AL West Preview Capsules

July 16

Capsules of American League West teams, listed in order of finish last year:

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Houston Astros

Manager: Dusty Baker (first season).

2019: 107-55, first place, lost to Nationals in World Series.

He’s Here: Manager Dusty Baker, RHP Austin Pruitt, C Dustin Garneau.

He’s Outta Here: Manager AJ Hinch, RHP Gerrit Cole, RHP Will Harris, C Robinson Chirinos, OF Tony Kemp.

Projected Lineup: CF George Springer (.292, 39 HRs, 96 RBIs), 2B Jose Altuve (.298, 31, 74), LF Michael Brantley (.311, 22, 90, 40 2Bs), 3B Alex Bregman (.296, 41, 112, 37 2Bs, 119 BBs, 122 runs), DH Yordan Alvarez (.313, 27, 78 in 87 games), SS Carlos Correa (.279, 21, 59 in 75 games), 1B Yuli Gurriel (.298, 31, 104, 40 2Bs), C Martin Maldonado (.213, 12, 27 with Royals, Cubs and Astros), RF Josh Reddick (.275, 14, 56).

Rotation: RH Justin Verlander (21-6, 2.58 ERA, career-high 300 Ks, led majors with 223 IP, won AL Cy Young Award), RH Zack Greinke (18-5, 2.93), RH Lance McCullers Jr. (missed season after Tommy John surgery), RH Austin Pruitt (3-0, 4.40 with Tampa Bay), LH Framber Valdez (4-7, 5.86).

Key Relievers: RH Roberto Osuna (4-3, 2.63, 38/44 saves), RH Ryan Pressly (2-3, 2.32), RH Josh James (5-1, 4.70) RH Chris Devenski (2-3, 4.83), RH Josh James (5-1, 4.70), RH Brad Peacock (7-6, 4.12), RH Jose Urquidy (2-1, 3.95).

Outlook: The Astros return most of the team that won the AL pennant last season but spent an offseason reeling from a sign-stealing scandal that cost Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow their jobs. Baker takes over in Houston for what could be the 71-year-old’s last chance to chase a World Series title with a team which certainly has the talent to contend. Houston’s rotation is led by Verlander, the 2019 AL Cy Young Award, but the Astros will need someone to make up for the loss of fellow ace Cole, who signed with the Yankees in free agency. McCullers returns after missing last season following Tommy John surgery and should be a key to shoring up the rotation. Houston’s lineup is solid with the return of Bregman, the AL MVP runner-up, and Altuve. But the Astros might need to look for someone to fill in at designated hitter with Alvarez, last season’s AL Rookie of the Year, still not in camp for an undisclosed reason.

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Oakland Athletics

2019: 97-65, second place, lost to Tampa Bay in wild-card game.

Manager: Bob Melvin (10th season).

He’s Here: INF Tony Kemp, C Austin Allen.

He’s Outta Here: 2B Jurickson Profar, RHP Blake Treinen, LHP Ryan Buchter, RHP Homer Bailey, LHP Brett Anderson, RHP Tanner Roark, RHP Jharel Cotton.

Projected Lineup: SS Marcus Semien (.285, 33, 92, 123 runs, 43 2Bs), CF Ramon Laureano (.288, 24, 67, 10 OF assists), 3B Matt Chapman (.249, 36, 91, 102 runs, 36 2Bs), 1B Matt Olson (.267, 36, 91), DH Khris Davis (.220, 23, 73), RF Stephen Piscotty (.249, 13, 44), LF Mark Canha (.273, 26, 58) or Robbie Grossman (.240, 6, 38), C Sean Murphy (.245, 4, 8 in 20 games), 2B Tony Kemp (.212, 8, 29 with Cubs and Astros) or Chad Pinder (.240, 13, 47).

Rotation: RH Mike Fiers (15-4, 3.90), LH Sean Manaea (4-0, 1.21 ERA in 5 starts), RH Frankie Montas (9-2, 2.63), LH A.J. Puk (2-0, 3.18 in 10 games), LH Jesus Luzardo (0-0, 1.50, 2 saves in 6 games) or RH Chris Bassitt (10-5, 3.81).

Key Relievers: RH Liam Hendriks (4-4, 1.80, 22/25 saves, 124 Ks in 85 IPs), RH Lou Trivino (4-6, 5.25), LH Jake Diekman (1-7, 4.65 for Oakland and Kansas City), RH Yusmeiro Petit (5-3, 2.71), RH Joakim Soria (2-4, 4.30, 1 save).

