Cristian Javier’s success against playoff-bound teams worthy of Astros’ fourth starter in the playoffs.
The Houston Astros have the best pitching in the American League. So much so that they actually have four options to consider for the postseason rotation between Cristian Javier, Luis Garcia, Jose Urquidy and Hunter Brown.
Cristian Javier dazzled once again Saturday, throwing six shutout innings against the Tampa Bay Rays, striking out seven against two hits and two walks.
He’s now thrown 11 shutout innings across two starts against the Rays in the past two weeks, which continues a trend of domination against teams with .500 records or better. He seems to elevate his game against the best opposition, which is why he should get the ball from the get go rather than waiting to use him in a crucial situation out of the bullpen.
The mental side of scoring the first run in a playoff game and putting pressure on the other opponents’ hitters and pitchers is monumental. Javier can throw zeroes for five to six innings and has proven he can do it against the best in baseball.
Here are Javier’s numbers against teams with a .500 record or better:
11 games, 10 starts, 1.53 ERA, 0.70 WHIP in 58.2 innings pitched with 70 strikeouts against 17 walks.
Of those 10 starts nine were against playoff teams they could see in the postseason.
Christian Javier’s numbers against each potential playoff foe
Here’s how Javier did against playoff teams in 2022.
Cleveland Guardians: 11.2 IP, 0.77 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 13 strikeouts against one walk.
New York Yankees: 12 IP, 0.75 ERA, 0.58 WHIP, 16 strikeouts against zero walks.
Seattle Mariners: Nine IP, 5.00 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, eight strikeouts against three walks.
Atlanta Braves: Six IP, 1.50 ERA, 0.50 WHIP, eight strikeouts against one walk.
Tampa Bay Rays: 11 IP, 0,00 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 13 strikeouts against six walks.
Other than one start against Seattle back on June 6, when he allowed five runs in 3-2/3 innings, he’s been stellar against the best competition baseball has to offer. Take out that clunker and his numbers become even more stellar.
Garcia and Urquidy have produced well for the Astros, but when it comes to the postseason Javier should have the upper hand based on recent performance and his numbers against the best opposition the team has faced.
While he has bullpen experience it would be pointless to wait to use him for only a couple innings every two games when you could have him for six in a crucial game four situation.
It’s possible to even make the argument he should be the Game 3 starter over Lance McCullers Jr. all things being equal but seniority and clubhouse chemistry will trump that decision.
Javier is the best option for the Astros rotation if they want to get to and win another World Series title.