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Houston Astros pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. remains optimistic despite the team losing Justin Verlander: "It's pretty tough but we always find a way"

Division Series - Chicago White Sox v Houston Astros - Game One
Division Series - Chicago White Sox v Houston Astros - Game One

The Houston Astros are looking to go back-to-back and bring another World Series title back to Houston. They'll have to do it without their ace and reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander. Verlander signed a two-year, $86.7 million contract with the New York Mets.

While most teams would become unhinged by learning that they lost their ace, most don't have the pitching depth Houston has. They had so many starting pitchers last season that they had to move Jose Urquidy and Christian Javier to the bullpen.

Starting pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. feels good about the guys behind him heading into next season. He thinks they'll find a way to have success with the absence of Verlander.

"Anytime you lose Justi or someone of his caliber... it's pretty tough but we always find a way," said Lance McCullers Jr.
#Astros starter Lance McCullers Jr. on the rotation heading into 2023: "Anytime you lose Justin or someone of his caliber...it's pretty tough but we always find a way." @KHOU https://t.co/Jp54bYOr5I

There's no denying the great season Verlander had in 2022 and how he impacted the Astros. He led the league in wins (18), win percentage (.818), ERA (1.75), strikeouts (220), WHIP (0.829), and H9 (6.0). He'll undoubtedly impact the New York Mets rotation next season.

Next season, the Houston Astros will likely roll out Framber Valdez, McCullers Jr., Christian Javier, Luis Garcia, and Hunter Brown. It's a sneaky good rotation that can shut down a lot of big-league bats.

Houston is excited to get a full season from Hunter Brown. He's the team's number-one prospect who made his debut last year. He went 2-0 last season with 20.1 innings pitched, striking out 22 batters. Brown possesses a high-90s fastball with a devastating curveball. He also possesses a solid slider and changeup.

I cannot wait to see Hunter Brown pitch this season! Look at this overlay of a 85mph Curveball and a 98mph Fastball (๐ŸŽฅ @PitchingNinja) https://t.co/wb0VMV5qKl

Brown has the stuff to become an ace in the league. His pitch mix keeps hitters on their toes. He'll be a fun pitcher to watch going into the 2023 season.

Can the Houston Astros repeat?

Chicago White Sox v Detroit Tigers
Chicago White Sox v Detroit Tigers

The Astros upgraded their roster when they signed veteran slugger Jose Abreu to a three-year deal near $60 million. It's a great move for both sides. Houston needed some extra power at first, and Abreu needed to get out of the cold in Chicago. As a member of the Chicago White Sox, Abreu would often struggle in the early months of the season when it was miserably cold.

Pair this with a potentially healthy Michael Brantley, and this team may be better than they were last season. Don't be surprised if the Houston Astros dominate the league again next season.

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Edited by Windy Goodloe
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