The Houston Astros have a long way to go in order to compete. They sold off most of their best talent over the past few seasons, but failed to get blue chip prospects to rebuild around. As a result, the Astros have long been one of the weakest teams in baseball. 2013 will be no different.
Still, there are a few bright spots in the Astros’ roster, most of which are in the pitching rotation. While there is obviously a total lack of depth and a poor bullpen to help squander the few leads Houston will have this season, starting pitching could be enough to shock a few teams this year.
Bud Norris is starting to develop as a top of the rotation option. His off-speed pitches were able to suffocate free-swinging lineups in the NL Central last season. Norris’ 7-13 record and 4.65 ERA are not an accurate depiction of the caliber pitcher he can be. Look for Norris to have a decent year on a bad team.
Lucas Harrell was able to keep his ERA under four and post a .500 record on a team that finished well below .500. Harrell finished the year winning his final four starts in which his team scored a run. Unfortunately, that meant suffering two tough losses in September where the Astros were shut out, but Harrell finished the year strong. He should be the ace this season, and if he continues to grow he could surprise some lineups in a loaded AL West.
Changing divisions hurts, and the Astros certainly won’t compete with the big-market teams they now call divisional rivals. Still, the Astros have a few guys to watch that could be very exciting in 2013.