2016 MLB Season Preview: Houston Astros

Division Overview: In 2015, the American League West was a three-team race. The Texas Rangers finished strong and passed the Houston Astros in the final week to win the division. The Astros finished second and won a Wild-Card berth, withstanding a .500 record in their last 20 games and a late surge from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

The Angels finished just one game behind the Astros. This year looks to be more of the same, but lots of changes to all three teams, as well as improvements to the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics, could make this one of the most competitive divisions again this year.

The Astros were able to win the Wild Card game against the Yankees, but fell to the eventual World Series champion, Kansas City in a very competitive series. The Rangers lost a 2-0 series lead, and eventually the whole thing against the Blue Jays in the Divisional Round.

Here is MFST’s preview and prediction of the Houston Astros in 2016…

Houston Astros
(USA TODAY Sports)

1st Place- Houston Astros 
Projected Record: 92-70

Key losses: 1B/DH-Chris Carter, P-Vincent Velasquez, P-Scott Kazmir, P-Mark Appel, P-Chad Qualls, C-Hank Conger, INF- Jed Lowrie

Key additions: Doug Fister SP, Ken Giles RP, Wandy Rodriguez SP

Pitching: The Astros made the playoffs a year early according to most baseball pundits, but the core of the team that won 86 games last year is back, and likely only getting better. With bona-fide ace and reigning Cy-Young winner Dallas Keuchel manning the front of the rotation, the pitching staff has fewer questions heading into 2016. Colin McHugh is a solid No.2 behind Keuchel, and Lance McCullers could be the best pitcher on the roster. McCullers however, will start the season on the DL with shoulder soreness. This DL move is more based on limiting McCullers innings to start the season than anything else. A combination of veteran pitchers, Mike Fiers, Doug Fister and Scott Feldman will battle for the final two rotation spots once McCullers returns. Astros GM Jeff Luhnow has said all three (Fiers, Fister and Feldman) will start at some point in 2016, and I believe they will employ a six-man rotation to keep their young and old arms fresh.

The bullpen was the Astros biggest struggle in 2015, and Luhnow looked to fill that void early in the off-season with the addition of former Phillies closer Ken Giles. The Astros gave up big-name prospects like Mark Appel and Vincent Velasquez, but Giles is the dominant figure they needed in the 9th inning. With the Giles addition, they can slide Luke Gregerson back to his normal set-up role, even if he isn’t happy about it. 

Lineup: The Astros lineup will look eerily similar to the one they fielded in 2015. The biggest difference will be at 1B as they are currently holding an intense battle this Spring Training. A combination of Jon Singleton, AJ Reed, Matt Duffy and Tyler White will either win the job or platoon the position to start the season. With solid utility players in Luis Valbuena and Marwin Gonzalez who can play any infield position, the Astros have loads of depth in those spots. Their outfield depth could be stronger with George Springer, Carlos Gomez and Colby Rasmus locking the starting spots down, making Jake Marisnick and Preston Tucker inter-changeable pieces on the bench.

Houston employs the BEST middle-infield combo in the major leagues, and it’s not that close. 2B Jose Altuve is looking to lead the AL in hits and stolen bases for the third year in a row, while reigning ROY Carlos Correa could be the next once-in-a-generation talent to hit the Big Show.

As long as this team can stay healthy, they have the talent to carry them through the playoffs. The question will be whether or not last years semi-playoff run is enough experience for a team that is one of the youngest in the major leagues. Only time will tell, but I expect the Astros season to carry into October.

https://i2.wp.com/www.myfantasysportstalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/a-51.jpg?fit=600%2C400&ssl=1https://i2.wp.com/www.myfantasysportstalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/a-51.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1Dan SchalkMLBRecent Posts#MLB,AL West,Houston Astros,mlb season preview2016 MLB Season Preview: Houston Astros Division Overview: In 2015, the American League West was a three-team race. The Texas Rangers finished strong and passed the Houston Astros in the final week to win the division. The Astros finished second and won a Wild-Card berth, withstanding a .500 record in their last...Why go anywhere else for sports and entertainment?