JP France's lighthearted comments are a microcosm of Astros' rotation struggles

The Astros starting rotation has been problematic at the outset of the 2024 season.
Houston Astros starting pitcher J.P. France (68) delivers a pitch
Houston Astros starting pitcher J.P. France (68) delivers a pitch / Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

“Sometimes you’re the bug and sometimes you're the windshield. The windshield hurt today.” That was what Houston Astros starter JP France had to say following his last start. The right-hander was responsible for eight runs on eight hits against the the Texas Rangers last Friday night at Minute Maid Park.

France not only allowed eight runners to dent the plate, but he also walked four batters and struck out just three (one of those strikeouts should be credited to home plate umpire Angel Hernandez). That was France's third start of the season, and though his 4.10 FIP suggests that the 29-year-old has been on the unlucky side of the scoreboard, his 8.22 ERA says otherwise.

France's comments to reporters following the game last week are a microcosm of the Astros' starting rotation this season. The hope is, of course, that those injured arms return to the active roster sooner rather than later.

JP France's lighthearted comments are a microcosm of Astros' rotation struggles

To be fair, the Astros are currently without Luis Garcia, Framber Valdez, Justin Verlander, Jose Urquidy, and Lance McCullers Jr. One could make the argument that the list of injured starters represents 80% of Houston's starting rotation. But while the Astros are without several of their best starting pitchers, there's still no excuse to put up some the numbers the Houston faithful have seen during Joe Espada's first year at the helm.

The Chicago White Sox rotation (5.60 ERA) is the only group of starting pitchers in the American League with a worse team ERA than the Astros. Houston's rotation has allowed the third-most hits in the AL and lead all of Major League Baseball in walks (46).

Both Espada and GM Dana Brown will have some questions to answer in the near future. Verlander is expected to return from the IL later this week, and as bad as France has been, Hunter Brown has been worse. Look for Brown to get the axe.

Most Astros fans would've guessed that Ronel Blanco would be given the boot once Verlander returned to the rotation. But after a no-hitter and 0.86 ERA through three starts, it's safe to say Blanco's spot in the rotation is secure.

One of Brown, France, or rookie hurler Spencer Arrighetti will likely be sent down to the minors once Verlander returns, with another soon to follow after Valdez is activated from the IL. While the aforementioned trio more closely resembled the bug following their latest performances, at least Blanco and fellow starter Christian Javier have acted more like the windshield. Those two have a combined 1.21 ERA and 34 punch outs in 44.1 innings pitched.

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