Monday, October 19, 2020

Tuesday Morning Hot Links

 *After two days of reflection, this is where I am:

1. Absolutely amazing the Astros got as far as they did without Verlander, Yordan, and Osuna. 

2. Absolutely infuriating that the largely-intact lineup couldn't come up with a few more hits in Games 1-3. 

3. The emergence of Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier, Enoli Paredes, Blake Taylor, and Andre Scrubb makes 2020 a success no matter the ALCS outcome. 

4. I still love Charlie Morton.

5. I told you I was terrified of the Rays. 

6. I do not care who wins the World Series, despite my text to my cousins on Saturday night that "I would rather the world end than see the Dodgers win a World Series." I was acting out. 

*At a press conference, GM James Click said that Altuve's struggles in 2020, and his sudden difficulty throwing the ball to first base, were but a blip:

I was really impressed by the fact that he didn't take that with him to the plate and he didn't let that affect the rest of his game. We are 100 percent confident that those blips are behind him. He is going to come back next year, I'm sure, as the elite offensive and defensive player that we know he is.

*Remember when Zack Greinke said after Game 4 that it was nice to have someone (Dusty) believe in him? Greinke and James Click had a talk about that. Click:

We had a long conversation. It was great. It was a very healthy conversation. He expressed his views and why he made the comments and I mostly listened. My job in that situation was I think just to listen to a Hall of Famer and find out why he would be frustrated by those kind of things.

*The entire coaching staff is coming back for 2021.

*This Martin Maldonado coming-home video will melt your heart.

*This Tim Brown piece says something along the lines of "The Astros' past caught up with them in Game 7 and that's why they lost."

*Check out MLBTR's projected arbitration salaries for next month.

*It's not terribly fun to read about, but we all love Geoff Blum so whatever: When utilityman Geoff Blum became a World Series hero.

*Former Astros Great Chris Holt is the leading candidate to take over as Baltimore's pitching coach. Former Astros Great Jim Hickey is the new Nationals' pitching coach.

*According to Mark Berman, Jeff Luhnow and [squints] A-Rod approached the Dynamo about purchasing the franchise, but nothing came of it. 

*Luhnow spoke to KPRC about the sign-stealing scandal, because what is another early postseason exit without getting a chance to experience pain, past or present? I have many thoughts, and I'm going to work through them, and we'll convene tomorrow, yeah?

*Leeds United 0 - Wolves 1. Leeds are at 18% to get relegated, according to FiveThirtyEight. It is unhealthy how often I check this. Next up: Aston Villa on Friday at 2pm Central.

*10 Psychological Haunted House movies - for when the ghost might be you.

*I voted last Tuesday. It took 45 minutes, longer than I've ever waited to vote. Pro Publica: Why do non-white voters in Georgia have to wait for hours? 

*I'm not much on Maureen Dowd, but I really like Sacha Baron Cohen.

*You'd think that no one would be stupid enough to hire a hitman on a website called "Rent a Hitman." You'd be wrong.

*A Musical Selection:

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Sunday Morning Hot Links: A Decompression

And in the end the Astros lost their last game of the season, something that has happened in 58 of their 59 seasons. Despite out-hitting Tampa 59-44, Houston lost a seven-game series getting outscored by a total of three runs. The Rays simply took advantage of more mistakes than the Astros. That said, coming back from an 0-3 deficit to force a Game 7 for a 3rd Pennant in four years, in a "season" in which you got six innings from Justin Verlander, nine PAs from Yordan Alvarez, 4.1IP from Roberto Osuna, is extremely impressive. I'm mad as hell, but I appreciate what this team did since the end of July. Super-appreciative of the ride they gave us, but I'm going to need some space from this team.

Dusty Baker:

The legacy of this group is that these guys are ballpayers. These guys are men; they have been through a whole bunch other than on the ballfield. Now these guys can forget the problems they had that it out there and come together as a group and be forever friends.

More Dusty:

This is painful when you're one game away from going to the World Series. I'm proud of these guys, because nobody expected us to even be in the position or even to be here....One thing's for sure: We'll be back in this position again next year.

*MLB: Anatomy of the Astros' comeback, and near-miss.

