With the season behind and the offseason at present some teams do what they must and take the necessary actions for the next season. Such is the case of the Astros, in 2016 they didn’t have the results they were hoping for but their 84-78 finish highlighted the many vulnerabilities still present on an incredibly talented roster.
Astros management have collected some key supplementary pieces that should contribute to a pennant-challenging run.
The work done by general manager Jeff Luhnow in the winter has made the Astros the +190 favorites at some sportsbooks to win the AL West and when you add Carlos Beltran, Josh Reddick and Brian McCann to a roster that already includes Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer and up-and-comer Alex Bregman, that’s a tough line to argue.
What the Astros have done is complete the perfect rebuild and they’ve done it in a way that’s eerily similar to the Cubs’ recent climb back into relevance. By pure talent, Houston is the second- or third-best team in the American League even if its lackluster pitching rotation leaves a little to be desired. With their starters posting an ERA of 4.37 last season, it’s tough to see them getting much worse but even if they do, the ’Stros have one of the best bullpens in the majors that should be able to bail them out of most sticky situations.
All that said, all the other teams in the West – other than the Angels – got better in the offseason and division wins may be a little bit tougher to come by in 2017.
The Angels (+900) will still be reliant on superstar center-fielder Mike Trout, and an otherwise underwhelming lineup leads me to believe that this team could be in for another middling season and could even regress with the Athletics on the rise. An absolutely terrible projected starting rotation of a not-healthy Garrett Richards, Matt Shoemaker, Ricky Nolasco, Tyler Skaggs and Jesse Chavez makes me want to puke and not even clean it up.
Oakland is being offered as +1400 long shots to win the division and although they can’t come first, they can improve on a 69-win (nice) season – possibly by a lot. Sonny Gray, the A’s ace, had a horrendous, injury-ridden 2016 in which he posted a record of 5-11 and an ERA over 5. We could expect him to get back to that Cy Young-caliber level he was pitching at prior to last season and help propel a team that added a slew of free-agent talent in the winter back up the ladder in the AL West.
Texas and Seattle will be the main threats to the Astros’ rise but with the Rangers trending the wrong way after an ugly exit from the playoffs, we can probably fade their +250 odds. Like Houston, Texas has some A-level prospects who have already made the jump to being everyday major leaguers. What they don’t have is a good bullpen and superstars at almost every base pad like the Astros do. MLB lines on favorites are already up, get in the action at HeritageSports.eu