The 60-Game season poses many challenges to every team in the MLB. However, for the Astros, they look to reassure fans of their dominance following the 2017 cheating scandal that has dominated sports headlines for the past 8 months despite having a 107 win season.
The main challenge is the schedule. The Astros play ten games against every division rival, those being the Athletics, Angels, Rangers, and Mariners. They also play four games against each team in the NL West, which are the Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Giants, Rockies, and Padres.
Of all games, the four games against the Dodgers, who had 106 wins and an NLDS berth in 2019, and the ten games against the Athletics who won 97 games with a wildcard berth in 2019 are the toughest.
Another challenge the Astros face is the pitching problem. Having lost ace Gerrit Cole and star reliever Will Harris in free agency, there’s a massive hole in the pitching staff. With the loss of those players, the starting rotation includes Verlander, Greinke, McCullers, and Urquidy with the 5th spot open with potential candidates being Josh James, Rogelio Armentoros and Framber Valdez.
Having lost Will Harris and Hector Rondon to free agency as well as Joe Smith Opting-Out of the season, the Astros bullpen seeks minor league arms that will make an impact on the major league level. Two medium risk, high reward players that fans may see in the bullpen this year are Forrest Whitley and Brandon Bielak. Forrest, coming off a largely disappointing season, could make for a solid reliever with his diverse pitch-type arsenal. Bielak, RHP, tops out at 94 MPH when throwing his fastball, also has good spin rates on all his pitches, most notably his change up. Another pitcher who could make his debut and potentially fix the bullpen issue this year is RHP Enoli Parades. Enoli sported a 3.78 ERA and 1.000 WHIP in AA Corpus Christi and features a fastball/curveball combination that is certain to embarrass MLB hitters. If Forrest, Brandon, and Enoli pan out, they could definitely help fix the large bullpen issue the Astros face in 2020.
Even with all the challenges presented to the Astros, the Astros still have one of the best lineups and starting rotations in the league, giving themselves a legitimate chance to make it to the World Series for the third time in 4 years.