Houston Astros 2019 Season Preview: Fantasy Analysis

2018 Record: 103 – 59

Projected 2019 Record: 96 – 66

2018 Recap & 2019 Team Outlook

Over the past two or three seasons, the Astros have really established themselves as one of the most dominant teams in the MLB.

 They came into the 2018 season as the defending world champs, as well as first time AL pennant winners and AL West division winners. The 2018 Astros’ team had been one that had been up and coming for a while. The club featured numerous young stars such as George Springer, Carlos Correa, and Alex Bregman on the offensive side, while the dominant veteran Justin Verlander held things down on the mound.

Houston went on to dominate the AL West once again, putting up an impressive 103 wins. They then looked to go back to back and win another World Series title. They easily rolled over the Cleveland Indians 3-0 in the ALDS but were then met by a tough Boston Red Sox team in the ALCS. The Sox ended the Astros hopes of going back to back, but the Astros look to bounce back in 2019 and reclaim their position at the top of the MLB.

2019 Astros Storylines

The Astros are undoubtedly in a good position entering 2019. They did little in terms of offseason trades and for good reason; the team they already have seems to get better and better each year. They did lose all-star Charlie Morton and pitcher Dallas Keuchel is still on the market as a free agent. But even without Keuchel and Morton, they are predicted to win the AL West for a third straight year, and why shouldn’t they be?

Well, one of the main issues surrounds injuries. The Astros offense in 2018 was stellar for 80% of the season. Yet, injuries in 2018 forced the team to get creative. Impactful players such as pitcher Lance McCullers, second baseman Jose Altuve, and short stop Carlos Correa all had injury stints, taking a big toll on the offensive and defensive production of the team at different points in the season. Will the Astros be able to keep players off the disabled list in 2019 and keep their offense and defensive dominance consistent? Well, Alex Bregman is currently having minor issues with his elbow but is likely to return soon.

Astros Starting Pitchers

Justin Verlander Words cannot describe the talent that Verlander possesses. Even at the age of 36, he continues to turn in quality performance after quality performance. Last season he went 16– 9 with a 2.52 ERA. Expect another all-star level performance this year.

Gerrit Cole The Astros are lucky that both of their best pitchers are returning for the 2019 season. Cole put up strong numbers in 2018: 15 – 5 with an ERA just below 2.88. At 28 years of age, he is in the prime of his career and is only expected to get better.

Colin McHugh– Assuming Keuchel leaves the Astros, McHugh would come out of the bullpen and be back in the rotation in 2019. He had a solid 2018 season finishing at a 6-2 mark with an ERA of 1.99. He looks to improve on his 2018 performance and become a key pitcher in the Astros rotation.

Wade Miley– Miley joins the Astros after a good season in the Brewers organization in 2018. He put up a 5 – 2 record in 16 games started for the Brew Crew posting an impressive 2.57 ERA. If he impresses the Astros pitching staff, he will likely begin to take on a more important role as a top 3 starter for the organization

Brad Peacock– Next up is Brad Peacock. His 2018 season was similar to that of McHugh as he was predominantly a bullpen pitcher. He put up a 3-5 win/loss record and a 3.46 ERA. With Morton and potentially Keuchel gone, he could be a big player in another pennant race this season.

Astros Relievers

The bullpen may be a bit of a weak spot for the Astros in this upcoming season. While their bullpen is by no means bad, the Astros did fail to acquire that top-notch reliever that they were looking for in the offseason. And with two of their best 2018 relievers likely joining the starting rotation in 2019, they will have to turn to arms such as Roberto Osuna, Hector Rondon, and Chris Devenski for support. Fans hope that a deficit in relief won’t lead to too many blown games this season.

Astros Hitters

As is the case with most top AL teams, Astros hitting is a serious forte.

Let’s start with Jose Altuve, the unofficial leader of this team and a player who, without a doubt, is one of the best in the game. Year in and year out he puts up strong numbers, gets on base frequently, and scores run. The best part is that he is showing no signs of slowing down.

Next comes Alex Bregman. Not enough can be said about the talent this young stud possesses. He led the team’s offense in 2018 with 31 home runs and 103 RBI’s. Not to mention, he also led in on base percentage and in hits. He comes into 2019 as the main offensive power in this organization and looks to lead the team to another playoff berth.

We can also obviously talk about George Springer and Carlos Correa. Springer knocked 22 home runs and 71 RBI’s last season while Correa hit 15 bombs and knocked in 62. Correa’s numbers were a bit low due to injury.

Also keep an eye out for Josh Reddick, Michael Brantley, and Yuli Gurriel.

Projected Starting Lineup:

  1. George Springer
  2. Alex Bregman
  3. Jose Altuve
  4. Carlos Correa
  5. Michael Brantley
  6. Yuli Gurriel
  7. Josh Reddick
  8. Tyler White
  9. Robinson Chirinos

2019 Noteworthy Fantasy Pitchers

Gerrit Cole – 
Gerrit Cole is part of the double-headed monster looming in the Houston rotation. Cole came into Houston as an up and down right-hander who didn’t have elite strikeout stuff. That changed in his first season with Houston, as he posted monster numbers. Cole is projected for over 200 strikeouts again, and will also push for a low three ERA. Using his off-speed and improved fastball more, he has changed his fantasy value for the better. Look for Cole to continue his success, and we should trust him for where he is going in drafts.

Justin Verlander – 
Going on age 36, Justin Verlander has turned back the clock since joining Houston. Like Cole, his strikeouts took a major turn in the right direction. We can talk about age all we want, but Verlander projects to be a top ten pitcher yet again. He is durable, and with the added strikeouts, he is one of baseball’s best fantasy arms. Last season, Verlander posted a 12.2 K/9, and has always been efficient with his accuracy. Not much signs of him slowing down at the moment, and we should treat him as such.

2019 Noteworthy Fantasy Hitters

Alex Bregman – 
The only knock on Alex Bregman is his ADP, which is deservingly high after a stellar 2018 season. Bregman brings a steady dose of power, and also a ton of production within a very good Houston offense. He had a higher walk rate than strikeout rate last season. Bregman isn’t going to give you 20+ SB upside like some of the other names in his range, but in all other categories he is an all-around stud.

Jose Altuve – 
There are a few names that we are looking to rebound from injury plagued seasons, and a few of their names are on the Astros. Jose Altuve is one of them, who didn’t look like himself. The offseason was a chance for him to get healthy and get back to flirting with 40 SB + HR. He isn’t quite the upside name from a few years ago, but now that his ADP has dropped a tad, he finds himself still as one of the above average second base targets.

Noah Wadhwani lives in Sacramento, California but grew up in Boston as a die-hard New England sports fan. He is currently a freshman at the University of California, Berkeley and is intending to major in applied mathematics or economics. Aside from sports, Noah’s other main passion is travel and has spent time living abroad in Denmark and Argentina.

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