*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:
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.)