Outlook: After winning 97 games the past two seasons and then losing in the wild-card game, the A’s are looking to take the next step. The shortened campaign could end up helping a team that has the potential for a talented rotation but several starters who haven’t pitched a full season. With only 60 games, there should be no limitations on players like Luzardo, Puk and Montas, which could give Melvin the staff he needs to keep pace with Houston in the division. Luzardo has missed time in camp with a non-injury related issue but is expected back at some point. The strength of the offense is in the infield led by Semien, Chapman and Olson. The A’s set a franchise record with 257 homers last season despite an off year for Davis. If he bounces back, Kemp fills a hole at second base and Hendiks can thrive in a full season as closer, the A’s could be a serious threat in the AL.

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Texas Rangers

2019: 78-84, third place.

Manager: Chris Woodward (second season).

He’s Here: RHP Corey Kluber, RHP Kyle Gibson, RHP Jordan Lyles, 3B Todd Frazier, C Robinson Chirinos, 1B Greg Bird, RHP Nick Goody.

He’s Outta Here: RF Nomar Mazara, CF Delino DeShields, DH-OF Hunter Pence, RHP Shawn Kelley, INF Logan Forsythe.

Projected Lineup: DH Shin-Soo Choo (.265, 24 HRs, 61 RBIs), SS Elvis Andrus (.275, 12, 72, 31 steals), RF Joey Gallo (.253, 22, 49), CF Danny Santana (.283, 28, 81), 2B Rougned Odor (.205, 30, 93), LF Willie Calhoun (.269, 21, 48), 3B or 1B Todd Frazier (.251, 21, 67 with Mets), 1B Ronald Guzman (.219, 10, 36) or 3B Isiah Kiner-Falefa (.238, 1, 21), C Robinson Chirinos (.238, 17, 58 with Astros).

Rotation: RH Lance Lynn (16-11, 3.67 ERA, 246 Ks in 208 1/3 innings), LH Mike Minor (14-10, 2.59, 200 Ks, 208 1/3 innings), RH Corey Kluber (2-3, 5.80 in seven starts with Indians), RH Kyle Gibson (13-7, 4.84 with Twins), RH Jordan Lyles (12-8, 4.15 with Pirates and Brewers).

Key Relievers: RH Jose Leclerc (2-4, 4.33 14/18 saves), RH Rafael Montero (2-0, 2.48 in 22 games), RH Jesse Chavez (3-5, 4.85 in 48 games/nine starts), LH Joely Rodriguez (3-4, 1.64 in 64 games with Chunichi of Nippon Professional Baseball), LH Brett Martin (2-3, 4.76 in 51 games), LH Luke Farrell (1-0, 2.70 in nine games), RH Nick Goody (3-2, 3.54 in 39 games with Indians).

Outlook: The Rangers could benefit from a veteran rotation in this shortened 60-game season. Scheduled opening day starter Lynn and All-Star lefty Minor are back, along with the additions of two-time AL Cy Young Award winner Kluber, healthy after an injury-plagued final season with the Indians, and Gibson and Lyles — both coming off career highs in wins with playoff teams. Gallo hit 22 homers in 70 games as a first-time All-Star last season before right wrist surgery. The slugger missed the first week of summer camp after testing positive for coronavirus, but experienced no symptoms of COVID-19. Martin, who has Type 1 diabetes, also tested positive and could miss the start of the season. The Rangers finally get to play in their new stadium with a retractable roof, though without fans.

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Los Angeles Angels

2019: 72-90, fourth place.

Manager: Joe Maddon (first season).

He’s Here: Manager Joe Maddon, 3B Anthony Rendon, RHP Dylan Bundy, RHP Julio Teherán, C Jason Castro, RHP Matt Andriese.

He’s Outta Here: Manager Brad Ausmus, RF Kole Calhoun, RHP Trevor Cahill, 1B Justin Bour, RHP Luis Garcia, 3B Zack Cozart, C Kevan Smith, LHP Adalberto Mejia.

Projected Lineup: 2B Tommy La Stella (.295, 16 HRs, 44 RBIs, first All-Star selection), CF Mike Trout (.291, 45, 104, 1.083 OPS, 3rd AL MVP award), 3B Anthony Rendon (.319, 34, MLB-best 126, 1.010 OPS, World Series ring for Washington), LF Justin Upton (.215, 12, 40 in 63 games), DH Shohei Ohtani (.286, 18, 62), 1B Albert Pujols (.244, 23, 93), SS Andrelton Simmons (.264, 7, 40), C Jason Castro (.232, 13, 30 for Minnesota), RF Brian Goodwin (.262, 17, 47).

Rotation: LH Andrew Heaney (4-6, 4.91 ERA, 118 Ks), RH Shohei Ohtani (didn’t pitch in 2019 while recovering from Tommy John surgery), RH Julio Teherán (10-11, 3.81, 162 Ks for Atlanta), RH Dylan Bundy (7-14, 4.79 in 161 2/3 IP for Baltimore), RH Griffin Canning (5-6, 4.58 as rookie before early end to season), RH Matt Andriese (5-5, 4.71 for Arizona).

