Looking good in Vegas

MLB projected win totals are coming out and the Astros sit alone at the top

Vegas thinks the Astros will be celebrating again. Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Does Vegas know something that we don't? Or better yet, does Vegas know something that we are hoping for, that the rest of MLB might not yet be aware of? With pitchers and catchers scheduled to report to Spring training in less than a month, Sportsbooks and Vegas insiders are starting to come out with their predictions and projections for the upcoming season. Caesar's was the first to release their team by team win/loss totals and the Astros were at the top of their list with 97.5 wins, more than any other team in baseball. Shortly after Caesar's released its best guesses, BetOnline.ag came out with its predictions for the season and although it had Houston at 96.5 wins, it was still good enough for the top spot in all of MLB for their final outlook as well. Roto Champ had the Astros a league-best 98-64 and winners of the A.L. West division. The experts have spoken and your Astros are the talk of prognosticators who predict Major League Baseball.

Not only is it a good sign that Houston is being pegged for the best record in baseball, but it's an even better signal that Alex Bregman is going to be OK and on schedule to return from his arm surgery. I say that because two of the three services that made the Astros their top dog, did so after Bregman's surgery was announced. It also says something for what might still be coming Houston's way in free agency and maybe via trade. We all know there are plenty of good players that remain out there on the open market in free agency and with spring training right around the corner, time is running out and deals need to be made. There are also several talented and proven veteran players that are being shopped in potential trade discussions. The fact that Jeff Luhnow and his staff are not only in the mix on almost every big named starting pitcher in both of those categories, but also for guys like all-star catcher J.T. Realmuto and all world outfielder Bryce Harper. Whether they land any of those possibilities or stand pat, the future looks very bright for the hometown nine this coming season as long as they are healthy.

The only thing that seemed to prevent the Astros from repeating last season was a series of injuries to their "core four" late in the year. All those ailments seem to be in the past as the squad prepares for 2019. Jose Altuve and his knee, George Springer and his thumb, as well as Carlos Correa and his back are all expect to be 100% when they arrive at camp next month. Bregman may need a little more time but fully expects to be ready when the games count to start the season. With that potent lineup back at full strength and the additions of all-star outfielder Michael Brantley and former Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos, they should have more than enough offense to instill fear in opposing pitchers all season long. With Justin Verlander and Gerritt Cole at the top of the rotation and Ryan Pressly and Roberto Osuna in the bullpen, if Luhnow can add another starter or two this team should be more than ready to live up to the high expectations and predictions our friends in Vegas have put out there. I can't wait for opening day. Let's play ball!

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After blowing a four-run lead and wasting the chance to win the series on Tuesday, the Astros tried to remedy things with a win on Wednesday night behind Zack Greinke on the mound. Here is a recap of the rubber game of the three-game set between Houston and San Francisco:

Final Score: Astros 5, Giants 1.

Record: 8-10, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Zack Greinke (1-0, 2.53 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Caleb Baragar (2-1, 11.25 ERA).

Greinke with another strong start

San Francisco carried over their momentum from the night before into the top of the first against Zack Greinke, getting a leadoff triple that would result in a quick 1-0 lead after an RBI-single. Greinke would do well after that, though, dealing with some traffic but keeping the Giants off the board over the next five innings.

He would keep going into the seventh, but with his pitch count rising and putting two on base with a single and walk, he would have his night come to an end as Houston went to Brooks Raley, who would get the second and third outs. That finalized Greinke's line: 6.1 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K.

Astros bats stay hot, Houston wins the series

Greinke would leave with a lead, thanks to an RBI-single by Alex Bregman in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game 1-1 before Houston would put together a four-run sixth. Houston loaded the bases with no outs to allow Carlos Correa to score on a wild pitch to take a 2-1 lead, then Martin Maldonado followed with another big hit in 2020, a three-run home run to extend the lead to 5-1.

That left two more innings for the bullpen to cover with a four-run lead. In the top of the eighth, Raley would return and retire the Giants in order. Still a 5-1 score in the ninth, Blake Taylor would take over on the mound to try and finish off the game. He would get through the scoreless frame, wrapping up the win and the series victory for Houston.

Up Next: The Astros have a day off on Thursday before continuing this homestand with a three-game weekend series with the Mariners starting Friday at 8:10 PM Central. The expected pitching matchup is Yusei Kikuchi (0-1, 5.28 ERA) going for Seattle, opposite of Framber Valdez (0-2, 2.04 ERA) for Houston.

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