Houston Astros 2019: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

How will things shape up in the AL West?

Though their quest to repeat as World Series champions went unfulfilled in 2018, the Astros assembled their greatest starting rotation in franchise history and set a club record for regular-season wins.


In 2019, Houston’s proverbial window remains wide open, even after losing three starting pitchers. Offensive regression from a historic 2017 pace was offset by the incredible pitching the Astros received. Getting the heart of their once-potent lineup back to full health, while relying on their plethora of pitching prospects to fill a noticeable void, will key their quest for a third straight American League West title.

 

Opposing Scouts Size Up the Astros

Baltimore Orioles logo“These guys are set up to run away with the AL West again. They’re a very balanced, dynamic offense, and Michael Brantley fits into it perfectly: He wears pitchers out because he connects with everything. They don’t have a lot of big swing-and-miss guys, which is rare today and serves them well. Alex Bregman was pretty visible all winter, but he’s really arrived and now looks like a bona fide MVP candidate. Carlos Correa was hurt most of last year, and Jose Altuve was banged up in October, but they’re young, they’re winning players, and they’ll be just fine. They don’t lose much behind the plate with Robinson Chirinos, who strikes out way too much but is a productive hitter and a good receiver. The pitching scares me a little, with Lance McCullers injured, Charlie Morton gone and their two studs — Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole — facing free agency. But Collin McHugh has the command and breaking ball to make a smooth transition back to starting, and Josh James will be one of the hardest-throwing starters in the game.”


Beyond the Box Score

Back Home Proud Texan Ryan Pressly made a sterling first impression back in his home state. Acquired from the Twins in July, the reliever posted a 0.77 ERA in 26 games as an Astro — all while sporting a tattoo of the state on his shoulder blade.


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Tampa Twirl Barring injury or other unforeseen circumstances, Justin Verlander will oppose Blake Snell, the Rays lefty who edged him for the AL Cy Young Award, on Opening Day. Verlander finished runner-up for the third time. Famously, in 2016, Verlander was five points behind winner Rick Porcello after two writers from Tampa Bay did not put him on their five-man ballot. Supermodel Kate Upton, then Verlander’s girlfriend, lashed out in profanity-laced tirade that went viral. In 2018, losing out to a Ray was a tad less controversial. Still, Upton — now Verlander’s wife — had to weigh in. “Let’s just say I won’t be going to Tampa any time soon,” Upton said. “Justin wants everyone to know I’m just joking.”


Monterrey in May The Astros will head to Monterrey, Mexico, on May 4-5 for a two-game series against the Angels. The team has never played a regular-season game in Mexico but played exhibition games in Mexico City in 2004 and 2016. One returning player, closer Roberto Osuna, is a Mexican native.


Nearby Again After a four-season stint in Fresno, the Astros’ Triple-A affiliate will return to Round Rock, Texas — allowing easier access for team personnel to stay involved with the team and more convenient shuttling of players back and forth. Add to that the heritage of the Round Rock Express — a franchise founded by Astros president of business operations Reid Ryan and now owned by his brother, Reese. Both are sons of Nolan Ryan.


What Lies Ahead The Astros could be without the foundation of their rotation in 2020, as Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Collin McHugh are all slated to enter free agency after 2019. GM Jeff Luhnow approached the offseason cognizant of the minor league pitching surplus that could slide in for 2020 and beyond. Forrest Whitley, Corbin Martin, Josh James and Framber Valdez headline that group.


So Long The Astros project to open the season with only four holdovers from the 2013, 111-loss team that began the franchise’s renaissance. Two departed to free agency — Dallas Keuchel and Marwin Gonzalez. Trading for Gonzalez — the super utilityman who played six positions in his seven-year Astros career — after the 2011 Rule 5 Draft was Luhnow’s first transaction as Astros general manager.


Projected Lineup

 

LINEUP

CF  George Springer (R)
3B  Alex Bregman (R)
2B  Jose Altuve (R)
SS  Carlos Correa (R)
LF  Michael Brantley (L)
1B  Yuli Gurriel (R)
DH Tyler White (R)
RF  Josh Reddick (L)
C   Robinson Chirinos (R)

 

BENCH

OF  Tony Kemp (L)
OF  Jake Marisnick (R)
C   Max Stassi (R)
INF Aledmys Diaz (R)

 

ROTATION

RHP  Justin Verlander
RHP  Gerrit Cole
RHP  Collin McHugh
LHP  Wade Miley
RHP  Josh James

 

BULLPEN

RHP  Roberto Osuna (C)
RHP  Hector Rondon
RHP  Ryan Pressly
RHP  Will Harris
RHP  Brad Peacock
RHP  Chris Devenski
RHP  Rogelio Armenteros

 

2019 PREDICTION

1st AL West 

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