Sunday, July 23, 2017

Sunday Morning Hot Links

*Well the win was fun but a scary moment with Colin Moran somewhat clouded the evening, then absolute heroics from Marwin solidified his place in the Hall of Fame. Astros win 8-4. They are 65-32, with a 17-game lead with 65 games remaining.

*Collin McHugh made his season debut and threw 77 pitches in 4.2IP, 4H/4ER (two two-run home runs). All four runs came in the 5th inning. Hinch:
I don't want the last inning to take away from how well he threw the ball...he pitched extraordinarily well for the first four innings. 

*McHugh has added a slider to his arsenal when facing RHBs.

*The bullpen of Martes, Gregerson, and Musgrove threw 4.1IP, 0H/0ER, 5K:1BB, needing just 57 pitches to shut the game down.

*Moran fouled off a Darren O'Day pitch straight up and into his eye in the bottom of the 6th inning of his 2nd game with the Astros. I'm not embedding the video here, but if you want to see it, click this link. Hinch:
Not a great update. You know he's at the hospital getting evaluated for everything from concussion to fracture. He's going to go through an array of tests. Pretty scary incident...He wasn't feeling very well and he wanted to get off the field, like all players do. Nobody wants to sit down, and as soon as he got up, he thought he was going to pass out, kind of got nauseous. So we put him back down and called for the cart.

*Marwin pinch-hit for Moran and seconds later jacked a three-run home run on to Eutaw Street, the 93rd time a ball has been hit on the street since the park opened in 1992. The Astros also got home runs from Gurriel (his 13th) and Bregman (his 9th).

*Marwin destroyed the ball:

*So what now? Moran will head to the 7-Day DL at the minimum, and the Astros will need someone at 3B. My guess is Tyler White gets that call. Last night he went 3x5 with a double and a home run and is hitting .299/.371/.517 with 19 home runs and he has played 20+ games at 2B (20 games), SS (20 games), and 3B (37 games).

*The Astros are 5-0 against Baltimore this season and are 15-4 against the Orioles dating back to 2015.

*As a team the Astros are hitting .291 w/RISP, which is nuts. But since the All-Star Break, the Astros (5-3) have gone 20x81 w/RISP (.247), but have still scored 47 runs. They're 13x66 in their last seven games (.197).

*Dallas Keuchel got his first NYPL win since August 26, 2009, throwing 5IP, 3H/1ER, 5K:0BB over 62 pitches. The ValleyCats won 5-1. Keuchel will be evaluated today and a determination on his status will be made tomorrow.

*With McHugh's return, and Keuchel's impending return, Hinch moved Joe Musgrove to the bullpen, which will give more flexibility to deploy Francis Martes. Martes threw 2.1IP, 0H/0ER, 2K:1BB. Hinch:
The way that our bullpen is constructed now with Musgrove down there, he can cover a little bit more of the length and might free up Martes to be used a little more randomly, just not a defined role.

*Orioles VP Dan Duqette doesn't sound like a guy ready to trade Zach Britton to the Astros:
This year we haven't had the starting pitching that we need, but the other elements of our ball club are intact. If we can get a little bit stronger pitching and add to the pitching, we can still make a run at this.

Baltimore is 46-51, eight games back of Boston and 4.5 back of the Rays with five teams between them.

*Jake Kaplan says that the bullpen is more vulnerable than the rotation.

*Ken Rosenthal reported that the Astros had been aggressive on Sonny Gray early last week, but talks have cooled down, and that - if he's still on the team next week - Derek Fisher will take over in LF.

*The Astros could have interest in Cardinals pitcher Lance Lynn, who was drafted by Jeff Luhnow.

*Buster Olney writes that the Rangers will trade Yu Darvish if they don't think they can re-sign him in the offseason.

*Noah Syndergaard is rethinking how he trains.

