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Houston Astros to start Framber Valdez in Game 1 of ALCS

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Houston Astros lefty Framber Valdez will start Game 1 of the American League Championship Series against the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday, while Lance McCullers will start Game 2.

“I feel really proud and really thankful for the opportunity this year,” Valdez told reporters on Saturday. “It means a lot to me for the manager to show that much confidence in me. I’ve demonstrated they can have that confidence in me with the effort I put forth this season. I’m super thankful for the moment and super happy to be here.”

In two postseason starts, the 26-year-old Valdez have given up 2 runs on seven hits in 12 innings with 9 strikeouts and 2 walks. During the regular season, he was 5-3 with a 3.57 ERA and 76 strikeouts.

He has thrown at least seven innings in seven of his 13 outings this season, including the playoffs.

Blake Snell is starting Game 1 for the Rays in the best-of-seven series.

McCullers, who missed all of last season after having Tommy John surgery, is getting the nod for Game 2 over Zack Greinke and Jose Urquidy. He went 3-3 with a 3.93 ERA and 5 strikeouts this season.

“We need to make sure we prioritize flexibility and being reactive to the game decisions,” Astros general manager James Click told reporters Saturday. “I think we have done a very good job over the past six games of being aggressive about putting our best pitchers in the biggest spots and making sure we line up the leverage of the situation with the guys we want in those spots. If we continue to do that, I think we’ll have a lot of success.”

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Padres lefty Matt Strahm to undergo knee surgery to repair tendon

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San Diego Padres left-hander Matt Strahm is scheduled to undergo patellar tendon repair in his right knee.

Strahm underwent a similar surgery on his left knee in 2017 while he was with the Kansas City Royals.

Strahm was 0-1 with a 2.61 ERA in 19 appearances in his third season in San Diego and fifth big league season overall.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Nelson Cruz, Freddie Freeman winners at Players Choice Awards

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NEW YORK — Minnesota Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz has been voted Marvin Miller Man of the Year and Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman has been picked as Player of the Year in annual Players Choice award voting by the Major League Baseball Players Association.

Freeman was voted the National League’s outstanding player, Cincinnati’s Trevor Bauer outstanding pitcher, San Diego infielder Jake Cronenworth outstanding rookie and Colorado pitcher Daniel Bard comeback player.

Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu was voted the American League’s outstanding player, Cleveland’s Shane Bieber outstanding pitcher, Seattle outfielder Kyle Lewis outstanding rookie and Cleveland pitcher Carlos Carrasco comeback player.



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Washington Nationals re-sign Josh Harrison to one-year contract

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The Washington Nationals have re-signed utility player Josh Harrison to a one-year contract, the team announced Thursday.

Harrison spent the 2020 season with the Nationals after signing with them in July, less than a week after he was released by the Philadelphia Phillies. The 33-year-old hit .278 with three home runs and 14 RBIs in 33 games for Washington.

He is a two-time All-Star and right-handed hitter who has started games at second base, third base, shortstop and both corner outfield spots during his 10 years in the majors.

Harrison played eight seasons for the Pittsburgh Pirates before joining the Detroit Tigers in 2019 and has compiled a career .273 batting average with 56 homers and 291 RBIs. He was a National League All-Star in 2014 and 2017 for Pittsburgh. But Harrison hit .175 with one homer in 36 games for the Tigers last year before getting released in August 2019.

He had signed a minor league contract with the Phillies in November before they let him go in July and he wound up in Washington.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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