1st place: Framber Valdez
Framber Valdez, 26, has spent parts of the last two seasons pitching in the majors for the Astros. In his time in Triple-A during the 2019 season, the Dominican southpaw struck out a whopping 69 batters in less than 45 innings pitched. At the major league level, however, Valdez has experienced more spotty success.
After making quite an impression in 2018 with a 2.19 ERA over five starts and three relief appearances, Valdez followed up with a 5.86 ERA over eight starts, and 18 relief appearances in
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2019. That 2019 campaign saw Valdez strike out nearly a batter per inning, but also give up 44 walks in less than 71 innings pitched.
Despite Valdez’s struggles, the Astros nearly doubled his major league playing time to 70.2 innings in 2019, up from pitching only 37 innings in his rookie year. This suggests that the Astros like Valdez’s movement on his changeup and high spin rate curveball, in addition to his low- to mid-90s fastball.
Though not coming off of a solid season, look for Valdez to be the frontrunner for a potential left-handed starter spot in Baker’s five-man rotation. As good as the lefty’s numbers were in a small sample size in 2018, it remains in the Astros’ financial interest—with Valdez’s relatively inexpensive contract—to see if he can find his 2018 form.
If the Astros traded for a left-handed pitcher, who would you want to see in Houston? Please leave your comments below.