Houston Astros: Projecting how many wins the 2018 team will have

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 03: Carlos Correa
HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 03: Carlos Correa /

The Houston Astros just made a blockbuster trade to acquire Gerrit Cole from the Pittsburgh Pirates. This move bolsters an already strong pitching rotation. Now the question for the Houston Astros is how many wins can they have next season.

The Houston Astros record for wins in a season is 102, achieved back in 1998. This past season the local nine finished just shy of that, amassing 101 wins on the year.

The Major League Baseball record for most wins in a season is 116, done twice, most recently by the 2001 Seattle Mariners. That Mariners team had future Hall of Famers Ichiro Suzuki, Edgar Martinez and all-stars Bret Boone and Mike Cameron.

The 2018 Houston Astros can be even better than that 2001 Mariners squad. This roster is loaded with young and hungry talent, mixed in with some veteran presence and looking to go back to back.

General Manager Jeff Lunhow and owner Jim Crane aided in the potential for greatness this past weekend by trading to get starting pitcher Gerrit Cole from the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Astros parted ways with Colin Moran, Michael Feliz, Jason Martin and Joe Musgrove.

This move was historic, as the Astros added a front-end starter to bolster an already strong rotation.

Let’s take a quick look at what else the Astros bring to the table next season.

The Pitching Staff

With the addition of Cole, the pitching rotation will be Dallas Keuchel, Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Lance McCullers, Jr. and Charlie Morton. A rotation with four players that all could be aces for other squads.

Keuchel is in his final year of arbitration and is looking for his next big deal. The former Cy Young award winner began the season strong with a 9-0 record before finding himself on the disabled list. He came back strong to be the Game 1 starter in both the American League Division Series and American League Championship Series.

Verlander is fresh off of marrying Kate Upton and being the final piece to a World Series run in 2017. After agreeing to the trade minutes before the deadline, Verlander guided the Astros through both the ALDS and ALCS, where he was the MVP of the series.

Cole is the new man in town. He comes in off a 12-12 season. The Astros are hoping for Cole to be the same player who had 19 wins in 2015. He finished fourth in Cy Young voting that season. He has a powerful fastball and quality secondary pitches that this staff can utilize.

McCullers is arguably the best of them all. He was a swiss-harmy knife for the Astros in the post season. He made three starts and three relief appearances. Featuring a strong curveball and a plus fastball, McCullers has ace stuff and will be pitching fourth.

Then there is World Series Game 7 hero Charlie Morton. At one point during last season he was unsure if he was going to return this year. He was last seen pitching an absolute gem against the Dodgers in relief to cap off the World Series run.

The Bullpen

With five above average starters in a rotation, it allows for two starters to be in the bullpen as long relief guys.

Collin McHugh and Brad Peacock each had starting roles last season and both appeared in clutch moments during the post season.  McHugh was injured for a majority of last season but returns healthy.  Peacock was a virtual life saver for the Astros. He started 21 games for the squad finishing with a 13-2 record.

The back half of the bullpen is loaded as well.  Ken Giles will be the closer again this season. He had 34 saves in 38 tries during the regular season.

Will Harris, Joe Smith, Hector Rondon and All-Star Chris Devenski will all be guys who are there to set him up or bridge the gap from the starter to closer.

This pitching staff is going to be extremely tough from the first pitch to the final out. Opponents will struggle to score runs to counter the massive output of offense expected by the Astros.

The Lineup

There has been no major changes to the lineup that led the majors in total runs scored, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.

They are going to lead off with World Series Most Valuable Player George Springer, who had nine lead off home runs this past season.

Then you will see either Josh Reddick or Alex Bregman in the two-spot.

Reddick had a solid season batting .314 during the regular season, mashing 13 home runs and

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bringing home 82 runs batted in.

Young Alex Bregman was not only clutch in the playoffs but a stalwart during the regular season. He batted .284 and drove in 71 and hit 19 home runs.

In the three spot will be the reigning American League MVP Jose Altuve. The 5 foot 6 inch player from Venezuela finally took home the title that he just missed the year prior.

The fourth hitter will be young Carlos Correa. He was on track to be the MVP last season before an injury held him out for a while. The 2015 Rookie of the Year award winner batted .315 with 24 home runs and 84 runs batted in.

The fifth through ninth hitters can go a multitude of ways. You could see Yuli Gurriel there in the fifth spot. Gurriel batted .299 on the season.

Other players of note that will fill AJ Hinch’s line up are Marwin Gonzalez, who led the team in RBIs last season, Evan Gattis, Brian McCann, Jake Marisnick, and Tyler White.

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This team is absolutely loaded. The starting pitching will be able to hold the opponents at bay while the offense puts on a ton of runs. The best thing is the mixture of young talent (Correa, Bregman, McCullers, Altuve, Springer) and veteran talent (McCann, Keuchel, Verlander).

This team has 100 plus wins written all over it. This team is talented enough to set their sights on repeating as World Series Champions with 117 wins to boot.

The only question is, how many wins will this Houston Astros team have?