Houston Astros: Ranking the 2020 regular season opponents
The Middle Tier
6. Texas Rangers
Coming off an 84-loss season, the Rangers made some moves to upgrade their rotation. Corey Kluber joins Mike Minor and Lance Lynn to form an imposing trio, while they also added Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles to give them a strong group. The bullpen is another matter entirely, however, as that group looks like an obvious Achilles’ heel.
They added some additional pop in Todd Frazier and Robinson Chirinos, and they’ll hope for a full season from power factory Joey Gallo. But can Danny Santana sustain his breakout 2019, and can Rougned Odor even manage a .300 on-base percentage? It’s also hard to see Elvis Andrus and Shin Soo Choo being any better than they were last year, which isn’t bad but is hardly noteworthy. This is a team that looks to hover around .500 but could surprise if they get their bullpen in order.
5. Los Angeles Angels
I might be a little more optimistic about the Angels than they deserve, but they did add some key pieces in the offseason after losing 90 games last year. Joining new manager Joe Maddon is All-Star third baseman Anthony Rendon, and they also added former Astros catcher Jason Castro behind the plate.
Their pitching staff needed help, and it’ll be buoyed by the return of Shohei Ohtani along with newcomers Dylan Bundy and Julio Teheran. If their bullpen can morph into an average unit, at least, and if outfielder Justin Upton can bounce back from an awful 2019, this team could be dangerous. At least they’re trying to get Mike Trout to the postseason.
4. San Diego Padres
The Friars finished last in the NL West last year with 92 losses, but this is a young team on the rise. A full season from phenom shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr will help, as will more of young catcher Francisco Mejia. Tommy Pham, once he recovers from COVID-19, adds some much-needed help in the outfield, and Manny Machado and Eric Hosmer remain in what could be a deep lineup.
The rotation has talented young arms in Chris Paddack and Dinelson Lamet, while newcomers Garrett Richards and Zach Davies could add some consistency. The Padres added sudden relief ace Drew Pomeranz to pair with closer Kirby Yates, so this is a team that might not necessarily be the best, but doesn’t have many weaknesses.