HOUSTON – With a venomous curveball that comes from producing 44% missed swings as part of an arsenal that includes a sinker, a switch, and a four-seam fastball, Framber Valdez has established himself as one of the highest-ranking starters in the United States. Astros since 2020.
Now, the Dominican left-hander has the task of stopping the Red Sox Friday in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series in Houston.
Speaking of Valdez’s postseason poise — the left-hander allowed just five runs and struck out 21 batters in a total of 24.0 innings in last year’s playoffs — Astros manager Dusty Baker even mentioned Mexican legend Fernando Valenzuela. , who after the “Fernandomania” of 1981 (in Baker’s Dodgers, an OF of that team) had a brilliant October. In that vein, the driver believes that Valdez has handled the postseason lights in a similar way.
“I was close to Fernando Valenzuela in LA,” recalled Baker. “He pitched way beyond his years. I see well Framber’s determination. I see well the fact that it looks (very loose), which would take it quite a long way ”.
Limited to 22 starts after a preseason fractured finger, Valdez was 11-6 with a 3.14 ERA with 125 strikeouts and 137 ERA + in a total of 134.2 innings in the 2021 regular season. In his first This postseason opener, he came out without a decision by allowing the White Sox seven hits and four runs in 4.1 innings, in what would ultimately be an Astros victory.
“I feel good about the chance they are giving me,” said Valdez, 27. “The confidence they have given me, I feel good that they give it to me, because I have worked hard so that today, on this day, they have the confidence to say that I can open the first game to compete for the World Series” .
In early June, in just his second and third starts of the season after injury, Valdez faced the Red Sox twice and beat them both times. In a total of 14.1 innings, he gave up just two earned runs (1.26 ERA), struck out 18 batters and gave up just two walks.
Now, of course, there is much more at stake.
“It’s a challenge,” Valdez said of the postseason action. “It’s where you really show what you’ve done all year, where you (summarize) the work you’ve done. This is where you really show that you are what you are. “
With questions about the health of Lance McCullers Jr. and the limited condition of Zack Greinke right now, the importance of Valdez, who was already a mainstay of the Astros’ rotation, grows in importance. The native of Palenque does not shy away from that.
“Every baseball player appreciates getting to the playoffs, a situation we’re in,” he said. “I feel strong to compete as much as I can and to be able to make my personal history, as well as for the team as well.”