Welcome, baseball fans! Spring Training is officially here, and with it comes the anticipation of a new season of baseball. For the Houston Astros, the defending champions, this spring is especially meaningful as they look to repeat the success of 2022. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at three things to watch for during Spring Training as the Astros look to get ready for the 2023 regular season: Lance McCullers’ performance, Jeremy Peña’s follow-up season, and the emergence of the next arm.
Lance McCullers is an integral part of the Astros’ pitching staff and his performance during Spring Training will be closely monitored. After a flexor injury in the 2021 playoffs, McCullers put in a solid performance in the regular season and the playoffs in 2022, including a six-inning no-run performance in the ALDS series clincher and a five-inning, three-run performance in the ALCS. Unfortunately, his World Series performance was less than stellar, with seven earned runs over five innings, all of them surrendered via five home runs. Can McCullers show that the World Series Game 3 was an aberration and return to his top-of-the-rotation form?
Jeremy Peña enters 2023 as one of the Astros’ key stars. After being anointed the starter in the wake of Carlos Correa’s departure, Peña exceeded expectations in the regular season and shined in the playoffs, winning ALCS and World Series MVP awards. Can he continue to hit and play at the level we saw during the 2022 regular and post-season? Will he remain focused and grounded, or will he suffer a sophomore slump? Spring Training will offer a chance for Peña to show that he is no one-year wonder and that he can evolve into one of MLB’s best.
Finally, the Astros’ pitching staff is one of the most complete in MLB history and most of the same cast and crew return to run it back in 2023. However, there is always room for the next new arm. Who will be the next Astros’ star thrower? Will someone from the AAA or lower rungs emerge to have the arm that the Majors can’t ignore? What of Forrest Whitley? Does he finally put it together and join the major league roster? Spring Training will offer a chance to find out.
So, Astros fans, get ready for an exciting Spring Training. With Lance McCullers, Jeremy Peña, and the emergence of the next arm, there is plenty to watch for. Stick with us as we bring you all the latest news and updates from Astros camp. Let the games begin!