Better: Cristian Javier
Cristian Javier was a nightmare for the opposition in 2022. He started two combined no-hitters, struck out 11.7 batters per nine, cut down on his walks, held the opposition to a .170 batting average against and finished with a 2.54 ERA.
How does one go up from there?
Take one look at Javier's Baseball Savant profile and it will quickly make sense. Javier finished 2022 in the 98th percentile in xBA, 96th percentile in xERA/xwOBA, 96th percentile in xSLG, 94th percentile in strikeout rate and 82nd percentile in whiff rate and hard hit percentage.
His 2.43 xERA was actually lower than the 2.54 he posted.
With Justin Verlander now a New York met, Javier's days fluctuating between the rotation and bullpen are long gone. With the Astros fully committed to Javier as a starter, he can settled into a defined role in spring training and shove.
Whereas Framber Valdez was especially dependent on the ground ball, Javier will not be impacted by the banning of the shift, as only 25.2% of balls put in play off of him were on the ground.
Gear up for a monster year from Javier. It would hardly be surprising to see him hoisting the Cy Young at the end of the 2023 season.