Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Tuesday Morning Hot Links

Good morning. So back on March 31 I ran a half-marathon. I made a Big Deal about it. It was fun and I would do it again. But my right knee has hurt pretty much non-stop for the last seven weeks. Tendinitis, or something. It started to get better last week, I gave it some more time. This morning I ran two very slow miles and now, 30 minutes removed, it still feels okay. Today is a good day.

The Astros, minus George Springer and Jose Altuve, beat the White Sox' bullpen last night 3-0. Houston is 32-16 with an 8.5-game lead on 2nd place Arlington. They have won 14 of their last 16 games and are 14-4 in May.

*It was Houston's 5th shutout of the year. Houston has hit a home run in 17 straight games, two shy of the franchise record.

*Brad Peacock threw 5IP, 2H/0ER, 9K:0BB and he now has a 3.59 ERA. A bullpen of Devenski, Harris, Pressly, and Osuna held the White Sox to 2H/0ER, 4K:0BB.

Since getting shelled for 7ER at Minnesota, Peacock's last three starts: 17IP, 8H/1ER, 24K:5BB, 0.53 ERA / 0.76 WHIP.

*Houston pitchers struck out 13 batters and walked 0. There have only been 24 instances of 10+ K/0BB in MLB this season, and last night was the 5th time this season that a team has thrown a 10+K/0BB shutout. It has happened to the Marlins twice, the Orioles twice, and now the White Sox.

*Ryan Pressly ran his consecutive outing scoreless streak to 40. He needed 10 pitches to get through the 8th. It's the 10th time in 19 appearances that he has needed 13 pitches or less to record three outs.

*Since striking out twice in back-to-back games on May 14-15, Alex Bregman (1x3, BB) has struck out once in his last 19 PAs.

*Tyler White hit his first home run since September 11, 2018. He credits watching Kris Bryant and his axe-handle bat. White:
I'm going to use it as long as I do well. I don't know if it helped or not, but Kris Bryant had been talking about it a lot and I was just like, 'Well, I'm going to try it out.' I've never used it. I know George is a guy that uses it always and a couple of other guys in here...It worked today.

*Jake Marisnick hit his 5th home run of the season. In 89 PAs in 2019, Marisnick has 12 extra-base hits. In 235 PAs in 2018, Marisnick had 19 extra-base hits.

*Jose Altuve took BP prior to last night's game and the hope is that he can start his rehab assignment later this week. Other updates: Springer could be back (pun intended) this week, and Aledmys Diaz could return to the lineup tonight.

*George Springer was not in the lineup last night, but had an MRI and got "good news," whatever that means. It probably means he still has a back.

*The Astros jumped into the top spot in Alyson Footer's Power Rankings for MLB.com.

*SI's Michael Beller: It's the Summer of George Season of Springer.

*Kyle Tucker, April 2019: 22 games, .173/.221/.407, 21K:5BB.
 Kyle Tucker, May 2019: 17 games, .355/.459/.823, 18K:11BB

*The Ellen DeGeneres Show will be at Minute Maid on Wednesday.

*Former Astros Great Luke Gregerson was unconditionally released by the Cardinals yesterday. After a 3-year stint with the Astros in which he threw 179.2IP, 148H/78ER, 196K:48BB (3.66 ERA / 1.09 WHIP), Gregerson has spent the last 1+ seasons with St. Louis, throwing 18.1IP, 25H/15ER, 14K:7BB (7.36 ERA / 1.75 WHIP). Gregerson threw 5.1IP in the 2017 postseason, allowing 2H/0ER, 5K:2BB. And then went and messed up the Cardinals. Legend.

*Yoenis Cespedes is likely out for the season after suffering a "a violent fall off a non-horse" and receiving several fractures in his ankle. I too have taken a fall off a non-horse (a skateboard) and we shall move right along.

*The Dodgers almost moved to the San Fernando Valley, and then the Angels blocked it.

*The Hardball Times' Mark Armour: A look back at the celebration of the "modern game's" 100th anniversary.

*Watching "Inglourious Basterds" in the Trump Era.

*I'm part of the way through Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke and I'm really enjoying it. It's $1.99 for Kindle right now.

