Almost everyone expected the Astros to make the postseason last year, but their starting pitching collapsed. Dallas Keuchel followed up his Cy Young award season in 2015 with a season that saw him lose more games than he won. The advanced metrics showed he was a little unlucky and was better than his ERA and win-loss record would suggest.
Houston decided to invest in some veteran talent this offseason. They signed guys with playoff experience like Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann. Will those signings payoff are they just getting in the way of a younger guy needing at-bats?
Could Carlos Correa or George Springer turn into potential MVP candidates?
Here is the 2017 MLB season preview for the Houston Astros.
2016 Win/Loss Record: 84-78
Key Additions: C Brian McCann, OF Norichika Aoki, OF Josh Reddick, OF Carlos Beltran, SP Charlie Morton, SP C.J. Riefenhauser & SS Reid Brignac
Key Losses: OF Colby Rasmus, 3B Luis Valbuena, RP Pat Neshek, SP Doug Fister & C Jason Castro,
Interleague Schedule: NL East
Projected Starters: Brian McCann, Yuli Gurriel, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, Norichika Aoki, George Springer, Josh Reddick & Carlos Beltran
Projected Starting Rotation: Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh, Mike Fiers, Lance McCullers & Charlie Morton
Closer: Ken Giles
Fantasy Sleeper: 3B Yulieski Gurriel – Gurriel was a stud in Cuba and hit well over .300 for many seasons down there. The 32-year-old may take a month or so to get hot, but I think he could be a big difference maker for the Astros. Houston has a lot of guys who strike out a lot. Gurriel struck out in less than 10% of his at-bats in Cuba. That number will jump up some in the Majors, but I don’t expect it to jump by much. Gurriel should help you in average and he does have some double-digit homer pop in his bat.
Prospects To Keep Your Eye On: SP Francis Martes – Martes is turning into a real gem for the Astros. They got him in a trade with the Marlins for Jarred Cosart in 2014. His fastball is nasty and has hit 100 mph. He tends to initially struggle when promoted, but makes adjustments and improves. He’s only 21 years old and he will start the year in Triple-A. He could develop into a front-of-the-rotation starter.
Team Analysis: I was all-in on the Astros before last season, but they struggled early. The front of their rotation wasn’t doing well and they were losing the games started by the same starters who carried them in 2015. They will need more consistency from Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh this season.
The Astros were a young team that peaked a little too early in 2015. Expectations were too high going into last season. They still had a good season, but many didn’t expect them to miss the postseason, especially after Jose Altuve’s MVP-worthy season and for the fact that George Springer and Carlos Correa both stayed healthy all season.
The Astros signed some veterans to help lead some of the young talent. I like the signing of Nori Aoki and Josh Reddick. I think both will work well and they get on base at a nice rate. I do worry about the signings of Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran. They could limit the at-bats of Evan Gattis. Gattis didn’t start the season very well last year, but he was a monster after the All Star break.
The AL West is going to be a hard division for any team to win. The Astros, Rangers and Mariners are the favorites, but the A’s and Angels aren’t easy wins. I have the Astros coming up a few games short of winning the division, but they will once again be in the Wild Card race.
2017 Wins Over/Under Betting Line: 90.5 (Prediction: UNDER)
2017 Projected Win/Loss Record: 86-76 (2nd AL West)
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.