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Astros Report Card: Grading the starting pitchers of 2019

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HOUSTON, TEXAS - AUGUST 03: (L-R) Wade Miley #20 of the Houston Astros, Joe Smith #38, Gerrit Cole #45 and Justin Verlander #35 chat during batting practice before a game against the Seattle Mariners at Minute Maid Park on August 03, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - AUGUST 03: (L-R) Wade Miley #20 of the Houston Astros, Joe Smith #38, Gerrit Cole #45 and Justin Verlander #35 chat during batting practice before a game against the Seattle Mariners at Minute Maid Park on August 03, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
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Astros Justin Verlander holding the ALCS Trophy
HOUSTON, TEXAS – OCTOBER 19: Justin Verlander #35 of the Houston Astros celebrates with the trophy following his teams 6-4 win against the New York Yankees in game six of the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park on October 19, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

In this third installment of the Astros’ Report Cards, I’ll be rehashing the 2019 season of each starting pitcher and handing out their grades for the year.

It was an interesting year for the starters of the Astros. The top of the rotation was fantastic to watch and simply the best it gets. The bottom of the rotation was a revolving door of prospects trying to prove themselves worthy of pitching in the big leagues, to veterans trying to figure out their role in the pitching staff. Let’s jump right in and pass out the grades.

Justin Verlander:  A+

Like a fine wine, Justin Verlander just gets better with age. The Astros ace had one of the best years of his illustrious 15-year career. At 36 years old, he’s still one of the most durable pitchers in the league. He tied for the highest number of starts in the Major Leagues with 34 and led the entire league with 223.0 innings pitched.

The eight-time All-Star also topped the Majors with the most wins at 21 and had the lowest WHIP (0.80) and hits/9 IP 5.53. He also led the American League with a 7.14 SO/BB ratio and tied Mike Minor of the Texas Rangers with 7.8 WAR.

Verlander hit the 300 strikeout plateau for the first time in his career this season and also went over the 3,000 mark for his career, ending the season with 3006. That moves him up to 18th on the all-time list, passing up names like Cy Young and Mike Mussina. If next season is anything like this season, he could climb the ladder to 12th, eclipsing some of the greats like Bob Gibson and Curt Schilling.

It’s no wonder that he is one of the front runners for this year’s Cy Young Award. He led the league in several other statistical categories, and if he wasn’t at the top, you can bet he was most likely among the top five.

The only fault I can find, in what was otherwise a stellar season, was his penchant to give up home runs. He surrendered 36 homers this year, the most in his career and the 3rd highest in the Majors. Can you imagine what some of his numbers would look like if he had kept that down to just his career average of 23?

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