Spring Training is well under way and Opening Day is fast approaching. Every team has a number of questions and storylines to address in their individual camps. Sometimes these storylines in the Spring end up impacting the beginning of the regular season. The Houston Astros are one of those teams with some pretty interesting things to watch at this time. Here is an update on the Astros’ 2022 Spring Training.
Easing the Stars Into Action
Just a week and a half away from Opening Day, Houston’s regular position players have only appeared in three games including Sunday’s contest. With a shortened spring, it does not appear that they will get a ton of at-bats before the season starts. The Astros are a team of steady veterans for the most part, so they probably don’t need too many AB’s. However, it will be interesting to see if they have a bit of a slow start to the season.
On the pitching side, Framber Valdez, Luis Garcia, Jose Urquidy, and Cristian Javier all have yet to make their spring debuts entering Sunday. Having made a deep postseason run in 2021, the team is probably being cautious with their young pitchers. However, much like the position players, it will be interesting to see if it takes them some time to get going at the start of the regular season.
Path Is Clear for Pena
With Carlos Correa departing in free agency, the Astros had some questions at shortstop. Well, it appears that they believe that Jeremy Pena is the answer. One of their top prospects, Pena is one of the better defenders in MiLB and he is an improving hitter. In the three games Pena has appeared in, including Sunday’s game, he has hit leadoff in two of them. Whether the prospect is at the top of the order or the bottom of the order, Pena seems to be the guy to play short for the Astros in 2022. Meanwhile, Jose Altuve has been exclusively batting second in the order. In 2021, he was penciled into the leadoff spot, but that may not be the case in 2022.
Verlander is Back
One of the biggest storylines during the Astros’ 2022 Spring Training is the return of Justin Verlander. The future Hall of Famer has essentially missed the past two seasons following his 2019 Cy Young season. In two spring starts, Verlander has pitched 4 2/3 innings, allowing no runs and striking out four. He has looked very good, and that is a great sign for the Astros. He probably won’t be able to put out another 200 inning season, but Verlander is going to be one of the keys to Houston’s success in 2022. The Astros hope Verlander will lead an otherwise young pitching staff to another deep postseason run.
The Astros 2022 Spring Training is filled with plenty of storylines and things to watch. As Spring Training goes on, we get more insight into Houston’s plans. Opening Day is almost here and it is almost time to see our favorite teams in competitive games.
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