*Come get your boy:

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Saturday Morning Hot Links

*James Hoyt and Chris Devenski made that game way more interesting than it needed to be, turning an 8-2 lead in the 9th into a situation where the Astros had to use three relievers to get the final three outs in an 8-7 win over the Orioles. The Astros are 64-32 with a 34-11 road record. They have a 17-game lead with 66 games remaining. 51 of those games are against teams currently below .500. 31 of those games are against AL West teams, against whom the Astros are a combined 31-14.

*Fun part first: Yuli Gurriel had his first career four-hit game including a double and a home run. Hinch:
When he gets going and gets pitches to hit, he does a great job of using the whole field. He's truly a really, really good professional hitter. And the more comfortable he gets and the more he sees the league, the better he's getting.

As of the end of last night's game, Gurriel is the 5th player in the Astros starting lineup to hit .300. (Not counting Colin Moran's .500 average).

*Springer had three hits while Marwin and Colin Moran had two. Everybody in the lineup had at least one hit.

*And speaking of Colin Moran, he came into last night with one career extra-base hit from his previous stint in the Majors. Then he got a triple and a two-run home run. Moran, the nephew of Former Orioles Great B.J. Surhoff, was predictably excited:
I came to this ballpark a lot as a kid, so it's definitely pretty special to play here in the big leagues. 

*Mike Fiers was legit, yet again, throwing 7IP, 6H/1ER, 9K:1BB. McTaggart notes that in his last ten starts, Fiers is 6-2 with a 2.36 ERA, 69K in 61IP. Hinch:
I've said it time and time again, in a time where our rotation was pieced together, he was a stable part of it.

*Fiers hit 93mph last night.

*But dear God the 9th inning was so stupid. With an 8-2 lead (Feliz allowed one run in the 8th), Hinch summoned James Hoyt to get the final three outs. Plot twist: he didn't. Hinch:
It was a mess of an inning from the beginning. They obviously put some good at-bats together. It can happen fast in this park. All's well that ends well with a win - albeit a stressful one in the end.

Hoyt retired the first batter he faced and then, whaddayaknow, allowed a walk, double, double, single to make it 8-4 with runners on the corners. Chris Devenski came in to try to get the last two outs, and he gave up a 3-run home run to make it 8-7 with Chris Davis up. Davis, who hit his 258th career home run on Thursday night against Arlington, bunted to the pitcher for an out. Kenneth then struck out Trumbo to end the game.

*As of right now the only time to throw James Hoyt is when you have a 6-run lead and three outs to get the win. But if he isn't reliable even then, what do you do? I'll give him credit for five straight appearances (July 2-15) when he didn't allow a run, but last night was the second straight outing in which he's allowed an earned run. In 15 road appearances, Hoyt has thrown 16.2IP, 18H/13ER, 27K:5BB. He has good stuff, doesn't walk many batters, he just can't miss bats. Which is an insane thing to type out given that he has 55 strikeouts in 35.1IP overall. Irritating.

*Righties vs Hoyt, 2017: .252/.282/.413
Lefties vs. Hoyt, 2017: .294/.360/.544

Yet 47.6% (68 of 143) of ABs batters have taken (ABs not PAs because it's 8:10am and Baseball-Reference hasn't updated yet) against Hoyt have been lefties.

*And yet it was Reymin Guduan who was sent back Fresno to make room for Collin McHugh. Jake Kaplan notes that Baltimore's righty-heavy lineup was likely the reason that it was Guduan and not Hoyt.

*In a geographically-convenient move (that barely seems fair) Dallas Keuchel will make what everyone hopes will be his final rehab start at Tri-City tonight.

*Yesterday I decided that the Astros can afford Justin Verlander, if they want him. Please, I'm begging you, note that the post was not *should* the Astros go get Verlander. The Tigers are "not remotely close" to a deal with any team.

*Crooked-ass Padres GM A.J. Preller wants the world for lefty reliever Brad Hand:
An anonymous executive joked to Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan, "I don't think the Dodgers would ask more for Kershaw than A.J. is for Brad Hand.