*Mental Floss: Eight tips for beating a claw machine

*The New Yorker: The Undercover Fascist.

*A Musical Selection:

Monday, May 20, 2019

Monday Morning Hot Links

The streak is broken. Boston got us. The Astros are now the only team in the majors to have 2 10-game winning streak. In fact, we're the only team to have 1 10-game winning streak. But anyways, about the game yesterday:

Springer: 0-3 and left the game with back tightness. The severity of the injury is currently unknown, but he is now considered day-to-day.
Correa: 1-4, 2-run HR
Reddick: 2-2
Miley: 5 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 K

Full Box:

There are not a lot of Hot Links at all today, just as a fair warning.

The Astros have the White Sox tomorrow. Here's a brief recap as to what to expect:

The new Lima Time Time podcast dropped last night. Listen when you get the chance.

Chandler Rome wrote up how the Astros are sticking with Robinson Chirinos even after getting beat around behind the plate quite often as of late.

CBSSports wrote a quick piece about just how unbelievable the Astros offense has been.

Former Astros Great Jake Elmore is back in the MLB. Unsurprisingly, Pirates Twitter isn't very happy about it.

Are you kidding me Yordan Alvarez?

Belgium is trying to bring mullets back through a *checks notes* mullet festival.

The former Department of Defense Aerospace Manager has claimed that UFOs exist and are really real. Do what you want with that information.

On This Day in Baseball History

In 1976, Lou Piniella and Carlton Fisk collided at home plate and started a benches clearing brawl.

In 2006, Barry Bonds tied Babe Ruth with his 714th career home run.

In 2006, Cubs catcher Michael Barrett punched A.J. Pierzynski in the face after a home plate collision, sparking a major brawl.

In 2010, the Braves came back from being down 9-3 in the 9th, with the game capped off by a pinch hit grand slam by Brooks Conrad.

In 2018, Jordan Hicks tied Aroldis Chapman's fastest pitch in MLB history twice, throwing 105 two different times to Odubel Herrera.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Sunday Morning Hot Links

The Astros won their 10th straight game thanks to dismantling Boston "starter" Hector Velasquez in the 1st inning that led to a 5-0 lead before Boston even got up to bat. Still, the game felt closer than the 7-3 final would indicate. No matter. Houston is 31-15, winners of 13 of their last 14 games. It's their second W10+ of the season.

*As a team, they're hitting .311/.376/.587 with 24 home runs in this ten-game winning streak. As a team, the pitching staff has thrown 90IP, 54H/21R (20ER), 114K:32BB, a 2.00 ERA / 0.96 WHIP. All of this is insane.

We want to keep winning as many games as we can. Obviously, it's a huge accomplishment. These guys out here, they're playing hard, they're playing well, we're playing good defense, we're pitching, we're hitting. When we play all facets like that, we have a chance to win every night.

I feel like this is the team to beat with us, and we have a target on our back even though we didn't make it all the way last year. I feel like other teams think that as well, because they see how dangerous we really are.

*Corbin Martin made his second career MLB start, his first road start, his first start at Fenway, his first start in a nationally-televised game. And...it went okay. He got squeezed, got frustrated, and walked a bunch of dudes. Ultimately he threw 4IP, 5H/3R (2ER), 0K:4BB.

You have to go back to Corpus, on May 19, 2018 to find the last time Corbin Martin got 2+ outs and didn't record a strikeout. July 19, 2017 was the only other time it has happened while he has been in the Astros' organization.

The last time an Astros starter did not record a strikeout was October 2, 2016, when Brady Rodgers threw 3.2IP, 5H/4ER, 0K:3BB in an 8-1 loss to Anaheim. The last time an Astros starter didn't record a strikeout in a team win was May 14, 2015 when Roberto Hernandez threw 6.1IP of 0K ball in a 6-4 win over Toronto.

Chandler Rome notes how impressive it was that Martin kept it together after a rough first inning. Martin:
I just didn't give them a reason to swing with the offspeed stuff. I wasn't landing it. They were just sitting fastball and, to that point, I was just trying to execute fastball location.