Key Relievers: RH Hansel Robles (5-1, 2.48, 23 saves), RH Ty Buttrey (6-7, 3.98, 84 Ks in 72 1/3 IP), RH Keynan Middleton (0-0, 1.17 in 11 appearances after return from Tommy John surgery), RH Noé Ramirez (5-4, 3.99), RH Cam Bedrosian (3-3, 3.23, 64 Ks in 61 1/3 IP), RH Mike Mayers (0-1, 6.63 for St. Louis), LH Dillon Peters (4-4, 5.38, 55 Ks), RH Justin Anderson (3-0, 5.55).

Outlook: Adding major league RBI leader Rendon to three-time AL MVP Trout creates a peerless duo in the heart of a lineup stacked with veteran offensive talent. The Angels probably will hope to outscore opponents most nights after making no major overhaul of last year’s miserable rotation, adding only veteran innings-eaters Bundy and Teherán. Ohtani will resume his two-way career and could evolve into an ace, but the Halos are keeping expectations low. They also kept a solid bullpen mostly intact, and RF Jo Adell leads a list of intriguing prospects finally blossoming in LA’s once-decimated farm system. Although this bizarre season changes every norm, GM Billy Eppler is under pressure to show progress after four consecutive losing seasons under his watch and 11 years without a playoff victory. Trout’s plans also are up in the air with his first child due later in the summer.

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Seattle Mariners

2019: 68-94, fifth place.

Manager: Scott Servais (fifth season).

He’s Here: RHP Kendall Graveman, RHP Taijuan Walker, RHP Carl Edwards Jr., RHP Yoshihisa Hirano, INF Patrick Wisdom, LHP Nick Margevicius.

He’s Outta Here: RHP Felix Hernandez, LHP Wade LeBlanc, LHP Tommy Milone, C Omar Narvaez, OF Domingo Santana, INF Ryon Healy, RHP Chasen Bradford, OF Keon Broxton.

Projected Lineup: 2B Shed Long Jr. (.263, 5 HRs, 15 RBIs in 42 games; .274, 9, 36 at Triple-A Tacoma) or Dee Gordon (.275, 3, 34 in 117 games at 2B and SS), 1B Evan White (.293, 18, 55 at Double-A Arkansas), 3B Kyle Seager (.239, 23, 63), DH Daniel Vogelbach (.208, 30, 76), SS J.P. Crawford (.226, 7, 46 in 93 games), C Tom Murphy (.273, 18, 40 in 75 games), RF Kyle Lewis (.268, 6, 13 in 18 games; .263, 11, 62 at Double-A Arkansas), LF Jake Fraley (.150, 0, 1 in 12 games; .298, 18, 80 in 99 combined games at Double-A Arkansas and Triple-A Tacoma), CF Mallex Smith (.227, 6, 37, led MLB with 46 steals).

Rotation: LH Marco Gonzales (16-13, 3.99 ERA, 34 starts, 147 Ks in 203 IP), LH Yusei Kikuchi (6-11, 5.46, 36 HRs allowed, 116 Ks in 145 2/3 IP), RH Kendall Graveman (Missed 2019 season following Tommy John surgery; 1-5, 7.60 in 7 games in 2018), LH Justus Sheffield (0-1, 5.58 in 8 games; 7-9, 4.13 in 25 minor league games), RH Justin Dunn (0-0, 2.70 in four appearances; 9-5, 3.55 in 25 starts at Double-A Arkansas), RH Taijuan Walker (4 combined starts over past two seasons; 9-9, 3.49 in 28 starts in 2017).

Key Relievers: RH Carl Edwards Jr. (1-1, 8.47 in 22 games with Cubs and Padres), RH Matt Magill (5-2, 4.09 in 50 games with Twins and Mariners), RH Yoshihisa Hirano (5-5, 4.75 in 62 games with Diamondbacks; 61 Ks in 53 IP), RH Sam Tuivailala (1-0, 2.35 in 23 games; 27 Ks in 23 IP), RH Erik Swanson (1-5, 5.74 in 27 games with 8 starts), LH Taylor Guilbeau (0-0, 3.65 in 17 games).

Outlook: Even in a shortened season, the focus for Seattle is continuing its rebuild, even if the results are likely to be rocky. Most of the attention will be on youngsters like White, Lewis, Long and Crawford as everyday players, and Sheffield and Dunn on the mound. The Mariners will go with a six-man rotation anchored by Gonzales and Kikuchi, and the extended rotation should help Graveman and Walker in their returns from surgery. The bullpen will be a huge question, as will the debate as to whether the Mariners should start the clock of top prospects Jarred Kelenic and Logan Gilbert. Seattle’s rebuild seems to be pointed in the right direction with a number of exciting prospects still to come, but this season could be rough.

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