The Houston Astros have extremely high expectations going into this season once again, as they have been picked to win their division (AL West). While the Astros are the top contender in the division, the in-state rival Texas Rangers are also expected to give them a run for their money.
The Astros have done a lot to build upon last season’s team, adding Carlos Beltran, Josh Reddick and Brian McCann during the offseason. The Astros did lose Jason Castro and Colby Rasmus to free agency, but have added players to fill those respective positions.
Fans should expect a bigger role from Alex Bregman. He was moved to the Major Leagues late in the season last year, but while he struggled initially, it did not take him long to get used to playing in the majors. Bregman will be batting second in the lineup behind George Springer.
“First off, he’s one of our better hitters,” said Astros manager A.J. Hinch. “He got off to a slow start in the big leagues last season and quickly adapted to being a very dangerous hitter. I think hitting in front of Altuve is one of the better places to hit in our order. He handles right-handed pitching very well. Obviously, he needs to learn and adapt to the league a little bit as a young player.”
The Astros have two of the best infielders in the MLB with Altuve and Carlos Correa. These two players could both be on the MVP watch this upcoming season.
One of the Astros’ main problems last season were the injury issues to ace pitcher Dallas Keuchel, who was the AL Cy Young winner two seasons ago. Keuchel will be the opening day starter. The Astros will need to stay healthy if they want to first make a push to win their division. Starting pitcher Collin McHugh was placed on the 10-day DL to start the season.
“We got through the spring relatively healthy, McHugh had a setback and won’t be able to start the season,” said Hinch.
This should be an exciting season for the Astros and their fans, so stay tuned.