Verlander, Valdez, and the home stretch of the season

Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander throws against the Baltimore Orioles during the third inning of a baseball game Sunday, Aug. 28, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) (David J. Phillip, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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Happy Friday! Chancellor Johnson checking in with this week’s Astros newsletter.

The calendar has turned to September which means we are officially in the home stretch of what’s been a long but eventful regular season for the Astros. Only 31 games remaining before Houston moves on to the post-season to try and recapture World Series glory.

Verlander’s OK, Take a deep breath

Houston Astros ace, Justin Verlander was placed on the 15 day IL earlier this week after checking out on Sunday in just three innings due to a right calf injury.

”It was pretty immediate. I knew right away I shouldn’t stay in the game,” Verlander said.

Fortunately the Astros and the 39 year-old don’t believe it’s anything serious enough to keep him away when they will need him the most – the playoffs.

“It’s not nothing. I went on the IL, so it is disappointing, but on the spectrum of calf injuries go, this is as good of news as I could have gotten,” Verlander said.

A tough break for Verlander who was having a fantastic year and was a prime candidate for the AL Cy Young award. The 15 day IL allows him time to rest and recover, but the Astros starting pitching should be fine.

Framber Valdez, A man of quality

The Astros starting pitching has been their best asset. They’ve gotten great production from guys like Christian Javier and Jose Urquidy, but the breakout star for the Astros and across the MLB has to be Framber Valdez. The guy is rolling.

Valdez is up to 22 quality starts in a row and counting! Each time out, he just extends his own franchise record.

“He’s aware of the number of consecutive quality starts and that’s what’s pushing him. Let it push him. We’ll ride that,” Dusty Baker said.

Valdez’s emergence has allowed the Astros to have a dynamic 1-2 punch with a healthy Verlander.

“Those aren’t goals that a lot of pitchers have, but being able to reach that goal and break that goal, I feel very proud. I’m going to continue setting more goals and hopefully reach those and break those,” Valdez said through his interpreter.

As the Astros look to close the season strong, they have a firm grip on the American League as they are a full five games ahead of the trailing New York Yankees.

Barring a September collapse, the road to the World Series in the American League comes through Minute Maid Park!

Looking forward to seeing you guys at the Juice Box!

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