The Houston Astros gave Cionel Perez a reprieve from last years debut. This time around, he did not disappoint in his first appearance of the year.
Standing at 5-11, the Cuban left-hander debuted last year for the Astros in a losing effort against the Athletics. Perez‘s 2018 was, speckled, to say the least. Some outings showed what he could bring to the table, others magnified his flaws and showed there was still work to be done.
On Friday, the Houston Astros were desperate for relief help, after a rough showing in Seattle. Brady Rogers, Reymin Guduan, Will Harris, Ryan Pressly, and Robert Osuna all faltered in one way or another during the four-game stretch in the Emerald City.
The aforementioned Rogers was sent down after a Jason Jennings type inning in favor of the young Perez. This time around Perez didn’t let his second chance slip through his fingers.
Through his first three innings in relief yesterday, Perez not only mowed down the Orioles, but he also did something he hasn’t been able to do, and that’s dial-up his fastball to 97 mph consistently. All this lead to his first major league win, in his first major league game of 2019.
The #8 overall prospect in the Astros’ system works with a fastball, slider, changeup, curve repertoire. As he showed last night, his fastball can reach upwards of 97 mph, his slider sits in the mid-80s as a nice 1-2 punch between the two. He will need to tighten up his changeup and curve, but when he does, he possesses the tools to be a weapon out of the pen.
In a bullpen desperate for a left-handed pitcher to show some sort of dominance, Perez could very well be that answer. With an Astros team that is also looking to build from within, Jeff Luhnow will be very happy about his first look at his new toy.
Framber Valdez looks to break out also:
Framber Valdez toes the rubber today, as he looks to continue his torrid streak as of late. Through his last 11.1 innings, Valdez has neutralized runs, only allowing one earned run, dating back to May 12th.
Valdez made his presence felt during the June 3rd Mariners game, as he pitched a stellar four frames of only two-hit ball.
Working mainly as a ground-ball-first pitcher, Valdez can miss some bats. This will be Valdez’s first start of the season. He will look to mirror Perez’s success, and try to mow down one of the leagues worst offenses.
The 25-year-old, Dominican Republic product works from the left side with a sinking fastball, which is his bread and butter. His 70% GB rate is evident by that. He follows it up with a slow-curve that hitters tend to get on top of and shoot into the ground.
If Valdez can keep his walk rate down, 4.5 BB/9 through 26 innings this year, then Valdez should be successful. At least until McHugh or another option provides relief in the 5th rotation spot.