Verlander Out, Tommy John

It is no surprise the Houston Astros have had a weird year but to lose ace future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander? That’s the one that stings the worst.

The 37-year-old right handed hurler announced Saturday on his Instagram that he will be undergoing Tommy John surgery. News that many Astros fans were not ready to hear.

“In my simulated game a couple days ago, I felt something in my elbow, and after looking at my MRI and conversing with some of the best doctors in the world, we’ve determined that Tommy John surgery is my best option,” Verlander said via Instagram.

He has been on the injury list with a right forearm strain. He had groin surgery in March and would have missed the start of the season if the current COVID-19 pandemic hadn’t delayed it.

Last season, he was 21-6 with a 2.58 ERA and collected 300 strikeouts. He was later named the American League Cy Young Award winner for the second time.

So who steps in?

Here’s a quick look at who the Astros have left in their rotation with the season ending and playoffs beginning:

Zack Greinke

STAT LINE: 3-2, 3.90 ERA, 62 K in 61.1 IP over 11 starts.

Now honestly Greinke has been one of the Astros’ most consistent pitchers and has settled into a nice groove after a slow start to the year. The eccentric veteran had gotten his ERA down to as low as 1.84 before he gave up at least three runs or more in his past six starts. We like Greinke. Fans, players, and writers all know what Greinke can do when he’s on fire. If he can keep it together and show us the guy we all know, there isn’t a single worry about him.

Lance McCullers Jr.

STAT LINE: 3-2, 4.87 ERA, 40 K in 44.1 IP over nine starts.

McCullers returned this season from missing due to Tommy John. He has been quite the variety bag this season, having two 7-inning scoreless starts and a few rough ones including a game where he gave up eight earned runs to the Diamondbacks. The playoff experience should give him an advantage but it’s clear that he’s still fighting to find his best self. I’m a big believer than McCullers can come back and be the man everyone expected him to be on the mound.

Cristian Javier

STAT LINE: 4-2, 3.33 ERA, 48 K in 48.2 IP over nine starts/11 appearances total.

The rookie has arguably been the Astros most consistent starter hands down, pitching to a 3.33 ERA through his start against the Diamondbacks, where He went four innings, giving up only two runs with six strikeouts. The fireball pitcher often mixes his speeds well and has more good starts than bad so far. He’s a valuable piece for the Houston team as a starter or in the bullpen if need be — which in a playoff run, it might be for the best.

Framber Valdez

STAT LINE: 4-3, 3.82 ERA, 68 K in 63.2 IP over nine starts/10 appearances total.

Despite a rough first outing, he has lasted deeper into games than any other starting pitcher for the Astros. The lefty’s K/9 numbers are strong, and his ERA would look quite different if he hadn’t given up eight earned runs against the Angels. In August, Valdez had a 1.85 ERA, and his strikeout weapons have played out well all summer. If he can keep his mindset clear, Valdez is valuable to Houston.

Jose Urquidy

STAT LINE: 1-1, 2.70 ERA, 10 K in 16.2 IP over three starts.

After battling back from COVID-19 after an impressive rookie season in 2019, Urquidy is getting there. He struggled to get swings and misses in his first two starts, but was still impressive. Against the Rangers, he went seven innings of a one run ball game and struck out seven. It’s likely he will be the Astros #3 starter if healthy. Keyword, healthy.

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

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