Speaking of Javier, It's been a mixed bag for "El Reptile" in 2023. Regarded as one of the main reliable anchors, both in long relief and starter last season, Javier was virtually unhittable. With a sparkling 2.54 ERA in 148.2 innings and nearly 200 strikeouts, he was the undeniable X factor for Houston.
His performance on the mound included two combined no-hitters: one in the regular season and the other in the World Series. Javier's breakout 2022 season subsequently led to a five-year, $64 million contract extension, indicating a Cy Young caliber season in 2023. Unfortunately, it was inconsistent. After starting the season strong in April and May (7-1, 2.84 ERA, 69.2 IP, 72 SO), Javier regressed significantly for the rest of the regular season, raising his ERA nearly two whole runs.
Concluding the season with a 4.56 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP across 156 innings, Cristian Javier has notably slipped from his 2022 performance. His last 2023 start against the Arizona Diamondbacks, however, offered a glimmer of the past, delivering six shutout innings. The Houston Astros' one-two punch of Justin Verlander and Framber Valdez is indeed a formidable barrier. What follows is Javier, rookie J.P. France, and Urquidy, whose season has been marred by injuries.
With France demonstrating signs of fatigue down the stretch and Urquidy lacking substantial play this year, the Astros are in dire need of the 2022 version of Javier. Supporting the elite duo of Verlander and Valdez is paramount for the team to bolster the rotation, ultimately enhancing their chance to win postseason ballgames.