Houston Astros Batting Lineup Summary: Houston has a lot of quality bats returning. Jose Altuve may be the best leadoff bat in the entire AL. Having George Springer, Carslo Correa, Carlos Gomez, Colby Rasmus, and Luis Valbuena bat 2-7 makes their batting lineup just as deadly as the Kansas City Royals.
Tyler White posted a .362 batting average on the AAA champion Fresno Grizzlies. Now he joins the Astros replacing Chris Carter who played first base for the Astros in 2015. Jason Castro rounds out the batting lineup. Houston should have a deadly batting lineup in 2016.
Houston Astros Starting Rotation
Lance McCullers Jr.
Houston Astros Starting Rotation Summary: Dallas Kuechel and Collin McHugh give you a chance to win 2 out of 3 to begin a series if Kuechel pitches the first game of that series. The rest of this rotation is subpar. That's what I said about the Astros heading into 2015. They traded for Scott Kazmir and moved McHugh down to a #3 starter in the rotation with McCullers as a #4 starter.
That's what made Houston's rotation deep enough to push the Kansas City Royals to the limit. It seems like the Astros don't have that rotation this year with Kazmir now on the Dodgers. Kuechel, McHugh, and McCullers Jr. can provide an effective 3-man rotation when healthy. McCullers Jr. will be out for the first month.
Doug Fister had a 4.19 ERA on the Washington Nationals. He's projected to have a 3.90 ERA in Houston. Fister limiting his ERA to under 4.00 could very well determine whether the Astros lose in the ALDS or make the World Series.
Scott Feldman rounds out the Astros starting rotation. Houston has a good 1, 2, 3 punch, but doesn't have a true starting 5 rotation like Toronto or Cleveland and that may be what keeps them from making the 2016 World Series.
Houston Astros Bullpen
Houston Astros Bullpen Summary: Houston has Mike Wiers as a long reliever who will begin the season in the starting rotation. Wandy Rodriguez is the other long reliever and he's pretty effective.
None of Houston's middle relievers have an ERA of 4.00. Closer Luke Gregerson will probably do better in a set up role and Ken Giles is a stud closer waiting to emerge. Great find by the Astros picking him up from the Phillies.
Houston has a fantastic bullpen. This bullpen is capable of getting the Astros back into games if their starter gets pulled early.
Prediction: Houston made massive improvements last season. They came closer to beating the Kansas City Royals than any other team. There is a reason why many are calling them the favorite to win the AL.
My final AL predictions are posted here. I got the Toronto Blue Jays having the AL's best record. Cleveland takes teh AL Central with the 2 seed. Houston struggles at first, but gets hot down the stretch and gets the 3 seed. The Royals host the Red Sox in the wild card. David Price gets the Red Sox to the ALDS only to watch his former team sweep his new team out of the playoffs. I would love to see Cleveland win the AL, but the Astros have Keuchel, McHugh, and McCullers Jr. and that should be enough for them to get by Cleveland with their bullpen.
Toronto and Houston will be a 7 game series, but Toronto will prevail and win the AL with home field. Houston will make great strides this year, but I feel like they lack one or two starters to make a World Series run even though the bats and bullpen are there with this team having a very similar makeup to the Kansas City Royals.