*Yu Darvish can block a trade to the Cubs, Indians, Pirates, Red Sox, and Rockies.

*It's not infuriating at all that - out of nowhere - I can't go to Cooperstown next week. Bagwell has been watching a lot of Astros games this season.

*Baseball America posted their Top 10 Astros Midseason Prospects:
1. Kyle Tucker
2. Franklin Perez
3. Francis Martes
4. Derek Fisher
5. Forrest Whitley
6. Yordan Alvarez
7. J.B. Bukauskas
8. Teoscar Hernandez
9. J.D. Davis
10. Garrett Stubbs

Notable that Bukauskas has yet to make his pro debut.

*For schadenfreude, check the Rangers' write-up:
A thinned-out farm system has seen several players struggle, with more spare parts than impact talent or projected everyday regulars in the organization.

*Forrest Whitley threw 3.2IP, 3H/2ER, 7K:2BB last night for Buies Creek. Stephen Wrenn was 3x5 with a home run and 2RBI. BCA is 19-9 in the second half with a 5.5-game lead on Winston-Salem.

*Cumulatively the Astros' domestic minor-league teams are 258-212 (.549). Minor-League Standings Check:
Fresno: 57-42, tied for 1st in the Pacific Northern division
Corpus: (49-49 overall) 15-13 in the second half, two games behind San Antonio
BCA: (56-42 overall) 19-9 in the second half, 5.5-game lead
Quad Cities: (56-40 overall) 19-9 in the second half, 3.0-game lead
Tri-City: 12-18, 5.0 back
Greeneville: 16-12, 1.5 back
GCL Astros: 12-9, 1.0 back

*There's a Kickstarter to save Mission Control.

*ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball lineup:
July 23: Cardinals at Cubs
July 30: Giants at Dodgers
August 6: Dodgers at Mets
August 13: Red Sox at Yankees
August 20: Cardinals at Pirates

The August 27 Sunday Night Baseball matchup hasn't been picked up, but the Astros @ Angels game time is the only one listed as TBD.

*If you've been reading all the way to the bottom of the Hot Links for the past, I don't know, two or three years, you've seen a lot of links to Vice Sports articles., in a continued effort to produce video content that everyone in the world hates in order to speed up the downfall of any semblance of a literate society, closed it down. can go to hell. Websites, ranked by awfulness:
3. Websites that auto-play videos
2. Websites that auto-play multiple videos at the same time
1. Websites that move your browser window down so that you have no choice but to (a) throw your computer against the wall or (b) close the tab as quickly as possible and never go back to that website ever again.

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Astros can afford Justin Verlander

Because I love those page vyuuuus and I want all the Clicks, and because my availability to randomly post #content during the day is quickly drawing to a close,  I thought I'd take a look at the financials of acquiring Justin Verlander.

Let's set the stage a little bit. In a pair of tweets from Jon Morosi (who is a noted Michigander, so when he talks about the Tigers, I listen) he says that the Astros are interested in acquiring both Justin Verlander and Justin Wilson. Wilson would fill the need for a lefty reliever and Verlander would provide a Proven Veteran front-of-the-line starter (more on that in a minute) for the next few years. But he's expensive. Here's his contract:

2017: $28m
2018: $28m
2019: $28m
2020: Option for $22m vests if Verlander finishes in the 2019 AL Cy Young voting.

So if we eyeball the math on the rest of his salary for 2017...carry the one...let's say he's owed $13m at the time the Astros trade for him and Wilson. So that means Verlander would be owed $69m guaranteed (wink), and we won't concern ourselves with the vesting option for 2020.

$69m for a 34-year old starting pitcher currently going through the worst season of his career is steep. If we assume - and we're doing a lot of assuming in this post - the Tigers kick in half of Verlander's salary, the Astros would be on the hook for approximately $35m over the next two-and-a-half seasons. Can the Astros afford that?

