Astros' Aces Dominant in First Appearances of Spring

Championship Series - New York Yankees v Houston Astros - Game One
Championship Series - New York Yankees v Houston Astros - Game One / Tom Pennington/GettyImages

Framber Valdez and Cristian Javier were dominant in a shutout win over St. Louis

Houston Astros co-aces Framber Valdez and Cristian Javier made their spring training debuts on Thursday, making light work of the St. Louis Cardinals. 

The Astros jumped on Adam Wainwright for three runs in three innings, and the Astros’ arms had all the run support they needed, blanking St. Louis in a 6-0 victory. Valdez and Javier combined for 4 innings of work, allowing two total hits and striking out five Cards. Neither pitcher issued a walk. 

Valdez looked great in his two innings, throwing 18 of his 25 pitches for strikes. He induced two ground ball outs, including one for a double play, and both of his strikeouts came on a curveball. The notoriously fidgety Valdez had no issues with the pitch clock, a development that will be monitored throughout the season. 

The newly extended Javier picked up right where he left off in the postseason, striking out three Cardinals in his two innings of work. 20 of his 30 pitches went for strikes. Javier will need to keep his pitch count down this season as the Astros will be reliant upon him going deeper into games. 15 pitchers per innings is a much more sustainable pace to target. 

Behind them, Hector Neris, Bryan Abreu, Ty Buttrey and Jayden Murray finished off the shutout. Neris struck out the side in his inning of work. 

Murray is a pitcher we believe fans should keep an eye on, and the prospect has been tremendous in both appearances this spring. In his two innings yesterday, he allowed no hits, walked one and struck out two. In four innings this spring, Murray is yet to give up a hit. His 2021 minor league performance was incredible, leading all levels in WHIP and opponent batting average. He’s an arm to follow closely throughout the spring, especially as Astros players begin to head off to the World Baseball Classic.

On the offensive side, Kyle Tucker was 2-4 with a double and José Abreu hit his first home run in an Astros uniform, a no-doubt blast to left center.