The Astros again are one of the favorites to contend for a World Series title in 2019. Here are three quick predictions about the club as they take aim towards to their ultimate goal.
There is a lot to like about the Astros in 2019. For one, the lineup looks healthy and ready to click. As you may recall, the offense never really looked completely in sync, especially with injuries to Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve. The starting rotation has a few more question marks than last year, but any club that has Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole leading the charge isn’t in bad shape. And the bullpen looks like it is ready to show why it was one of the better units in the game last season.
There is always room for players to exceed expectations or regress back to the mean. Maybe somewhere in between? Well, here are three predictions that I have for the Astros in 2019.
Prediction #1: Carlos Correa finishes in the top-five for the AL MVP
Yes, I know Correa didn’t not have a quality season in 2018, thanks mainly to a back injury that persisted all summer long. That said, the former first overall pick has undeniable talent and should quickly reclaim his spot as one of the best shortstops in the game as long as his back doesn’t act up. Don’t forget that Correa posted back-to-back 5.2-win seasons from 2016-17. He was actually a possible MVP candidate entering last season. When he is right physically, the 24-year old can hit with power and plays a decent shortstop. Look for the 2019 season to be his welcome back party.
Prediction #2: Club finishes below 100 wins, but just barely
It is really hard for baseball teams to consistently win more than 100 games multiple years in a row. The same goes for the Astros, who are missing some pieces from last year’s 103-win club. However, I don’t expect much of a drop off as I have the club winning 98 games. While I would love to see Houston set another franchise-best win total, it is also a bit unrealistic. Sure, the AL West is arguably weaker with the Mariners now rebuilding and the A’s experiencing their own issues with injuries, but weird things happen in baseball. A weird bounce here or there can sway the outcome a few games, and I think the Astros finish in the high nineties for their win total.
Prediction #3: Forrest Whitley will pitch in meaningful innings by June
So, this one isn’t a bold prediction (notice I didn’t include bold in the title?). It is completely plausible to see Whitley, the Astros’ top pitching prospect, making starts for Houston as early as June. While I do have faith in the starting rotation as currently constructed, I don’t expect to see the original five starters on Opening Day to make it through most of the season without issue. The 2018 rotation, which included Verlander, Cole, Dallas Keuchel, Charlie Morton, and Lance McCullers Jr., were more of the exception rather than the rule. When the season is all said and done, I carefully expect for Whitley to be one of at least eight or nine pitchers to make a start for the Astros in 2019.