To divide it evenly, it would mean the Astros adding $14m in payroll for this season and the next two seasons, as well. Yes, the Astros can afford that. Season-by-season:


Potential money cleared:
Carlos Beltran ($16m)
Luke Gregerson ($6.25m)
Nori Aoki ($5.5m)
Total: $27.75m

I can't imagine Carlos Beltran getting another deal, much less one at $16m. Luke Gregerson is a free agent at the end of the year, and the Astros *could* let him walk. Depending on what happens with Derek Fisher in the next ten days, Nori Aoki is a non-tender candidate for 2018. $6-7m is a decent chunk of change for a 4th/5th OF.

Payroll added:
George Springer
Lance McCullers
Dallas Keuchel
Ken Giles

George Springer is looking to get PAID in his 3rd-year of arbitration, and will definitely command more than the $3.9m he's getting this year). McCullers will be in his first year of arbitration, so he'll get a substantial increase over his league minimum salary. Same argument for Ken Giles. Keuchel's salary may not increase too much over his $9.15m this year in his final season of arbitration given that he'll end up missing approximately two months of the season. Eyeballing arbitration figures, I'm going to assume Springer gets in the $8-10m range for 2018, McCullers and Giles in the $4-5m range, and Keuchel in the $10-11m range. That would bring an increase of $15m to the payroll. Subtracting that number from the above money cleared, that's a difference of about $13m. Leaving the Astros $1m short of Verlander's contract. A doable difference.


Potential money cleared:
Brian McCann ($11.5m)
Charlie Morton ($7m)
Tony Sipp ($6m)
Jon Singleton ($2m)
Total: $26.5m

None of the above players figure into the 2019 team.

Payroll added:
Carlos Correa
Chris Devenski

Correa and Devenski will be arbitration-eligible for the first time, so they will command a decent payroll addition. Since arbitration is *supposed* to be a year-by-year valuation of a player and not a cumulative effort (i.e., it would be, uh, abnormal if, say, Alex Bregman was eligible for arbitration in 2020, had a crap 2019, but the panel said, "Your 2018 season was really good, so despite missing 159 games with an ear infection, we're going to award you $Eleventy Gajillion") I'm not going to speculate on 2nd- and 3rd-year arbitration players' salaries.

Other limitations of this exercise also involve a potential long-term deal for Altuve (upon whom the Astros can exercise a $6m and $6.5m - pause to shake your head until it falls off your damn shoulders - team option in 2018 and 2019, respectively), Springer, or Keuchel.

What this exercise *doesn't* do is evaluate whether Verlander is worth it. It also doesn't evaluate whether Verlander - a 10 & 5 guy - would waive his no-trade clause to join the Astros. But if Mr. Upton, who is clearly in the twilight of his career - wants a shot at his first World Series ring, then he'll need to approve a trade somewhere as Detroit looks to rebuild. And the Astros could handle his salary. The more salary the Astros take on, the less they have to pay in prospects.


Friday Morning Hot Links

*Off-day yesterday (of course) so it was all about Teh Rumorz!

*Brian McTaggart's Mailbag suggests the Astros go after Zach Britton and maybe not so much after a starter. He also says Verlander would cost too much (in terms of actual dollars).

*The Astros are interested in Verlander, but involvement in talks is apparently "minimal."

*Buster Olney tweeted that the Astros "may well be" the most motivated to trade for Britton. Britton has been dealing with a forearm strain for most of the season, leading him to throw just 16IP this season. He has walked seven batters in those 16IP. But he won't be a free agent until 2019.

*Britton gave up 2H/2ER, 0K:1BB in Baltimore's win over North Corsicana last night.

*Jon Heyman tweeted that he's not hearing anything serious going on between Oakland and Houston on Sonny Gray, despite Jon Morosi's report to the contrary.

*Heyman also tweeted that the Astros don't love Justin Verlander's contract.

*The Rangers have started gathering intel on what they could get in return for Yu Darvish, according to Jeff Passan. Passan:
[The Astros'] market is almost assuredly Darvish, Gray, or bust.

