The Houston Astros starting rotation is beginning to come together, but Framber Valdez is already there, and arguably the best pitcher in this rotation.
Losing Justin Verlander was always going to be a real pain in the arse to get over, but the Houston Astros still had Zack Greinke and Lance McCullers Jr. to rely on. While that’s starting to come around now, it wasn’t either of those two that injected life into this rotation first—it was Framber Valdez.
Valdez has been such a welcome lift to a pitching staff that is deprived of most of its biggest and most reliable names. It was already going to be dicey asking McCullers to step in for Gerrit Cole, and you do have to wonder how long Verlander and Greinke have left.
So to see Valdez step up when so many around him (Josh James…) weren’t able to, it injects a nice balance between the newbies like Cristian Javier and Brandon Bielak, and the veterans Verlander and Greinke.
The Astros can count on Framber Valdez… finally
The Astros have been getting good stuff from Valdez over the past few years, but it stands out now more than ever when the pitching staff has been in limbo.
Let’s dig into the numbers, starting with what is perhaps the most important.
Other than Osuna, Raley, and Biagini, who have only pitched 5.1 innings combined and walked no one, Valdez boasts the best BB% of any other pitcher the Astros have—just 4.2%. That’s lower than anyone else, starter or reliever.
Other than Verlander, Valdez also boasts the highest K% of any starter that has passed through the rotation. Overall, he ranks just being Devenski and Blake Taylor.
Unsurprisingly, this lands his crucial FIP at tops in the starting rotation and fourth-best on the team as a whole—just 2.13.
All this adds up to the highest WAR on the team.
Valdez is literally top of the starting rotation pile in so many variables, and what’s even more is that he doesn’t suffer when put up against bullpen guys either. He’s having the year of his life right now. He’s walking less people than ever before in his career. In fact, he’s cut his BB/9 by over half. And his strikeouts are going the other way, ranking the best he’s ever seen.
Across the board, Valdez has seen incredible improvement this year. The numbers tell the whole story here. And he gets the ball for the opener against Seattle.