Jose Altuve will be back in his familiar leadoff spot in today’s game against Kris Medlen and the Braves. Manager Bo Porter had Altuve batting second for the first week of Spring Training. Porter said he wanted Altuve in the #2 spot because he would get more fastballs to hit. Shortstop candidates Marwin Gonzalez and Tyler Greene had been manning the leadoff spot.
The Astros offense has been clicking on all cylinders so far this spring. That could simply be a product of the pitchers still getting into shape. As we enter the second week of games, Porter is fielding a starting lineup that looks more like what we may see on Opening Day. Gonzalez, who has been swinging a hot bat, is getting the start at short and is batting ninth. Here’s a look at the starting lineup.
Jose Altuve (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)
Dallas Keuchel will be today’s starting pitcher. Keuchel will try to bounce back after a rough outing in his first appearance. Philip Humber will follow Keuchel to the mound. Humber is scheduled to pitch three innings if all goes well. Astros hurlers will be facing a couple of our old friends today. Both Jordan Schafer and Chris Johnson are in the starting lineup for the Braves.
One notable absence from today’s lineup is Chris Carter. Another surprise is the fact that Jason Castro is in the cleanup spot. Castro is usually lower in the order but did a good job last season when Tony DeFrancesco tried him in the #5 spot. Castro has hit a couple of bombs already this spring and I think getting him in the middle of the order is a good idea. But a better idea could be putting Castro in the #2 spot.
Is this the lineup we will see on Opening Day? Probably not, but it should be similar. Altuve is the team’s best base runner and he actually gets on base. The other leadoff candidates don’t get on base enough. Having a runner on base that is a threat to steal is what buys the #2 hitter more fastballs.
Not only do I like Altuve in the leadoff spot, I think Castro should hit second. Seeing more fastballs would be a good thing for Castro too. And I’ve always liked the idea of having a left-handed hitter batting second. When the speedy leadoff hitter is being held on first base it opens up a bigger hole between first and second that the lefty swinger can take advantage of.
What does your Astros Opening Day lineup look like?