Houston Astros fans
we are officially LESS THAN TWO weeks away from the regular season! Final spring cuts are being made, the roster is beginning to round out, and competitions are being finalized. AJ Hinch has confirmed the order of the starting rotation for the first five games. Take a look below to see how it shapes out!
The Houston Astros open the regular season in Arlington against the Texas Rangers. The season is sure to start off with a bang against a division rival in a four game series. It has long been known that Justin Verlander will open the season on March 29th.
Dallas Keuchel was always the assumed guy to follow up Verlander in game two. The duo of Verlander and Keuchel, if healthy, should be one of the most dominant in the league next season. However, depending on match ups, these two have the potential to flip in the order.
After these two the order of the rotation could’ve gone a couple of different ways. However, the club has confirmed how the next three starts will fall.
Game 3 Starter
Lance McCullers will get the nod for the third start of the season. McCullers has some absolutely electric stuff. Take a look at the video below to see him work.
However, health has been his issue in the past. Hopefully, this season is the beginning of a healthy year. McCullers has ace ability, paired with health this season he could develop into a front-line starter for the club. McCullers is an advanced metrics darling with his RPM on his curveball.
Game 4 Starter
Gerrit Cole will make his Houston Astros regular season debut on April 1st. Had Pittsburgh not traded Cole to Houston, he likely would’ve been their opening day starter. Having an ace like Cole as your fourth starter is a luxury that few teams are able to afford. Regardless of his previous success and future potential, Cole will have to fight to regain his form after last year’s down year.
Game 5 Starter
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Lastly, Charlie Morton will start game five. Which, coincidentally, is also the home opener. The 34 year old journeyman had an incredibly solid bounce back year for the Houston Astros. Morton sealed the club’s first World Series championship by closing out the final 4 1/3 innings of game 7. Additionally, he retired the final eleven batters in order. Hinch, per Chandler Rome, seemed particularly excited to have Morton on the mound, “When we come home and we’re going to hang a flag and there’s going to be a lot of memories, some videos and some tributes to the World Series team,” Hinch said. “He got the last out of the World Series and it’ll be nice to have him on the mound in the first home game.” Needless to say, if you can have a world series hero as your fifth starter, you’re in good shape.
The rotation is set. Verlander, Keuchel, McCullers, Cole, and Morton form a formidable rotation. While talented arms like Collin McHugh, Brad Peacock, and Francis Martes missed the cut, we’ll likely still see starts from them at some point. With these confirmations, the pitching staff is mostly complete. Over the next two weeks, look for the final few spots to be sorted out.