*Houston, as a team, was 11x46 with runners in scoring position. The 2020 ALCS, w/RISP:

Springer: 1x5

Altuve: 2x4

Brantley: 2x5

Bregman: 0x9

Correa: 3x6

Gurriel: 0x4

Tucker: 1x5

Reddick: 0x1

Maldonado: 0x2

Diaz: 2x4

Garneau: 0x1

Chandler Rome:

Saturday's loss lived as a microcosm of Houston's 73-game run, one riddled with ineffectiveness, injury and invective from the outside following the sign-stealing scandal. The lineup disappeared, as it so often did during a 29-31 regular season. A clutch hit never came.

*Carlos Correa drove in the only two runs of Game 7. He hit .362/.455/.766 in the 2020 Postseason, with 17 RBI. Correa:

We didn't fold. We kept battling. We got to the playoffs and no one gave us a chance in Minnesota. We won three games against Oakland. They beat us in the regular season and we came up huge and won that series. Down, 0-3, everybody was talking about the Astros getting swept and this and that. We came back and forced Game 7. It wasn't the finale we wanted, but I'm just proud of this team, man. It's been unbelievable.

*I have no idea, and will never understand, why the Astros continued to challenge Randy Arozarena. Arozarena hit a 2-run home run.

Arozarena: .321/.367/.786 in the ALCS

Ji-Man Choi: .385/.529/.615 in the ALCS

Nobody else in that lineup had an average over .278. Six of the Rays' Game 7 lineup had an ALCS average under .167. Sixteen of the 25 runs the Rays scored - yes, they only scored 25 runs in seven games - came on home runs. Kevin Cash:

We are lucky to have Charlie Morton. For a group that doesn't have a wealth of experience in these roles, Charlie does. He has been there, done that. It lined up really, really well for us.

*Charlie Morton in Game 7s, career: 14.2IP, 6H/1ER, 15K:3BB. Beginning with the 2017 ALCS Game 7, Morton has recorded seven straight Wins in the postseason. 

*Lance McCullers: 3.2IP, 4H/3ER, 7K:1BB, 2HR. McCullers:

It sucks, man. It really does. But congrats to the Rays. They're a damn good team. They've been the best team in the AL all season. They went through the Yankees and they went through us. You have to tip your cap to them, as well. It sucks because it just feels like we were right there.

More McCullers:

We got down 3-0 and we fought and we showed the kind of team and kind of grit that makes up this team. We weren't on a revenge tour. That's not what this was. This was a bunch of guys that came together, wanted to play damn good baseball and win a World Series. And we fell short of our goal.

*Bregman, 2020 Postseason: .220/.316/.300. After recording three straight two-hit games from ALDS Game 3-ALCS Game 1, Bregman went .083/.154/.083 in 26 PAs. And we still don't know why Bregman was pulled late in Game 7.

Bregman, 2020 until the hamstring injury: .272/.374/.500, 13 extra-base hits, 15K:14BB.

Bregman, 2020 after the hamstring injury: .187 (I'm bad at calculating OBP and SLG)

Bregman:

I'm extremely proud of this team for fighting every single day, battling every pitch and going out there and playing hard and playing for one another. But like I said before, our goal is always to win the last game of the season, so it's time to work extremely hard in the offseason and get better.

*Gurriel, 2020 Postseason: .114/.245/.114.

*Jayson Stark: The Weird and the Wild of ALCS Game 7.

*Brian T. Smith: The Astros' revival hit a wall.

*Of course now the focus of the front office turns to free agency. Is this the end of the Astros era? George Springer, Michael Brantley, and Josh Reddick are all free agents once the World Series ends. Correa, on Springer:

Some guys that we love very much and we've been playing with forever, and hopefully they come back, but if they don't, we're going to miss them for sure. We've got George Springer. He's been my teammate since I got to the big leagues and been a great leader and role model.

Springer:

I haven't really thought about that yet. Our season just ended. I'm more focused on kind of what's happening now, what happened tonight, and I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

*Jerome Solomon: There is plenty for the Astros to look forward to.

*Jake Kaplan: All the looming off-season questions for the Astros.

*Now, I guess we just wait. Read for pleasure. Go to bed early. Drink some herbal tea. Hot Links will continue throughout the off-season with or without Astros news. Thank you for reading along.

*Reading in an age of catastrophe.

*The United States of Dolly Parton.

*The Atlantic: The mad, mad world of niche sports among Ivy League-obsessed parents.

*Wired: His writing radicalized young hackers, now he wants to redeem them.

*A season-ending Musical Selection:

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Saturday Morning Game 7 Links

Speechless. The Astros took Game 6 by a 7-4 score to force a Game Seven after being down 0-3 in the Series. First Pitch is at 7:37pm Central. Lance F. McCullers is on the mound against Charlie Morton.