The Rangers are not playing well. They just got swept by Baltimore (whom the Astros play this weekend) and have lost five straight. They're 18 games back of Houston and 4.5 back of the 2nd Wild Card spot with five teams between them and getting to be the road team in the Wild Card game. FanGraphs gives them an 11.2% change of making the postseason. It would make sense to get something for Darvish before he hits free agency this offseason (and potentially re-sign him in five months, though Jon Heyman says that's unlikely given Darvish will shoot for Strasburg's $175m contract). Would it be delicious to win the race for the World Series with the Rangers' best pitcher? YES. Would it suck to watch the package of prospects it would require to get him help prop the Rangers back up? ALSO YES.

*Six years ago yesterday Jose Altuve made his MLB debut. In those six years, Altuve has the most hits in baseball. Top Five:
Altuve: 1173
Robinson Cano: 1121
Miguel Cabrera: 1096
Andrew McCutchen: 1018
Adam Jones: 1015

*Fresno beat Las Vegas 18-5, hitting five home runs. Jon Kemmer (2HR), Derek Fisher, and Preston Tucker (5RBI) each had three hits. A.J. Reed added two home runs and 5RBI. Fresno scored 61 runs in the four-game series at Las Vegas. Their 149 home runs leads all of minor-league baseball by 18 HR.

*Dexture McCall and Jason Martin went back-to-back in a 5-3 Corpus win at Midland. McCall has homered in four straight games for Corpus.

*Buies Creek scored the last eight runs of the game in an 8-3 win over Carolina. Anibal Sierra was a double shy of the cycle, finishing 3x4 with 5RBI. Myles Straw, Jake Rogers, and Tyler Wolfe had two hits each. Kevin Hill threw the final 3.2IP, allowing 1H/0ER, 5K:0BB.

*In this podcast Forrest Whitley talks about his first full pro season.

*How do you not know how to spell Keuchel by now? Matijevic? I get that. Bukauskas? Sure. They're minor-leaguers, just drafted. But Keuchel? Come on...

*Jeff Passan: The loudest voices for change in a collapsing Venezuela are coming from MLB.

*Here's a story from Minnesota on autograph culture (this is a hobby that I simply do not understand, but whatever, to each their own.)


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Randy Johnson is not walking through that door

What with the talk of the 2017 Astros currently playing like the best Astros team of all-time, it's easy to get nostalgic, especially with the 1998 Astros. It's that 1998 team that the 2017 Astros are chasing, at least in terms of franchise greatness. But Randy Johnson isn't available in 2017. No one like Randy Johnson is available in 2017.

When the Astros acquired Randy Johnson (and if you want to read a way-too-long retelling of how that trade went down, you can click here) he had made 23 starts, throwing 160IP, 146H/77ER, 213K:60BB - a 4.33 ERA - but everyone knew how unhappy he was in Seattle. The Astros traded for him and you know the rest. In eleven starts he went 10-1 with a 1.28 ERA, striking out 116 batters in 84.1IP. He failed to get 21 outs just once in those eleven starts, when he allowed 6H/3ER, 3K:4BB against Philadelphia on August 17.

That guy is not out there. He was until December 6, 2016, when the Red Sox traded Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech for him.

We have been thinking about 2017 and measuring it against great teams of Astros past: 2004, 1998, 1986. Which is fine, it's a perfectly normal thing to do (I was a history major and I teach history, this is something I do on a regular basis). But I have to try to keep myself from falling into the trap of thinking that, because the 1998 Astros traded for Randy Johnson and everything was awesome (until the SDMF Padres came along), the Astros have to follow the same course of action.

You want the Astros to do what they did in 1998? It'll be tough to convince the Dodgers to trade Kershaw when they're the best team in the National League and trying to break a 29-year World Series drought of their own. Is Sonny Gray the answer? Maybe, maybe not. The Rays aren't trading Chris Archer in the next eleven days. Toronto isn't trading Marcus Stroman. There isn't an elite starting pitcher out there who has sufficiently pissed off ownership and management enough to the point where they're willing to trade him. Randy Johnson isn't walking through that door. And we (I) should adjust our (my) expectations immediately.

