H-Town Run Tourist

New Year. Volunteer with Hermann Park!

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Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at info@tourismgymhtx.com. Follow her on Twitter @jovanabernathy. Instagram @TourismGymHtx. Facebook @TourismGymHtx

The beginning of the year is the time that everyone is more open to trying new experiences and doing the right thing. As the H-Town Run Tourist, I am always on the look out for these opportunities. Recently, I ran into one that you may want to add to your goal list. When I was researching for my article for Hermann Park, I learned that Hermann Park has many ways that you can volunteer. Which one will you try first?

If you have not been to Hermann Park recently, I suggest you take a stroll through the Japanese Gardens and the McGovern Centennial Gardens. Enjoy the beautiful foliage and take lots of pictures. Do you ever wonder how those gardens are kept up? By the wonderful volunteers that offer their helping hands to keep the park clean. Hermann Park needs you to assist the resident gardeners with weeding, trimming, planting, harvesting, trail maintenance, and dead-heading roses bushes. What a sneaky way to learn how to garden. Volunteer days are from 9am-12pm on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

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Annual Kite Festival

On March 29 2020, people will flock to the hill at Miller Outdoor Theatre with the same goal in mind. Let's go fly a kite. During this outdoor event that is free for all ages, inner loopers, tourists, and people from all parts of Houston and surrounding areas bring their best looking kites. This event draws thousands of people. As you can tell, it needs your help to set up tents and tables for the vendors, help people find their way around the park. assist in the many activities, help people actually fly their kites, be a stage hand, and of course cleanup and breakdown.

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Hermann Park Run

Every year, Hermann Park hosts the Park Run which is a 10K, 5K, and 1K Kid's Run throughout the park. This year's run will be held in October. Hermann Park needs you to help with setup, booths, and give directions to runners and their family and friends. There will be lots of new runners that need extra cheering and kids that need to see funny signs and be handed gummy bears.

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Park to Port Bike Ride

Ride. Party. Ride. This annual 20 mile bike ride gives riders a unique view of Houston. It starts in the early morning from Bayou Parkland, goes along Brays Bayou Greenway Trail to the Port of Houston. Once there, its party-party with music snacks, and drinks before the ride back. This event is for all ages and skill levels. This event will be happening in November 2020. Hermann Park needs you to help setup the event, booths and hand out water and of course, cheer riders.

Don't be suprised if you see me there or hopefully, we can volunteer together this year. If you want to do your own shift or organize your own group, please contact the Program and Events Coordinator, Emily Chambers at EChambers@HermannPark.org. If you can not volunteer, I'm sure they accept yo' dolla dolla bills ya'll!

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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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