*Dusty Baker:

I know people have given me a lot of credit, but I don't deserve any of it. [The players] deserve it, by their hard work, by their perseverance.

Yeah, now complain about exercising his 2021 option, idiots. 

*SI's "betting" "expert" said the Rays would win Game 6.

*Teams that were up 3-0 in an LCS or World Series (full disclosure: Thanks to this SB Nation post for doing most of the heavy lifting. Also, counting this 2020 ALCS, there are 37 series represented here. Apparently there are 39, so I'm missing two, but I'm way too tired to try to find them...)

Won 4-0: 1914 Boston (WS), 1927 New York Yankees (WS), 1928 New York Yankees (WS), 1932 New York Yankees (WS), 1938 New York Yankees (WS), 1939 New York Yankees (WS), 1950 New York Yankees (WS), 1954 New York Giants (WS), 1963 Los Angeles Dodgers (WS), 1966 Baltimore (WS), 1976 Cincinnati (WS), 1988 Oakland (ALCS), 1989 Oakland (WS), 1990 Oakland (ALCS), 1995 Atlanta (NLCS), 1998 New York Yankees (WS), 1999 New York Yankees (WS), 2004 Boston (WS), 2005 Chicago White Sox (WS), 2006 Detroit (ALCS), 2007 Colorado (NLCS), 2007 Boston (WS), 2012 Detroit (ALCS), 2012 San Francisco (WS), 2014 Kansas City (ALCS), 2015 New York Mets (NLCS), 2019 Washington (NLCS), 

That's 27 series in which a team went up 3-0 in a Best-of-Seven series that wrapped up in four games.

Won 4-0-1: 1907 Chicago Cubs (WS), 1922 New York Giants (WS)

Super-weird. 

Won 4-1: 1910 Philadelphia (WS), 1937 New York Yankees (WS), 2016 Cleveland (ALCS), 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers (NLCS)

Four series were wrapped up after the opponent got a Thank You Win before falling.

Won 4-2: 1998 San Diego (NLCS), 1999 Atlanta (NLCS),

Prior the 2020 Tampa Bay Rays, only two late '90s NL teams got pushed to a Game 6 in MLB History after being up 3-0.

Won 4-3: N/A

Hmmm.

Lost 4-3: 1 - 2004 New York Yankees (ALCS).

So...basically Maths are saying that a team up 3-0 and then got pushed to a Game 7 lose that Game 7 more often than they win Game 7. Bill Mueller, a member of the 2004 Red Sox that came back to beat the Yankees:

I would say that when you keep winning and there are no letups and no cracks, you have an understanding that their side wasn't as high as when they were up 3-0. We had a relentless pursuit. I hope the Astros do it because it's a wonderful feeling. You want other people to feel such an accomplishment. That's something that will never go away in your legacy. It's pretty special.

FanGraphs' ALCS Playoff Simulations, by day:

October 10: 51.6 - 48.4 Houston

October 11: 64.8 - 35.2 Tampa (not really sure why things changed so much from the Day Before Game 1 to the Day Of Game 1. Maybe they announced Snell as the G1 starter? I don't know)

October 12: 80.6 - 19.4 Tampa

October 13: 93.4 - 6.6 Tampa

October 14: 87 - 13 Tampa

October 15: 74.6 - 25.4 Tampa

October 16: 74.5 - 25.5 Tampa

October 17: 50.5 - 49.5 Houston

*Charlie Morton

The guys over there, they're not messing around. I think we realize that.

*How the 5th Inning changed everything.

*Michael Brantley: 2x4, BB, RBI. He has a hit in ten straight postseason games, and 11 of 12 postseason games in 2020. 85 MLB players have at least a 10-game postseason hit streak. 55 have an 11-game postseason hit streak. 34 have a 12-game postseason hit streak. 22 have a 13-game postseason hit streak. 12 have a 14-game postseason hit streak, seven have a 15-gamer, four have a 16-game streak. The all-time record is a hit in 17 straight postseason games, by 2003-2004 Manny Ramirez, 1998-1999 Derek Jeter, and 1956-1958 Hank Bauer. 