Thursday Morning Hot Links

*James Paxton is a very good pitcher who has, this season, owned the Astros. That doesn't mean the Astros are deficient or poorly built or anything negative. Sometimes you just run into a really good pitcher, he handles you, and you go about your off-day before embarking on a nine-game road trip. It was the Astros' first series loss since June 16-18 (Boston). The Astros are 63-32, with a 15.5-game lead with 67 games remaining. After today there are just seven off-days left in the regular season.

*James Paxton vs Houston, 2017: 20IP, 12H/1ER, 20K:4BB. 0.45 ERA/0.80 WHIP. Hinch:
We swung the bats fairly well early and hit a couple of balls hard and didn't really push anything across, but he's really good. His arm strength is at the top end of left-handed starters in the league. 

Catcher Mike Zunino, on Paxton:
He's obviously got swing-and-miss stuff and they're a free-swinging team. He's got enough stuff to miss bats and that's a good combination against those guys.

Do you want to tell Zunino that the Astros have the fewest strikeouts in all of baseball? Or that they rank 23rd in overall swing%? Or should I?

*There are twenty pitchers who have thrown at least 10IP against the Astros this season. Five of them have an ERA under 3.00:
James Paxton - 0.45
Ervin Santana - 2.08
Jason Vargas - 2.45
Sean Manaea - 2.70
Ricky Nolasco - 2.77

But nine of those twenty have an ERA over 5.00. So.

*Guillermo Heredia made the defensive play of the game, getting George Springer at third.

*AL West, last 30 games:
Houston: 19-11
Seattle: 16-14
Oakland: 16-14
Anaheim: 14-16
Arlington: 13-17

*Off-Day Playoff Odds check:
FanGraphs (102-60): 100% to win division, 15.8% to win the World Series
FiveThirtyEight (104-58): >99% to win division, 22% to win the World Series
Baseball Prospectus (102-60): 100% to win division, 19.1% to win the World Series.

*Carlos Correa's surgery was successful, and Alex Bregman will be playing Shortstop this weekend at Baltimore. Here's Correa's Instagram post from the hospital room, post-op.

*Dallas Keuchel described the last seven weeks as "a mini-offseason." He will make one more rehab start on Saturday before - ideally - rejoining the rotation the following week, probably against Detroit. Keuchel:
I fully expect this to be the last one if everything checks off and it goes as planned.

*Will Harris can be activated from the DL tomorrow, but he'll play catch for the first time since going on the DL instead. Harris:
I don't feel it at all. It's only been throwing the ball, and trying to throw the ball with some effort, that's causing my problems. 

Hmm. Given that he's a pitcher on a Major League Baseball team, he should probably wait until it doesn't hurt to throw with effort to come back.

*The Astros are still among the teams interested in Detroit's Justin Wilson.

*Jerry Crasnick writes about what the Dodgers and Astros might do at the Trade Deadline (now 11 days away). An AL Talent Evaluator:
Knowing what I know about Jeff, there are some serious aggressive machinations to find that starter or bullpen guy.

A scout:
Do you give up Kyle Tucker or Francis Martes for a small, marginal difference in that Game 3? I don't know. Do you give it up to get Britton? Maybe you do.

There was much weeping and gnashing of teeth on The Twitters yesterday as everyone caught up to the idea of the Diamondbacks trading for J.D. Martinez and the Yankees trading for a new 1B and two good relievers, all after the Cubs went out and got Jose Quintana. But please do keep in mind that none of those teams are leading their division and are trying to get into the playoffs via the Wild Card. That's obviously not a position they share with the Astros (see: Off-Day Playoff Odds check, above). Those teams need the two-ish weeks before the deadline to give themselves a leg up on their opponents to get into the playoffs, because those days could be the difference in playing in the Wild Card game and making golf plans on October 2. The Astros are looking for the right guy(s) to get them to the World Series. There's a vastly different philosophy between the two situations.

