THE SEC REPORT

LSU lays out a path to the National Championship after defeating Georgia, and the rest of the SEC bowl schedule

Born with a comic book in one hand and a remote control in the other, Cory DLG is the talent of Conroe's very own Nerd Thug Radio and Sports. Check out the podcast replay of the FM radio show at www.nerdthugradio.com!

LAST WEEKEND

The season ended with a massive beating in the SEC championship game in Atlanta as LSU smacked around Georgia. Joe Burrow put the period at the end of his Heisman Statement at this game after he threw for four more touchdowns in a lop sided 37-10 victory. The other national implication coming from this game is seeding for the College Football Playoff for the National Championship, with LSU having been moved down to second (in a bizarre move to many) earlier in the season, the committee did wind up picking LSU to be the #1 seed after conference championship weekend.

PLAYERS FROM THE GAME

Jake Fromm, Quarterback of Georgia, wasn't ready for the big time and played inconsistently in a game that Georgia can never seemingly win, the SEC championship game, with two interceptions and only one passing touchdown.

Joe Burrow, Quarterback of LSU, this was a great game on a great stage and this is the most proof so far that there is no doubt that Burrow is a big time quarterback deserving of all the national love and accolades this season.

D'Andre Swift, Runningback of Georgia, he'd been the other big name coming into this game and because of injuries from the Georgia Tech game was really unable to get going.

AND NOW...

So now for LSU the stage is set, December 28th in Atlanta again, they'll play in the Peach Bowl against Oklahoma and the winner goes on to the National Championship to play the winner of Clemson/Ohio State. The likelihood of LSU making it is good but now the question becomes, who do they play? Is there a match up they'd like to see more? My prediction is LSU against Clemson for a close LSU victory in the National Title game.

SEC BOWL SCHEDULE

Texas A&M (vs Oklahoma State) 12/27 Academy Sports + Outdoor Bowl Texas

LSU (vs Oklahoma) 12/28 Peach Bowl

Mississippi State (vs Louisville) 12/30 Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl

Florida (vs Virginia) 12/30 Capital One Orange Bowl

Kentucky (vs Virginia Tech) 12/31 Belk Bowl

Alabama (vs Michigan) 1/1 Vrbo Citrus Bowl

Auburn (vs Minnesota) 1/1 Outback Bowl

Georgia (vs Baylor) 1/1 Allstate Sugar Bowl

Tennessee (vs Indiana) 1/2 TaxSlayer Gator Bowl

Feel free to check out my brand-new comic book Another Day at the Office or buy a shirt from Side Hustle Ts where some proceeds help people struggling with cancer or listen to Nerd Thug Radio. Thoughts, complaints, events and comments can be sent to corydlg@gmail.com.

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Cristian Javier has proven he's a quality starting pitcher. Composite image by Jack Brame.

The 2022 regular season is nearing its end and while for the Houston Astros the true test will begin in the postseason, now is a good time to look ahead at what the team’s starting rotation could look like in 2023.

The big question will be whether long-time ace Justin Verlander returns to the team. Heading into 2022, there was doubt whether he would even be with the Astros coming off Tommy John surgery. Verlander re-signed with Houston on a two-year deal with a player option for 2023.

His production in 2022 has been nothing short of sensational. Verlander has the most wins for the Astros with a week left in the season. He has a 1.82 ERA, 0.84 WHIP and 5.2 wins above replacement. More importantly for both Verlander and the Astros, is that he has played in 26 games and counting this season.

Whether Verlander remains with the Astros will likely depend on whether Houston is willing to spend. It is highly likely Verlander opts out of his player option following the strong 2022 campaign he has put together and looks for a bigger payday. Houston has shown it is not afraid to let key players walk in the offseason, so let’s take a look at a potential rotation with and without Verlander.

If the 39-year-old, who will be 40 by the time the 2023 regular season starts, stays with the Astros, he will undoubtedly be either the No. 1 or No. 2 pitcher in the rotation along with Framber Valdez, who is right behind Verlander in wins this season at 16. If Verlander leaves, Valdez should be the new Astros ace at No. 1.

Behind those two should be pitcher Lance McCullers Jr., who in seven games in 2022 has a 2.38 ERA and has cooled the concerns about his right flexor tendon strain being a long-term concern. He suffered the injury last postseason.

After those three, things begin to get interesting. Let’s say Houston opts to stay with a six-man rotation. The fourth starter could be Luis Garcia, who has a 3.90 ERA in 2022. The 25-year-old has shown he is more than a capable starter for the Astros.

The big question is if Hunter Brown can lock himself a spot in the rotation. Numbers wise, he makes a solid case to be more than Houston’s fifth starter as he has garnered 1.13 ERA through four appearances and two starts.

Brown’s starts have been against the Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers, so there is a bit of a caveat there, but the upside undoubtedly should put him in the conversation for a starting role in 2023.

If Verlander leaves Houston, it should be more of a guarantee that a spot in the rotation as a starter for Brown is locked. Another factor in whether Brown is a starter could be if the Astros keep Dusty Baker as manager. Baker has shown at times he is willing to side with veterans over younger talent.

Other factors in Brown’s role will also be Jose Urquidy and Cristian Javier. Urquidy has a 3.88 ERA in 28 games, all of which have been starts. Javier has a 2.65 ERA in 29 appearances, 24 of which have been starts.

Javier’s role for the Astros the last couple of years has involved starting and coming out of the bullpen, but this season he has shown that he is a capable starter. Based on this season’s play, Javier should have the edge for a starting spot, which leaves the question, what should the Astros do with Urquidy?

If Verlander walks, and Houston opts to keep a six-man rotation, then he just slides in and becomes starter No. 6. If Verlander stays, then is he willing to accept a role out of the bullpen, or do the Astros continue to use Brown out of the bullpen? Over the course of the season, both Brown and Urquidy will undoubtedly have chances to start throughout 2023.

Because of the long grind of an MLB schedule, the Astros should not trade whoever doesn’t get a starting role if Verlander stays, but how likely is it that it is even a problem for Houston? Regardless of who leaves or stays, the Astros should also continue with a six-man rotation because over the course of 162 games, it is what is best for your starters.

If the Astros bring back general manager James Click, based on how the Astros have seen players like George Springer and Carlos Correa walk in the past under his leadership, it is likely Verlander leaves Houston, but at the same time, many didn’t believe he was going to be back at all for 2022.

One thing is for sure, the Astros have a great problem to have. So many starting pitcher candidates, many of whom can be under team control for several years. So even if Verlander walks, an unforeseen injury happens, or a player ends up being disgruntled, Houston has more than enough flexibility to remain among the American Leagues’s best.

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