The Houston Astros bounced back in a big way last season after limping into the postseason with a losing record (29-31). Houston lost in the World Series to the Braves while extending their streak of playoff appearances to five years. The Astros have one World Series title (2017).
Houston finished seventh in ERA (3.76), but their bullpen slipped to the league average (32 wins, 31 losses and 34 saves with a 4.06 ERA – 15th). They led the majors in runs (863) with 221 home runs (9th) and 53 stolen bases (27th).
The top signing in the offseason was SP Justin Verlander for one season ($25 million). In addition, the Astros added RP Hector Neris to their bullpen. SS Carlos Correa, SP Zack Greinke and 3B Marwin Gonzalez remain unsigned in the free-agent pool. Houston also lost RP Kendall Graveman (HOU), Yimi Garcia (TOR) and RP Brooks Raley (TB).
Their starting rotation should be improved with Verlander taking the mound every fifth day. Houston has four other competitive arms, each having the talent to push to a higher level. SP Cristian Javier enters the season as their sixth option. With growth in his command, he could easily steal a starting job if another arm struggles early or is injured.
The nucleus of the Astros offense has three players in their prime – 3B Alex Bregman, OF Kyle Tucker and DH Yordan Alvarez, plus multiple proven veterans. As a result, Houston should rank near the top of the league in runs, home runs and RBIs again in 2022.
Ryan Pressly held up in the ninth inning last year, but their setup arms probably can’t match the top bullpens in baseball.