Houston Astros Could Compete For Playoff Spot As Early As 2014

By Josh Sippie
Thomas Campbell – USA TODAY Sports

Yes, I realize that the Houston Astros are looking at their third straight 100-loss season. That doesn’t mean that next year will follow suit. In fact, all signs point towards the Astros having, at the very least, a winning record in 2014. Let’s take a look at what the Astros will be featuring roster-wise heading into next year.

Guys like Robbie Grossman, Jonathan Villar, Jose Altuve, Jason Castro, L.J. Hoes and Matt Dominguez are already producing very respectable numbers in the lineup of the worst team in MLB, but guys like Brett Wallace and Chris Carter have done very little in pretty crucial lineup spots.

In 2014, Wallace and Carter will be replaced by George Springer, who hits better at each level he is promoted to, and Jonathan Singleton, whose raw power potential has placed him as the no. 1 first base prospect in the league.

Springer is about to reach the first 40-40 season that the minor leagues has seen in at least the past 60 years. He’s hitting even better at Triple-A than he did at Double-A, and would already be in MLB if the Astros didn’t want him to see the Oklahoma CIty RedHawks win a Triple-A championship.

The pitching rotation for the Astros may be even more impressive than the potential lineup. Jarred Cosart has yet to give up over three runs in any start. The same is true of left-hander Brett Oberholtzer, who has gone 3-1 with a 2.91 ERA since being made a starter. Brad Peacock has gone 2-1 since being moved back into the rotation.

Dallas Keuchel and Jordan Lyles have some work to do, but they’ve shown consistency at times. And even if they don’t work out, guys like Asher Wojciechowski, Mark Appel and Mike Foltynewicz  are getting nearer to MLB with each start.

But what about that horrid bullpen?

Well, Bo Porter has already pointed out that the bullpen is the Astros’ first priority this offseason. With David Martinez and Kevin Chapman being the only two that have shown great potential, Houston does indeed have a problem. Chia-Jen Lo could still be good, having produced only one bad outing, but the rest of the bullpen needs an overhaul.

That being said, if the bullpen is all the Astros need help with, they are in good shape — but it isn’t.

Strikeouts continue to plague the team. But consider this: If Brett Wallace’s and Chris Carter’s strikeout totals are taken out of the Astros team total, they go from being first in the league to being 13th. Granted, whoever replaces the two are going to strike out as well, but it is a major improvement and these young guys will continue to develop and improve on their plate discipline.

It may be a long shot and they would be the dark horse of all dark horses, but the Astros could definitely draw some attention in the 2014 season.

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