Thoughts for 2020 Astros Opening Day

It is the most unique opening day in anyone’s lifetime. But there are some things that never change and here are some thoughts for an opening day.

  • With the 30 man rosters, there are more than the normal amount of players making their major league debuts. Young pitchers Enoli Paredes, Brandon Bailey, Cristian Javier and Blake Taylor will all have the opportunity to make those debuts. Even in such an odd year with such an odd situation that has to be exciting.
  • As a follow-up to that, it will be interesting to see how things shake out as the roster goes down to 28 after 2 weeks and 26 after 4 weeks in conjunction with the potential returns of Yordan Alvarez, Jose Urquidy, Austin Pruitt, Cionel Perez, and Brad Peacock. (Note we have just heard that Alvarez, Urquidy and Perez have been cleared to return and will start working out). Will any of those four newbies in the first bullet hold on to a spot through those cuts? Jack Mayfield is likely being deactivated as soon as Alvarez returns, but what happens to other youngsters like Abraham Toro, Bryan Abreu and Cy Sneed? It would be great to see someone like Javier hang around and produce like he showed in his climb up the minors in 2019.
  • It will be exciting to see reigning AL Cy Young award winner, Justin Verlander on the mound for opening day. It will be even more exciting to see Lance McCullers Jr. pitch Saturday in his first game that counts since October 2018. McCullers put out a mini-documentary about his rehab and return from TJ surgery that includes his wanting the scandal to be behind all of them and showing him striking out Cody Bellinger and Aaron Judge in the post-season (two guys that have been very loud about the scandal).
  •  It is sad that a day that would normally be filled with ceremonies honoring the AL Champs will be a quiet, crowd-less night. How would the home town fans have reacted to the team, after the team let them down with the 2017 cheating? Probably the fans would have shrugged it off, but we will never know.
  • It will be fun to see how Dusty Baker handles this team. We have an image in our minds of the man wearing out his Chicago Cub young aces, Mark Prior and Kerry Wood. But that is not going to happen in a 60 game season and hopefully would not have happened with Brent Strom in the dugout. Will Baker play some small ball once in a while here? Will it be much of an adjustment to manage the DH every day? Will he tinker with his lineup every other day like A.J. Hinch did? How long a leash will he allow pitchers? Will he use the young guys freely?
  • The development of Kyle Tucker should be a high priority. The team needs to know if he will take the spot of one of the three OFs (George Springer, Michael Brantley, Josh Reddick) who may be heading out after the 2020 season. They also need to figure out if Myles Straw will be a starter next season or continue in a 4th OF role.
  • GM James Click’s role will be on display quite a bit along the way. If he needs to make a trade can he do it with a reasonable exchange of value? What will he do if injuries or illness take a big bite out of his roster? Does he purely play for winning 2020 or does he hold something back (trade-wise) for 2021 and beyond?
  • And along those same lines, what is Jim Crane’s role? He already talked about having fans return for sometime this season. With the political climate in Houston and Harris County that is just not going to happen. Will that drive him to put the clamps on the pocketbook that Click can pull from? Would the team floundering force him to do some sell-offs? Will he work hard to bring Springer back as a bone to the fans?
  • Watching our favorites light up a lineup that should be among the best in baseball behind Springer, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Brantley, Carlos Correa, Yuli Gurriel and eventually Alvarez should be one of the joys of this season. Can Baker get this lineup to do a better job with runners in scoring position than they did last season? Can he keep them from focusing on showing how great they really are and actually produce as much as they should?

These are just some of the big points of interest to watch on opening day and beyond. What has got you fired up for the opening day?

69 comments on “Thoughts for 2020 Astros Opening Day

  1. I’m fired up because it’s Astros baseball. real, although bizarre it counts.
    It’s the closest thing to normal this whole year.
    GO ASTROS!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Woo Hoo! Baseball is back.

    To clear up where these guys will end up..

    Brian McTaggart
    Five players on the Astros IL and have been cleared to return to baseball activities and will do so at the Astros alternate training site in Corpus Christi: OF Yordan Alvarez, RHP Shawn Dubin, RHP Ralph Garza Jr.,
    LHP Cionel Pérez and RHP Jose Urquidy, will remain
    on the IL.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. No fans? I watch on TV. No fans doesn’t bother me. That means there will be no wave. Thank goodness! No camera shots of drunks. It means Mookie actually has to make the catch to rob us of a homer.
    I can’t wait to see Click make a deal. Maybe he will find the Astros a catcher who can catch AND hit.
    An Astros team without Marisnick or Grossman!
    Maybe Baker will know exactly what is going on in the dugout and the clubhouse and actually be in charge.
    Never really contemplated on the ramifications of having a Myles Straw with a sky-high OBP and speed to break the sound barrier. I somehow never managed to add the two together.
    After what has happened since last October, I figure Altuve would play this game in a wheelchair if he had to.
    How long does it take for a DH to get ready? Batting practice twice a day for three days and he’s ready to go. Put him in, Coach. He’s ready to play today.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Remember those terrible egregious villain Astros?
    Thought maybe you’d like to see this.
    ol Brett Wallace at the plate. And what happens next?

