Framber Valde got off to a pretty terrible start for the Astros in the opener against Seattle, but after a paltry first inning, he was lights out.
With two walks and a hit batsman in the first inning, Framber Valdez primed himself for his worst start of the season. The Houston Astros have come to count on him given his increase in control, and through two starts and one relief appearance that was essentially a start, Valdez had just three walks total. He was leading the league in strike zone percentage.
Enter the Mariners. In that first inning, Valdez faced six batters, struggled to find the strike zone, looked destined for an abbreviated start with the number of pitches he threw, and suddenly the foundation Valdez had set this year was being shaken.
A nine-run bottom of the inning changed things.
Framber Valdez bounced back the way a true veteran would
It’s pretty easy for a pitcher to come back into a game ready to throw strikes when his team offense puts nine on the board in a single inning, but the favor won’t be lost on Framber Valdez.
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Valdez spent the rest of the game dominating. He walked just one more batter, struck out four, and induced three double plays as his groundball percentage continues to rise from game to game.
As I said, it’s easy to take an eight-run lead and feel confident in the pitches you’re throwing when you might not have been before. But that doesn’t mean that it’s easy to actually make the pitches. Valdez changed up his approach after that first inning and it worked. While he can’t expect nine-run innings every game, he can do his best to replicate the change that occurred against the Mariners between the first and the second inning.
So much of being a pitcher is adjustments. If something isn’t working, you have to make a change. If you can’t locate your slider, you have to pick another pitch to lean on. Valdez was forced into a unique situation to make a change against the Mariners, but seeing him make that change erased all crackling in his foundation. It would not have been surprising to see him continue to struggle with command in the second. It’s happened so many times with so many pitchers.
But Valdez made a change. He switched up his approach, turned a laborious first inning into a quality start, and keeps solidifying his place in the starting rotation.