You run the possibility of another team being more aggressive and dealing for the guy(s) the Astros want, but it's not as though any of these trades happen in a vacuum. Let's say the Astros have been engaging the A's on Sonny Gray for weeks, months even. If the Brewers come in and offer something slightly better, Billy Beane is going to call Luhnow and say "Think you can offer something better than this deal?" Everyone knows the strength of the Astros' farm system. Oakland will play the teams against each other to get the best possible deal. There is never an actual Mystery Team.

*What is Sonny Gray really worth?

*Kyle Tucker is David Schoenfield's pick for Houston's untouchable player.

*Corpus' Alex Winkelman came within an out of no-hitting Frisco last night. Some Rangers' Double-A jacknut Marwin'd a pitch right up the middle. Winkelman went 8.2IP, 1H/0ER, 6K:2BB for his first Double-A win.

*Ryne Birk was promoted from Buies Creek to Corpus, and J.D. Davis was promoted to Fresno as Colin Moran figures to spend the rest of the season in Houston.
Birk (13th Round - 2016) was hitting .274/.340/.430 for BCA while Davis was hitting .279/.340/.510 with a Texas League-leading 21 home runs. 

*Ronnie Dawson, Josh Rojas, and Daz Cameron beat the dog piss out of Lansing, 20-3. After getting off to a slow start this season, Cameron is hitting .379/.433/.672 in July.

*Here's a cool profile from on Todd Kalas.

*Kris Bryant is the latest superstar to hurt his finger on a head-first slide.

*In his 2nd PA for his new team, J.D. Martinez was hit on the hand by a pitch.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Wednesday Morning Hot Links

*Brad Peacock did a pretty great job and Evan Gattis hit two home runs as the Astros move to 1-0 post-Correa. In 7IP, Peacock allowed two infield hits out of three total, with 1ER, 9K:1BB. Astros win 6-2 and regain a 16.5-game lead in the division. There are 68 games left.

*Astros run differential, vs. AL West:
Oakland: +38
Oak Cliff: +24
Seattle: +6
Anaheim: -2

That's a +66 run differential just against teams in the division. Only four other MLB teams (Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Yankees, and Nationals) have an overall run differential better than +66.

*The Astros are 22-8 in games following a loss.

*Peacock has 93 strikeouts in 68.2IP, which gives him a 12.19 K/9 rate, which happens to rank 3rd in baseball among pitchers who have thrown at least 60 pitches, behind Chris Sale (12.70) and Max Schezer (12.26). Peacock's last six starts: 34.1IP, 23H/7ER, 45K:20BB. Hinch:
Rotation, bullpen, when we hand the ball to Peacock, he's been exceptional - almost the year in its entirety.

I definitely had the best command I had tonight all year. I felt good all around, controlling the slider, dropping a curveball in and working off my fastball.

*Evan Gattis hit his 9th and 10th home runs of the season, making him the 9th Astro with double-digit home runs. In the Enron Field/Minute Maid Park era, only two other Astros teams have had at least nine players with 10+ HR: 2015 (11) and 2000 (9). With Reddick at 9HR and Bregman at 8HR, the 2017 team should match the 2015 team. And they would need Aoki to go Full Hulk and hit nine home runs over the last 68 games to eclipse 2015. Hinch, on Gattis:
He's not getting the playing time that his skill level warrants. He's creeping into it. He's going to play tomorrow. I'm trying to get him as many at-bats as we can. When I put him in there, the threat is always there. His damage is really good lately. And that's not forgotten.

*Jose Altuve was 3x4, raising his line to .351/.419/.556.

*Credit to Luke Gregerson, who recorded a four-out save. On August 18, 2015 he threw 2IP (9th and 10th) and got the win against the Rays.

