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FIELDING Altuve proved excellent in the field as well, leading the AL by turning 114 double plays. He committed just nine errors and his .987 fielding percentage was fifth in the league. Fowler has been compared to eighttime Gold Glove winner Garry Maddox for his long-legged, gangly frame and for his ballhawking skills in center field. Dominguez’s glove was his calling card from the time he was drafted, and it showed in his .963 fielding percentage that placed him fourth in the league. STARTING PITCHING Pitching was the weak link in 2013, but Jarred Cosart gives the Astros something to be excited about. He came out of the minor leagues to make 10 starts in 2013 and fashioned a 1.95 ERA over 60 innings to close out the season. Scott Feldman split last season between the Cubs and Orioles, going 12-12 with a 3.86 ERA. He will add a good veteran presence to the lockerroom and have a positive effect on youngsters like Brett Oberholtzer, who made 10 starts down the stretch and had a 2.76 ERA. Lucas Harrell and Dallas Keuchel will round out the rotation, but there should be several other arms looking to take their spots. RELIEF PITCHING Teams that lose 100 games with a young pitching staff usually don’t have many leads for a closer to protect, so staying sharp in that position can be a challenge. Chad Qualls will man the closer duties for the first time since he did so for the Diamondbacks in 2010. Jesse Crain is another experienced bullpen hand and is coming off an excellent season with the White Sox (0.74 ERA), but he will be slowed at the start of the season while recovering from biceps surgery. The bullpen could be a tryout camp for relievers much of the season. MANAGING Bo Porter is entering his second year managing the Astros, and at 41 he remains the youngest manager in the big leagues. That should help him connect with a young team. GM Jeff Luhnow oversaw many drafts for the St. Louis Cardinals that helped them build a war chest of talent at the big league level. He’s trying to do the same here, and with Cosart and Singleton graduating to the Major Leagues and top prospect Carlos Correa blossoming into a special talent, the Astros are preaching patience to a fan base tired of losing. Jason Castro JONATHAN DANIEL/GETTY IMAGES SPORT


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