Framber Valdez’s return to Astros rotation could be start of Houston’s turnaround

Just what the doctor ordered.
Houston Astros pitcher Framber Valdez
Houston Astros pitcher Framber Valdez / Logan Riely/GettyImages

Whether it was the venue in Mexico City, a hapless opponent, or the fact that they have one of the best rosters in Major League Baseball, the Houston Astros finally got off the schneid this past weekend with a two-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies.

The Astros' bats finally woke up, and Houston was able to put up 20 runs in two days. Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, Yainer Diaz, and Kyle Tucker all enjoyed multi-hit games during the two-day stint south of the border.

But what cannot be overlooked with the Astros' sudden resurgence is the presence of Framber Valdez. Yes, the Rockies are one of the worst teams in Major League Baseball this season, but to date, Houston has struggled to defeat the teams they're supposed to. They did that over the weekend, and Valdez's return could help aid in the Astros' turnaround.

Framber Valdez’s return to Astros rotation could start of Houston’s turnaround

Valdez had been missing from the Astros rotation for the past few weeks after suffering elbow inflammation. With the sudden rash of pitcher injuries, Astros fans immediately thought the worst when they learned Houston's Opening Day starter was sidelined with an elbow injury. Thankfully, the MRI didn't reveal any extensive damage, and Valdez was able to return to the rotation rather quickly.

Valdez threw just 71 pitches during Sunday's game, but having not spent time on a rehab assignment, the low pitch count isn't surprising. The left-hander went five innings, allowed just two runs on five hits while striking out six. He didn't issue a walk, either.

With Valdez and Justin Verlander back from the injured list, the Astros are finally beginning to look like the team that Houston brought to spring training. While Christian Javier is still out with a neck injury, the right-hander recently threw a bullpen session, and could be back as soon as Houston's upcoming weekend series against the Seattle Mariners.

The Astros' bats have not been the problem this season. Houston ranks among the top 10 teams in baseball in hits, doubles, home runs, batting average, and OPS. But the starting rotation ranks near the bottom of the league in walks (69), ERA (4.90), and WHIP (1.51).

Having Valdez back certainly helped Houston get back on the right track, but with the Cleveland Guardians up next, manager Joe Esapda is hoping that some of that some of the good fortune his team enjoyed in Mexico will return with them to Houston.

The Astros begin a three-game series against the Guardians at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday. Cleveland has the best record in the American League this season, and the Astros will be sending Verlander, Hunter Brown, and Spencer Arrighetti to the hill over the next three games.

Maybe Valdez's presence will help calm the younger arms, too.

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