    Like

      • True, Sandy, true.
        It was probably more prevalent than we all knew though.
        If 2018-2019 didn’t prove it to anyone that Astros could still have won straight anyway, not sure what will.
        Maybe this year?

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  5. Thank the Lord for baseball!! Verlander is awesome as usual…..and Brantley just blew the M’S a kiss! Spent the day at Kingwood Hospital with *2* more fractures this time in my lumbar😭 I’m going to go set on the 59 freeway and wait for an 18 wheeler put me out of my misery. Watched Cole pitch last night and it made me sad. He and the Yankees catcher had a tough time staying on the same page. Good to see the guys that were kinda hurt, come back to resume baseball this evening.

    Liked by 3 people

    • As hard as you root for Astros, I’m rooting for you, Becky!

      A fun story to share with you since you always liked seeing good families have success. I was about to leave just now to go watch a Katy high schooler play at Premiere. He’s hit the ball on the button the last two days. It’s just started pouring rain, but I still want to drive out there to see him. This is “in the hopes” that I can get video to an Astros scout who said he’d like that, who might be able to scout him *if* he commits in a certain region of the US. All this, for a dream, so that maybe 5 years from now it can make a difference for our club? I don’t know, he seems like a strong kid with good parents.

      [I have my own senior in HS, who never played baseball (only football). This is a small way to live vicariously, maybe push this young man’s envelope.]

      There’s a bigger hole missing this year with no minor league fellas to watch. Getting back to the youth in the game is invigorating for me. His name is Ryan Brome.

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      • I really like that swing GoStros – nice solid lefty stroke. Is he having grade problems or is he like Dick “Dr. Strangeglove” Stuart” in the field? Sure hope he hooks on somewhere and makes it. His name sounds like a ball player.

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    • Becky – don’t go lay down on 59 – we don’t need you wrecking any 18 wheelers bringing supplies to Houston. It would bounce off your tough hide and into a ditch.
      All we can do is pray for you and hope something turns around for you.

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  6. Opening Day highlights:

    JV looking sharp with his 97 mph heat, slider & change painting corners; 7 Ks.
    Devenski striking out the side in the 7th.
    Taylor pitches a perfect 8th.
    Paredes pitches a scoreless 9th.
    We hit .357 with RISP (5 / 14).
    8 different Astros score a run.
    8 different Astros with a hit.
    10 different Astros get on base.
    No errors, no HBP, no fans booing.
    Overall a great team win. One down, 59 to go!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. It was a fun and successful opening day.
    -Typical Verlander start with two solo HRs and very little else
    – So nice to allow Taylor and Paredes To get their MLB debuts out of the way in a non threatening situation. Paredes has a lot of life in that arm – not always sure where they are headed
    – Nice to see Reddick, Diaz and Maldonado involved in some of that early offense
    – Brantley knocked the foo out of that homer – just a lovely swing
    – Keep it rolling Devo!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Some thoughts about opening day:
    -Didn’t think Verlander was at his best. Looked like he wasn’t locating where he wanted. When Shed Long hit that first high fastball to the warning track, it was clear the Mariners were hunting fastballs in the zone. When Verlander threw sliders, the Mariners’ strategy died.
    – Correa continues to look bad at the plate and solid at SS
    -When you put a great lineup out there, the bottom of the order can hurt the other team and that is what happened. Reddick was the spark plug and Maldonado lit the fire. Diaz and Toro kept it going.
    – Even when Paredes can’t find his spots, the batters have a difficult time seeing the ball out of his hand. If he gets some command( experience and subsequent relaxation can help bring that on) he could be a potent late inning weapon.
    -Fifteen pitchers to start the season may help the Astros more than any other team in baseball.
    -Felix Hernandez pitched 15 years for Seattle. He made 418 starts and one relief appearance. He made $217 million from Seattle and never pitched in a postseason game. He won a Cy Young Award and was a six-time All Star.