HOWEVER only 21 players have a 10-game postseason hitting streak *in the same postseason*: 1971 Roberto Clemente, 1978 Bill Russell, 1978 Roy White, 1979 Former Astros Great Phil Garner, 1981 Former Astros Great Bob Watson, 1981 Gary Carter, 1995 Kenny Lofton, 1996 Mark Lemke, 2000 Mike Piazza, 2002 Garret Anderson, 2002 Darin Erstad, 2003 Former Astros Great Ivan Rodriguez, 2006 Scott Rolen, 2010 Cody Ross,  2010 Elvis Andrus, 2010 Nelson Cruz, 2011 David Freese, 2012 Marco Scutaro, 2015 Alcides Escobar, 2015 Daniel Murphy, and 2020 Michael Brantley.

*Carlos Correa: 3x5, RBI. It's the 48th postseason RBI of his career, tied with Reggie Jackson for the 7th-most in MLB history, and the 7th 3-hit postseason game of his career. Correa:

This is what we live for. This is what we dreamed of since we were kids, game seven...So we got to go out there and take care of business tomorrow.

More Correa:

We're relentless. When we said we didn't want to go home, we really meant that. We want to keep playing baseball and we don't want this to be the end of our season. We took care of these three games and now we've got to take care of one more. If we don't win that game, it all means nothing. We have to go out there tomorrow and get that win. It would be great.

*Jose Altuve: 2x3, 2BB, RBI. It's the 24th multi-hit postseason game of his career. Jose Altuve, on January 18:

We're going to be in the World Series again. People don't believe it. We will.

*Yuli Gurriel: 0x2, 3BB. He's the 13th Astro in franchise history with 3BB in a single postseason game. 

*Kyle Tucker hit his first postseason home run for his first postseason extra-base hit. Crazy to think that Tucker is hitting .311 in this postseason and that was his first extra-base hit.

*Framber Valdez: 6IP, 3H/1ER, 9K:3BB. He threw a whole bunch of devastating curves.

Framber's 2020 postseason: 24IP, 14H/5ER, 26K:10BB. 1.88 ERA / 1.00 WHIP. He's the 91st starter in postseason history with four straight starts of two or fewer ERs, and only the third Astros starter to hit that mark (Zack Greinke, Dallas Keuchel). He's the only one to do it four times in the same postseason. 

Framber and Gerrit Cole are the only pitchers in franchise history to strike out 9+ batters in an elimination game.

Framber also had hisself a little dust-up with Yandy Diaz. Correa - who is obviously now the Tie Domi of the Houston Astros - de-escalated the situation. Correa:

Your job is not to go out there and be the bigger man, your job is to help us win this ballgame.

I've thought about this for a few hours, and I honestly think that Yandy Diaz was trying to light a fire under his teammates. If it takes a faked slight or a faked disrespect, then so be it. It almost worked. Let's see if the Rays can rise up tonight. 

*Tampa has lost four games in a row in 2020 before: July 29-August 2 they lost five games in a row to Atlanta and Baltimore. Houston has won four games in a row in 2020 before: they won eight straight from August 12-20 against the Giants, Mariners, and Rockies. Houston's longest win 

*Astros pitcher strikeouts, by game:

Game 1: 13

Game 2: 13

Game 3: 9

Game 4: 11

Game 5: 11

Game 6: 13

I'm not factoring in that Braves/Dodgers Game 5 in this, but there are 301 instances of teams striking out 11+ times in postseason history. Five of those were the Rays. They're 2-3 in those games. 

Only one other team in postseason history had five 11+ strikeout games in a single series: 2018 Los Angeles Dodgers (NLCS against Milwaukee). They won that series so wait what am I doing. 

*Ryan Pressly has now pitched in three straight games, something he has not done since May 26-28, 2018 when he was still with Minnesota. He has only thrown 39 pitches in those three games, but still, worth keeping an eye on for Game 7.

*2018 Cy Young Winner Blake Snell has never gotten 18 outs in a postseason game.

*Tampa's Diego Castillo had pitched in 10 postseason games prior to Game 6. His line: 

13IP, 8H/0ER, 18K:6BB.

Castillo's line in Game 6: 1IP, 3H/2R (1ER), 0K:1BB.

*Dusty called Game 6 the biggest win of his career.

*Maldonado, on McCullers going in Game 7:

We have the right guy. He's been there before, pitching Game 7 of the World Series. I just feel we're going to take this game like we have been taking every game, one pitch at a time. As long as we keep executing pitches, keep playing defense like we are, we're going to be in good shape.

*Pre-Game 6 Notes from McTaggart: The Astros might take Josh James off the roster due to his back, which would remove him from the World Series, and Lance McCullers says that Machete is the ALCS MVP.

*ESPN's Bradford Doolittle (posted at 6am Central on Thursday): Why these Astros could finish the job.

