Astros rookie emergence raises the stakes for rotation, playoffs

Coming off a series win against the Rangers, the Astros are two games back in the AL West with about two months to go in the regular season.

And as we look at the team's starting rotation, the pitcher with the best ERA is no longer Astros' ace Framber Valdez. Rookie JP France holds the best ERA of the starters at 2.87.

While France certainly passes the eye test and has been the club's most consistent starter as of late, he's only pitched about 85 innings this year. It will be interesting to see if he's still as effective over the next couple of months.

We've seen Framber, Cristian Javier, and Hunter Brown wear down a bit over the last several weeks. And they've all pitched over 100 innings to date.

If France is able to push through without wearing down, what happens in the postseason? Would Dusty Baker slot France in as the No. 2 starter?

And if France can finish the season strong with an ERA in the two's, could he be in the Rookie of the Year conversation?

Be sure to watch the video above as we share our thoughts on Houston's impressive rookie pitcher, and much more!

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After another poor performance from former Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson, the Cleveland Browns' season is starting to look like an uphill climb. Pro Bowl running back Nick Chubb is out for the year, and Cleveland fans aren't too pleased with the way Watson is playing, especially considering the massive contract extension he signed with the team. And we didn't even get to the off the field drama that comes with Watson.

However, Houston fans are invested in the Browns' season outcome as well, with the Texans holding the Browns' first round pick in 2024, and having sent their own first rounder to the Cardinals in the Will Anderson trade.

So each loss for the Browns, means a better draft pick for the Texans!

For Houston, it looks like they have their QB of the future in CJ Stroud. And he'll be on a less expensive rookie contract for the next several years, giving the Texans more cap space to upgrade the roster.

With all of this in mind, is it fair to question if the Texans dodged a bullet when Watson demanded a trade?

DeMeco Ryans vs. Lovie Smith

Plus, we're only two games into the season, but Lovie Smith's defense was much better (with a similar roster) than what DeMeco Ryans' defense has shown thus far, and DeMeco has the benefit of Will Anderson rushing the QB.

Are the struggles on defense more about the roster GM Nick Caserio has put together, or does this slow start fall on DeMeco?

Don't miss the video above as we break it all down!

If you enjoy the videos, subscribe to our new channel SportsMap Texans on YouTube.

And listen to The Bench with John Granato and Lance Zierlein weekday mornings on ESPN 97.5 and 92.5 FM.

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