Astros’ Valdez to start Game 1 of World Series vs Braves

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

HOUSTON- Framber Valdez will start for the Houston Astros in Game 1 of the World Series against the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night.

Manager Dusty Baker announced Sunday that Valdez would get the nod, but said the team has not decided on a starter for Wednesday’s Game 2.

The left-hander will oppose Charlie Morton, who pitched for Houston from 2017-18, getting the win in Game 7 of the 2017 World Series.

Valdez threw eight terrific innings in a 9-1 win in Game 5 of the AL Championship Series. In Game 1, he permitted three runs in 2 2/3 innings.

The Astros did not provide much new information on the health of ace Lance McCullers Jr., who was left off the ALCS roster because of a flexor pronator muscle strain in his right arm. McCullers still hasn’t started throwing, but general manager James Click would not rule out his return.

“We’re not taking anything off the table,” Click said. “We’re going to see how he is. This is the World Series, so it’s obviously something that I know that Lance wants to be out there if he can. So we will talk to the doctors and him and the trainers, and we’ll figure it out from there.”

Houston will also wait to make a decision on center fielder Jake Meyers, who was on the championship series roster but didn’t play while recovering from a shoulder injury. The rookie was injured in the final game of the division series, and Chas McCormick and Jose Siri filled against the Red Sox.

The Astros are also considering their options for how to get the big bat of Yordan Alvarez in the lineup when the series moves to Atlanta for Game 3 and they lose the designated hitter.

After missing last year’s postseason while recovering from double knee surgery, Alvarez batted an ALCS-record .522 (12 for 23) with one homer, three doubles, a triple and six RBIs, earning series MVP honors. He scored seven runs in the six games against the Red Sox and went 9 for his last 13, raising his postseason average to .441 with two homers and nine RBIs.

Michael Brantley is Houston’s regular left fielder, but Alvarez appeared in 41 games at the position this season and that’s where he’s likely to play at Atlanta. Brantley would move to right field, shifting Kyle Tucker to center to keep his bat in the lineup.

“Kyle Tucker can play a very good center field, but at the same time, Chas McCormick has been unbelievable in center field and Jake Myers obviously is able to go get it, and I think Jose Siri’s one of best athletes out there,” Click said. “So it’s going to be a balance between offense and defense, and we’ll have to figure that out.”

Report: Brandon Nimmo staying with Mets on 8-year, $162M deal

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

NEW YORK – Center fielder Brandon Nimmo is staying with the free-spending New York Mets, agreeing to an eight-year, $162 million contract, according to a person familiar with the deal.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the agreement is subject to a successful physical and no announcement had been made.

A quality leadoff hitter with an excellent eye and a .385 career on-base percentage, Nimmo became a free agent last month for the first time. He was a key performer as the Mets returned to the playoffs this year for the first time since 2016.

The left-handed hitter batted .274 with 16 homers and a team-high 102 runs, a career high. He also set career bests with 64 RBIs and 151 games played. His seven triples tied for most in the National League.

Bringing back Nimmo means New York is poised to return its entire everyday lineup intact from a team that tied for fifth in the majors in runs and won 101 regular-season games – second-most in franchise history.

But the Mets remain busy replenishing a pitching staff gutted by free agency, including Jacob deGrom‘s departure for Texas and Taijuan Walker‘s deal with Philadelphia that was pending a physical.

On the final day of baseball’s winter meetings Wednesday, the Mets completed an $86.7 million, two-year contract with former Houston ace Justin Verlander that includes a conditional $35 million player option for 2025. New York also retained All-Star closer Edwin Diaz last month with a $102 million, five-year contract, and the team has a $26 million, two-year agreement in place with veteran starter Jose Quintana, pending a physical.

Those moves add to a payroll that was the largest in the majors last season. Under owner Steve Cohen, who bought the Mets in November 2020, New York became baseball’s biggest spender this year for the first time since 1989. The Mets’ payroll was $273.9 million as of Aug. 31, with final figures that include bonuses yet to be compiled.

Nimmo was selected by New York with the No. 13 pick in the 2011 amateur draft. He declined a $19.65 million qualifying offer from the Mets last month.

The 29-year-old Wyoming native made his big league debut in 2016. He is a .269 career hitter with 63 homers, 213 RBIs and 23 triples in 608 games. He has an .827 career OPS and has improved his play in center, becoming a solid defender.

Nimmo’s new deal with the Mets was first reported by the New York Post.