The case for Texas being properly rated
The sports books have Texas right around their win total of 90 from 2023. There is a strong case that 89-90 wins is about where Texas will end up. The rotation through July is very thin and full of pitchers who regularly miss time. Of the top four pitchers Dane Dunning is probably the only one who can be counted upon to make nearly every start. It will be on Bruce Bochy to not over extend these guys in the first two months especially as most of these pitchers threw a heavy amount of innings in 2023.
The bullpen will be relied upon more especially early in the season. Jose Leclerc and Josh Sborz were great in October. Have they turned into dominant relievers or was that just a hot four week stretch? The good thing in 2024 is if Leclerc struggles early then falling back on David Robertson is not a bad option. Robertson also failed in the closer's role for the Marlins after the trade deadline in 2023. I could see a scenario where the starters are only pitching five or six innings or fewer some days and the bullpen is not as good as what the front office is expecting.
The offense also could see a dip in production as it is hard to stay at the level they were at in 2023. Seager already is beginning spring training with an injury and will hopefully be ready for Opening Day. Evan Carter is going to be the starting left fielder and his scouting report this year will be more extensive than in 2023. He will be forced to make more adjustments in his first full season. At DH they will be missing Mitch Garver and do not have a consistent in-house option unless they sign a Brandon Belt to play DH. Adolis Garcia will be the focus of more teams as they try to attack his weaknesses and force him to make constant adjustments. Will Garcia be in the right head space especially coming off a potential arbitration case?
In this scenario, Texas struggles out of the gate and is five or 10 games under .500 in June. The three injured pitchers come back and they turn it around but are only able to get to 89-90 wins. They finish behind Houston as they had too much ground to make up and come up just short in the division race. It is still a good season and they will be positioned to make a similar October run in 2024 as they did in 2023.