Houston Astros 2021 Preview

Updated: Mar 14

Welcome to the final month before opening day! I hope you have been enjoying spring training as much as I have. Baseball is close! I am overjoyed! March begins the official Ball Boy Blog previews of all 30 teams. The previews feature all the Free Agent signings, trades, NRI, bold predictions, and some cool fun facts at the end! We are starting at the top of the 2020 ranks and working our way down from best to worst! Enjoy!

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Houston Astros:

Last Year Record: 29-31 finished 2nd in the AL West and lost to the A's in the ALDS

Record x2.7: 78.3-93.7

Vegas Projected: The Astros are being projected at 86.5W. I am taking the under on this projection. I have them going 85-77. The offense is still excellent; however, losing Springer is rough.

Impact Departures:

RHP Junior Guerra(released), RHP Jose Alberto Rivera(Rule 5), Geroge Springer(Free Agency), Josh Reddick(Free Agency), Roberto Osuna(Free Agency), RHP Brandon Bailey(traded), RHP Rogelio Armenteros(claimed), Jack Mayfield(claimed), Humberto Castellanos(claimed)


Key Arrivals

Free Agent Signings:

-RHP Jake Odorizzi finally got his 3yr deal. The Astros signed the RHP to a 2yr deal with a player option for 2023. Odorizzi is good rotation addition despite the three IL stints that limited him to 13.2IP in 2020. In 2018-19 he posted a 4.01ERA with a 24.8K rate in 323.1IP. The deal will pay him $6mil in 2021, $5mil in 2022, and a $6.25mil player option for 2023. There is also a $6mil signing bonus and $12.5mill in performance escalators, bringing the buyout up from $3.25mil to $6.25mil.

-OF/DH Michael Brantley- The deal is the same that Brantley signed with the Astros after leaving Cleveland. In 824PA over the last two seasons with the Astros, he slashed .309/.370/.497 with 27HR.

-C Jason Castro- Castro will be an excellent defensive and pitch framing platoon option with Martin Maldonado. In his career against LHP, he owns a .242/.328/.421 slash and an 11.7% BB rate over that last four seasons.

-RHRP Pedro Baez- Baez has shown to be a reliable late-inning reliever as he owns a 3.03ERA, 25.3% strikeout rate, and an 8.2% walk rate over 356IP between 2014-20 with the Dodgers.

-RHRP Ryne Stanek- between 2018-19 with the Rays, posted a 3.17ERA, 28.9% strikeout rate over 122IP. He struggled in 2020, posting a 7.20ERA, 8BB, 11K over 10IP with the Marlins. His fastball velo dropped from 98MPH-96MPH

Claimed:

INF Robel Garcia- He has gotten 80PA over 31G with the Cubs in 2019 when he hit .208/.275/.500 with 5HR in his limited MLB experience.

NRI:

RHRP Steve Cishek- The 34yo has a career average of 91MPH fastball that has gotten him 132saves, 25.2% K rate, 2.78ERA/3.36SIERA over 576IP.

OF Steven Souza Jr.- Dating back to his 30HR .239/.351/.459 season in 2017, Souza has battled injury after injury since. Now 31yo, he will look to prove he healthy enough to contribute in the corner OF.

INF CJ Hinojosa- He tore his Achilles during the 2017 season but eventually returned to Double-A during the 2018 season, where he slashed .261/.327/.360 across 283 plate appearances.

LHP Ryan Buchter- Buchter posted a 4.50ERA over 6IP in 2020 with the Angels. He carries a career 2.90ERA over 220IP in his career.

OF Jose Siri- The 25yo Siri will compete for a regular role in the OF with the Astros in 2021. In 2019 between AA and AAA, he posted a .237/.300/.357 with 11HR, 26SB over 517PA.

NRI:

RHP Ronel Blanco, RHP Brett Conine, RHP Shawn Dubin, RHP Riley Ferrell, RHP Ralph Garza Jr., RHP Austin Hansen, LHP Ryan Hartman, RHP Blair Henley, RHP Carson LaRue, RHP Seth Martinez, LHP Kit Scheetz, RHP Jojanse Torres, RHP Hector Velazquez, C Scott Manea, C Michael Papierski, C Lorenzo Quintana, C Colton Shaver, INF Alex De Goti, INF Graw Kessinger, OF Zach Daniels, OF Ronnie Dawson, OF Bryan De La Cruz, OF Pedro Leon, OF Jake Meyers

Selected Contracts:

RHP Forrest Whitley, RHP Tyler Ivey, RHP Jairo Solis, RHP Peter Solomon, and INF Freudis Nova. Whitley, Nova, and Solis are top 10 organization prospects.

Tendered Contracts:

2B Aledmys Diaz, SP Lance McCullers Jr, SS Carlos Correa, RHP Austin Pruit

Returning from injury:

-Justin Verlander should be returning from his forearm strain that limited him to 6IP in 2020.

OUT OF OPTIONS:

Aledmys Diaz, 2B

Austin Pruitt, P

Brooks Raley, P

Prospect Watch

-I am watching how the young duo of Myles Straw and Kyle Tucker adjust to the OF's everyday roles.

-A few other guys I am watching in the camp are INF Jeremy Pena, C Korey Lee, RHP Hunter Brown, RHP Alex Santos II, OF Colin Barber, each of these guys in the top-10 of the organization's prospects. is

Fantasy Impact Players

-1B Yuli Gurriel, 2B Jose Altuve, 3B Alex Bregman, SS Carlos Correa, DH Yordan Alvarez, OF Michael Brantley

Upcoming 2022 Free Agents:

-SP Zack Greinke and Justin Verlander. Both are 38, both at the end of their big deals. Both could be pitching in their last big-money season.

-SS Carlos Correa, if he isn't offered the deal he wants by opening day, he will not be staying in Houston.

The team will also have SP Lance McCullers, RP Joe Smith, RP Steve Cishek, C Martin Maldonado, OF Steven Souza, all as free agents come next season.

Storylines to follow

-If there is one team, it is genuinely championship or bust for. It is the Houston Astros, an entire season removed from the sign-stealing scandal. The Astros are looking to show why they could rally late and get deep into the AL race for the World Series.

Bold Predictions

-The bold prediction for the Astros this season is the finish 4th in the AL; Correa doesn't finish the team's season. Also, either Altuve, Bregman, or Gurriell doesn't finish the season on the team. I am sorry, Astro fans, the time atop the AL West is over.

Fact Check

The Astros all-time single-game attendance record at Minute Maid Park was set in 2009 at 43,827. The total seating capacity at Minute Maid Park is 40,976. It takes 12-20 minutes to close the retractable roof. The roof moves back and forth an estimated 160 times a year, a distance of 14.6 miles.


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