Daily Astros Blast: News and Notes

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Welcome to the first edition of the Daily Astros Blast!

Here at Climbing Tal’s Hill we aim to provide all Astros fans with the latest team news and, hopefully insightful, analysis. That is simply our goal as a site.

Enough about that though, let’s concentrate on the end of Spring Training and the upcoming Astros 2016 season!

In the first time in many moons, Astros Spring Training hasn’t been a complete afterthought throughout Houston and the baseball community. There were fewer position battles in this camp compared to previous years, however, the quality of the competition didn’t recede. The argument can actually be made for the opposite. The hottest development from camp though was when Tyler White wrestled the first base job from Jon Singleton and A.J. Reed. But that was only the tip of the iceberg. Mike Hackemack details the some of the latest cuts from Astros camp from the past few days and how it impacts the club. 

The actual expectations surrounding this year’s squad have been “Astro”-nomicallly high and deservingly so. Fresh off a competitive playoff appearance in 2015, the first one in ten years, the Astros have now established themselves as one the favorites to win it all. In fact, our own Larry Manch argues that this year’s team should be viewed as “legitimate” World Series contenders. Will this come to pass? Only time will tell. But like Larry mentions in his post, “It is time for Houston Astros fans to smile, embrace the present and enjoy the ride”.

This leads us to the ongoing exhibition series with the Milwaukee Brewers with the first game taking place last night at Minute Maid Park. Unfortunately, the Astros were on the wrong end of this affair by losing 5-1. Houston’s pitching staff as a whole gave up 14 hits and six runs while the lineup only produced four hits and one run of its own. On the bright side, White did produce the lone run courtesy of an RBI single in the seventh inning in his only at-bat of the game. And Ken Giles did pitch a scoreless seventh inning while allowing one hit and striking out two.

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Regardless of the exhibition series with the Brewers, arguably the most important aspect of the Astros in 2016 is how their pitching holds up through the rigors of a 162-game season. The loss of Lance McCullers for at least the first few weeks of the season definitely smarts. However, it appears that Dallas Keuchel is ready to go as he continues to demonstrate his terrific pitching prowess in Spring Training. And if he can get going early, it just takes that much pressure off the pitching staff while McCullers is on the mend.

Next: Houston Astros Acquire Catcher Erik Kratz for Dan Straily

The 2016 season will also determine the future of certain players on the roster. For example, the emergence of White and the promise of Reed may force the Astros to make a choice on their burly slugger Evan Gattis. Luis Valbuena is another player to keep a close eye on as the 2016 season unfolds since he is a free agent following the Fall Classic later on this year. Either way these are all interesting storylines to keep in mind as the season officially starts next week in New York against the Yankees.

**Statistics courtesy of MLB.com**

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