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It’s almost time for the long-anticipated Opening Day and I couldn’t be more excited about the Houston Astros’ pitching staff. Today, I’m starting a fun little project that I’ve had my eye on, exploring the top pitches on the Astros’ roster ahead of the new season. What makes a pitch great? Is it raw power? Consistent results? Swing-and-miss potential? In this series of posts, we’ll break down each pitch and consider all the factors. We’ll start with the best four-seam fastballs, a vital pitch in any pitcher’s arsenal. So, Astros fans, let’s dive in!

Starting at number 5 on our list is Rafael Montero. Some might argue that the Astros overpaid to keep him on their team, but Montero showed promise last season when he started to elevate his four-seam fastball. By placing it further up in the strike zone, Montero found more success, generating more swings and misses and limiting opposing batters. Montero is a great example of how the Astros encourage their pitchers to experiment and find what works best for them.

Now let’s take a look at number 4, Ryne Stanek. Though walks are still a bit of an issue for Stanek, his four-seam fastball is one of the best on the team. By using it more often and placing it higher in the strike zone, Stanek was able to turn his fastball into a viable option for striking out opponents. The Astros clearly have a pattern when it comes to utilizing the four-seam fastball, and it’s paid off for Stanek.

At number 3, we have Hunter Brown. Though he’s only had a small sample of playing time with the Astros, Brown’s four-seam fastball has already made an impression. It’s among the best on the staff, with negative-three runs according to run values. Brown doesn’t rely solely on elevation to make his fastball effective, choosing instead to mix things up with its placement. There’s certainly potential for even more growth and development from Brown in the upcoming season.

Coming in at number 2 is Bryan Abreu. His four-seam fastball averaged out at an impressive 97.2 miles per hour last season, making it a valuable asset for the Astros. Though its results weren’t as noteworthy as some teammates, his fastball serves as a great setup pitch for his dominant slider. There’s certainly room for improvement in his fastball’s placement, but there’s no denying its potential.

Finally, we come to our number 1 pick, Cristian Javier. Without Justin Verlander in the mix, Javier’s four-seam fastball claims the top spot. His “invisiball” has been a crucial component of his success over the years, and the lefty continues to improve and evolve as a pitcher. By locating his fastball effectively and generating deceptive backspin, Javier has found a way to make up for his lack of top-end velocity. His four-seam fastball is just one aspect of his impressive pitching repertoire, making him a true star on the Astros’ team.

In conclusion, the Astros have some seriously impressive four-seam fastballs on their roster. From Montero’s experimentation to Javier’s incredible deception, each pitcher brings something unique to the table. It’ll be exciting to see how each of these players continues to evolve and improve over the coming season. Here’s to a successful 2023 for the Astros’ pitching staff!