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Barry Laminack: 4 bold predictions for the 2018 Houston Astros

Barry Laminack: 4 bold predictions for the 2018 Houston Astros
Jose Altuve will not make it to 200 hits. Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

It seems like everybody likes to make predictions at some point before the season starts - yours truly included - and  most of them are pretty easy. For example, saying the Astros will make it back to the World Series. Duh.

Of course a lot of talking heads said that about the Cubs last year and look what happened.

Last week I gave you my predictions, this week I wanted to take it a step further.

These are my four bold predictions for the 2018 Houston Astros

And before you guys start screaming and cussing at tweeting me to tell me what an idiot I am, please keep in my they are called BOLD PREDICTIONS. Meaning they’re a little out there (but I still tried to keep them within the realm of the plausible).

BOLD PREDICTION #1: Carlos Correa will win the MVP

A lot of you will read that and think, duh, that’s not even that bold, Barry!

Not so fast.

For one, you’ve got the reigning MVP on the team, so they could cancel each other out during voting. Two, Mike Trout could actually be healthy all year. Three, Aaron Judge is still playing. Four, the reigning NL MVP (Giancarlo Stanton) is now in the AL.

So Carlos Correa winning the MVP will be easier said than done this year.

BOLD PREDICTION #2: Gonzalez will have a better year than he did in 2017

It seems like a lot of folks in the media believe Marwin Gonzalez is a perfect candidate to regress from what he did last year, when he had a career year at the plate, slashing .303/.377/.530. Because of his role as super-utility, and the fact that he can switch hit, and the fact that he’ll hit in the middle of the best lineup in baseball, he’ll have plenty of opportunity to make me look like a genius.

BOLD PREDICTION #3: Jose Altuve won't get 200 hits

OK, even I'm not confident in this one, especially based on past precedence, but the fact of the matter is getting 200 hits every year isn't easy and we've all been spoiled by Altuve's output. The streak ends this year.

Of course, I still think he’ll get close, like 190-195 close. but it won't surprise me if he doesn't reach 200 hits.

It will disappoint me.

It'll make me sad as an Astros fan, but it won't surprise me if he misses the loft mark he has set for himself.

BOLD PREDICTION #4: Lance McCullers will lead the team in wins

McCullers was impressive in the postseason and I've said all along he's got No. 1 stuff, he just has to stay healthy. If he can, he's just as good as anybody in this rotation.

Justin Verlander is 35 years old, and I hate to be the one to bring you bad news, but he’s getting older, not younger.  

Dallas Kuechel has been prone to off-years.

Gerrit Cole didn't have a great year last year; that’s why the Astros got him for relatively cheap, all things considered.

Charlie Morton is good but he isn’t good enough to lead this team in wins.

I’ve said all along the Astros have four 1s and a 3 in their 5 man rotation, so this might be the boldest prediction of all, but McCullers does have the stuff to back it up. The key for him is to stay healthy. If he does, look out. Not only could he lead the team in wins, he’ll be in contention for a Cy Young.

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Astros defeat Blue Jays, 9-2. Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images.

Jose Altuve hit a tiebreaking single in a four-run seventh inning, Yordan Alvarez homered for the third straight game and the Houston Astros beat the Toronto Blue Jays 9-2 on Wednesday night for their 11th win in 13 games.

Houston’s Yainer Diaz reached base four times and drove in three as the Astros handed the struggling Blue Jays their 11th loss in 15.

Alvarez looked to be in pain after an awkward swing on his ground ball to second base that ended the first inning, but Houston’s designated hitter reached base in his next four plate appearances.

Alvarez doubled home a run in the third, led off the sixth with a solo homer, came around to score after being intentionally walked in the seventh, and capped his night with an RBI double in the eighth. He finished 3 for 4 with three RBIs.

Right-hander Tayler Scott (5-2) got the win despite allowing a game-tying single to the only batter he faced. Bryan Abreu worked a perfect seventh, Bryan King pitched the eighth and Rafael Montero finished.

Toronto’s Bo Bichette struck out on a pitch that hit him in the ninth.

Bichette opened the scoring with a sacrifice fly in the first but Alvarez tied it with a two-out double in the third.

Alvarez gave Houston a 2-1 edge with a leadoff homer in the sixth, his 19th, but Daulton Varsho tied it with a two-out single off Scott in the bottom half. Varsho went too far past first base and was thrown out to end the rally.

Chas McCormick reached on a fielding error by Blue Jays right-hander Zach Pop (0-3) to begin the seventh, and pinch-hitter Jon Singleton followed with a double. Altuve broke the 2-all tie with an RBI single.

Pop left after Alex Bregman lined out, but Jose Cuas didn’t retire any of the four batters he faced, walking Alvarez intentionally before allowing Diaz’s two-run single on his first pitch. Cuas exited after hitting Jake Meyers and Jeremy Peña with consecutive pitches to bring home a fourth run.

Astros right-hander Ronel Blanco, who no-hit the Blue Jays on April 1, allowed two runs and four hits in 5 2/3 innings.

ROSTER MOVES

Toronto put INF Justin Turner on the paternity list and recalled OF Steward Berroa from Triple-A Buffalo.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: RHP Justin Verlander (neck) is playing catch every other day, manager Joe Espada said. There is no timetable for Verlander’s return.

Blue Jays: RHP Jordan Romano will be sidelined for at least six weeks after surgery for an impingement in his right elbow, manager John Schneider said. It’s not clear whether the two-time All-Star will return this season.

UP NEXT

Blue Jays RHP Chris Bassitt (7-6, 3.24 ERA) is scheduled to pitch against Astros LHP Framber Valdez (6-5, 4.11) in Thursday afternoon’s series finale.

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