Saturday, September 23, 2017

Saturday Morning Hot Links

Justin Verlander has been absolutely incredible and should absolutely start every game of the ALDS. Astros win 3-0 behind Gurriel's 3-run homer and Verlander's ridiculous starting pitching. They are 94-59. Seattle actually did a thing and beat Cleveland on a Nelson Cruz walk-off home run. Friday was pretty good. There are nine games left.

*The 94th win moves the 2017 team into sole possession of 4th place on the franchise single-season wins list.

*The Astros are 1.5 GB of Cleveland, who have played 154 games. If Cleveland goes 5-3 (101-61), the Astros would have to go 8-1 to clinch the best overall record in the AL. Whatever the Indians do over their next eight games, the Astros need to win two games more. The Astros are also five games up on Boston.

*Hinch, on Verlander:
He put up another excellent start. It's remarkable to watch him compete, especially when he has this kind of confidence. I'm getting to know him as the outings go, but he really did put together an exceptional outing. 

*Verlander allowed a leadoff hit to Kole Calhoun, retired 11 in a row, walked Pujols, retired seven in a row, walked Justin Upton, retired the side. Final line: 7IP, 1H/0ER, 6K:2BB.

*Verlander used his changeup more in this start against the Angels. Hinch:
His changeup tonight was really good, and he had abandoned that for the past couple months. That was a priority from him when he got over here. It's been an emphasis for him on again, off again. He's got such a powerful fastball and good breaking ball that you can easily ditch the changeup. 

*Verlander's first four starts with Houston: 28IP, 11H/2ER, 32K:5BB.
Randy Johnson's first four starts with Houston: 30IP, 22H/5ER, 36K:8BB.

*The Astros were held to three hits for the 6th time this season, and are somehow 3-3 in six games with three hits or fewer. Number of wins in the rest of the AL with three or fewer hits:
New York: 1-5
Chicago: 1-9
Cleveland: 1-10
Detroit: 0-4
Boston: 0-5
Kansas City: 0-5
Baltimore: 0-6
Toronto: 0-6
Kansas City: 0-7
Seattle: 0-7
Anaheim: 0-8
Tampa Bay: 0-9
Dallas: 0-10
Oakland: 0-13

So the Astros are 3-3 in games where they've been held to three or fewer hits. The rest of the AL is 3-104. Three of Anaheim's 3-or-fewer-hit games have come against Houston.

*Gurriel's three-run home run was his first since the first terrible loss at Oakland on September 8 - he has nine hits in his last five games.

*Jose Altuve was 1x3 with a stolen base. He now has 196 hits on the season. State Farm agent Whit Merrifield has stolen three bases in the last three games and leads Altuve 33-32.

*So here's the rotation as we know it now (all confirmed through various media outlets):
Saturday: Morton
Sunday: McCullers
Monday (at Texas): McHugh
Tuesday: Keuchel
Wednesday: Verlander

*Last night in "Oh no, please no" Josh Reddick left the game with back discomfort. Hinch:
I don't think it's anything to be concerned about. But he came off the field and had a little bit of back pain, so we pulled him right away. Where we're at, this time in the season, that's an easy call. 

*The Astros will start Lance McCullers tomorrow in the finale against the Angels. Hinch:
Everybody is telling me he was strong, and that he bounced back from his bullpens. The next test is the game. We don't really have another option with the timeline that we have. We'll put him in there and see how it goes...It's important, very important, especially for him. 

*NY Post: Kate Upton helped push Verlander to Houston. Check Verlander's appearance on PTI talking about the last 40 minutes of the trade deadline.

*ESPN's David Fleming: The behind-the-scenes story of the Astros fight to bring hope - and a World Series - to Houston. (This is fantastic).

*SI's Ben Reiter writes that trading for Verlander violated the entire Astros' philosophy...and it may win them the pennant.

*Carlos Beltran is donating $1m to Hurricane Maria relief in Puerto Rico. He hasn't heard from his family in four days. It's really bad in PR.

*Unsurprisingly Kyle Tucker and Forrest Whitley were named Astros minor leaguers of the year.

*Mens Fitness is here to highlight Correa's Instagram workouts and also to put your squishiness to shame.

*Brad Ausmus will not return as Tigers manager in 2018.