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    • That’s been the book on Paredes, to just relax when he needs to throw a strike. He has easy 95, and gets into trouble reaching for 99 sometimes. It saddens me that these guys cannot continue to be starters in Houston, but like so many who just try to get a foot in the door (James Valdez), it takes a while to settle in and get over the jitters. Speaks volumes the Astros haven’t looked to bring a pitcher in; didn’t think about re-signing Sanchez on the cheap, or pick up the cast offs from other teams. Hughes saw the writing on the wall, for example.

      Dusty would be under a lot of scrutiny this year from the scarlet letters he carries around, seems to have passed the 1st test of having the right guys in the lineup, with proper motivation. Reddick Brantley Diaz, and Toro with a beautiful hit from the right side!

      Really nice to see Blake Taylor doing well. He has wonderful life of his fastball. I still have a burr in my saddle over the Davis trade loss to NYM, so getting something for Jake is a bonus. For a team dealing with Tony Sipp every year, we finally have left-handed competition in the bullpen again.

      Like

  9. Astros – Mariners at 3:10 central time today.
    Unusual situation as Lance McCullers Jr (who has not pitched since 2018) faces Taijuan Walker who has pitched only 14 innings in the last two seasons. Walker used to pitch for the M’s – was traded to the D’Backs with Ketel Marte for Mitch Haniger, Jean Segura and Zac Curtis – pitched a full 2017 and then pitched hardly at all the last two seasons and re-signed with the M’s this off-season.

    Like

    • A few of us kicked Walker’s name around last year before trade deadline. Back then, I concluded he was a shell of the pitcher I had recalled from Atlanta.

      I’m betting McCullers not only doesn’t miss a beat, but that he starts that climb he already embarked upon, before he gave up the 7 runs in Minnesota that killed his ERA in ’18. I haven’t seen anything like those loose fastballs whiffling out of control, back when his elbow was hanging on threads as it were. He looks stronger than ever, and I don’t know a tougher athlete competitor in the game today.

      Pretty amazing frontline with James Urquidy Valdez Javier Pruitt and others just trying to keep pace. Peacock Osuna Pressley waiting in wings too? No Rookie of the Year, no problem? Just wow.

      Like

    • A good team to ease into the season with for the Astros as they were 18-1 against them last season. I mean that is not just owning them, that is like owning them and dating their mom and sister at the same time….
      Just can’t wait to see Lance today. He always reminded me of a right handed Mike Hampton – a bull dog of a pitcher.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. MLB picked 10 highlights from yesterday’s openers and the one highlight from our 8-2 win over the Mariners was Kyle Lewis’s home run off of Verlander.

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  11. Same lineup as last night except Tucker DHing instead of Díaz. Díaz to the IL with a groin injury and Taylor Jones brought up.

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  12. Maldonado, who is zoned in – hits one off the fence for a two run single 5-0
    McCullers gives up a triple to lead off the 5th on which Springer gets shaken up running into the fence but stays in the game. Mc Cullers gives up one run but gets thru the 5th.

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  13. Correa with a very nice at bat – works an 0-2 count to a 3-2 count – then goes with the pitch with an RBI line single to right center – 6-1 in the bottom of the 5th

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  14. -McCullers was all over the place. But, he won the game, the yips are done with and he has all of his pitches.
    -That may be the best I have seen Cy Sneed pitch.
    -Our third rookie pitcher gets through his first game unscathed and now they can settle down and pitch like they belong.
    -Who said Maldonado can’t hit? Oh, yeah, that was me.
    – I wonder if Brandon Bailey gets an inning to pitch in this series.
    – Dusty Baker is a wily old fellar. Trots out his closer without saying a word to anyone. TeeHee.
    -Weird, isn’t it? You ask your young pitchers to go out and get the job done and they do it. What a unique concept.

    Like

  15. Good to be watching again. Was not sure how I’d accept the empty parks. I could not watch even a batters worth of the Korean games on ESPN. Gosh, don’t know how long it will keep up, but these rookies are getting outs. And they are throwing hard with movement. So does Straw get the start today? Honest Abe the DH? Our starting catcher deserves his day off. I’d take 75 mostly good pitches from Zack today. 45, I trust you are well. I miss your kind insults.

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  16. With Greinke pitching today the lineup is..

    Springer CF
    Altuve 2B
    Brantley LF
    Bregman 3B
    Gurriel 1B
    Correa SS
    Taylor Jones DH – MLB debut
    Reddick RF
    Maldonado C

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    • Well I sure did not get the lineup right today. Certainly did not expect Maldonado catching three in a row, even with the hot bat. I guess I have to remember that we’re in a 60 game sprint and we have a new manager.

