Astros: Framber Valdez made a good first impression in his Major League debut
On Tuesday night in Seattle, the Astros relied upon a young left-handed pitcher who was recently promoted to Triple-A.
For the first time all season, the Astros were forced to use a sixth starting pitcher on Tuesday. That’s not something you’d see in today’s baseball by late August. Brad Peacock, in place of the injured Lance McCullers, got the nod as the starter, or “opener.”
Due to Peacock’s primary role in the bullpen though, Houston couldn’t have him pitch for more than an inning or two. In turn, a “bullpen day” was in the works! Due to a sudden illness from Mike Leake, the Mariners would appear to have their own “bullpen day”, too. If you’re fascinated by the “bullpen day” experiment like I am, it was definitely a pleasant surprise.
While I could go on about the grand bullpen experiment, I won’t today. Instead, I would like to concentrate on one pitcher: Framber Valdez, who made his major league debut on Tuesday night.
In case you weren’t aware, the Astros made two roster transactions before Tuesday’s game. First, Jose Altuve officially returned to the active roster for the first time since late July while Kyle Tucker was sent back down to Fresno. The other transaction was the call up of Valdez, the Astros’ eleventh overall prospect by MLB.com, in exchange for fellow top prospect Cionel Perez to be sent to Fresno.
The Astros needed a fresh arm in the bullpen, so Valdez was the choice despite only two appearances at the Triple-A level. He didn’t have to wait long to make his major league debut as Peacock was finished following 36 pitches over 1 2/3 innings. All in all, Valdez threw 67 pitches, 42 of which were for strikes. His curveball, in particular, looked crisp as it generated five swinging strikes and six called strikes.
While Valdez did allow a single to Mitch Haniger in the third inning with a 109.8 MPH exit velocity, he held the 19 batters he did face to an average exit velocity of 82.1 MPH. Valdez also appeared to be nervous at times, which is completely understandable during a major league debut. The main consequence was putting three opposing hitters on the base paths due to a hit-by-pitch.
Overall though, the Astros couldn’t ask for a better performance the 24-year old left-hander as he limited the Mariners to one unearned run and two hits over 4 1/3 innings. His contributions to the winning cause also allowed manager AJ Hinch to not use up his entire bullpen. Sometimes help comes from unexpected places. It only took until late August for the Astros to find out.