Houston 'pen enjoying dramatic improvement

Houston 'pen enjoying dramatic improvement

Houston 'pen enjoying dramatic improvement
HOUSTON -- The Astros' bullpen entered play Wednesday ranked third in the National League with a 2.80 ERA, a vast improvement over the struggles the team endured in the 'pen a year ago, when it led the league with 25 blown saves.

Another year of experience for guys like David Carpenter and Fernando Rodriguez has helped the bullpen, but the presence of veterans Brett Myers and Brandon Lyon has also paid dividends. Lyon wasn't around much last year after having season-ending surgery in the first half of the season, and Myers was moved to the bullpen after starting the previous two years.

"Any time you get some veteran guys down there like that, it's good," Astros manager Brad Mills said. "What's nice is they have each other, as well, so they don't feel like they're by themselves down there."

Rodriguez, who's in his second year with the Astros, credited both Lyon and Myers with helping him personally and changing the mindset of the bullpen as a whole. The relievers even have a nickname this year, "The Regulators."

"I had a talk with both of them that game in I lost in Cincinnati on a home run [April 29], and the next day they came up to me and said, 'I'm not going to tell you that you threw the wrong pitch or did something wrong, but I wanted to know what you're thinking,'" Rodriguez said. "Myers brings a totally different attitude to the bullpen. After he comes down to the bullpen, everybody gets their game face on. It's serious down there, where last year you had guys that were still in the sixth inning and joking around. Once he gets down there, it's time to go."