#4: Framber Valdez has to answer the bell
We listed Framber as one of the biggest factors that will decide the ALCS before Game 1. Does the Framber Valdez that was dominant for all of 2022, the 2022 postseason, and the first half of 2023 show up?
Or do the Astros get the Framber Valdez that finished the second-half with a 4.66 ERA?
Does the Framber Valdez that held Texas to only one-run in the aforementioned September showdown with Eovaldi toe the rubber? Or does the Framber Valdez that melted down and gave up six runs in 3.2 innings on July 26th make tonight's start?
It's hard to call Game 2 of a series a must-win, especially with how dominant the Astros were on the road this season, but in no world do the Astros want to fall down 2-0 against a lineup as lethal as the Rangers.
In order for the Astros to knot the series at 1-1, the strike-throwing, ground ball double play inducing, curveball hammering Framber Valdez must be the one to make the start this afternoon. Houston needs 6+ of two runs or less from their co-ace if they're going to tie the series.