END OF THE LINE
Here are Astros limited, but powerful options to course-correct pitching
The Astros are back on track with two critical wins over the Boston Red Sox, and while Justin Verlander was in classic form on Tuesday night (6 scoreless innings, 9Ks), Cristian Javier struggled through 5 innings once again on Monday.
JV's win over Boston was the first scoreless start from a starting pitcher since Framber Valdez through a no-hitter against the Guardians on August 1.
Fortunately for Houston, the Astros came away with a victory in Javier's start, but his issues are clearly not behind him. So what can the team do at this stage in the season? We're well past the trade deadline, so the answer will have to come internally.
It would be one thing if it were just a player or two showing some fatigue during the dog days of summer, but it's been pervasive across the entire rotation outside of JP France, and now hopefully Verlander.
JV said after the game that he made some mechanical adjustments that seem to have made a big difference for him, giving him more command and velocity with his fastball, and better action on his breaking-pitches. Verlander's always thinking about pitching, and this tweak to his mechanics was effective.
Which has us wondering, where are the pitching coaches in all of this? How much of the blame do they deserve for the current slump in the starting rotation? Much has been made of the injuries the Astros have sustained as reasons for the current state of the rotation, but without these injuries, JP France never gets to show what he can do in the big leagues. And one could argue he's pitched better than Jose Urquidy, or Luis Garcia have ever pitched.
Plus, the Astros aren't the only ones dealing with injuries to their pitching staff. The Tampa Bay Rays have lost 4 of their 5 starters to injury this year.
A controversial alternative
Finally, if things continue in this manner and the Astros still make the postseason, how will JP France be deployed? Dusty Baker loves his veterans, but he has to consider starting JP if he pitches like this moving forward. We're not saying he should start over JV or Framber, but it's hard to argue against him being the third or fourth starter come playoff time.
But will Dusty actually do it? Only time will tell.
Be sure to check out the video above as we lay out everything mentioned above and much more!
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