Houston Astros 2024 Season Preview

The Houston Astros are poised for yet another historic run in 2024. How do they look heading into the new season?

HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 23: Alex Bregman #2 of the Houston Astros celebrates with Yordan Alvarez #44 after hitting a solo home run against Max Scherzer #31 of the Texas Rangers during the third inning in Game Seven of the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on October 23, 2023 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Death, taxes, and the Houston Astros in at least the ALCS, if not the World Series. The first two on the previous list are givens throughout history, and yet for the last seven years, the latter has been true as well.

Love them or hate them, the Astros have quite the dynasty going, with little to no signs of letting up anytime soon. Yes, I used the D-word to describe what has been cooking in Houston over the past seven seasons because it has been remarkable. Controversies aside, the Astros are on a heater that has been quite impressive.

This season the Astros will look to add to their current resume of winning. They will have to do so under the watch of new manager Joe Espada. While Espada has been in the Astros dugout as bench coach since 2018, this will be the first time that he will be calling the shots.

There was much angst toward Dusty Baker from many in the fan base last year, despite his success with the team that included the 2022 World Series championship. Not to mention that Baker navigated the team through the aftermath of the sign stealing saga.

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Espada should do fine, but he is a first-time manager that will make some mistakes along the way. The shoes that Dusty left behind will be a bit harder to fill than some anticipate.

Thankfully the Astros still have a solid core group of players that know how to win. The offseason saw them snag top closer Josh Hader and sign Jose Altuve to a five-year contract extension that will run through the 2029 season.

It is still yet to be determined how Houston will handle the upcoming free agency of Alex Bregman (FA at the end of this season) and Kyle Tucker (FA after 2025 season). Those will be issues that GM Dana Brown and owner Jim Crane will have to navigate but shouldn’t affect this year’s efforts.

Astros Projected Lineup

Projected Lineup
1. Jose Altuve – R – 2B
2. Yordan Alvarez – L – DH
3. Alex Bregman – R – 3B
4. Kyle Tucker – L – RF
5. Jose Abreu – R – 1B
6. Chas McCormick – R – LF
7. Yainer Diaz – R – C
8. Jake Meyers – R – CF
9. Jeremy Pena – R – SS

One area that Espada is looking to make adjustments to is the order of the lineup. This season the Astros will look to strike early and often, by placing their top four sluggers at the upper side of the lineup card.

Altuve will once again be in his normal leadoff spot where he gives the team both on base ability and the opportunity for some early pop. But instead of having Bregman in the two hole, look for the fierce Yordan Alvarez to occupy that spot. Modern baseball wisdom calls for the team’s best hitter to hit second, and thus the big lefty will be right where he belongs.

If it wasn’t hard enough for opposing pitchers to have to face Altuve and Alvarez right off the bat, they will be followed by Bregman and Tucker. There might be a top of the lineup that is just as good somewhere else in MLB, but I don’t think that the Astros would trade theirs straight up for another teams.

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Yainer Diaz will add some additional fire power to the lineup as he takes over the everyday catching duties. The bat will not be an issue for Diaz, but it will be interesting to see how he handles the pitching staff day in and day out.

Astros Projected Bench

Victor Caratini, Mauricio Dubon, Jon Singleton, Grae Kessinger*

Backup, switch hitting catcher Victor Caratini and Gold Glove-winning utility stalwart Mauricio Dubon will be getting plenty of playing time this season for the Astros. The other two spots will more than likely not get a ton of work but will be there if and when called upon.

Jon Singleton is limited on his ability to play any position other than first base, but his powerful left-handed bat will play well off the bench late in games. He is also out of options, and thus makes him being on the opening day roster more of a possibility.

The final bench spot heading into the regular season looked to be Grae Kessinger’s for the taking. He hasn’t had a great spring with the bat, but his usefulness to the club comes with his glove. Last season he did hit well at Triple-A Sugar Land, but outside of that the numbers offensively haven’t been anything to write home about.

Unfortunately for Kessinger, he had some discomfort in his right hamstring recently and at this point it is unclear how long he might be out.

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This turn of events could open the door for either Corey Julks or perhaps No. 6 prospect Joey Loperfido. Loperfido has been tearing it up during spring training and will make the conversations in the front office very interesting over the next several days despite not currently being on the 40-man.

Espada had this to say about Loperfido earlier this spring. “He’s opening some eyes. We know how good he is and we see the progress in his game the last couple of years, but what he’s doing right now and how he’s hitting the ball to all fields, playing good defense, stealing bases, it’s been eye-popping for sure.”

