Houston Astros: Framber Valdez should be considered as a No. 5 starter

Houston Astros pitcher Framber Valdez has officially clinched the final spot of the 25-man roster. He’ll be in the bullpen but should start. Why? Look.

Houston Astros fans — as I’m writing this, this team is partaking in their final match up of Spring Training against the Washington Nationals, the team they played first in the schedule and whom they’ll compete against last.

I’d imagine for scheduling purposes, it was easier for both teams as they share the facilities at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, Fla.  Let me tell you, they’re top-notch and the ballpark is state-of-the-art.

I had the opportunity to go catch my team in Spring Training the first season they moved to Palm Beach in 2017 and it’s a huge upgrade over Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee, Fla.  I’m not saying their old facilities were substandard — they were actually quite formidable — but that new ballpark is cutting-edge, with all of the bells and whistles you could imagine.

But enough of the flattery of their Spring Training facilities, let’s talk about the 25-man roster that’s now set in stone for the Houston Astros.

This year’s 25-man roster was a lot easier to construct as this team has the pieces assembled to contend for yet another World Series title.

I’m typically intrigued with the player who makes the final roster spot for the team and this season it was Framber Valdez.

Valdez, 25, who signed as a amateur free agent back in 2015, has worked up his ranks in the farm and is finally in the Big Show.  Valdez is the type of ballplayer that I love — not necessarily the pedigreed-type, a long-shot, an outsider and found a way to claw into doing what he loves professionally.

Framber was amazingly calm in the moments that he’d be in the game last season, the first of which he had any major-league work, he didn’t get rattled and always remained focused on striking his opponents out.

The Dominican left-handed hurler was a late-season call-up and provided a tremendous bridge between some of the injuries that were sustained by their pitchers last season.  He performed wonderfully — he managed a 4-1 record, tossed 34 strikeouts coupled with a 2.19 ERA to boot through the 37.0 innings he appeared in through eight games.

Although his Spring Training performance negatively distanced himself from his numbers back in 2018, I think he’ll be a valuable weapon in the starting lineup.

I truly feel that Brad Peacock is a much better reliever than he is a starter but because of his experience, he will be the 5th starter to which I’m sure Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Wade Miley and Collin McHugh will fill out the rest of the rotation.  And maybe there is a slim chance that they can get Dallas Keuchel back?  I doubt it as with the latest spending spree this team is on, I don’t

think there’s enough money around that whet DK’s appetite.

But I think we’re missing on an opportunity here to allow Valdez to be a starter — or even spot-start at least — because I feel he can be just as effective as Peacock.

Peacock had a solid Spring — he possessed a 2-0 record, tossed 14 strikeouts with a 1.04 WHIP but allowed five earned runs and one homer through 16.1 innings pitched so far.  So there’s no question that he deserves to start if needed but I’d like to see Valdez out there more.

Valdez’s devastating 92 mph-sinker can do some catastrophic damage if he gets the opportunity to unleash it on a regular basis.

Like most of the Houston Astros pitching staff, Valdez throws an effective curve ball that sits at about 80 mph.  Both pitches have good velocity and the contact usually results in a lot of grounders and strikes.  His 93 mph four-seam fastball should be reveled as well.

Framber can also go much deeper into games and easily notch six or seven innings with no sweat.  We all know that once things get to about the fifth-inning for Peacock, he starts to melt like a snow cone in Phoenix and fall apart.  Having Framber as a starter saves an extra arm that has be used a little longer when they’re subbing in for Peacock.

But ultimately, Framber’s time on the bump is largely going to be situational and highly-dependent on the matchups as well as his fellow teammates’ health status.

However, I’m throwing my name in the hat for him to start eventually.  Another case can be made for Josh James because of the amazing amount of gas that he throws but I’ll have to save that for another day.

Valdez has posted a 4-3 record, a 3.52 ERA along with nine strikeouts and a 1.44 WHIP but allowed six earned runs, fanned five and allowed no homers through 15.1 innings within six games — four starts — in Spring Training this season.