Valdez could challenge for a spot in the 2019 starting rotation, Andrew Simon of MLB.com reports. The Astros will have at least one opening in the rotation, and possibly two depending on how manager A.J. Hinch wants to deploy Brad Peacock. Valdez had an impressive introduction to MLB in 2018, posting a 2.19 ERA in 37 innings, featuring a high-spin curve. Opponents went just 4-for-41 (.098) with 20 strikeouts off the hook while putting 17 of their 21 batted balls on the ground. The potential issue for Valdez is command, evidenced in his 4.69 FIP. The left-hander walked 24 batters (5.8 BB/9) but managed to avoid damage due to the free passes.
Valdez won't start the Astros' regular-season finale Sunday against the Orioles, Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle reports. The Astros have considered turning to Valdez or Josh James as their primary pitcher for a mostly meaningless regular-season finale, but Charlie Morton will take the hill as he looks to prove his health in advance of the postseason. Because Morton hasn't pitched since Sept. 23 against the Angels and covered only one inning in that outing before exiting with shoulder discomfort, he'll likely be making an abbreviated start Sunday. That could afford Valdez and/or James the opportunity to fill an inning or two out of the bullpen.
Valdez (4-1) allowed one run on three hits and two walks while striking out nine over six innings of relief to pick up the win over the Angels on Sunday. Valdez entered the game in the second inning for starter Charlie Morton, who left with a shoulder injury. He was effective despite spotty command, which has become his trademark. Valdez was available for relief duty this weekend, but manager A.J. Hinch didn't expect to use him for this many innings. He had been scheduled to start Wednesday in Toronto, but that's no longer the case.
Valdez will be available to pitch out of the bullpen during this weekend's series against the Angels, Hunter Atkins of the Houston Chronicle reports. Manager A.J. Hinch wants Valdez for certain matchups -- most likely lefty-on-lefty situations -- against the Angels' lineup, which featured four left-handed hitters Friday. Valdez's availability out of the bullpen does not impact his role in the rotation; he's still scheduled to start Wednesday afternoon against the Blue Jays.
Valdez tossed five innings in Monday's loss to the Mariners. He struck out six, gave up two hits, walked five and didn't factor into the decision. It was arguably Valdez's best start of his young career as he held his opponent scoreless for the first time. While control is surely an issue, as he's only allowed fewer than three walks in one appearance, the results have been hard to complain about with a 2.20 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in 28.2 innings. His next chance to toe the rubber will be Saturday against the Angels.