HOUSTON (KIAH) — The Houston Astros begin their road to repeat as World Series champions on Thursday as they open the 2023 season against the Chicago White Sox.
With most of their nucleus back in both pitching and hitting, the Astros do have the players to try to make another run to the postseason and try to win its seventh straight American League West Division title.
One of those very familiar faces is second baseman Jose Altuve, who is an eight-time All-Star. But Altuve suffered a broken right thumb during the World Baseball Classic and will be out until June. It looks like manager Dusty Baker will go with Mauricio Dubon for now at second base.
Meanwhile, one of the new faces for the Astros is new first baseman Jose Abreu, a former AL MVP who adds more power to the lineup that already has sluggers in designated hitter Yordan Alvarez, third baseman Alex Bregman and outfielder Kyle Tucker.
Baker is hoping that outfielders Chas McCormick and Jake Meyers can take steps forward and become more dependable bats in the lineup.
All-Star left-hander Framber Valdez takes over as the No. 1 starter after Justin Verlander left for the New York Mets via free agency. Valdez is worthy of the role after a dominant 2022 season. Righty Cristian Javier will also be a strong starter for the Astros. Righties Jose Urquidy, Luis Garcia and Hunter Brown round out the rotation, with Lance McCullers Jr. out with an injury to start the season.
Ryan Pressly, who was one of baseball’s top relief pitchers in 2022, will be the Astros’ closer again in a very deep bullpen. Ryne Stanek, Phil Maton, Rafael Montero, Hector Neris and Bryan Abreu each have had success in 2022 and look to keep things going in 2023.
The teams in the AL West have all upgraded their rosters from last season, including the Texas Rangers, who have signed several free agents. But the Astros remain a very talented team, and new general manager Dana Brown said that he will not be afraid to make moves to improve the roster if needed.
The Astros will open the season with a four-game series at home against the White Sox, then a three-game series against the Tigers before hitting the road for the first time at Minnesota on Thursday, April 6.