Framber Valdez injury update: Astros ace hits IL with left elbow inflammation as pitcher injuries pile up

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Houston Astros left-hander Framber Valdez will be placed on the IL with left elbow soreness, manager Joe Espada announced Tuesday (via the Athletic). Valdez was scratched from Monday’s scheduled start against the Texas Rangers with soreness near the top of his elbow, which began Sunday while he was playing catch and then persisted Monday. He’ll be shut down for several days and then re-evaluated.

Espada said Monday it was a “good sign” Valdez was not on the IL yet, which clearly changed a day later.

Relievers Parker Mushinski and Wander Suero have both been recalled from Triple-A in a bullpen shuffle.

Valdez, 30, allowed three runs in 12 1/3 innings in his first two starts of 2024. He surrendered three runs and walked six batters in 4 2/3 innings against the New York Yankees on Opening Day, then fired 7 2/3 shutout innings against the Toronto Blue Jays next time out. From 2022-23, Valdez pitched to a 3.13 ERA in 399 1/3 innings.

The Astros are already without Justin Verlander (shoulder inflammation) and José Urquidy (forearm strain), not to mention Luis Garcia (Tommy John surgery) and Lance McCullers Jr. (flexor surgery). Garcia and McCullers had surgery last year and are still recovering. Houston is already pushing the limits of its pitching depth.

Speaking of which, Chandler Rome and Ken Rosenthal report that the Astros will call up right-hander Spencer Arrighetti, regarded by most to be the top pitching prospect in the Houston system, to start and make his big-league debut against the Royals on Wednesday. Arrighetti, 24, is a former sixth-rounder out of Louisiana-Lafayette. This season, he’s made a pair of starts for Triple-A Sugar Land and pitched to a 2.16 ERA with 10 strikeouts and seven walks in 8 1/3 innings. Coming into this season, MLB.com ranked Arrighetti as the No. 3 prospect in the system. 

Right-hander Blair Henley was called up to start Monday’s game in Valdez’s place. In his MLB debut, he recorded just one out and allowed five earned runs, but the team rebounded to secure a 10-5 win over the Rangers. Henley was optioned back to the minors immediately after the game.

Houston is now 4-7 headed into Wednesday’s game. Their other three wins are Ronel Blanco’s no-hitter, a one-hitter, and a two-hitter. Blanco is only in the rotation because Verlander and Urquidy are hurt.

Valdez is just the latest pitcher to face worrisome arm issues early in the 2024 season. Among them, Shane Bieber, Eury Perez and Jonathan Loáisiga are all set for season-ending elbow surgery, while Spencer Strider is getting a second opinion on his sprained UCL.

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