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The Astros start the 2022 season with nine games on the road before they get their home opener on April 18th. That didn't prevent them from spoiling things for the Angels in Anaheim in Thursdays season opener, though, as they kicked off the year with a win in a division rival's home stadium.
Final Score: Astros 3, Angels 1
Astros' Record: 1-0, first in the AL West
Winning Pitcher: Framber Valdez (1-0)
Losing Pitcher: Shohei Ohtani (0-1)
Although Ohtani was able to rack up some impressive strikeouts, getting up to nine over his 4.2 IP, it came while allowing the Astros to jump out in front. Houston put up the first run of the season in the top of the third, getting a two-out double by Michael Brantley who would come in to score on a RBI-single by Alex Bregman, looking to put together a MVP-like season in 2022 now that he is fully healthy.
While Ohtani would reach the early-season max of 80 pitches in the fifth, leaving with a 1-0 deficit, Framber Valdez was able to work his way through an efficient six and two-thirds innings on around the same amount of pitches, getting two outs into the seventh before Dusty Baker would bring in Phil Maton to finish the inning and preserve the one-run lead.
The Astros extended the lead in the top of the eighth, getting back-to-back homers to start the inning by Alex Bregman and Yordan Alvarez, making it a 3-0 advantage in an inning where Houston would get heavy contact against reliver Ryan Tepera. Los Angeles got on the board in the bottom of the eighth, taking advantage of a hit batter as David Fletcher would get a RBI-triple against Maton, making it 3-1.
Houston held on to the two-run lead though, as Hector Neris would enter to finish the eighth, and then brought in closer Ryan Pressly in the bottom of the ninth to get his first save of the season. Despite a leadoff single by Mike Trout to bring the tying run to the plate, Pressly would overcome it with a flyout then a double play to win their tenth straight Opening Day game, tying the major-league record set by the 1887-1896 Boston Beaneaters.
The Houston Astros were in need of some serious help in the bullpen with Phil Maton, Hector Neris, and Ryne Stanek likely leaving this year in free agency.
The Houston Astros have acquired RHP Dylan Coleman from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for RHP Carlos Mateo. pic.twitter.com/hDYuBLn2Kv
— Houston Astros (@astros) December 6, 2023
While some fans were getting concerned about the quiet offseason, the club has made two moves this week to get the ball rolling.
First the team signed Victor Caratini to be the backup catcher, and now they have added some relief pitching.
The Astros traded pitching prospect Carlos Mateo to the Royals for RHP pitcher Dylan Coleman.
Coleman appeared in 96 games in the past three seasons for KC, including 68 games in 2022 and 23 games last season. He has a career 3.88 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. He’s fastball (95 mph), slider (81) and cutter (90) and walked 57 batters and struck out 99 in 92 2/3 innings.
— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) December 6, 2023
Coleman is under club control for the next several years, and made just over $700,000 in 2022. With the Astros right up against the tax threshold, this is a good way to add to the bullpen without having to hand out a large contract.
The Royals had a tough roster decision to make with Coleman, and the Astros made the decision easy for them by making the trade.
Something to note
There's a reason Kansas City wasn't determined to protect Coleman from the Rule 5 Draft. Despite his decent numbers over the last three seasons, 2023 was a rough year for him, posting an 8.84 ERA over 23 games.
In fact, Coleman pitched more innings (30.2) for the Royals AAA team than he did for the big league club (18.1) in 2023.
Hopefully, the Astros can get him back on track this season with some help from their highly touted player development program.
You can watch some of his 2022 highlights above.