Astros: 2020 AL West preview has Houston as clear favorite

WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA - MARCH 10: Houston Astros sit in the dugout during the spring training game against the New York Mets at FITTEAM Ballpark of The Palm Beaches on March 10, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA - MARCH 10: Houston Astros sit in the dugout during the spring training game against the New York Mets at FITTEAM Ballpark of The Palm Beaches on March 10, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /
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PEORIA, ARIZONA – MARCH 05: Pitcher Yusei Kikuchi #18 of the Seattle Mariners throws against the San Diego Padres during the second inning of a Cactus League spring training baseball game at Peoria Stadium on March 05, 2020 in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
PEORIA, ARIZONA – MARCH 05: Pitcher Yusei Kikuchi #18 of the Seattle Mariners throws against the San Diego Padres during the second inning of a Cactus League spring training baseball game at Peoria Stadium on March 05, 2020 in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images) /

Seattle Mariners

Remember when the Mariners started off the 2019 season by winning 13 of their first 15 games? That seems like a decade ago, and it didn’t help that despite the hot start, they finished 68-94 and in last place. Manager Scott Servais is going to have a tough time keeping the 2020 club out of the cellar.

Part of their problem was pitching, as the only two AL teams to allow more runs than the Mariners last year were the Tigers and Orioles, who lost 114 and 108 games respectively. They were also 10th in the AL and last in the division in runs scored, so there’s plenty of room for improvement.

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Unfortunately they traded one of their best players, catcher Omar Narvaez, to the Brewers in the offseason. Catcher Tom Murphy will try to replicate his .858 OPS from last year, but otherwise there aren’t many proven hitters in their lineup. Veterans Dee Gordon and Kyle Seager didn’t set the world on fire last year, and Mitch Haniger’s production dropped off significantly. They have some power on the team, but the guys who did hit for power last year didn’t hit for average.

The rotation has plenty of question marks too. Marco Gonzales will be back to lead the bunch, but longtime franchise icon Felix Hernandez is gone after putting up a 6.40 ERA last year. They took a flier on Taijuan Walker, and guys like Yusei Kikuchi and Kendall Graveman will look to bounce back as well.

The bullpen is even more of a mystery. The only player to post double digit saves for them last year was Roenis Elias, and he’s gone. Carl Edwards Jr has a good track record but had a dismal 2019, but a bounceback from him could put him in the closer’s role. The rest of the bullpen may be a work in progress, as of the four players who made 40 or more appearances for them last year, only one remains, and he’s coming off a 4.56 ERA.

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So in all likelihood, the Mariners will find themselves in the basement again. They simply don’t have the talent to compete with any of the other four teams in this division, and that disparity will hurt them, even in a short season.

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