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Astros plan to focus on upgrading bullpen

Astros plan to focus on upgrading bullpen

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Astros plan to focus on upgrading bullpen

OAKLAND -- Not that it's any kind of startling revelation, but Astros manager Bo Porter said on Wednesday that upgrading the bullpen will be one of the team's top tasks this offseason. The Astros began play Wednesday with an American League-worst 5.37 ERA from their relievers and league-high 21 blown saves.

"I think it's an area we'll set out as an organization and try to rectify," he said. "It's obviously cost us several ballgames this year along the way, and it's an area that internally we have some guys that are able to help us, and we have some guys available on the market we'll consider as well."

The Astros will likely spend some money in free agency on bringing some veteran help to a bullpen that currently has five rookies. Houston traded closer Jose Veras to the Tigers two weeks ago, and the team has struggled to close out games since.

Since July 28, the Astros' bullpen has posted a 7.04 ERA with seven homers allowed in 38 1/3 innings. In that same span, the starting rotation has pitched well with a 3.48 ERA and five homers allowed in 95 2/3 innings. Houston is just 3-12 in that span.

"It's an area of our ballclub we look to improve, especially when you look at our young starting pitchers and see how well they've pitched," Porter said. "If you shore it up, you put yourself at a greater chance of winning a lot of ballgames. We've played well enough to win some ballgames, but we're not able to close it out."

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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