The Houston Astros have had a quiet offseason, to say the least. The Astros have addressed the bullpen by signing Ryne Stanek and Pedro Baez, but there is still more that needs to be done prior to Spring Training.
Predicting how the roster will take shape may seem like it is already set in stone. Still, for a team coming off their fourth consecutive American League Championship Series appearance, the 2021 Houston Astros will have a different look to their lineup. A lineup that will, with almost certainty, have a different feel.
2021 Houston Astros Lineup: Infield
Yuli Gurriel will be back at first base for the 2021 Houston Astros. Nicknamed “La Pina”, Gurriel signed a one-year deal with the Astros for $6.5 million, with an option for 2022. Gurriel struggled in 2020, with a .236 batting average, five home runs, and 25 RBIs. Gurriel was able to make up for his struggles at the plate with his terrific defense.
This is a position that is all but locked up by the veteran Jose Altuve. Altuve struggled in 2020, both at the plate and the field. This was something Astros fans have never seen from the second baseman. The sure-handed second baseman had a case of the “yips” during the 2020 postseason, which almost cost the Astros to be swept by the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALCS. Altuve is a seasoned veteran that will be ready to go in 2021.
Dubbed the unofficial captain for the Astros, Carlos Correa will be back at shortstop for the Astros in 2021. When healthy, Correa is one of the best shortstops in the game. After not winning a Gold Glove in 2020, Correa will be looking to turn it up a notch in 2021 to secure his first career Gold Glove.
The Astros will rely heavily on his bat in 2021. Correa had a .264 batting average with five home runs in 2020. As all Astros fans are aware, Correa will be entering his free agency year, which means he will be looking to cash in this offseason. The Astros front office will be working hard to make sure that their franchise leader will remain an Astro for years to come.
Alex Bregman will be back at the hot corner in 2021. The young third baseman, who has a tendency to start off slow at the start of the season, will be looking to get off to a hot start in 2021. Bregman is the catalyst at the top of this lineup and the Astros will be relying heavily on his offensive production with the departure of George Springer.
Martin Maldonado will return to the Astros as the primary catcher in 2021. Maldonado played in forty-seven games last season while batting .215 with six home runs and 24 RBIs. If the Astros are unable to sign another catcher to backup Maldonado, they will turn to Garrett Stubbs to fill in for Maldonado when he needs a day off.
The Astros will be glad to have Yordan Alvarez back in the lineup in 2021. After missing the entire 2020 season, except for one game, Alvarez returns to the middle of the lineup that will need his power bat. Look for the 2019 Rookie of the Year to return to form in 2021.
2021 Houston Astros Lineup: Outfield
With the infield remaining the same as it was in 2020, the outfield will be slightly different in 2021, especially since free agent George Springer will be heading up north of the border after signing a six-year deal worth $150 million with the Toronto Blue Jays. The Astros are now left with trying to answer the question as to who will fill it.
The left-field position was going to be a trouble spot for the Astros until they re-signed Michael Brantley. In a whirlwind of a day that had Brantley off to the Toronto Blue Jays on a three-year deal, which came to find out was not accurate, to finally ending the day with Brantley signing a two-year contract with the Astros worth $32 million. Whew! That was a lot for just one day.
Having Brantley back is huge for the Astros, not just in the outfield but also at the plate. Brantley is one of the most consistent, productive hitters returns to help this lineup. With a .300 batting average, .364 OBP, and a .840 OPS, Brantley will be called upon to continue his productivity at the plate now that Springer is gone for good.
Here is where things become more difficult for the Astros. How does a team replace a player that has been a staple in their lineup? That will be something that the Astros will continue to ask themselves until they can replace Springer. In the meantime, the Astros will turn to Myles Straw to fill the void in centerfield. The speedy Straw can cover the ground in centerfield, but he lacks the experience at the position.
With Josh Reddick now gone to free agency, the right field position now belongs to Kyle Tucker. Tucker batted .268, with nine home runs and 42 RBIs in 2020. Tucker will be the only outfielder on the Astros roster with the most experience. The good thing about having Tucker in the outfield is that he can play both corner positions. So, if the Astros try to have Alvarez play the outfield, Tucker will play where he is needed. A positive in what seems to be a nightmare for the outfield position.
2021 Houston Astros Lineup Predictions: Rotation
The rotation will look the same as it did in 2020. The only exception is that Justin Verlander will be out due to Tommy John surgery. If all goes well and the Astros can make it back to the postseason, Verlander would come into the games out of the bullpen. Although not ideal, it is something the Astros could benefit from.
As for the rest of the rotation, Zack Greinke and Lance McCullers Jr. will be their number one and two starters. Manager Dusty Baker will have his choice on who he wants on Opening Day. The middle of the rotation will be just as good with Framber Valdez and Jose Urquidy as their third and fourth starters. The fifth starter spot is one that may be up in the air. Forrest Whitley will be looking to make the roster as the fifth starter. The Astros added Whitley to the 40-man roster, meaning that the Astros are looking forward to having him in the rotation in 2021.
The Astros also have Cristian Javier in the mix, and he has the ability to come in to be a starter or reliever. Javier went 5-2 with a 3.48 ERA in twelve games in 2020. This last rotation spot could go either way, but Javier would be the Astros’ fifth starter as it looks right now. Not to take anything away from Whitley, but it would come down to experience at the end of the day, which Javier has.
2021 Houston Astros Predictions: Bullpen
The bullpen for the Houston Astros will be the question mark going into 2021. The Astros have added a couple of key free agents in Ryne Stanek and Pedro Baez, but there is more that needs to be addressed. The Astros still have set up man Ryan Pressly. Pressly was thrust into the closer’s role last season, and he often struggled at times.
How the Astros handle their bullpen will be key to their success in 2021. With a season of experience under their belts, Enoli Parades, Andre Scrubb, and Blake Taylor will be called upon to handle more relief duties in 2021. The Astros did make sure to pick up the option for Brooks Raley, who was traded to the Astros last season from the Cincinnati Reds.
2021 Houston Astros Predictions: Final Thoughts
As the offseason had progressed before the most recent signings, the Astros seemed as though they might try to manage the 2021 season with the roster they currently had. Re-signing Brantley was key, and they were able to accomplish that goal. The Astros still have some key positions to fill, but for the most part, the lineup will remain the same as it was in 2020. Astros fans have something to look forward to when their team heads to Florida in February for Spring Training.
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