The ‘stros made it to the postseason in 2020 thanks to the expanded playoffs and were able to advance to the ALCS before being beaten by the Rays. Houston dealt with the consequences of their sign-stealing scandal as they were public enemy number one with everyone cheering when they struggled. It’s a new year, though, and they look to put everything that happened in 2020 behind them.
Key Additions: Jake Odorizzi, Pedro Báez, Steve Cishek, Jason Castro
Key Subtractions: George Springer, Josh Reddick, Roberto Osuna
Houston struggled last season offensively which shouldn’t come as a major surprise. It was a very different year for the team as they had to deal with not knowing what was coming on every pitch. Because of that, mainstays like Altuve, Gurriel, and Correa had career-worst seasons. Some of it more than likely had to do with teams unable to use any sort of tech in the dugouts, but I think their sign-stealing being squashed maybe more to do with it. I expect them to do better this season and return to being a solid team. They won’t quite be the force they were a few years ago, but the Astros should be a team that has a chance come October.
The changes to the roster for Houston are interesting. Losing Springer is a pretty big blow and the team didn’t do much to try to plug that gap. More than likely, the Astros will count on Kyle Tucker to be George’s everyday replacement. Tucker was the team’s first-round selection in the 2015 Draft and was great during his 2020 campaign. Despite losing someone as important as Springer, the Astros should be able to weather the loss. Having Osuna be absent is a big blow as well as far as on-field production goes. Roberto has dealt with his fair share of off-field drama as he was a part of a domestic violence case in 2018 and is currently injured. The elite reliever could be very useful, but teams aren’t willing to give him chance given his track record and injury history. Houston hopes their two additions to the pen can help offset Osuna’s loss.
The team is already a little behind given the injuries suffered in Spring Training. The team’s top prospect Forrest Whitley recently underwent Tommy John surgery and will be out all of 2021. More than likely, he won’t pitch in a real game till somewhere between May and June of 22’. Houston felt elated coming into the year about Framber Valdéz, but a fractured ring finger on his throwing hand quickly quelled any excitement. A recent report on the lefty says he’s doing well after opting not to have surgery. There’s been no real timetable given on when he could come back, but it looks like 2021 won’t be a completely lost season for Valdéz. The team will also be without Verlander to begin the year as he had TJ surgery in September. Justin posted a video of his first throw since the surgery under a week ago, meaning he still has plenty of time till he’s back on the mound.
All in all, this team should be pretty good. Their lineup is still full of solid hitters while the rotation is headlined by Greinke and Lance McCullers. If a few things break this team’s way, they could be in a similar position as last year. If not, then the injuries and subtractions from the roster will end up being bigger issues than anticipated and Houston will miss the postseason for the first tie since 2016.