Posted on August 22, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine

Houston Astros Ryan Pressly
Image via chron.com

Slowly but surely, injuries to key players are starting to pile up for the Houston Astros. Earlier this week, it was Carlos Correa and Aaron Sanchez being placed on the 10-day Injured List. On Thursday, key relief pitcher Ryan Pressly joined them. The club announced that Pressly will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Friday. The procedure will keep him out for four to six weeks, potentially ending his regular season and casting some doubt over his availability for the postseason.

The 30-year-old Pressly had a brief stint on the IL a few weeks ago because of contusion on his knee. He had appeared to recover quickly and get back on track outside of one poor outing last Wednesday. However, he felt discomfort after pitching on Tuesday, prompting the team to get him checked out. The Astros didn’t get specific about the injury, only that his timeline is four to six weeks.

“He pitched in a couple of games recently and his stuff looked good, but the knee continued to bother him,” Astros GM Jeff Luhnow told reporters. “So we did further evaluation and we found a new injury that needed to be addressed surgically. Not a major injury, but something we don’t want him continuing to pitch with.”

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On the season, Pressly has a 2.50 ERA with 65 strikeouts in 50.1 innings. He made the All-Star Team for the first time in his career this season and has been an invaluable part of Houston’s bullpen all year. Given how important bullpens have been in the postseason in recent years, Pressly is someone the Astros need to be healthy in October. The regular season ends in just over six weeks, but that doesn’t leave much wiggle room if there are any setbacks. Pressly also won’t have much time to get himself ready for the playoffs once he returns.

“We’re hoping it’s the short side of that, which means he would be able to come back and pitch in games prior to the end of the season,” said Luhnow. “If he does miss four weeks, we’ll be pushing up against it.”

The good news is that the Astros have other options to form a bridge between their excellent starting rotation and closer Roberto Osuna. Hector Rondon is a reliable late-game reliever while Will Harris has pitched to a 1.69 ERA this year. The acquisition of Joe Biagini at the trade deadline also added more depth to the Houston bullpen. But there’s little doubt that Pressly’s absence will be felt in the weeks to come.

“The reality is you can’t replace an All-Star reliever at this time of year,” said Luhnow. “It’s hard to do. I really do have confidence in our guys. We just got [Brad] Peacock back, Biagini is coming back now. I believe our guys will step up and rise to the occasion.”

Luhnow’s confidence aside, there’s no denying that Pressly is a vital part of the Astros. With a 7-game lead atop the AL West, the Astros should be able to close out another division title without him. But it’s critical that he’s healthy and good form by the start of the postseason. Pressly will be a key figure for the Astros late in games during the playoffs. In a tight series, he could be a difference-maker. The Astros will be holding their breath over the next few weeks, hoping Pressly returns in time.

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