The Houston Astros simultaneously had a successful and unsuccessful 2020 season. My prediction for the 2020 Astros was for them to make the playoffs and clinch the AL West. They did make the playoffs, going all the way to the ALCS, but finished second in the AL Western division with a record of 29-31, hence being successful and unsuccessful. They were great in the playoffs but below average in the regular season.
Since this was not a normal season they were able to squeeze into a playoff spot and performed where it counted. The reason the Astros were underwhelming can be due to a few reasons. The loss of Gerrit Cole to free agency and Justin Verlander who was hurt for almost the entirety of 2020 certainly did not help the rotation be what it once was.
Yordan Alvarez also missed almost all of 2020. Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, and Yuli Gurriel all underperformed. There were some bright spots last season. George Springer and Michael Brantley both provided excellent offense. Kyle Tucker also did well in his first opportunity to get a lot of playing time.
Along with their young starters performing well, these players include Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier, and Jose Urquidy. Zack Greinke and Lance McCullers Jr., the more experienced starters, also provided solid pitching.
Going into the offseason, following the 2020 season, the Houston Astros had four notable players entering free agency: George Springer, Roberto Osuna, Josh Reddick, and Michael Brantley. The Astros were able to re-sign Brantley. However, Springer signed with the Toronto Blue Jays. Osuna and Reddick are still free agents. Jake Odorizzi and Pedro Baez are two players the Astros signed this offseason.
The Astros have also extended Lance McCullers Jr. to a 5 year/85 million dollar contract. The Astros have also opened up negotiations for an extension with star shortstop Carlos Correa. It is hard to determine if the team has gotten better or worse. I would say they improved their pitching, but their offense got worse.
Potential Astros 26-Man Opening Day Roster
Starting Pitchers: Zack Greinke, Lance McCullers Jr., Jake Odorizzi, Jose Urquidy, Cristian Javier
Starting Depth Chart: Martin Maldonado (Catcher), Yuli Gurriel (First Base), Jose Altuve (Second Base), Alex Bregman (Third base), Carlos Correa (Shortstop), Michael Brantley (Left Field), Myles Straw (Center Field), Kyle Tucker (Right Field), Yordan Alvarez (Designated Hitter)
Other Potential Members of the Opening Day Roster: Garrett Stubbs (Catcher), Robel Garcia (Infield), Steven Souza Jr. (Outfielder), Bryan Abreu (Relief Pitcher), Luis Garcia (Starting Pitcher/Relief Pitcher), Josh James (Starting Pitcher/Relief Pitcher)
Injured List: Justin Verlander (Starting Pitcher), Framber Valdez (Starting Pitcher), Pedro Baez (Relief Pitcher)
2021 Astros Season Preview: Offense
The Houston Astros lineup is arguably one of the best in the game. While Bregman, Altuve, and Gurriel all underperformed in 2020 it is not unreasonable to assume that over a full season, in a more “normal” season that they should bounce back.
On paper, this lineup looks excellent. Myles Straw and Kyle Tucker are going to have to step up as these two are most likely going to be the new regulars in the outfield. Tucker got a chance to play in 58 games last year, and he did quite well posting an OPS of .837 with nine home runs. It remains to be seen if he is the real deal and can perform over the length of a full season. Judging by his spring training stats, I would not be worried about his ability to perform.
Straw was less successful in 2020, but he will most likely replace Springer in center field due to his strong spring training numbers. Straw provides strong defense and good speed. He is only 24 so he should develop his bat more as he ages. Straw not only provides time in the outfield, but he can also play infield if needed. Straw is capable of playing all three outfield positions along with shortstop and second base.
A full season of Correa in a contract year should be exciting, and getting to see Alvarez over a full season again is highly anticipated.
2021 Astros Season Preview: Pitching
Now the Astros rotation is not what it used to be. However, it should still be solid for 2021. There are already injured arms going into 2021. Ace Justin Verlander underwent Tommy John surgery in 2020 and Framber Valdez will miss time due to a fractured finger. It is unlikely that Verlander pitches in 2021, Valdez however, should return midseason.
However, the rotation is still good. The rotation will be led by Greinke, McCullers Jr., and Odorizzi. It is up to the younger guys Jose Urquidy and Cristian Javier to repeat their successful 2020 seasons. The same goes for Valdez. Valdez will most likely replace Javier or Urquidy when he comes back, depending on who is better or worse.
2021 Astros Season Preview
Overall, this team should do well in 2021. The Houston Astros play in a relatively weak division. The Astros probably have the best offense on paper in the AL West. The same could be said regarding the rotation. It all comes down to their young guys stepping up.
As long as Straw, Tucker, Valdez, Urquidy, and Javier all provide the best effort possible, should be no problem since the team is full of established players to lead the way. I am curious to see if the Astros continue to be a powerhouse, they certainly have the potential.
2021 AL West Season Standings Prediction
- Houston Astros
- Oakland Athletics
- Los Angeles Angels
- Seattle Mariners
- Texas Rangers