By Nicholas Brady
After a long and tumultuous offseason surrounding the team’s sign-stealing scandal, the Houston Astros will begin the shortened 60-game season at Minute Maid Park on Friday night against the Seattle Mariners.
The Astros will take the field behind new manager Dusty Baker. Baker has had a long and successful career in the MLB as both a player and manager. While Baker has taken multiple teams to the playoffs, he has yet to win a World Series. With the Astros once again a favorite to win the pennant, this could be his best opportunity yet.
The Astros return their entire position player core from their World Series appearance last season. 2017 Most Valuable Player Jose Altuve, 2019 Rookie of the Year Yordan Alvarez and all-stars George Springer, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa and Michael Brantley will lead the team.
Yuli Gurriel, Josh Reddick. Kyle Tucker, Myles Straw and utility man Aledmys Diaz should also be factors this season. Martin Maldonado and newcomer MLB journeyman Dustin Garneau will split time behind the plate.
The Astros took a huge blow on the mound with star pitcher and Cy Young runner-up Gerrit Cole signing with the New York Yankees this past offseason.
However, the Astros will have a group of talented arms. Two time Cy-Young winner Justin Verlander will top the Astros rotation. 2009 Cy Young winner Zack Greinke will be the Astros second starter in the rotation followed by young star Lance McCullers Jr. in the third spot following Tommy John surgery. The shortened season should play to their advantage with a reduced workload thus keeping their arms healthy and strong throughout the season.
Jose Urquidy, Josh James, Framber Valdez, Francis Martes and top prospect Forrest Whitley could all get time in the starting rotation.
All-Star Ryan Pressly, Roberto Osuna and Chris Devenski will headline the bullpen. Brad Peacock could see time as a starter and out of the bullpen.
The Astros will be the league’s number one enemy this season after the sign-stealing scandal involving the 2017 World Series captured headlines in recent months.
The Astros are still the favorites to win the American League West and potentially in the entire AL. The Astros are once again a threat to win it all in 2020.
Regular Season Record Prediction: 37-23
Featured image by Reilly Low.