Framber Valdez: D+
Valdez is another rookie pitcher that didn’t have the breakout season everyone had hoped for. After the success he had in the late-season call-up in 2018, the expectations were very high for Valdez.
He appeared in 18 games in relief for a total of 35 innings. In those games out of the pen, Valdez had the highest WHIP of 1.63 and the third-highest ERA of 4.63 among the relievers with at least 25 innings.
Like James, Valdez had trouble getting his pitches over the plate. He carried one of the highest BB/9IP (5.40) along with a very low K/BB (1.38). But on top of those numbers, he was also allowing opponents to have a fairly high batting average of .265. When you combine all of those, you’re not going to have great results.
I will give him credit though, it had to make things more difficult for him with the inconsistent way he was utilized. He bounced back and forth between Houston and Round Rock three times during the season. Valdez was also thrust into a starting position quite a bit in the second half of the season due to injuries in the starting rotation. The results were disastrous and had to shake up his confidence somewhat.
Hopefully, Valdez can get in some useful work this winter and Spring Training and turn things around for 2020. Depending on how things shake out this offseason, the Astros may need to rely on him again in 2020.
There were quite a few other pitchers that played roles in the bullpen in 2019, but for the sake of this article, I only handed out grades to the relievers that had a minimum of 25 innings of work out of the pen. I’d also like to remind you, in case you have missed them, report cards have been issued on the starting pitchers, infielders, and outfielders, as well as the five other relievers. Be sure not to miss them.