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!

Pitching woes continue for Houston

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: Twins 9, Astros 5

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

After a disappointing series in Arlington to wrap up their recent road trip, the Astros were back at home to start a three-game series with the Twins on Monday night. Here's how the series opener went:

Final Score: Twins 9, Astros 5

Record: 13-9, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (2-2).

Losing pitcher: Brad Peacock (2-1).

Star of the game: Josh Reddick had a great night at the plate in the loss on Monday night, going 3 for 4 including an RBI single which at the time had Houston within two runs of the Twins.

Notes: For the third straight game, the Astros could not get out of the first inning without letting the opposing team take a lead. Brad Peacock got out to a rough start, allowing two runs on two hits and two walks in the top of the first, putting Minnesota up 2-0 before Houston could get to the plate. Former Astro Jason Castro extended the lead to 3-0 with a leadoff solo home run in the top of the second. The Astros got a run back in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI single from Josh Reddick, and almost had another on a double by Tyler White, but the Twins were able to gun down Reddick at home plate to end the inning and keep it a two-run game at 3-1.

Peacock's three-run night was done after five innings, and Josh James took over in the top of the sixth, but he'd allow four runs to score to break the game open at 7-1 in favor of the Twins. Michael Brantley took one run back in the bottom of the inning, launching a solo home run to make it 7-2, then Houston was able to get two runners on in the bottom of the seventh to set up Carlos Correa for a huge three-run home run to make it a 7-5 game. Chris Devenski took over on the mound in the top of the eighth and would allow a two-out two-run home run to the Twins to put them back ahead by four runs at 9-5. The Astros would be unable to get any closer than that, getting no runs in the eighth or ninth to drop the first game of the series.

Up Next: Game two of the series will get underway at the same time on Tuesday night, with first pitch at 7:10 PM. Houston will send out Wade Miley (1-2, 3.32 ERA) who will go up against Michael Pineda (2-1, 5.30 ERA) for the Twins.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

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