LA Angels: Taking a look at the division rival Houston Astros
By Lake Lutes
Since taking home the AL West crown in 2014, the Angels have been looking “up” at the division winners at the conclusion of each season. More specifically, the Astros have finished ahead of the Angels in the division standings every single year since the Angels’ division crown in 2014, making them the number one obstacle to division dominance in the upcoming season. Winners of the division in 2017, 2018, and 2019, the Houston Astros have been a force to be reckoned with for all AL West title contenders in recent years.
Much to any Angel fan’s delight, the Astros are expected to take a step back in 2021, with the loss of George Springer, Michael Brantley, and Josh Reddick impacting the heart of their lineup.
Additionally, ace Justin Verlander will be entering his age 38 season and the two time Cy Young award winner is recovering from Tommy John surgery in late September 2020. Additionally, Zack Greinke, Justin Verlander, Lance McCullers Jr, and Carlos Correa are all entering their walk years, and with free agency looming for a number of the Astros key pieces, it’s possible that management starts to bolster their depleted farm system by dealing away some of their most established players nearing the end of their contracts.
Having spent 3 seasons with Tampa Bay before becoming the Astros GM, James Click knows how to manage a roster rebuild and how to tactfully restructure a payroll, and its possible that he puts that experience to good use in 2021.
With Houston now in a less dominant position, the window is opening for the Angels to make a run at the AL West title in 2021. Let’s take a deep dive into the Astros lineup, rotation, bullpen, and farm system to better understand one of the Angels’ biggest competitors for the AL West title.