*Josh James held the game down with 3IP, 0H/0ER, 2K:1BB. He's worked through his issues from earlier in the season. Since watching his ERA balloon to 7.90 after an April 26 outing against Cleveland, James: six appearances, 10IP, 3H/0ER, 14K:4BB. 0.00 ERA / 0.70 WHIP. Hinch described James' performance last night as "incredible."

*The Red Sox were unhappy with Home Plate Umpire Jeff Nelson. The Red Sox are 1x16 w/RISP in the last two games. Maybe they should focus on that. Corbin Martin's mom is a pro when it comes to dealing with Ken Rosenthal's zone-baiting.

*Every batter in the Astros' lineup got a hit. Michael Brantley got his 3rd 3-hit game of the season. Brantley has hits in 35 of the 45 games in which he has started, and has gotten on base in 40 of the 45 games in which he has started. Since going five straight games without a hit, ending on April 5, Brantley is hitting .361/.410/.619 with 15K:12BB (161 PAs).

*Alex Cora:
[Velasquez] had Bregman 1-2 and he wasn't able to put him away. Then Brantley, he had him two strikes and wasn't able to put him away. That's what they do. They battle with two strikes and they put good swings with two strikes.

*Alex Bregman was 1x3 with two walks. He has a seven-game hitting streak in which he's hitting .281/.343/.688. It's his 5th 2BB game of the year.

*Josh Reddick hit his 4th home run of the season, and his first homer at Fenway since April 30, 2012. He's hitting .324/.372/.451 this year.

*Tyler White was 2x5 with 2RBI, his first 2+ RBI game of the year, and his first since September 11, 2018, a span of 33 games.

*Since Jose Altuve played his last full game on May 9, the Astros are 8-0.

*The update on Aledmys Diaz's hamstring is that it's a "very mild" strain. He won't play today unless it's an emergency. Diaz:
I feel better. We're going to take it day by day, and hopefully in a couple of days, I feel 100 percent. We're in a very good spot right now.

*Andrew Benintendi's walk-up song was "Houston, We Got A Problem" by country music "star" Luke Combs.

*Here's Boston.com's Chad Finn with a good piece on the Astros-Red Sox rivalry. Hinch:
There is definitely something building here. These are two very, very good teams with a knack for playing tight games. And we've already interfered with each other's plans the last couple of years.

*There's now a big ol' replica ring outside Minute Maid Park for all your Instagram needs.

*It's Wade Miley v. Chris Sale today. Here's The Athletic's Jen McCaffery on how Sale turned his season around.

*The Pirates are going to try to turn Former Astros Great J.B. Shuck into a two-way player.

*Out of the Park Baseball 20 is out on Steam. I just won my fourth straight World Series, and it wasn't even that close. Forrest Whitley and J.B. Bukauskas can't stay healthy in that game, but Carlos Correa and Kyle Tucker are baseball gods. You should buy this game and let it consume you.

*A year after the Santa Fe shooting, families continue to struggle with trauma and grief.

*A Musical Selection, with a note: While we still lived in Nashville (and before we had a kid) we would often to go concerts. I don't even remember what concerts are, but I know they're out there. Anyway, we went to go see Will Hoge - which we will do anytime he plays within 200 miles of us - and the opener came out in a purple v-neck t-shirt and a fedora and I was all, "This F. Guy." Then he played this, and we were in. Good album all around:

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Saturday Morning Hot Links

Well I guess it's clear the Astros weren't playing the Angels, Royals, Rangers, or Tigers. Boston put up a valiant fight, making Gerrit Cole work, but ultimately it was the pitching staff and a clutch homer from George Springer that decided the game. The Astros have won nine straight games, twelve of their last 13. The Astros and the Dodgers both won their 30th game on the same day.

Impressive win. Our pitching did really well to hang in there all the way to that last out. It was pretty exciting.

*Number of games needed to get to 30 wins, Astros:
2019: 45
2018: 48
2017: 45
2016: 64
2015: 47
2014: 67
2013: 79
2012: 72
2011: 88
2010: 77

So the 2019 and 2017 Astros have the exact same record after 45 games. But the 2017 Astros won 12 of their next 13 games after G45, so it's okay if it drops off a little, I guess.

