Thursday, July 20, 2017

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.