As the Houston Astros enter their first game of spring training of the 2022 season, a few exciting questions wait to be answered. For most of the starting lineup for Game 1, this is a chance to show they belong up with the big club or that they should make the 40-man roster.
The top-three men on the watch list for Friday’s game we will explore further, although most of the players starting should provide some exciting sparks of energy, if for nothing else but to have baseball back again.
Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle reported that the Astros will be playing with mostly minor-league guys the next couple days, excluding 40-man roster players.
The Astros starting lineup for the first spring training game of the season with three players to watch.
After one and a half seasons without Verlander, fans are chomping at the bit to see their ace back on the bump, even if it’s only for one inning.
Verlander is coming off Tommy John surgery, and at age 39, he is no spring chicken so fans are excited to see how he bounces back. If his bullpen session this week is any indicator, Verlander was hitting 96 and 95 regularly, and I would love to see him heat it up once or twice at 97 for a little “I’m back” statement to his teammates and Astros nation.
León played most of his ball last year for Corpus Christi, and centerfielder could make his case that he’s the next man up on the 40-man roster. The Astros ailing, starting centerfielder Jake Meyers won’t return to action immediately so Chas McCormick will be taking on the starting role with Jose Siri the likely backup.
This leaves newly acquired Lewis Brinson and Pedro León vying for the next-man up position. In 17 limited games due to injury with Sugar Land last year, León hit an uninspired .131 with no homers and two RBI, but in his larger sample size with the Hooks he hit .249 and slugged .443 with nine home runs and 33 RBI while swiping 13 bags.
The second-most looked at starting player for game one of the Astros spring training Korey Lee will get to show his much-hyped skills. In his first game in spring training, the 23-year-old will be charged with catching the Astros ace as well as hitting in a prime spot in the lineup.
Lee only played nine games with Sugar Land last year, but in his 50 games in Double-A, the righty hit .254 with eight home runs and 27 RBI and slugging .443 with a .763 OPS.
If Lee can show out in spring training, he could make a strong case to be on the 40-man or even make the major-league club at some point this season. Lee definitely has the most to gain this spring and is a player to watch not only the first game but all spring long.