Along with the rest of the league, the Houston Astros are anxiously awaiting the start of the MLB season. The Astros season officially begins on April 7, when the team kicks off a nine-game road trip against the Los Angeles Angels. Wednesday afternoon, news broke that Framber Valdez will be the Astros’ opening day starting pitcher.

The Houston Chronicle’s Chandler Rome tweeted the news.

This is shocking to Astros fans and MLB fans in general, who expected Justin Verlander to take the mound next Thursday.

However, Rome reassured fans that the veteran pitcher is healthy and scheduled to pitch the third game of the Astros’ season on April 9. Jake Odorizzi will pitch the second of four back-to-back games to kick off the season.

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There was a lot of uncertainty surrounding Verlander’s career in Houston this offseason. Fortunately, the eight-time All-Star is back on a one-year deal with the Astros, including a second season option.

Astros fans will have to wait just a little bit longer to see Verlander back on the field. He hasn’t made a regular-season appearance for Houston since 2020 due to a serious elbow injury. Verlander underwent ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction, more commonly known as Tommy John Surgery, to repair the injury in September of 2020.

Houston will host its home opener at Minute Maid Park on April 18, also against the Angels.