Previewing the 2021 Houston Astros

Previewing the 2021 Houston Astros

2020 was a weird year for everyone in Major League Baseball, but perhaps weirdest for the Houston Astros. They had to deal with the cloud of the sign-stealing scandal and they never really got on track. They looked as if they had lost their swagger, which reflected their play on the field. Houston finished 29-31, second in the AL West, barely snatching a playoff spot in an expanded field. But once the postseason came around, they flipped the switch. The Astros won a couple of postseason series, falling one game short of yet another World Series appearance. Houston’s 2020 season was pretty successful overall, however, they need to have more regular-season success if they want to make the postseason now that it is five playoff spots once again. It won’t be easy considering Houston lost George Springer to free agency, but this roster still has plenty of talent. The 2021 Houston Astros season stills looks very promising.

Projected Lineup

  1. 2B-Jose Altuve
  2. LF-Michael Brantley
  3. 3B-Alex Bregman
  4. RF-Kyle Tucker
  5. SS-Carlos Correa
  6. DH-Yordan Alvarez
  7. 1B-Yuli Gurriel
  8. CF-Myles Straw
  9. C-Martin Maldonado

Even when you subtract an offensive force like Springer, the Astros lineup is still loaded. A lot of the inconsistencies of 2020 came from down seasons by proven stars like Bregman and Altuve. It would be very surprising if this was the case in 2021, which would signal the return of Houston’s elite lineup. One Astro who didn’t have a down year was Tucker, who had a breakout season. Tucker led the team in RBI (42) among other categories and really gave Astros fans a glimpse at what he can do. He will look to build upon that in 2021, which will be his first full, 162-game season.

The loss of Springer means Houston is looking for someone to take over the lead-off spot. There are a number of options, but it seems Altuve is the likely one. Altuve was the Astros lead-off batter early in his career, where he hit .330 with a .374 OBP in 380 games. One storyline that could linger throughout the season is the impending free agency of Correa. The Astros have reportedly made extension offers, but the sides remain apart.

Possible bench options include Aledmys Diaz, Abraham Toro, Jason Castro, Garrett Stubbs, Taylor Jones, and Robel Garcia. Middle infield prospect Jeremy Pena could also make his debut at some point in 2021.

Projected Starting Rotation

  1. Zack Greinke
  2. Lance McCullers Jr.
  3. Jake Odorizzi
  4. Jose Urquidy
  5. Cristian Javier

Houston was dealt a big blow when Framber Valdez was diagnosed with a finger fracture. Whether he goes through with the season-ending surgery or holds out in hopes it heals sooner, Valdez will miss a lot of time. That made the late signing of Odorizzi very important. While Odorizzi isn’t expected to be ready until Houston’s first homestand, he will be crucial to the success of the rotation. Also important to the success of the team is the recently extended McCullers Jr. In his first season back from Tommy John recovery, McCullers posted a 3.93 ERA in 11 regular season starts. The extension for the 27-year-old is five years, $85 million. Young pitchers like Urquidy and Javier will have to prove they can have success over a full season, but they have shown plenty of signs of how effective they can really be.

Key Bullpen Options

The closer role will once again fall to Ryan Pressly in 2021. Houston added two veterans in Pedro Baez and Ryne Stanek as well. These veterans will complement the otherwise young bullpen of the Astros. The other key bullpen options include Andre Scrubb, Blake Taylor, Enoli Paredes, Luis Garcia, and Brandon Bielak, among others.

Astros 2021 Season Outlook

The Astros roster is mostly intact from the season before, and the expectations remain the same. Houston has made it to the ALCS for four straight seasons and they are definitely looking to make it five. They are looking to make it to the World Series for the third time in that span as well. Houston will be happy to make it to the postseason once again, but the ultimate goal for the Astros 2021 season is one thing: another World Series title.

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Players Mentioned:

Ryan Pressly, Pedro Baez, Ryne StanekAndre Scrubb, Blake Taylor, Enoli Paredes, Luis Garcia, Brandon Bielak, Zack Greinke, Lance McCullers Jr., Jake Odorizzi, Jose Urquidy, Cristian Javier, Framber Valdez, Tommy John, Aledmys Diaz, Abraham Toro, Jason Castro, Garrett Stubbs, Taylor Jones, Robel Garcia, Jeremy PenaJose Altuve, Michael Brantley, Alex Bregman, Kyle Tucker, Carlos Correa, Yordan Alvarez, Yuli Gurriel, Myles Straw, Martin Maldonado, George Springer