*The Athletic: Meet the guy behind Petco Park's genius player facts.

*Military incompetence unleashed a Wolf Psyop on unsuspecting Canadians.

*A Musical Selection:

Friday, October 16, 2020

Friday Morning Hot Links

I've never seen anything like it. I tweeted this out, but - even considering the 2017-2019 postseason runs - Game 5 was the most keister-pucker game I can remember. The Astros actually threw a bullpen day in an elimination game, with all rookies except for Josh James and Ryan Pressly, and lived to see another day. I can't believe what I just watched. Game 6 - Framber vs. Snell - is at 5:07pm Central. Time to sauté a bowl of nails and get to making history. 

The Astros are just the 4th team - out of 39 - to go down 0-3 in an LCS and make it to a Game 6. Houston's Win Expectancy in the 9th Inning was just 41.8%. It was the first time in MLB history a team has hit a leadoff home run and a walk-off home run in the same game. Correa called his walk-off home run. Correa, on his bat-flip and round-the-bases celebration:

I lose it every single time. I don't know. I black out. I hit the homer, and it's not prepared.

Click that link to see how Alex Cintron fixed Correa's stance in the middle of the game. 

Correa:

I knew I was going to end it. I could feel my swing was in sync. I could feel my rhythm was good, and I felt like I was going to drive the ball. I believed I could do it.

Bregman got a bunch of guys together to watch Four Days In October prior to Game 5.

Carlos Correa has played in 61 postseason games and has two walk-off homers. Carlos Correa has played in 604 regular season games and has zero walk-off homers. He joins David Ortiz and Bernie Williams as the only players with 2+ postseason walk-off home runs.

SI's Stephanie Apstein: Houston's prophetic player and praying manager.

*Ryan Pressly, who pitched 1.1IP, 1H/0ER, 2K:0BB:

You push our backs up against the wall, we're going to fight you. This team is filled with a bunch of fighters, and I'm happy to be a part of it.

Pressly has gotten 4+ outs in a game 94 times in his career. Houston has only asked him to do it nine times, and only once prior in the postseason (2018 ALDS Game 1).

*FanGraphs' Rachel McDaniel:

Now, after two consecutive 4-3 losses, [Tampa's] foothold on that narrow edge has slipped, and the Astros, still hanging on by their fingertips, somehow haven't loosened their grip. The little swings of fortune - the lone hit coming at the perfect time; the defender standing in just the right place to make the incredible play - have begun to go in their favor. The Rays, of course, are still in a great position to take this series. But the Astros, who just a few days ago seemed done, are doing their best not to make it easy.

*George Springer hit a home run on the literal first pitch of the game. It's his 19th postseason home run, tied with Albert Pujols for 4th all-time in MLB history. Correa, on Springer:

The last two games he's been outstanding. He's been driving the ball, giving us huge hits, the big homer yesterday, big homer today to get things started. He is the guy that we look to when you look at that time. He's the leadoff guy. When he gets things going man, we're a scary team.

*Jose Altuve: 1x2, 2BB. It's the 6th postseason 2BB game of his career. Three of them have come in 2020. 

*Michael Brantley DH'd in Game 5 after fouling a couple of pitches off the inside of his foot and was 1x4 with a crucial 2RBI single, the 4th multi-RBI postseason game of his career. All have come with Houston, three of them in the 2020 postseason. 

*With runners in scoring position, 2020 ALCS:

Tampa: 6x31

Houston: 6x31

They suck, too. Let's go win another Pennant. 

*FanGraphs has it 74-26 Rays. FiveThirtyEight says it's 79-21 Rays.

*Shoutout to Josh Reddick, who has a hit in seven of eleven, and five of his last six, postseason games in 2020. 

*Five of the seven pitchers the Astros threw in Game 5 had not pitched in the Majors prior to 2020. Their line:

6.2IP, 4H/2ER, 9K:5BB. Ryan Pressly:

I don't have the words to really explain it. All I know is that they're fearless, and I'm so proud of them...I can't really explain how I'm feeling and how to describe how good and how composed they've kept themselves throughout this entire series.

It was the Greezed Lightin'est of games. The five rookie pitchers in a postseason game tied a mark set by the 2013 St. Louis Cardinals, who lost that game.

*Scott Miller: Game 5 involved Carlos Correa, Dusty Baker, Muddy Waters, and Mighty Mouse.

*MLB allowing fans in to Globe Life Park & Feed is unsafe, and unsurprising.

