Phillips Valdez was dialed in Friday night, even before he got the ball from Alex Cora.
“I told (Cora) if he needed 200 pitches, I could do it,” Valdez told reporters after the game over Zoom. I was ready to give whatever the team needed to get this win today.”
Ultimately, Valdez needed just 55 pitches, 33 of which went for strikes. He lasted three innings, allowing just one hit and one walk with seven strikeouts.
Valdez is a fascinating pitcher. He was one of the few hurlers picked up by the Red Sox for the 2020 season that showed promising flashes, and he was brought back and earned a spot in the bullpen to start the 2021 season as a result. At his best, his mid-90s fastball deceives hitters with its natural movement, while he can put batters away with his secondary pitches.
Too often this season, though, his command wasn’t where it needed to be and he was getting tagged for runs. That ultimately is what got him sent down to the WooSox.
But Friday’s outing showed what he’s capable of, and it’s clear that he’s got the right mindset, too.