Let’s Hold Off the ‘Best Rotation Ever’ Talk

Photo Credit: Karen Warren | Houston Chronicle

by: Eric Boston @EricBoston3

The Houston Astros' starting rotation is doing something absolutely incredible right now.

The World Series Champions brought home the trophy in 2017 thanks in no small part to their starting rotation. They are poised to defend that title after making that strength even stronger during the off-season.

Gerrit Cole joined Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel to make a three-headed monster that can outduel any trio other MLB teams may trot out. Those three are going to make beating the ‘Stros in a playoff series extremely difficult.

And that is not taking anything away from both Lance McCullers Jr. and Charlie Morton, the later is currently in the American League Cy Young talk.

This rotation leads the Majors in ERA, Strikeouts, Innings Pitched and Batting Average allowed. The crazy thing is that it appears completely sustainable!

This historic performance (that actually started with last year’s World Series run) has caused many people to engage in the “Best Ever” discussion about the Houston rotation. I get it. They are easily the best in the sport currently and probably the best we have seen in years.

But I am not buying the 'best ever talk' at this point.
When you talk about great rotations of the past you have to look at teams like the Dodgers of the late 80’s and the early 2000’s Athletics.

For my money though, it is hard to beat the big three of the Atlanta Braves during the 90’s. The trio of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz set the standard for dominant rotations. 

I’ll buy into the argument that Verlander-Keuchel-Cole are more overpowering, but there is one vital reason that I don’t think they are better than Maddux-Glavine-Smoltz. That word is longevity.

The Braves dominated the National League East winning 14 consecutive division titles, and their pitching trio was a large part of that. The trio won a combined six National League Cy Young Awards as well as a World Series title in 1995. They did something that was equally as impressive to what the Astros are doing now but did so for nearly a decade.

That is something the Houston big three is going to have difficulty doing - mainly due to Verlander’s age. He is currently in his age 35 season and it is difficult to think that he has another eight years plus left in the tank. Perhaps he does, but the likelihood is not great.

In today’s society, we are always looking for the new G.O.A.T. When something incredible is taking place, like it currently is in Houston, we want to somehow tie ourselves into history. Sometimes we need to just enjoy the experience and wait until it is all said and done before we place athletes on pedestals. 

This Houston Astros’ rotation is delivering must-see baseball every game; it is great for the sport. However, they have a long way to go to be the all-time best.

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