Valdez (0-2) took the loss Saturday in Oakland after giving up two runs (one earned) on seven hits across seven innings. He had nine strikeouts and one walk. The left-hander surrendered a leadoff homer to Marcus Semien on his sixth pitch of the game, but it would be the only earned run he allowed all afternoon. Valdez allowed three runs over 4.1 innings during his season debut, but over his past two starts he's given up only three runs (one earned) with 17 strikeouts across 13.1 innings. The 26-year-old next lines up to pitch Friday against the Mariners.
Valdez allowed one unearned run on five hits and one walk while striking out eight over 6.1 relief innings in Sunday's 6-5 extra-innings win over the Angels. Valdez was needed early following Josh James' disastrous three-inning start. Houston's No. 5 starter saved a decimated Astros' bullpen with his quality innings and gave the offense space to come back and win it in extras. Valdez has had his share of shaky starts, so this was a change of pace for the left-hander. Valdez had been scheduled to start Tuesday, but Sunday's relief effort pushed his next start to the weekend against the Athletics.
Valdez (0-1) took the loss Tuesday, giving up three runs (two earned) on four hits and a walk over 4.1 innings as the Astros fell 5-2 to the Dodgers. He struck out two. The southpaw took a 2-0 lead into the fifth inning before fading, as the first three Dodgers to the plate in the frame all collected hits en route to Los Angeles batting around. Valdez finished his night having tossed 59 pitches (32 strikes), but his success the first time through the order at least offers some optimism that he can deliver a better result next time out. At the very least, Valdez's rotation spot should be secure given how many other arms the Astros currently have on the shelf.
Valdez is scheduled to start Tuesday's series opener against the Dodgers, Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle reports. The 26-year-old and Brandon Bielak were competing for the final rotation spot during summer camp, but Valdez was able to secure the job. Valdez had a 5.86 ERA and 1.67 WHIP over 70.2 innings at the major-league level last season, and he may not have a long leash if he struggles again during the shortened season. Jose Urquidy (undisclosed) and Austin Pruitt (elbow) aren't available to start the season but figure to be options for the rotation eventually, and Bielak could also remain a factor.
Valdez and Brandon Bielak are competing for the last spot in the Astros' rotation, Alyson Footer of MLB.com reports. With Jose Urquidy (undisclosed) not in camp, there's room in the rotation for either Valdez or Bielak. The duo squared off in Saturday's intrasquad game, the final chance either had to submit evidence in the quest to be the No. 5 starter. Valdez allowed a three-run, first-inning home run to Michael Brantley but lasted five innings. He walked one and struck out six in a 74-pitch outing. "He still has some things to learn, but he's a whole lot better than I heard he was in the past, as far as his concentration, as far as his tempo in the game," said manager Dusty Baker, referring to Valdez's penchant for a lack of focus and letting innings get away from him. Baker also noted he'd be speaking with Valdez about missing "three or four signs" during the outing.