*You know it was big because I actually wrote something on this dumb website after 8am, but here is reaction and precedent for Correa's injury.

*Brian T. Smith says the Astros are deep enough to withstand two months without Correa.

*George Springer was hit on the hand by Sam Gaviglio in the 1st inning and of course everyone got nervous. X-rays were negative.  Hinch:
Pretty sickening feeling to walk on the field not too long after talking about Correa and George got hit. Fortunately for us he came back with a nice game and had a big hit. We breathe a little sigh of relief. 

*Facebook Dot Com's Ken Rosenthal says that if the Astros don't get Sonny Gray, they have to decide if someone like Lance Lynn is enough of an upgrade over Morton or McHugh. Still, there's pressure on the front office to do something:
Players on contending teams often think at the deadline, "We've done our job. Now the front office needs to do its job." The Astros, like the Dodgers, might face a mini-revolt if they do nothing - particularly when this might be Carlos Beltran's last chance to win a World Series.

Imagine being Ken Rosenthal, one of the most respected baseball writers in the world. Fox Sports tells him, "No you can't write any actual words. Just record video." And so he has to post his columns on Facebook. Fox Sports is stupid.

*Orioles owner Peter Angelos has reportedly given the green light to Baltimore's front office to trade Zach Britton. Go get him.

*AC's own Joel took a look at the starting pitching market. Make sure you give it a click.

*FiveThirtyEight's buyer's (and seller's) guide to the trade deadline.

*Yuli Gurriel leads the current hard-hit rate in MLB.

*Kate Morrison: Revisiting the Ken Giles trade

*The Astros are going to give Dallas Keuchel another rehab start.

*Collin McHugh will start Saturday at Baltimore. Joe Musgrove has been shifted to the bullpen. McHugh:
In terms of being ready to move onto the next step and face big league guys, I feel as good as I've felt in a long time. 

*Corpus placed Kyle Tucker on the 7-Day DL with a bad back, retroactive to Sunday.

*The Astros released Fresno pitchers Tyson Perez and Aaron West yesterday. Perez was the Astros' 17th Round pick in 2011. He pitched really well in Fresno in 2015 (2.62 ERA in 44.2IP), lost basically all of 2016 to injury, and then had a 5.68 ERA in 31 appearances for Fresno this season. West was the Astros' 17th Round pick in 2012. In 43.2IP for Fresno this season he allowed 72H/22ER, 36K:8BB.

*J.D. Martinez got traded to Arizona and, thankfully, not the Dodgers.

*The Yankees traded for Todd Frazier and relievers David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle. Two more potential bullpen pieces off the board (if you think the Astros need them). Perhaps we - as fans - need to identify a little more with this line from Andrew Marchand:
[The Yankees] might regret the deal one day but that wasn't the case Tuesday night, at least not in Girardi's office or in his clubhouse...There is no doubt that the Yankees are a better team, with a superior chance to win this season than they had before the deal. Long term, no one knows. But that is an opinion for a long time from now.

*Crazy game in Fresno last night as both teams traded two separate five-run innings, with Fresno beating Las Vegas, 19-12. Derek Fisher was 4x6 with two doubles and a home run. Teoscar Hernandez, Preston Tucker, and A.J. Reed each had three hits. Old friend Jio Mier was 1x3 with a sac fly for Las Vegas. Fresno SP Kyle Smith faced six batters to open the game and allowed five hits and a walk and was charged with 5ER.

*Man, here's a great story from Yahoo about a 14-year old's Make-A-Wish event at the All-Star Game. The town where we live has a pretty active Make-A-Wish chapter and my wife and daughter often dress up in whatever theme they choose, and it breaks my heart and also makes me so happy. You need to get involved with Make-A-Wish.

*Vice Sports: Edwin Jackson's Long, Fascinating Road. Also, get used to seeing that annotated box score. I love it and I will steal it.

*Ben Lindbergh: Mexico City would break all the home run records

*Four Mariners prospects took a 7-hour Uber ride to get to their game.