Major League Baseball has been hit with an injury bug, and it seems to be sticking around in the Houston Astros‘ clubhouse. Michael Brantley, Jason Castro and Kent Emanuel have all joined the 10-day injured list with their respected injuries, and it’s almost like when someone healthy returns, then a new injury arises.
These moves are retro-active to when they last played, meaning their 10 days starts the day of their last appearance, but a player can always stay past their return date. The holes in the lineup are growing as we near June, but with Yordan Alvarez “doing better,” the left-hander is coming off a recent slump. The run support wasn’t there, but a possible one-two punch has been forged in Framber Valdez and Cristian Javier.
The bats were devastating with runners in scoring position, but Framber Valdez and Cristian Javier were electric.
The bullpen has been among all topics of discussion with the Astros’ pitching struggles, but when the offense goes 0-for-10 with 15 left on base, the blame has to be distributed. Chas McCormick continues his tear for more playing time, but the lineup is hurting without Brantley and Alvarez.
With Valdez returning to the mound for the first time since his injury in spring training, the left-hander was painting the zone like his injury never happened. A few command issues were apparent early in his outing, as he walked two and hit one batter.
After settling in, Valdez tossed four innings, while allowing one run on two hits. The ground ball pitcher was falling to soft contact, but still fanned four in the process. By the eye test, the left-hander isn’t fully ramped up and is beginning a second-like spring training at the major league level.
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A limited pitch count could stick around with Valdez to start his 2021 season, but in 2020, the left-hander averaged seven innings a start. If this comes back, the bullpen should rejoice. After an eventful four, Javier relieved Valdez and mirrored his work.
The right-hander isn’t accustom to first pitch strikes but displays a different approach on the mound compared to Valdez. While both pitching with different hands, Valdez gives into contact, as Javier is coming after hitters. This one-two combination of differential would be lethal down the stretch, especially if the offense capitalizes with RISP.
We have seen Javier breakdown after three or four innings of work, but if a starter is rising in pitch count in the fourth or fifth inning, the right-hander would be a long-relief replacement against a lineup coming through the second or third time. This relief outing shows that Javier could piggyback any struggling starter, but rest days will still have to be factored in.
Javier finished his night with the exact same stat line as Valdez but with five less pitches thrown. Everyone knows what happened next. The offense didn’t score with the bases loaded, and the bullpen allowed seven runs in the 11th inning.
This 10-3 loss against the San Diego Padres puts the Astros at 27-23, while still second in the AL West. Jake Odorizzi will get the ball on Saturday at 3:10 p.m.