10 Bold Predictions for the Astros Regular Season
By Alec Brown
#3 Framber Valdez regresses
Now let's be clear: regression doesn't mean he's no longer elite. Valdez finished last season with a 2.82 ERA powered by a 66.5% ground-ball rate. In 2021, 70.1% of batted balls off of Valdez were on the ground. No pitcher in the game keeps the ball on the ground more than Framber.
It's safe to assume he'll likely lose some outs he previously recorded without the shift. His xERA last season was 3.31, still a great number and would have had him in the top-25 pitchers in the game. It wouldn't be a surprise to see Framber finish with an ERA of around 3.30.
He'll still be great, still eat innings, and likely build an all-star caliber season, but a top-five Cy Young finish may not be in the cards. No cause for concern though--Cristian Javier should take a leap forward into Cy Young candidacy.