Luhnow comfortable with Lopez in closer's role

Luhnow comfortable with Lopez in closer's role

CHICAGO -- Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said Tuesday he would be comfortable with Wilton Lopez handling the team's closing duties next season. Lopez took over as closer after Brett Myers was traded and saved nine games, including seven consecutive successful chances entering Tuesday.

"Lopez said, 'Hey, I can do this. Count on me next year,'" Luhnow said.

Lopez, named the team's Pitcher of the Year by the Houston chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, is 6-3 with a 2.20 ERA. Entering Tuesday, he had posted a 1.59 ERA in his last 27 appearances, with three wins, nine saves, three walks and 25 strikeouts.

"If we have an opportunity to improve our bullpen we're going to take it, but I feel extremely comfortable with Lopez finishing games," Luhnow said. "He's a strike-thrower. I love that."

Lopez has the lowest walks-per-nine innings pitched ratio among all Major League relievers with a 0.96 mark (seven walks in 65 1/3 innings). He has issued just three walks since June 1.