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  17. Taylor Jones gets his first major league appearance today as the DH in the Astros lineup.
    Also, Dusty has decided to flip-flop Brantley and Bregman in the lineup to get Brantley that first inning at bat, since he has the hot bat.
    Did everyone notice the Mariners putting the full infield shift on Brantley? They are playing their third baseman halfway between 2B and the normal SS spot, giving Michael almost the entire left side of the infield if he wants it. They are taking away two thirds of the infield, betting he won’t settle for a single to left.

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  18. By the way, there are no byes in the expanded playoff format. You can have the best record in your league and the only thing that earns you is all three games at home in a best 2 of 3 series against the #8 seed.

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    • On Taylor Jones:
      Cerebral kid, came in beefed up to ST.
      Narrowed the hole in his swing, generates elite bat speed, added 3B/1B and OF to secondaries.

      “TJJJJJJJJ!! One of the greatest teammates I’ve ever played with.” -Nick Tanielu

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  19. Didn’t we see somewhere that McCullers was going to be on a pitch limit this year? I must have been having a old age thought. He threw *92* pitches last night.

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    • Never really heard that Becky – was a little surprised he threw that many, but I imagine he came to camp way beyond prepared after missing almost 2 years – threw quite a few in his two Summer Camp starts

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  20. Well I don’t know what to believe – one set of reports says JV out for the season – reports out of the Astros web site and JV says he is out for 2 weeks.
    I’m not feeling good about this

    Liked by 1 person

  21. No matter how long Verlander is out the Astros still have a team that will contend. That was the goal all along, right? Be a contender every year.
    Dusty Baker still has time to figure out Biagini and Devenski are not good enough.
    This team could have Alvarez back in a week if they wanted.
    With 10 relievers, they could have Urquidy back in a week.
    They could wait one more week and Whitley and Bielak would be available.
    Come out and beat Seattle tomorrow. That’s taking 3 of 4.
    I am not going to panic. It just isn’t worth doing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I still feel strongly they could win 80% of their games as long as Biaggini and Devenski stay on the bench, but if JV is severely injured that gives me doubts the postseason will go how we want. Let’s hope Maldonado keeps squaring it up!

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  22. I’m still considering this 2020 effort an exhibition season. My expectations are tempered. We saw a couple of the usual suspects impact the game yesterday. Greinke was obviously not ready for his opener, never hitting 90 on the gun. Of course we’ve seen good initial efforts by a couple of the new kids. But there are many pitching staff question marks. And I think these next 57 games will be a great time to figure out what we have for 2021.

    I’m pretty sure our offensive will get us into the 16 team playoff rodeo. At that point, anything can happen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The umpire in yesterdays game was all over the place with his calls. About as inconsistent as one can get. One minute he called an obvious strike a ball and the next minute a ball a strike. The on a later batter he’d go the opposite way. Almost makes me want the “electronic” strike zone. We knew Biagini was a can of gas but it looks like Devo has evolved into one too. Thank goodness for Maldonado and the bottom of the order. Some of “star players” off to a poor start. Springer, Altuve, and Bregman not looking too good at this point but I’m sure that will change. I like Taylor Jones but he looked over matched at the plate. i think Tucker needs more time at the plate and maybe some playing time. I think he’s ready to break out. Reddick has been hitting well too. We need tonight’s game to stay in the win column.

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  23. 1OP, what was your last guess as to the chances of this 60 game season reaching completion, 50%, or was it 25%? You might be correct within the next day or two. What does MLB do when at least 14 Marlin players and coaches test positive, in spite of all the protocol put in place? This club can’t play, not tomorrow, not in two weeks.

    Let’s face it, there are guys up and down the dugout without masks on. There are home run celebrations. The home plate ump is hunched over the catcher with a batter standing right there too, all game long.

    Even if the M’s all appear perfectly healthy, you can’t put them on an airplane and let them travel. You can’t put them in a hotel. You can’t put them on a baseball field. And it’s just a matter of time before another club has the same problem.

    Like

    • -It was down to 30% before the season started. I think it’s 10% now.
      – If I were the Mariners I wouldn’t want to go back to Seattle, even without Covid. There’s no police there.
      -If the Astros win today and have the best record in baseball when the season is cancelled, I think they deserve the rings, the trophy and the parade. They could have that parade in my town of 150 people. We don’t social distance because the nearest neighbor is a quarter mile away. People who work are either out in the oil fields or the hayfields or in the weed growing patch. The rest of the folks are breaking into the houses of the people who work. We call those people peaceful protesters.
      -I said it before, when a New York team gets Covid, baseball is done for the year. And when that happens, there will be a headline in MLB.com about that NY team’s record shattering exit velocity.

      Liked by 1 person

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