning the World Series.


The Astro need Abreu to continue to be that versatile reliever who comes in the high leverage inning(s) as needed. Also, his ability to pitch multiple innings affords the other relievers an extra day off. He might even see more time as a closer to help out Ryan Pressly down the stretch of the season.

The emergence of Astros Bryan Abreu was very welcome. If he continues his improvement or even just remains at the level of his 2022 season, the outlook is very bright, which is good news for Manager Dusty Baker. They are involved in a hotly contested AL West divisional race with the surprising, and surging Texas Rangers.  A healthy, versatile, and improving Abreu is a huge asset to the contending team and will be down the stretch.


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James Marshall

James Marshall

Jim Marshall has lived in Phoenix, AZ for 50 years. He is an avid baseball fan, but enjoys all of Arizona's local sports teams, including Diamondbacks, Suns, Cardinals and Coyotes. In addition to the four major sports, he closely follows the Phoenix Mercury, Arizona Rattlers and Arizona State Sun Devils. Jim's passion for baseball continues beyond the field as he is an avid collector of baseball memorabilia. His favorite athlete of all time is Baseball Hall of Fame member Harmon Killebrew. In addition to watching, reading and talking about sports, he takes time to travel and appreciate the great state of Arizona with his lovely wife, Patti.

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