Astros Projected Rotation

Projected Starting RotationRotation Depth
1. LHP Framber ValdezRHP Justin Verlander*
2. RHP Cristian JavierRHP Jose Urquidy*
3. RHP Hunter BrownRHP Lance McCullers Jr.*
4. RHP J.P. FraceRHP Luis Garcia*
5. RHP Ronel BlancoRHP Spencer Arrighetti
* Injured

In what could have been seen as a surplus heading into spring training, the Astros’ rotation picture has now turned into an all-hands-on-deck situation. Aging ace Justin Verlander (41) had a shoulder injury that has delayed his build up for the regular season. The hope is that he will be able to join the rotation sometime in mid-April. The sooner that he is able to, the better.

If that wasn’t a big enough blow, the Astros are still uncertain on the length of time that Jose Urquidy will be missing this year. He has recently been sidelined by a forearm strain. Not all forearm strains are signs of issues in the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), but it happens quite often. If it is and Urquidy does require Tommy John surgery, that would be yet another blow to an already depleted Astros rotation.

Obviously getting Verlander back will be a huge boost for the team, but they can also look forward to the return of Lance McCullers Jr. and Luis Garcia. Both of them should be rejoining the rotation sometime in the second half of the season. It will be like gaining two starting pitchers at the trade deadline without having to trade away any prospects to get them.

Espada will be looking to Hunter Brown to step up his game and pitch the way that everyone knows that he can during this, his sophomore season. Last year Brown had an up and down rookie campaign, but there will be no flying under the radar for the hard throwing righty.

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J.P. France and Ronel Blanco will also need to hold their own until reinforcements can arrive. France is a little late in ramping up and might be limited a bit over his first few starts of the season. Blanco has looked outstanding during spring training and will aim to take that momentum into the regular season.

Astros Projected Bullpen

Projected Bullpen
LHP Josh Hader
RHP Ryan Pressly
RHP Bryan Abreu
RHP Rafeal Montero
RHP Parker Mushinski
RHP Seth Martinez
LHP Bennett Sousa
RHP Brandon Bielak

How do you replace Phil Maton, Hector Neris, and Ryne Stanek? Go out and sign the best lock down closer in the game in Josh Hader.

With the addition of Hader, the Astros have the luxury of moving previous closer Ryan Pressly into the setup role along with hard throwing Bryan Abreu. Last year, Houston’s pen posted the sixth best ERA in the league at 3.56. They should slot in toward the top of the chart again this season.

With the injuries to the starting rotation heading into the regular season, this bullpen is bound to be used early and often. They have the arms and resumes to get the job done, it will just be a balancing act for Espada to know when to use them and how to keep them fresh.

The season is long, and it will be an advantage in having multiple guys out there that can be called on to close out games when needed.

Top Prospects Who Could Help in 2024

Joey Loperfido UTIL, Spencer Arrighetti RHP, Colton Gordon LHP

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Watching top prospects develop and then contribute at the major league level is something that every fan enjoys. As discussed earlier, Loperfido could find his way onto the roster in Houston as early as Opening Day. He is turning heads and making a strong case to be part of the 26-man roster.

Pitchers Spencer Arrighetti and Colton Gordon could also find themselves in Houston before the season is over.

Arrigetti is a right-hander that MLB.com ranks as the No. 3 prospect in the organization. He got the start for the club in the Spring Breakout game where he threw two scoreless innings, allowing no hits and walking just one.

Gordon is the Astros top left-handed pitching prospect and could find his way into the mix of some spot starts or long relief action this season. At 25-years old, Gordon is primed to make his major league debut at some point this year.

Astros 2024 Outlook

The American League still runs through Houston. They are the favorite to repeat as AL West champions and are getting strong consideration for winning yet another pennant. They will have to improve upon their 39-42 home record last year that was highlighted when they dropped all four ALCS home games at the hands of the Rangers.

As with any team, pitching and pitching health will play a huge role in how the season plays out. On that front, things are starting off rocky, but there is some hope on the horizon. The bullpen is stout and if not overworked should prove to be a difference maker.

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The offense might have to carry this team at times, and that will not be an issue. Top to bottom it is a solid lineup with limited holes. Espada will be challenged to lead a group of veterans that know how to win, get to the postseason, and flourish there.

The AL West will be tough, but the Astros know how to handle intense competition. All signs point to another fun baseball season in Houston and for the Astros faithful.