4. Carlos Correa – SS
Don’t let the back injury from last season, while concerning, take away from Correa’s potential. While the former first overall pick only has 33 plate appearances batting fifth, Correa has the potential to blossom at that spot of the lineup. Although Brantley will likely hitting in front of him most games, the Astros shortstop should still have plenty of opportunities.
Well, there is a small snag in that plan: Blake Snell is a left-hander, hence why I listed Correa as the cleanup hitter for this game. As long as that back is fine, I expect for the Astros shortstop to pick up where he left off earlier in 2018 before the back injury. Don’t forget that Correa has an .820 OPS batting cleanup for his career, if that counts for anything.
5. Yuli Gurriel – 1B
Snell, the Rays’ scheduled Opening Day starter, limited left-handed hitters to a .413 OPS while only walking nine in 2018. Considering the fact that Gurriel has roughly the same OPS (.775 vs. RHP, .766 vs. LHP) for his career, regardless of pitching hand, it is easy to see why the right-hander could possibly bat fifth in the lineup.
6. Michael Brantley – LF
One of the key draws about Brantley was his consistent left-handed bat and how that bat would help break up the Astros right-handed heavy lineup. Honestly, he is likely to hit cleanup more times than not to start the season. Houston needed a left-handed bat to somewhere early in the lineup to keep pitchers off-balance.
Against Snell though, I don’t see Brantley batting higher than fifth or sixth. After all, his .702 career OPS against left-handers doesn’t look quite as attractive as his .817 OPS against right-handers. He will still be in the lineup, but lower than what we may become accustomed to this season.