MLB Network: Here are the biggest reasons Houston Astros will continue to “ascend”


One of the biggest factors that helped the Astros win a World Series title last season had to be the brilliant pitching. Both the starters and the bullpen paved the way for Houston to hoist the trophy at the end of the year.

But as we look to the 2023 season, how much will the loss of Justin Verlander impact the Astros? Any team that loses the previous year's Cy Young winner is likely to experience a bit of regression. However, no team is more equipped than the Astros to move on from a future Hall of Famer and not miss a beat.

Framber Valdez: 2.82 ERA, Cristian Javier: 2.54 ERA, Lance McCullers: 2.27 ERA, Luis Garcia: 3.72 ERA, Jose Urquidy 3.94 ERA, Hunter Brown: 0.89 ERA (only 20.1 innings pitched).

What makes this Astros staff so impressive starts with the amount of high leverage playoff experience these pitchers have already experienced. Even rookie pitcher Hunter Brown has dealt with some big moments with a lot on the line. The other factor that the crew from MLB Network points out, is the entire rotation is approaching or in the prime of their careers.

And let's not forget about the best bullpen in baseball. All the key pieces are coming back for the Astros, which has the team poised for another deep playoff run.

When you consider the overall strength of the Astros pitching staff, they conclude that the Astros are on a trajectory to “ascend” despite losing Verlander to the Mets.

Be sure to check out the video above to watch the full breakdown!

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Astros look to avoid the sweep Thursday afternoon. Photo by Jay Biggerstaff/Getty Images.

Spencer Arrighetti's major league debut for the Houston Astros hardly went as planned.

The team's top pitching prospect was tagged for seven runs in the third inning of an 11-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday night.

“I would say a little bit of nerves (and) a lot of emotions,” Arrighetti said. “When you want something that bad your whole life, you want it to be perfect. You want it to go really smoothly and you want everything to feel good. But (the) reality is before the game I was a little bit of an anxious mess. I feel like I had to work harder to get my emotions down a little bit.”

Called up from Triple-A Sugar Land to fill an opening in Houston's injury-depleted rotation, Arrighetti held the Royals off the scoreboard while laboring through the first two innings.

But he unraveled in the third as Kansas City sent 11 batters to the plate.

“He started the game throwing the ball well,” Astros manager Joe Espada said. “That third inning kind of got away from him. He started leaving some balls over the plate. I felt like everything they put in play kind of fell for them.”

Arrighetti allowed seven runs, seven hits and three walks in three innings. He struck out three and threw 47 of 79 pitches for strikes.

The 24-year-old right-hander was the Astros’ minor league pitcher of the year in 2023. He went 9-7 with a 4.40 ERA in 124 2/3 innings over 28 appearances, including 21 starts. He recorded 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings and a 2.39 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

“We’ve seen the increase in (velocity) the last year or two. And when he executes his pitches, he can work both sides of the plate. And if he does that, he’ll be in good shape,” Espada said before the game.

Arrighetti was born in New Mexico and went to high school in Texas before the Astros chose him in the sixth round of the 2021 amateur draft out of Louisiana at Lafayette.

He had 10 strikeouts in 8 1/3 innings at Triple-A this season, allowing two runs and seven hits with seven walks in two starts.

“Knowing that you belong is very important,” Espada said before the game. “I think he knows he belongs. (He’ll) not try to do too much, stay calm, let your defense help you out, execute your pitches and trust the plan. I think he’s capable of doing those things.”

To make room for Arrighetti on the roster, Houston optioned right-hander Wander Suero to Sugar Land.

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