We wish Justin Verlander was still atop the Astros rotation
Yes, Justin Verlander was just recently named as one of the contracts we're glad is off the books for the Astros. But that is simply on the money side of things. On the mound, he is as good as they come and will be missed in the upcoming season, regardless of the talent the Astros still have in the rotation.
As of right now, the current starting rotation for the Astros is projected to be Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier, Luis Garcia, José Urquidy and Hunter Brown in that order. This is a top-tier rotation but in the event that Brown hits a sophomore slump, someone like Verlander would be huge for this club.
The future first ballot Hall of Famer spent the first 13 years of his pro career on the Detroit Tigers, establishing himself as one of the best to ever do it. He joined the Astros in 2017 via trade and continued his utter dominance of the opposition.
In what ended up being parts of five seasons in an Astros uniform, he won two Cy Young Awards (and earned a second place finish in 2018), made three All-Star Games and had a combined 2.26 ERA and 187 ERA+ in 102 starts for the club.
It's shocking how such a brief tenure can cement a pitcher into the "best in franchise history" discussion, but Verlander did exactly that. What's even more impressive is the fact that he made only five starts for the club in 2017 and one start in 2020. He's surely not going to go into the Hall of Fame with an Astros cap on, but he did everything right while he was on the club and would look great leading the rotation once again.