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Framber Valdez, Houston Astros

Framber Valdez ready to lead Astros staff

  • Manuel Gómez - East Coast Contributor & Podcast Director Manuel Gómez, East Coast Contributor & Podcast Director
  • February 22, 2023

Framber Valdez set to replace Justin Verlander as the Astros’ ace

Over the course of five years, Framber Valdez has inched his way up the Houston Astros’ rotation. With Justin Verlander taking his talents to Queens, N.Y., the 29-year-old from the Dominican Republic is ready to take center stage as the ace of the staff.

“I definitely feel a responsibility. I don’t think I feel pressure in that regard,” Valdez told Astros beat writers in West Palm Beach, Fla. “Obviously, we have a lot of great pitchers here, and I’m trying to be the guy to beat those guys.

“I feel very responsible for that. I know that there will be a little weight there to carry, but it’s something that I’m willing to do. And I look forward to it.”

The lefthanded All-Star placed fifth in the AL Cy Young voting last year after posting career highs with 17 wins, a 2.82 ERA, 201 1/3 innings pitched, and 194 strikeouts.

In four postseason starts, Valdez won three games, including the World Series clinching Game 6 against the Philadelphia Phillies. He also won Game 2 to give the Astros their first win of that Fall Classic.

The left-hander tossed six innings, allowing 1 earned run with nine strikeouts to seal the franchise’s second title.

Framber Valdez, Opening Day Starter

Last season, Framber Valdez took the ball for the Astros on Opening Day. Houston won that game 3-1 with Valdez pitching into the seventh inning and allowing just two hits and no runs.

Valdez hopes to get the same opportunity when the Astros welcome the Chicago White Sox to Minute Maid Park on March 30.

“It is something that is very important for me, and I wouldn’t take for granted,” he said. “I did it last year. This would be my second one here with the Astros, and it’s something that would mean a lot for me and my career as well.”

The Astros’ staff enters the 2023 season as one of the best in the American League. It features the likes of Cristian Javier, who led the Astros to two no-hitters by committe last year, José Urquidy, Luis Garcia, and Lance McCullers Jr. Rookie Hunter Brown will likely take McCullers’ spot in the rotation early as the veteran righty deals with a muscle strain near his right elbow.

With Valdez leading this rotation, the Astros remain the toughest team to beat in the AL West.

World Series chances

In the age of the luxury tax and increased parity, the Houston Astros present as a modern dynasty. They have made it to six consecutive American League Championship Series. They’ve made four World Series appearances in that span, winning two of them.

According to several online casinos, the Astros have the best odds to win it all over again this season.

Valdez, who has been there for the last two Wold Series and has a ring to go along with it, agrees.

“I don’t think it’s going to be that difficult to do,” he said. “We know what to do. It’s something that we’ve done already twice and we know that path and what it takes to get there. Even if we’re going through hard times, we know what to do to get there.”

I think we can all agree, that this is absolutely true.

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