The Astros rotation is desperate for some stability. Framber Valdez can't keep the blow up innings away. Cristian Javier can't make it past the fifth inning. Hunter Brown is at a career high in innings and is erratic start-to-start.
Aside from J.P. France, Houston has enjoyed little to no consistency from their rotation since July 1.
Their trade for Justin Verlander was a much needed, albeit costly, move. Verlander consistently goes deep into games and has a top gear that many in the game still can't match.
In his first three starts in Houston, he wasn't bad by any means, but he also wasn't the force we've been accustomed to seeing. His strikeouts have been down this year and he surrendered more hits than usual.
According to Verlander's postgame media last night, he made a mechanical adjustment between starts that unlocked what he had been looking for.
Verlander went 6 strong innings of work last night, allowing five hits, walking only one, and striking out a season high nine batters.
He also displayed the fire Martín Maldonado was alluding to the Astros needing in their team meeting two days ago, telling off his former bench coach, Alex Cora.
The mechanical adjustment he found between starts brought back the Verlander we've grown accustomed to seeing.
Verlander threw 60 fastballs last night at an average of 95.1 mph, 0.8 mph faster than his season average.
He generated 51 swings from the Red Sox last night, picking up 16 whiffs. His 31% whiff rate was 10% higher than his whiff rate entering the contest.
His dominance coupled with a resurgent Astros offense resulted in a 7-3 win. The Rangers again lost last night, their sixth-straight defeat, trimming the Astros deficit in the division to 0.5 games. With more starts like this from Verlander and the rest of the rotation, Houston will be back atop the AL West in no time.