The start of the 2020 Major League baseball season has been put on hold but it will begin at some point. We may see games with no fans at the start of the season but still, that is better than no baseball at all. MLB will not have a full season but we should see at least half of the season being played. I will be posting a team preview right here at East Coast Sports Investors, with one team previewed every one-two days. I realize this is going out of order but I have some writer before others. Be sure and check back each day. I will get them all out before the start of the season.
Houston Astros (From David Hess)
World Series Odds: 11-2 AL Pennant Odds: 5-2 AL West Odds: 12/25
2019 Recap: The Houston Astros had 107 wins last year, which was the most in the league, but they came up a bit short in winning their 2nd world series in the last three years. The Astros then went on to lose to the Nationals in the World Series in seven games. It was the 3rd year in a row that they have won at least 100 games. After the season was over, the trouble started for the Astros as they were hit with a sign-stealing scandal. It happened during the 2017 season in a series against the New York Yankees. That was the year the Astros won the world series. Houston fired AJ Hinch during this past offseason and brought in 70-year-old Dusty Baker to run the ship. Can the Astros win their 4th division title in a row? We shall see. Rotation: The Houston Astros had one of the best staffs in the league last year but a key piece is gone after Gerrit Cole signed a massive deal with the New York Yankees. Cole was 35-10 with a 2.68 ERA in his two seasons with the Astros and he will be missed. Still, Houston has Justin Verlander, who was 21-6 with a 2.58 ERA last year and Zach Greinke, who was 18-5 with a 2.93 ERA a season ago. They form the best one-two punch in the league. Houston will also be getting back Lance McCullers, who missed all of last year and was 10-6 with a 3.86 ERA in 2018. The backend of the rotation has some question marks as José Urquidy (2-1, 3.95 ERA) is expected to take the 4th spot while Josh James (5-1, 4.70 ERA) should be in the 5th spot. We could also see Austin Pruitt (3-0, 4.40 ERA) in the final spot as well. Houston has talent on the staff as a whole but still it will be tough for them to replace Gerrit Cole. The Astros ranked 2nd in the league in ERA at 3.66. Closing games for them will be Roberto Osuna, who had 38 saves a year ago.
The Offense: The Houston offense has been one of the best in the league for years and last year they ranked 3rd in the league in scoring, putting up 5.66 rpg while also ranking 3rd in homers with 288. This year’s offense should be no better and it is scary from top to bottom, especially when we note that Josh Reddick will be batting 8th or 9th in the order. He hit .275 with 14 homers and 56 RBIs last year. Leading off for the Astros will be George Springer, who ripped 39 homers and drove in 96 runs a season ago while Jose Altuve will bat 3rd and he had 31 homers and 74 RBIs. The big bopper on the team is Alex Bregman and he will bat 2nd. Bregman ripped 41 homers and drove in 112 runs last year. Michael Brantly is slated to be the cleanup hitter after batting .311 with 22 homers and 90 RBIs a season ago. One more player of note in the lineup is Yuli Gurriel, who is slated to bat 7th. Gurriel had 31 homers and drove in 104 runs last year. To get that kind of production from your 7th hitter in the lineup is truly awesome. As I stated, this is a scary offense from top to bottom.
Conclusion: This will be an interesting season for the Houston Astros. I do feel that they will win the division but it will not be as easy as the past few years as the A’s have closed the gap and the Angels are improved as well. Houston had a rough offseason as they dealt with a sign-stealing scandal that stemmed from the 2017 postseason. This will anger many teams and pitchers around the league and you could see many Houston batters get plunked this year, or at least thrown at. The opposition will have to be careful as the more players on base for Houston, the more they have a shot for home runs that could break open close games. We could also see Houston come out with fire in their eyes as they look to show the rest of the league they don’t need to cheat to win. Remember, they did win 107 games and were one win away from winning the WS a season ago. Houston has the best lineup in the league, top-to-bottom but their staff is a bit weaker with the loss of Gerrit Cole. Still, Verlander and Greinke are monsters on the mound and they will do more than enough to get the Astros to their 4th division title in a row.