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2022 Player Outlook

Valdez posted a 21.9 percent strikeout rate last season, and the hope is that it can return to the 26.4 percent mark he posted in 2020, or at least close to it. Unfortunately, the walks returned last year, and that must get under control. He allows a lot of hard contact, but the silver lining here is that his primary pitch is a ground ball menace, leading the way to an insane 70.4 percent ground ball rate last year. Since entering the bigs in 2018, he's yet to allow a fly ball rate higher than 13.1 percent. Sure, the average exit velocity marks are scary, but when you consider that six or seven out of every 10 batted balls in play against Valdez are on the ground, you can live with it. He's allowed just 29 home runs over 313 big league innings, and as long as his sinker is leading his arsenal, he's going to be an extreme ground ball pitcher. In a perfect world, he maintains his pristine ground ball rate and trades some walks for strikeouts. If he does that, he could end up being the best value amongst all of the Houston starters.

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