One of the biggest questions surrounding the Houston Astros heading into 2023 involved replacing Justin Verlander. Thus far, they have not missed him.
The Astros rotation was expected to use their depth as they looked to replace Verlander. Instead, prospect Hunter Brown has stepped in, replicating the future Hall of Famer’s beginning to the 2022 season.
Expectations for Hunter Brown skyrocketing on Houston Astros
Brown had a memorable major league debut in 2022. He had posted an impressive 0.89 ERA and a 1.082 WHiP over his 20.1 innings, striking out 22 batters with seven walks. His excellent performance over those final few weeks led to a spot on the postseason roster, with Brown earning a World Series ring.
His excellence has carried over into this season. He has a 1.93 ERA and a 1.018 WHiP over his 18.2 innings, striking out 17 batters with six walks to begin the season. Verlander, meanwhile, had posted a 1.89 ERA and a 0.737 WHiP over the 19 innings spanning his first three outings of 2022, striking out 20 batters with just four walks. Those numbers are not that much better than what Brown has produced at the start of this season.
Does this mean that Brown is going to become the next Verlander? Not necessarily. Verlander is going to end up in Cooperstown whenever he decides his career is over. Brown, meanwhile, has all of ten major league appearances to his name. He has dominated thus far, but still has a long way to go before he can truly be considered Verlander’s replacement. Ten starts certainly do not make a career, no matter how impressive they may be. But so far, so good for the Astros.
Hunter Brown has essentially replicated Justin Verlander’s start to the 2022 campaign. The Houston Astros have not missed a step in his absence.