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Astros set 25-man roster for Opening Day

@brianmctaggart
March 23, 2019

JUPITER, Fla. -- Astros manager AJ Hinch set the 25-man roster his team will carry into Opening Day by announcing on Saturday that left-hander Framber Valdez will take the final spot in the club's seven-man bullpen. Here’s how the roster shapes up: Catchers (2): Robinson Chirinos and Max Stassi The

JUPITER, Fla. -- Astros manager AJ Hinch set the 25-man roster his team will carry into Opening Day by announcing on Saturday that left-hander Framber Valdez will take the final spot in the club's seven-man bullpen.

Here’s how the roster shapes up:

Catchers (2): Robinson Chirinos and Max Stassi

The skinny: Hinch said Chirinos and Stassi would split time -- perhaps even a 50-50 split -- and be a true platoon. Hinch doesn’t like personal catchers for pitchers, so whoever is swinging the hot bat, if there’s day game after a night game and the opposing starter, will determine who starts on certain days.

First base (1): Yuli Gurriel

The skinny: This will be Gurriel’s fourth season with the Astros, including his third full season. He opened the 2018 season on the injured list, so this year will mark his second Opening Day with the Astros. He started 99 games at first base last year.

Second base (1): José Altuve

The skinny: Altuve is completely healthy after having surgery shortly after the end of last season to repair a broken right kneecap. The former American League MVP Award winner remains one of the game’s top hitters and he should hit third in the batting order on most days.

Third base (1): Alex Bregman

The skinny: Bregman had a terrific spring on the field and an even one better off it, which he capped by signing a five-year, $100 million contract extension on Friday. Bregman led the Astros in nearly every offensive category last year and he is one of the game’s best young stars.

Shortstop (1): Carlos Correa

The skinny: Correa is coming off a down season in which he was bothered by a sore back in the second half of last year. He came to camp completely healthy and he was crushing the ball early in the spring. He is poised for a bounce-back season.

Outfield (5): Michael Brantley, George Springer, Tony Kemp, Josh Reddick and Jake Marisnick

The skinny: The Astros have an experienced and versatile outfield, led by starters Brantley (left field), Springer (center field) and Reddick (right field). Kemp can give good at-bats at the bottom of the order while making occasional starts, and Marisnick will again be a defensive replacement.

Utility (2): Aledmys Díaz and Tyler White

The skinny: White will get lots of at-bats as the designated hitter, while playing some first base, as well. Diaz, acquired from the Blue Jays, will play all around the infield and he could perhaps see some time in left field in a pinch.

Starting pitchers (5): Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Collin McHugh, Wade Miley and Brad Peacock

The skinny: Verlander, who is locked up through 2021 with a two-year, $66 million contract extension, according to a source, and Cole are perhaps baseball’s best 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation. McHugh is reinserted into the starting rotation after a solid year in the bullpen, and Miley is looking to build on last year’s success with the Brewers. Peacock flourished as a starter in 2017.

Relief pitchers (7): Roberto Osuna, Ryan Pressly, Héctor Rondón, Chris Devenski, Will Harris, Framber Valdez and Josh James

The skinny: The Astros’ bullpen has a chance to be dominant. Osuna and Pressly were terrific after coming over in midseason trades last year, and Rondon, Devenski and Harris have strong track records. Valdez, the only lefty, provides length and could be a weapon if he throws strikes, and James brings the heat with a 100-plus mph fastball.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.