MLB Today: Will Framber Valdez Bounce Back?
Framber Valdez has struggled in the playoffs. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle)
The Diamondbacks’ demise in the NLCS was greatly exaggerated; Adolis Garcia took exception to some inside heat, finally adding some drama to the Battle of Texas; and Jose Altuve once again played the hero for Houston. Let’s see what else is going on in the MLB world…
Framber Valdez Takes the Hill for Houston
In Game Six of the ALCS on Sunday, Houston will send Framber Valdez to the mound to try to punch its ticket for yet another World Series appearance.
When he was shifted from the bullpen to the rotation a few years ago, we recommended him, and he’s never really looked back, proving to be a vital component of the Astros’ starting pitcher contingent since.
In fact, Valdez just kept improving until ostensibly showing some regression this year, when he endured his highest ERA since 2020. Still, his xFIP was lower than it was in 2021, he enjoyed his first 200-K season and showed improved command for the second straight year.
So calling 2023 a step back for Valdez is not really accurate, but there are two things to consider for Sunday’s start: (a) he’s been awful in his two previous playoff starts this year (10 ER allowed over seven IP, including a horrible outing earlier in this series… assuming that it was actually him, and not a paid actor — see video below); and (b): Houston is just 14-19 ATS this year when he starts.
Martin Maldonado Is a Throwback
Not surprisingly, by taking all three games in Texas this week, Houston has surged into the lead as the AL favourite to win the World Series (+120) according to FanDuel.
Fortunately, the Astros have not required much in the way of offense from catcher Martin Maldonado to get to this point. A real throwback in today’s game in that his glovework gets him PT despite his weak hitting, he has managed walks in back-to-back games, but has gone hitless in seven of nine games he’s appeared in during the postseason.
Maldonado actually showed some power in 2019, and did a great job of getting on base the following year, but has been a black hole at the plate since. He did tie a career best with 15 dingers this season while enjoying his highest walk rate since 2020, but realistically was only of value in deep AL-only leagues. And at the age of 37, that’s not likely to change for whatever time he has left in his career.
Remembering Chris Denorfia
Just eight years ago, Chris Denorfia was still a top 140 outfielder as he put the finishing touches on what would be the final season of a 10-year MLB career. He was a solid on-base guy with very little power, but certainly enjoyed some decent campaigns in spending half his career with the Padres.
Since 2020, Denorfia has been the manager of the Hartford Yard Goats, Colorado’s Double-A team. He’s only enjoyed one winning season in three tries, but he’s reportedly picked up the analytics aspect of the game nicely, so it will interesting to see if he gets a shot to manage or at least coach in the Show within the next couple of years.
RotoRob Tune of the Day
American avant-garde musician Laurie Anderson has dabbled in just about every medium in her career, including film making. In 1986, she made her third film, Home of the Brave: A Film By Laurie Anderson, the soundtrack for which included “Radar,” an instrumental which featured her wordless vocalizations.