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Peter Solomon Poised For Big Year in 2022

Peter Solomon | Credit: Ryan Dunsmore

Peter Solomon Poised For Big Year in 2022

Over the last decade or so we have seen the Astros develop pitching unlike anyone else. Many times they have taken arms without plus stuff and turned them into legitimate big league pitchers. Sometime though, they do the opposite where they take someone with plus stuff who has yet to put up eye popping numbers on the field and develop them into contributors. The latter appears to be the case for Astros pitcher Peter Solomon.

Solomon was drafted in the 4th round of the 2017 draft out of Notre Dame. Solomon was a big time prospect but the overall numbers in college (3.85 ERA with 77 walks in 131 innings) left more to be desired. But the Astros helped Solomon develop and he had a breakout season in 2018 where he posted a 2.32 ERA in 100.2 innings. Unfortunately in 2019, Solomon pitched in two games before getting injured which culminated with him needing Tommy John surgery.

Fast forward to 2021 and Peter was fully healthy again. Despite not pitching above High-A, Solomon was added to the Tax Squad in April, meaning he had a good chance to making his MLB debut. I asked Solomon how he was notified that he would be making his debut and he said “We were in Seattle and I was called into Dusty’s office before the game and they let me know a pitcher on the active roster got injured the night before so we knew, because of COVID protocols, and the fact we were on the road, that a pitcher from the Taxi squad (3 total that trip) would be called up. It was a lifelong dream come true but also the first time I had to navigate getting called up because of an injury to another player. At the time the only people I told were my dad and brother over the phone.”

Solomon, a resident of Maryland, mentioned that Seattle was probably the furthest he could have debuted from home. It didn’t matter though “my dad got out there as quickly as humanly possible and luckily for my brother he was a bit closer so he was able to get there soon as well”, Solomon said. Getting the opportunity after not pitching above High-A was huge. Solomon’s last game before he major league debut was early in 2019 in High-A. Solomon added “There was a lot of work done between those two games, lots done alone throwing into a net trying to get rehab done while following COVID lockdown protocols in 2020. I’m grateful the Astros trusted me to make such a big jump from High A in ’19 straight to the Big in ’21 after surgery.”

Solomon’s big season didn’t stop there. He spent majority of the season in Triple-A and was named Triple-A West pitcher of the year. The most important thing for Solomon was that he stayed healthy. “Going into last year my goal was to be healthy for the entire season, to not miss a start or an opportunity to appear in a Big League game. It was the most I have thrown in a single season and it is a job in it of itself to stay on top of little things that come up throughout the year.”

The grind of the season is a tough one, and Solomon can attest to that in 2021. “You’re not going to feel 100% towards the end of the year and for me it was a learning experience for how I need to prepare for the long season and prepare so when it comes September, October, even November that you’re able to feel strong and have your best stuff on the mound. Having a completely healthy year was a great feeling of lots of hard work in the off-season and during the year paying off.”

Solomon ended up pitching in 14 innings with the Astros in 2021 with a 1.29 ERA. I asked him what he learned during his time with the big league club and he said “Last year was a giant learning experience for me. Big and little things. Learned lots about reading hitters swings, game-planning for a lineup and being able to navigate through a lineup more than once to name a few. Having veteran guys on the pitching staff was a huge blessing for me, being able to bounce ideas off of them and ask questions freely. Guys like Pressly, Lance, Greinke, Stanek, really everyone brings a different view point to the table and does different things well so trying to get bits of information from each one to improve my game is always my goal. You see how guys handle success and failure. You see them show up every day ready to compete and do whatever their job is that day to help the team win.”

The leadership the team provided to the young players could not be measured. Solomon added “I can’t imagine a better clubhouse atmosphere for a young player. Having young guys who have found success soon into their careers like Luis, Tuck, Yordan and Javi and seeing that they are able to have success staying within themselves and not trying to do too much. Then of course had plenty of guys who have been able to keep success year after year, it makes for a nice combination to learn from.”

As stated above, Solomon was the Triple-A West pitcher of the year, but a quick look at his ERA and people may wonder why. Solomon had a 4.70 ERA but pitched in some hitter’s paradises like Albuquerque, El Paso and Oklahoma City. A closer look at his home numbers tells a different story (2.66 ERA in 61.0 innings). I asked Solomon about pitching in those away parks and he said “At the beginning of the year I think it effected how I attack hitters. Hearing so much about how the ball flies, I pitched cautious which got me into bad counts and hitters were able to take advantage of the parks we were playing in. I think at one point I gave up a homer in 5 or 6 straight outings. I remember those outings were good besides that one pitch, it was frustrating to pitch well for the entire outings and have one pitch destroy an otherwise good line. Throughout the year I adjusted how I pitched in those ballparks and told myself I still had to attack the hitter and pitch my game, I couldn’t stray away from what made me successful.”

Solomon knew that he had to get his mindset right to succeed there, and that is what he did “I think it’s a snowball effect, the more you think about the field and atmosphere you more it is going to effect you. But if you just accept the situation you’re in and realize nothing you do can change it, you can have a better mental space on the mound.”

After everything he experienced in 2021, Solomon knew this off-season was going to be huge, as he is on the short list of guys who could start the season with the Astros. I asked him what he worked on this off season “I continued to get stronger and position myself to have a healthy 2022. At the beginning of the off-season I did a deep dive into my numbers and identified the different areas where I had success and the areas I struggled. Knowing my numbers helped me understand the areas I can improve and where my strengths are. This might seem obvious but sometimes the numbers tell a different story than what we think. A big area of improvement for me was improving my changeup.”

That changeup could be huge for his development too. He had success with the fastball and slider but adding a plus changeup will go a long way to keeping hitters off-balance. Solomon added “Overall last year it (changeup) wasn’t a good pitch for me. I wasn’t locating it well and it didn’t have the movement I want. So this off-season I workshopped a few different CHs to come into Spring with a pitch I am confident in. It’s been a fun process for me, getting to try things I’ve never done before and I am looking forward to see how it performs this year.”

This spring, Solomon gets to pitch side by side with one of the best pitchers of our generation, Justin Verlander. The knowledge you can attain from someone like him is unquantifiable but Solomon is taking it all in “One of the greatest pitchers to walk to Earth so you are all ears anytime he talks and all eyes when you have the time to watch him work on his craft. You see how detailed his work is and how locked in he is every time he throws a ball. Every rep matters, seeing him actively gather information pitch to pitch from what he’s doing on the mound to what the hitter is doing in the box, you see how he is able to digest all the information to make the best pitch next.”

Lastly, I asked Peter about his season goals and what Astros fans could expect from him this year. Solomon had this to say “The big personal goal is to stay healthy again this year, that’ll be my main goal every year. To never miss a start or opportunity out of the bullpen. As a squad, to win a World Series. That is the goal from the first day of Spring Training to the last pitch thrown this year. The entire team is committed to that goal. I hope to play a role in helping the team a lot this year in reaching that goal. I hope to have lots of strikeouts, scoreless innings and wins for the Astros fans this year… Minute Maid seems to be rocking when that happens.”

Peter Solomon is on the cusp of a major breakout and being a big time contributor on one of the best teams in all of baseball. With the work he put in this off-season and this spring, he can follow in the lines of other great young Astros pitching!

Be sure to follow on Twitter, @AstrosFuture, and like my Facebook page, facebook.com/AstrosFuture.

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