Astros News

Houston Astros 2020 Year in Review: Cristian Javier

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 07: Cristian Javier #53 of the Houston Astros pitches in the bottom of the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 07, 2020 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 07: Cristian Javier #53 of the Houston Astros pitches in the bottom of the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 07, 2020 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

Cristian Javier had an excellent season as a rookie for the Astros, and is likely someone the team can build around in the bullpen going forward.

The 2020 Houston Astros had to overcome many obstacles. After being hit with the sign stealing scandal, they also had to incorporate the future of their organization. They were a young team in relation to arms, with many rookies making their debuts in ’20, and the one who stood out the most was Cristian Javier.

Coming into the season, not much was known about Javier, so the expectations were tamed. Now, he is up for the AL Rookie of the Year, which, if he wins, will be back-to-back wins for the Astros with Yordan Alvarez winning it in 2019. The Dominican right-hander made a huge splash in 2020 and showed he was interchangeable from the starting rotation to the pen.

Regular Season

We can’t stress enough how much a small sample size of 60 games isn’t enough to evaluate a player in the Major Leagues. Fans might want to decrease the number of games in a season, but these are needed to evaluate and compare careers. Yet, for the rookie arm of Javier, 2020 was an outstanding campaign.

After the first few weeks, MLB had Javier on their rookie watch list along with reliever Blake Taylor. Unlike many Astros this season, Javier never fell to injury and became valuable in different roles. Through 12 games this regular season, Javier posted a 3.48 ERA. Through 10 starts, he went 5-2, but in a changing baseball world, I advise you to start looking away from record. The two standouts are ERA and WHIP.

For Javier, the progression was fantastic. He opened 1.35 ERA in two appearances in July, but August was the toughest month for the Astros. He regressed, which can happen with rookies. His ERA soared to 4.44 in five games, but the Astros won four of them. After shaking the rookie jitters, Javier posted a 3.09 ERA and saw more work out of the bullpen. He showed a lot of strength for a rookie and slightly increased his strikeout rate while also decreasing the number of pitches thrown. By the end of the season, the Astros went 8-4 in his 12 appearances.

Postseason

Of course, the Astros fell one game short in one of the most unlikely comebacks in recent MLB history. But for the Astros, they saw everything they needed from Javier. His 2.89 ERA in five appearances doesn’t tell the full story about the location and power behind his pitches. He proved himself, but one thing to watch out for is any pitch thrown low and away. It might come off the tail of his slider, but hitters appear to love it and are hitting .333 against it.

Future

It’s hard to evaluate a player in a 60-game season, especially a pitcher, but it is hard not to be optimistic about the future of Javier.  As long as he stays healthy, the Astros could see him pitching out the starting rotation next season. But for an Astros team short on pitching depth, I would hope they target someone like Chris Archer or Charlie Morton this offseason. Sure, the Astros have a strong starting rotation, but they need depth and Javier can help in long relief out of the bullpen. Archer struggled in Pittsburgh, but pitching coach Brent Strom has brought careers back to life much like Morton.

Baseball Reference projects Javier to have a 4.00 ERA in 2021. This is a fair assumption because he will likely see more bullpen action next year. The Astros have been looking for a long reliever/starter like Javier for sometime, with recent examples being Brad Peacock and Collin McHugh. This grade is solely on the performance and possible accolade of Javier; it could fluctuate to a lower grade depending on opinions, but he was outstanding for a rookie.

Grade: A

facebooktwitterreddit