*Houston got all three runs in the 8th inning, they're now 2-15 when beginning the 8th inning behind. The Astros are now 29-5 when scoring at least three runs in a game. They're now 5-6 when getting six hits or fewer in a game.

*Gerrit Cole struck out seven in six scoreless IPs, but the Red Sox made him work, throwing 99 pitches. It's his second scoreless outing of the season, but he has allowed two or fewer Earned Runs in six of his ten starts.

*Ryan Pressly set the MLB record for consecutive scoreless appearances, with 39 dating back to August 15, 2018, breaking a tie with Craig Kimbrel. There's not a whole lot you can say about Ryan Pressly right now, dude's insane. He needed 13 pitches to record three outs. It's the 8th time this season he has needed 13 pitches or less to get three outs. He has thrown 260 pitches in 20IP in 2019, 13 pitches per inning, 4.33 pitches per out.

*George Springer hit his 17th home run. Number of PAs on his 17th home run of the season:
2014: 304
2015: N/A (he hit 16)
2016: 368
2017: 262
2018: 451
2019: 204

Springer set the franchise record for "Most HR in the First 45 Games" category, beating Lance Berkman's 2008 record of 16. Berkman would only hit 13 more home runs that season. I bet Springer beats him.

Springer told Ken Rosenthal that it "felt like a playoff game."

*In his pre-game notes, McTaggart gave updates on Corbin Martin (big fan of MLB hotels) and Jose Altuve, who is making progress but unlikely to come back after his 10 days are up. Hinch:
I'm not anticipating him making it back before the 10 days expire, which is not that big of a deal. Once we decide to put him in the IL, we want to make sure he's right. He's doing great, he's feeling better and is pain-free, and now we have to integrate the baseball stuff and see where that takes him towards the early parts of next week.

Chandler Rome writes that Altuve could go out on a rehab assignment before rejoining the team.

*Aledmys Diaz is getting an MRI on his hamstring this morning.

*Forrest Whitley, last night: 4IP, 6H/4ER, 4K:2BB. Whitley's last four appearances: 11.1IP, 19H/18ER, 15K:7BB.

Yordan was 2x4 but didn't get any homers or doubles, so clearly he's not ready.

*Royals 1B Ryan O'Hearn likes the Tequila Sunrise Astros unis the best.

*A Musical Selection:

Friday, May 17, 2019

Friday Morning Hot Links

Hey it's your pal James here. Sorry for my caterwauling yesterday, but it was necessary. Anyway, I'm giving Flick a three-day reprieve from the Blogging Conclave. The Astros did not play last night. They are 29-15. Earlier this week I won Whataburger from a co-worker because the Astros swept the Rangers (if the Rangers had split or won the series, I would have been buying). Today is the beginning of the second of three bets with the same co-worker: if the Rangers are ten games behind the Astros at any point after May 17, he buys Whataburger. Houston is 8.5 up on Arlington. Third bet: the Astros will finish 25.0+ games ahead of the Rangers. I love making bets with Dallas homerz who barely watch baseball.

*A side story that I also put on Twitter last night: On the day our daughter was born, we gave her a little stuffed lamb that she eventually named Bob. She carried Bob with her wherever she went. About three years ago, my wife was away for the weekend and my daughter and I made a Whole Thing about it: baseball game, ice cream, museum trips, etc. When that weekend was over, we noticed we didn't know where Bob was. It was An Ordeal. Ultimately, I was able to get a Replacement Bob from Amazon, but it wasn't the same. One night, my dear wife told me that she wished I would have told her that I cheated on her rather than Bob getting lost under my watch. I felt the predictable Shame, but I knew I didn't lose Bob. Fast forward three years to last night. Daughter comes into the living room after brushing her teeth and says, "Bob looks weird." And he did! He looked like he needed to get thrown in the washing machine. Then she says, "Why is he different from the Bob in bed?" And I yelled, "There's another Bob in bed?" And she looks at me like I'm crazy and says, in the way that only she can, "Yeah." So I sprint to her bedroom (not a good idea: my knee still hurts from that half-marathon) and, sure enough, there's the Newer Bob. I sprint back into the living room and she's holding Janky Bob. I ask, "Where did you find him?" And she says, "Oh for the life of me I can't remember." She's six years old, talking like she's in a got dang Danielle Steele novel. She has no idea where she was when she came across the Actual Bob, but by God, he's back. Skros gonna win the World Series this year. Bob has made it so. #WorldSeriesBob

*Off-Day Playoff Odds Check!

