HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- With Justin Verlander swapping Astros orange and blue for Mets orange and blue, Houston's obvious choice for its opening-day starting pitcher hasn't really been too obvious.
After all, field manager Dusty Baker is in command of a murderers' row of remaining rotation pieces, who contributed to an America League-best .654 winning percentage for starting pitching last season.
So, who's getting the coveted honor of throwing the first pitch of a potential repeat season?
The video above is from a November 2022 story on the pitching coach behind the Astros' arms.
Mr. Quality, that's who.
Framber Valdez, the left-hander from the Dominican Republic who set a Major League Baseball record with 25 consecutive quality starts last season, got the nod to start in his second straight opening day game, the club announced Friday.
While 'Stros fans now know who will get the chance to set the tone for a championship-defense season, the rest of the rotation order remains a mystery. As of Friday afternoon, ESPN mentions no probable starters for the four games after the March 30 contest against the Chicago White Sox.
The "Worldwide Leader," though, currently has a probable rotation of Cristian Javier, Lance McCullers Jr., Luis Garcia, and Jose Urquidy. McCullers, however, is out indefinitely to start the season with a reported forearm strain.
It's not yet known who will fill in for McCullers for the time being, but fan sentiment places that responsibility on Hunter Brown, who debuted last year.
White Sox pitcher Dylan Cease, who finished second to Verlander in last year's AL Cy Young Award race, opposes Valdez.
ABC13 sister network ESPN is broadcasting the Astros' World Series banner reveal, championship ring ceremony, and the opening night contest at Minute Maid Park. Coverage starts at 6 p.m. next Thursday.
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