Over the last six playoff rund for the Astros, they've made deep runs on the backs of dominant starting pitchers. Year after year they've had an elite rotation that keeps runs off the board.
This year, their recipe for success is different. The lineup is lethal and the bullpen is lights out, but the starting rotation has lots of questions. Cristian Javier is a shell of himself, Hunter Brown has regressed as his workload increases, José Urquidy has an ERA approaching 6, and Lance McCullers Jr. and Luis Garcia are done for the year.
Aside from Justin Verlander and Framber Valdez, there aren't any pitchers in the rotation that generate a great deal of confidence with the fate of the season on the line. So how might they line up their rotation to give them their best shot at repeating as World Series champs? Let's dive in.
This is how the Astros should set their playoff rotation.
Game 1: Framber Valdez
The Framchise should be Houston's Game 1 starter. Yes, Framber Valdez had an outrageously bad month of July, posting a 7.29 ERA across four starts. Aside from that stretch, he's been one of the best pitchers in the American League.
This is nothing new for Valdez. He goes deep into games and is a proven playoff performer. Valdez remains a quality start machine.
It's likely JV gets the ball in Game 1, but twice last postseason he laid an egg and put the Astros behind the eight-ball. Valdez holds a 3.32 ERA this year with a 1.09 WHIP. Framber should get the start in Game 1. He gives the Astros their best chance at jumping out 1-0 in a series, and also will keep the bullpen fresh with his ability to go deep into a game.