On the Bubble
These players could compete for roster spots in Spring Training, depending on what moves the Astros make this offseason.
Obviously the outfield is a big topic, and Chas McCormick could serve as a fourth or fifth outfielder if needed, so he’s on the bubble. But aside from Straw and Tucker, there aren’t any real candidates for starting jobs on the roster currently. Abraham Toro and Taylor Jones could serve as additional infield depth and have a shot to make the Opening Day roster, though that could depend on what the roster sizes are in 2021.
Garrett Stubbs is currently the No. 2 catcher on the roster, though the Astros would probably prefer to bring in a veteran to split time with Maldonado. If that happens, Stubbs may head to Triple-A to serve as extra depth, but the lefthanded hitter could serve as a nice complement to Machete if the team decides to go that route.
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One name that might seem like an omission from the roster locks is Andre Scrubb, who pitched to a 1.90 ERA out of the Astros bullpen in 2020. But he frequently managed to work his way in and out of trouble and walked an unsightly 7.6 batters per nine innings. At a 1.479 WHIP, his low ERA just isn’t sustainable, so the team might want him to try and work through his control issues at Triple-A. He might make the 2021 roster, but it’s not guaranteed.
One pitcher who is likely to make the roster given good health is Austin Pruitt, who did not pitch in 2020 due to elbow issues. He could serve as the team’s long reliever or even a fifth starter if the team wants Javier in the bullpen. I would say he’s very likely to make the roster if healthy, but I wouldn’t consider it a lock, especially if the Astros make a few additions in free agency.
A couple of youngsters to watch out for are Bryan Abreu and Luis Garcia. Abreu had a disastrous 2020 season as he showed up out of shape and proceeded to walk seven batters and hit two more in 3.1 innings. Garcia pitched to a 2.92 ERA in 12.1 innings. Both are likely ticketed for Triple-A, but could be called upon if the front office doesn’t acquire more veteran help.
Josh James will likely miss the start of the season while recovering from hip surgery, and don’t discount the possibility of Verlander returning in a relief role late in the season either. The remaining pitchers on the 40-man roster, including top prospect Forrest Whitley, are unlikely to start the year in the majors.