Just how much better is the Houston Astros playoff rotation than the rest?

Joe Fernandez
Framber Valdez #59 of the Houston Astros pitches against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on September 12, 2022, in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
Framber Valdez #59 of the Houston Astros pitches against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on September 12, 2022, in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images) /
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Justin Verlander, Houston Astros
Justin Verlander #35 of the Houston Astros (R) shrugs his shoulders while talking with Jose Altuve #27 during the seventh inning of a game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on September 12, 2022, in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images) /

Houston Astros playoff roster: Justin Verlander

Biggest positive: Everything except…

Biggest negative: Health

Justin Verlander has defied age and Tommy John surgery in his 17th major league season by not just bouncing back from his elbow injury, but exploding back.

He’s considered the front runner for the American League Cy Young award leading the league in wins and winning percentage (16-3 record) and leading all of Major League baseball in ERA, WHIP and ERA+ which adjusts for a pitcher’s ballpark.

What’s even more impressive is comparing his numbers from this season to his 2011 season when he won both Cy Young and MVP.

2011 2.40 ERA, 172 ERA+, 0.920 WHIP in 34 starts.

2022 1.84 ERA, 208 ERA+, 0.855 WHIP in 24 starts.

Now granted Verlander threw 99 more innings in 2011 than he has so far in 2022. But the ERA and ERA+ are the best he’s had in any season in his 17 year career. And his WHIP is only second to his 2019 Cy Young campaign when he had a 0.803.

In both cases he won the Cy Young though he did throw over 200 innings in those seasons so we’ll see if his calf injury hurts his chances of winning.

More importantly, we’ll see if the calf injury prevents him from being part of the ALDS roster if he has any setbacks or not enough time to ramp his body to go seven innings strong.

The only thing that can stop Verlander from dominating in the postseason has nothing to do with his performance. It’s strictly will this calf injury be a minor blip on the season as the team has claimed it would be or will it stop him from either pitching deep into games or pitching at all.

If he’s healthy though, the Astros have a Hall of Fame ace opening up their bid for a second World Series title throwing as good as he’s ever thrown in his entire career.

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