The Astros’ starting rotation has a lot of uncertainty surrounding it.
The injury to Lance McCullers Jr. is truly a devastating gut punch, especially since there is currently no timetable for his return. McCullers was the unquestionable ace of the staff last year and finished seventh in Cy Young voting.
A forearm strain suffered in game four of the ALDS against the Chicago White Sox last year knocked him out of the playoffs and he has yet to recover.
While the Astros starting pitching staff is still talented, there’s a lot of question marks around each pitcher.
- Justin Verlander – He has looked great this spring, but how many innings will he be allowed to pitch coming off of Tommy John surgery? He most likely won’t get many, if any, of those seven or eight inning starts this year. And will he be able to remain healthy all season?
- Framber Valdez – The talent is there as we saw in game five of the ALCS last season. But which Framber are we getting? Consistency is going to be the key thing needed from Valdez who has taken the number one spot in the rotation.
- Luis Garcia – He had an amazing season last year finishing second place in the AL Rookie of the Year Award race, but will he be able to continue to adjust as the league adjusts to him? It is after all just one season in the majors. The hope is he’s a future ace, but he’s still so early in his career you can’t pin down what numbers to expect.
- Jose Urquidy – Urquidy is kind of a combination of health and consistency concerns. Last year in the postseason he went from getting shelled in game three of the ALCS giving up six runs in 1.2 innings to then throwing five innings of two run ball with no walks in game two of the World Series earning the win against the Braves. He also has bounced back and forth off the IL quite a bit over the past couple years (Granted 2020 was primarily COVID-related.) Again, another question mark coming into the year.
- Jake Odorizzi – Jake “No more than five” Odorizzi is not going to give the Astros innings, that much is certain. With his inability to perform facing a batting order for the third time will he get deep enough into games to warrant his spot in the rotation? He’s almost assuredly the odd man out when McCullers Jr. returns but it’s almost surprising he’s in the rotation over Cristian Javier to begin with.
Lance McCullers Jr. was the most consistent and reliable starter coming into 2022 and now we don’t know if and when he will be back. All these players are talented, but there’s also a lot of uncertainty here.