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Matt Castillo (Mitch)

Mitch’s MLB Preview: AL West

Last week we started previewing the different divisions in baseball starting with the NL West. This week we will preview the American League West as we are another week closer to opening day!

Oakland Athletics

The Athletics had a miserable year a season ago winning just 60 games while losing 102. This year the outlook for Athletics isn’t much better.

It’s a rebuilding team so many young players will have an opportunity to make a name for themselves, but obviously, with so many inexperienced players it will be tough for them to compete.

Lineup wise they will be led by guys like Ramon Laureano and Christian Pache. Pache is someone who Braves fans should remember as he was part of the deal that helped them acquire Matt Olson. Pache was awful last year as he appeared in 91 games and batted .166, the A’s will simply need him to pick up his production this year or he’s looking like he will be a big whiff by the A’s front office.

Rotation wise they are once again just young, Paul Blackburn is the six-year veteran on the pitching staff but they will rely on some young arms such as JP Sears, James Kaprielian, and Ken Waldichuk, who is in the top 100 of prospects in baseball.

The A’s as mentioned lost 102 games last year and a lot of those games were close. They played hard but they just didn’t have enough. I think they will win 60-65 games this upcoming season.

Los Angeles Angels

The Angels finished in third place in the division last year going 73-89 on the season, and once again depriving fans of seeing Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani in the postseason.

When you have Trout and Ohtani you certainly have excitement but unfortunately for them, the rest of the roster has been very mediocre and it’s why they haven’t reached the postseason in 8 years.

They did strengthen their starting pitching rotation this year because, in the last two years, it really has been Ohtani and the rest were awful but they added Tyler Anderson from the Dodgers. Anderson went 15-5 last year with a 2.57 era and 138 strikeouts.

Offensively, the Angels will need Anthony Rendon to perform. They spent a lot of money on him and so far he has not been able to stay on the field, but he has shown that if he is healthy he is an MVP talent. I see this Angel team improving this year but will that be enough to make the playoffs? Probably not, I see them winning 78-83 games.

Texas Rangers

The Texas Rangers last year finished 4th in the division going 68-94. Heading into last season the Rangers spent a lot of money on middle infielders with the signing of Marcus Semien, who was coming off a career year with the Blue Jays, and they also signed Corey Seager. But the spending spree didn’t really help them compete for a playoff spot.

This offseason they focused on pitching and they landed the biggest starting pitcher on the market as they signed Jacob DeGrom. They also added Andrew Heaney and Nathan Eovaldi to the starting rotation.

The Rangers clearly have shown they have no problem laying out the cash to acquire talent and they certainly added to the team what they needed to. I look for the Rangers to be in the mix to make the playoffs and I see a big jump for them this season, but the question is that jump big enough to get them into the postseason? I see them winning around 80-86 games.

Seattle Mariners

The Mariners are coming off an exciting season where they ended their 21-year playoff drought after winning 90 games. Will the Mariners build off it and perhaps catch up to the Astros overtaking them for the division? That certainly will be interesting to look out for this season.

The Mariners were a team that I expected to be a strong team going into last season, but they got off to a slow start and for a minute it didn’t appear they would live up to that expectation. Right before the all-star break, however, they picked up their play and started heading in the right direction. As the trade deadline approached the Mariners acquired Luis Castillo to give them an ace and that took them to another level.

The lineup is solid and led by Julio Franco, they did lose Mitch Haniger but they replaced him with Teoscar Hernandez, who hit 25 homers while driving in 77 runs for the Blue Jays last year.

The bullpen has flame throwers coming out of the pen (Just like pretty much everybody in baseball nowadays), and I see them seriously competing with the Astros for the division. I see them winning 92-95 games this year.

Houston Astros

Last year sucked….. The Astros won the World Series (Who wanted to see that happen? I guess just Astros fans) after going 106-56 in the regular season. I really thought the Astros were going to take a step down after losing George Springer and Carlos Correa. I still had them as a playoff team but I didn’t expect to see them dominate the way they did.

Jeremy Pena was unbelievable in his rookie of the year and made the Astros not miss Correa. He won Rookie of the year and was the MVP of the World Series. The biggest surprise to me was Justin Verlander who missed nearly a season and a half with Tommy John surgery and still was lights out and won the Cy Young award.

But Verlander is now a New York Met and it will be tough to replace him. The additions the Astros made were adding a former MVP Jose Abreu to a very solid lineup. But the bread and butter for this Astros team is their deep bullpen and it might be the best bullpen in baseball.

Even though key guys have left the organization they are still very good, and they are the team to beat not just in their division but in the American League. I think the Astros will win around 93-98 games and be back in the mix to win it all, which we haven’t had back-to-back champs since 1999 and 2000, will they be the team to end that streak?

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