*FiveThirtyEight: If Billy Beane is really done with baseball, he left an indelible mark.

*A Musical Selection:

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Thursday Morning Hot Links

The Astros finally got a hit with a runner in scoring position that actually scored a run and managed to hold on for a 4-3 win in Game 4. The season lives to see another day. Springer, Correa, Altuve, Bregman, and Gurriel played in their 54th postseason game together - the most by any five teammates all time. Game 5 is at 4:07pm Central on TBS. 

*FanGraphs still has it 87.3-12.7 Rays. It's 90-10 Rays at FiveThirtyEight. I'm not so sure... Dusty:

Nobody's ready to go home. I'm not ready to go home. Nobody's ready to go home. We're ready to go to Dallas. We're still one step closer to the top of that mountain, but we got a couple steep cliffs the next couple days.

As of right now we don't know who's pitching for the Astros in Game 5.

*Jose Altuve: 2x4, HR, 2RBI. 100% successful throws to the bag. Altuve has homered in five of his last six postseason games (ALCS Game 2). Altuve, 2020 Postseason: .333/.447/.744, 5HR/10RBI. He now has 73 postseason hits, passing Roberto Alomar for most all-time by a 2B in postseason history.

*George Springer: 3x4, HR, 2RBI. They were his first RsBI since ALDS Game 2. Springer, prior to Game 4:

Just go out and play as hard as you possibly can. Go leave everything out there. Don't leave any doubt. If there's a play that you think you have to dive, dive...Your backs are up against the wall. And you got to grind and fight, and the end of the day, whatever happens happens.

Springer and Altuve have now homered in the same postseason game four times. The only other duo to hit a home run in more games is Springer and Correa (7).

Astros Postseason HR Leaderboard:

1. Altuve/Springer: 18

3. Correa: 16

4. Bregman: 11

5. Beltran: 8

6. Berkman: 6

Springer and Altuve's 18 postseason home runs are tied for 5th on the all-time leaderboard. Springer:

Sometimes it's frustrating to hit the ball hard in general and have a guy be there. But you know what? That's the game. I got to do better at kind of not showing a lot of frustration because it really is part of the game. You know, sometimes I'm going to get jammed and I'm going to sneak it in there, and there's other times we're going to hit one hard and be out. It kind of is what it is, and I'm happy to help us today.

*Zack Greinke: 6IP, 5H/2ER, 7K:1BB. More importantly, Greinke got himself out of a jam in the 6th Inning, a move that did not happen in Game 7 of the 2019 World Series. It was Greinke's first postseason Win since 2015 NLDS Game 2, when he was with the Dodgers. Greinke:

It was nice having someone have confidence in me because since I've been here they haven't seemed to have confidence in my ability. It was nice having that happen in an important time like that. 

Dusty, on leaving Greinke in:

I can't lie to you. There were some prayers involved on the way back to the dugout.

Zack Greinke has made 30 (regular and postseason) starts for the Astros. He has gotten 18 outs in 17 of them. Greinke, on Dusty trusting his gut

I would say he is really, really good at that. I've been impressed. He reads people really good, and I don't think I've ever seen him make a wrong decision. When he trusts what he sees, he sees the right thing almost 100 percent of the time.

Kevin Cash, on Greinke:

Greinke really, really pitched. He has a really good changeup. The changeup and the little cut fastball that he throws, there's not a ton of velo separation there, but there's a lot of depth separation. We got chasing on the changeup and the front-door cutters that he was throwing, cut fastballs to the righties, it looked like he was just painting, wherever he wanted to.

*Cristian Javier is the Astros' secret weapon.

*Tyler Glasnow: 6IP, 8H/4ER, 5K:2BB.

Glasnow, postseason, against Not Houston: 13.1IP, 9H/6ER, 20K:6BB. 4.05 ERA / 1.13 WHIP.

Glasnow, postseason, against Only Houston: 13IP, 17H/10ER, 13K:5BB. 6.92 ERA / 1.69 WHIP.

*McTaggart: Bregman's ready to put the Loud Outs behind him.

*Is Jeff Luhnow an option for the Angels' GM search?

*Sam Miller: Ranking the trades that got the Final Four to where they are.

*The Guardian: Author Bill Bryson says he's retiring. I would highly recommend you read "A Walk in the Woods," "Notes From A Small Island," and "One Summer: America, 1927."

*Will Leitch: Jeff Tweedy can't wait to write his next song.

*Mental Floss: Nine books that predicted the future.

*A Musical Selection: