The Astros will have options for the late innings, thanks to the offseason addition of relievers Pat Neshek and Luke Gregerson. The pair, combined with Chad Qualls, should give the coaching staff three above-average arms capable of closing out games. For his career, Neshek only has six saves in eight years, but he's proved to be a quality late-inning situational pitcher. The same can be said for Gregerson, who has pitched primarily in the seventh and eighth innings — but he has 19 saves in six seasons. Qualls, then, is the most experienced ninth-inning guy, having collected 70 saves in 11 big-league seasons. During the course of Spring Training, roles will have to be established for these three veterans if the Astros want to have their most optimal bullpen setup.
How do the kids look?
George Springer, pictured above at Astros camp earlier this week, is a key player to watch. His rookie campaign in 2014 was derailed a bit by the injury bug and some offensive issues that led to a skyrocketing strikeout rate. Despite all that, he's poised for a breakout year in 2015. How he and other Astros youngsters including Jon Singleton and Jake Marisnick perform at Spring Training might give the coaching staff a solid idea of what to expect from these potential budding stars in the year ahead.
Meet the new boss
A.J. Hinch has already established himself as a very hard worker, having done his share of homework since being named the Astros' new manager earlier in the offseason. He's also already a huge fan of Jose Altuve, and has expressed his excitement about coaching the star second baseman on an everyday basis. Spring Training is Hinch's first real opportunity to meet and bond with his new players and fellow coaches ... and if there's one thing we've seen in recent years, it's that teams with well-liked managers go a long way in this league.
Figuring out the back of the rotation
With a bounty of fresh arms vying for spots in the starting rotation, the Astros will have to make some cuts. Is Mark Appel ready for the spotlight, or does he need more seasoning in the minors? Will a slimmed-down Brad Peacock force his way into the mix with a strong spring? What about Brett Oberholtzer, who is already a leading candidate for the No. 3 or No. 4 spot? All these and more are questions that will likely find answers as Spring Training kicks into gear.
Finding the best lineup mix
New hitters Evan Gattis, Colby Rasmus, Luis Valbuena and Jed Lowrie will give the Astros' roster a jolt of veteran presence ... but with those new names comes the responsibility of using each of them in the smartest way possible. That is to say, finding the 'perfect' spot in the lineup to best utilize their assets. Is Gattis a cleanup hitter? How far down should Rasmus slot on a given day? What is Jose Altuve's optimal role in this new-look offense? The coaching staff has some thinking to do before Opening Day.