*Jake Kaplan writes that the Astros' hot start gives Luhnow some flexibility to wait and see what happens with the trade market.
*Lance McCullers and Jose Altuve teamed their charities up to help kids and dogs last night.
*Former Astros minor leaguer Rio Ruiz - sent to Atlanta in the Evan Gattis trade - has been called up to the Braves in the wake of Freddie Freeman's injury.
*Jon Heyman's long national nightmare is over: at long last Doug Fister (reportedly) has a job.
*Ah hell it's Jon Heyman's "Inside Baseball" notes column where he does...something. After reporting "sources" confirmed Ken Rosenthal's story from yesterday about the Astros' interest in Gerrit Cole (maybe Rosenthal's story WAS Heyman's source) Heyman drops this nugget:
Dallas Keuchel must have been less than 100 percent last year, a scout surmised, as he's back to Cy Young form. "His arm speed is quick again. Last year he was dragging his arm.
Stop the press: Dallas Keuchel was less than 100% last year? How could you tell? Was it his arm drag or his getting shut down for the final seven weeks of the season? This is truly an Inside Baseball note because only people with access to, say, the internet could have ever found Keuchel's repeated interviews on trying to pitch through shoulder soreness.
*Peter Gammons: Gerrit Cole is a depreciating asset for Pittsburgh.
*After the early returns said that the Rangers were trash, they won their 9th straight game last night. How worried should we be? Well, it is the Rangers after all, but let's remember they won at home against the Padres, Oakland, and Philadelphia - two rebuilding teams and one that is...well, I can't really figure out what the A's are doing. Today the Rangers start a nine-game stretch on the road (where they are 6-12) against the Tigers, Red Sox, and Blue Jays. There's a six-game road stretch in mid-June with the Nationals and Astros. Going 9-0 on a homestand against Not Great teams is a confidence-booster, I'm sure, and beating teams you're supposed to beat is required in a 162-game season, but let's see what happens next.
*Basically a quarter of the way through the season (I'm not using the horse racing term because I don't think I know what it means), and let's be clear IT IS ONLY MAY 19, let's check in with the Playoff Odds:
FanGraphs: 94% to win the division, 98% to make the playoffs.
Baseball Prospectus: 89.5% to win the division, 97.8% to make the playoffs
FiveThirtyEight: 83% to win the division, 94% to make the playoffs
*Speaking of FiveThirtyEight, here's Neil Paine on why the Orioles always outperform their statistical models.
*Meet Thomas Tull: Future baseball owner and apparently the world's nicest guy.
*Vice Sports: The new Tommy John surgery that could change baseball.
*Motherboard: A "hacker" exposed a Mexican drug lord, now he's trying to save his own life.