MARINERS (58-83) AT ASTROS (91-50)
8:10 p.m. ET; ATTSN-SW, ROOTNW, MLB.TV
Houston Astros left-hander Framber Valdez will take the mound Friday against the visiting Seattle Mariners, with what could be a permanent slot in the rotation for the remainder of the regular season.
Initially expected to see a series of spot starts, Valdez might remain in his spot for some time, following the latest injury news to strike an already depleted Houston pitching staff.
Right-hander Aaron Sanchez, whom Valdez replaced in the rotation, will undergo a surgical procedure on his throwing shoulder next week and be sidelined for the rest of the month and through the postseason. That latter distinction is significant, as Sanchez was expected to fill a role in the Houston bullpen in October, even after he landed on the 10-day injured list with right pectoral soreness on Aug. 21.
Sanchez (2-0 with a 4.82 ERA over four starts with Houston) had shown some promise following his acquisition from the Toronto Blue Jays (+1.5) at the trade deadline.
Instead, the Astros will continue to rely on Valdez, beginning with the second game of a four-game set with Seattle, while hoping several relievers can return from maladies prior to the start of the postseason. Right-handers Ryan Pressly (knee), Brad Peacock (shoulder) and Collin McHugh (elbow) are all currently on the IL.
“It’s a bummer for him, it’s tough for us,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said of Sanchez. “We expected him to contribute down the stretch. Unfortunately, he won’t be able to pitch.”
Valdez (4-7, 5.55 ERA) will make his third start since returning from a six-plus-week stint with Triple-A Round Rock. He has split a pair of decisions in that span, posting a 5.40 ERA with 13 strikeouts against eight walks over 11 2/3 innings.
Valdez is 2-0 with a one unearned run allowed in 13 1/3 innings across three career appearances (one start) against the Mariners. He worked four scoreless innings of relief on June 3 in a 4-2 victory in Seattle while allowing two hits and two walks with three strikeouts.
Left-hander Tommy Milone (3-8, 4.90 ERA) will follow an opener for the Mariners on Friday. It will mark his 20th appearance on the season, his 13th in relief and 12th following an opener. Milone is 2-5 with a 5.03 ERA working out of the bullpen.
He is 1-3 with a 4.76 ERA over 12 career appearances (seven starts) against the Astros. In three appearances against Houston this season, all in relief, Milone is 0-1 with a 1.76 ERA with 10 strikeouts over 15 1/3 innings.
In what has largely been a lost season for Seattle and veteran third baseman Kyle Seager, the opener of this four-game set with the Astros yielded a positive.
Despite playing in just his 85th game, Seager became the first player in franchise history to post eight consecutive 20-homer seasons when he went deep twice in the Mariners’ 11-9 loss Thursday. Seager belted a two-run homer off Astros left-hander Wade Miley in the first inning and a solo shot off right-hander Josh James in the 12th.
Prior to this season, Seager had been a model of reliability, averaging 157 games between 2012-18. A left third-digit extensor hood tear cost him 53 games from March 20 through May 24, yet Seager rediscovered his power stroke in time to etch his name in the franchise record book.
“It’s definitely something I’m proud of,” Seager said. “I think everybody wants to be consistent, and I’m very proud of that, especially this year since I’ve missed some time.”
–Field Level Media