FanGraphs (101-61): 99.2% to win the division, 99.5% to make the playoffs. 21.5% to win the World Series.

FiveThirtyEight (103-59): 95% to win the division, 97% to make the playoffs. 22% to win the World Series.

Baseball Prospectus (99-63): 98.1% to win the division, 98.9% to make the playoffs. 20.9% to win the World Series.

*Yesterday I wrote up how the Astros' bottom of the order is producing in historic fashion (just not *as historic* as the 2019 Twins' bottom of the order, which is kind of a bummer. Also the 2019 Astros are out-pacing the 1927 Yankees from top-to-bottom. Good day.) The Athletic didn't want it, so here you have it for free.

Three hours later, Chandler Rome posted an article indicating the exact same thing, but with Access.

*Check out Chandler Rome's Mailbag.

*Richard Justice: How George Springer became the "heart and soul" of the Houston Astros. Jake Kaplan has a great piece about why Springer has gotten more starts at DH in 2019 than he did in all of 2018.

*Jon Tayler says Forrest Whitley, who has really struggled in Round Rock so far, could make his Houston rotation debut around mid-season.

*Yeah the balls are different but Yordan Alvarez was 3x6 with 6RBI last night for Round Rock with two home runs and a double. He's hitting .410/.497/.903 with 30K:22BB. Take that for what you will. He will be 22 at the end of June, and the Astros got him for Josh Fields. A scout Peter Gammons knows mentioned "David Ortiz" when talking about Yordan.
*MLB.com's Jason Beck says it's way too soon to determine who won the Verlander trade. (Hint: it's the Astros).

*In this SI 3-up 3-down column, the Astros look good.

*The Ellen DeGeneres Show asks this question:
Are you [an Astros] fan who lives in the Houston area, and could use help from Ellen? We want to hear your story! Share your personal story of why you think you deserve financial help, tickets to your favorite MLB game (Let's Go Astros!) and more. Tell us your story here!

While I could use some financial help [side-eyes The Athletic] I don't live in the Houston area, and also there are many more who are deserving than I am. So have at it. Make some dreams come true.

*After hitting .328/.414/.602 for Fayetteville, Seth Beer got promoted to Corpus.

*Need another Astros shirt from BreakingT?

*Quad Cities beat Peoria 21-1. River Bandits' 2-5: 11x19, two doubles and three home runs. Jeremy Pena (3rd Round, 2018) went 3x5 with two walks, a double, triple, a home run, and 6RBI. Scott Schreiber (9th Round, 2018) went 3x4 with 1K:3BB. Marty Costes (22nd Round, 2018) went 3x4 with two walks, a double, a home run, and 7RBI.

Pitcher Jojanse Torres went 5IP, 2H/1ER, 7K:0BB - the solo home run he allowed was the first earned run he has allowed in 16IP this season, and he has 26 K:8BB in 16IP.

*Former Astros Great Teoscar Hernandez got optioned to Triple-A Buffalo, after hitting .189/.262/.299 with an almost-30% K-rate.

*Not-paywalled article from Craig Goldstein: On the end of the beginning of baseball season.

*The Marlins are basically MLB-sanctioned organized crime.

*Tyler Kepner: The Rays are a surrealist's delight.

*The Orioles had their Buttslide moment.

*The Square Ball, on Leeds' defeat to Derby, and the defeat which comes for us all.

*Complete Whack-Job/Absolute Delight Mike Leach teaches a class at Washington State called Leadership Lessons in Insurgent Warfare and Football Strategies. One assignment was to draw up some plays. Mike Leach graded them.

*Eater: The Myth of Authenticity is Killing Tex-Mex.

*Drew Magary: The Night the Lights Went Out

*A Musical Selection:

The Hot Links playlist on Spotify now contains almost seven hours of music, if you're into the kind of music I like.