5 storylines that will decide the fate of the Astros season

The Astros are looking for another AL West championship, an eighth straight trip to the ALCS, and a third World Series title in eight years. These storylines will determine how their 2024 season shakes out.

Championship Series - Texas Rangers v Houston Astros - Game Seven
Championship Series - Texas Rangers v Houston Astros - Game Seven / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages
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In 2022, the Astros came up just one game short of their fifth trip to the World Series in seven years. While they did capture yet another AL West crown, it's title or bust these days in H-Town, and Houston fell short of their ultimate goal.

With most of the regulars back, and some in some new roles, the Astros should yet again be serious contenders in 2024 under first-year manager Joe Espada.

5 storylines that will decide the fate of the Astros season

Houston could make another run at a title, or they could finally get knocked off of their perch atop the AL West. These five storylines will determine how the 2024 season unfolds for Houston.

No. 5: How does Joe Espada do in his first year as manager?

Joe Espada was absolutely the right man for the job, and after Dusty Baker's retirement, the Astros wisely promoted their bench coach to manager. Espada, who has travelled quite a road to get here, will now call the shots in Houston after acting as the bench coach since 2018.

He knows the clubhouse well, seems to have the trust of the players, and says all the right things. It won't be difficult for Espada to make better lineup decisions than his predecessor, and Yainer Diaz and Chas McCormick have already received the stamp as everyday players.

But he will still have plenty of challenges to navigate over the course of his first 162 in charge. How does Espada balance the back end of the bullpen with three horses all deserving of closing games? What do he do if José Abreu still vastly underperforms at first base? How does he manage the workload of young arms like Hunter Brown and keep a piece like Cristian Javier fresh? Assuming LMJ and Luis Garcia return healthy around the All-Star break, how does he reshape the rotation?

There are countless challenges that arise over the course of the season. How well Espada navigates them in his first go-round will go a long way towards determining how their season unfolds.