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Houston Astros have the playoff rotation to be feared most

HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 03: Lance McCullers Jr. #43 of the Houston Astros reacts after striking out J.T. Realmuto #10 of the Philadelphia Phillies in the sixth inning at Minute Maid Park on October 03, 2022 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 03: Lance McCullers Jr. #43 of the Houston Astros reacts after striking out J.T. Realmuto #10 of the Philadelphia Phillies in the sixth inning at Minute Maid Park on October 03, 2022 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images) /
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Houston Astros bring an elite top three to the mound in the MLB playoffs

At the start of the season we knew the Houston Astros’ rotation was going to be a real strength, but the numbers are even better than we could have imagined. Any team the Astros face will have trouble stepping up to the plate with the dominant and deep pitching staff in Houston.

In the playoffs the top three starters are the staff and sometimes a fourth is used, and the Astros’ top three of Justin Verlander, Lance McCullers, and Framber Valdez are elite.

Wins

Wins aren’t everything, but the top two pitchers in the American League are Verlander and Valdez with 18 and 17, respectively. The Astros rotation is full of horses.

ERA

First of all Verlander’s season was so good he not only beat out the entire MLB on ERA, but he did so handily at 1.75 with the next closest at 2.16. That is uncanny, and with Valdez at sixth in the AL with a 2.82 the Astros are in business.

McCullers won’t qualify for any stat leader categories because he only pitched eight games but he compiled a 2.27 ERA in those games and has a 2.83 playoff ERA lifetime.

WHIP

McCullers at 1.24 aside, Verlander is best in the MLB with 0.829. Valdez is 10th in the AL with 1.16 and Jose Urquidy right behind him at 11th with 1.17. Another non-qualifying pitcher Cristian Javier (148 innings pitched, needs 162 to qualify) crushed it this season with a 0.948 WHIP which would put him around third place.

Batting average against

Another all-MLB leading stat by Verlander, who should easily walk away with the Cy Young: He compiled a 1.86 BAA with Valdez eighth in the MLB with a .223. Best of all Javier had a .170 BAA this season and McCullers sat at .215.

The Astros rotation is the best in baseball and with a combined record of 39-12 for the top three in the rotation, it spells bad news for opposing hitters. The Astros starters also have the playoff experience and confidence that give them a leg up. The most difficult question for the Astros brass is, who is the fourth starter?

My vote is for Javier, but Urquidy and Luis Garcia both have had great moments this season. If it comes down to matchups, Urquidy has not faced Cleveland and threw one gem against the Yankees this season, Garcia has thrown well against the Yankees but not against Cleveland, and Javier has dominated both Cleveland and the Yankees this season.

"Why Justin Verlander will win the 2022 American League Cy Young Award"

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