*Deadspin: The Astros can pitch now, and look invincible. Shawn Cooke:
Peak Verlander is Peak Verlander, but the Astros' rotation also does this sort of thing on a weekly basis by now. There's something greedy about a great team improving upon its only shortcomings immediately after winning a championship, especially given that they might well have entered the season as the default favorite to win it all over again even without going to all that trouble.
*SI's Jon Tayler: The Reinvigorated and Brilliant Justin Verlander
*Verlander's trophy case is filling up so much he might get himself a calligrapher.
*From the legendary Paul Hoynes, where do the Indians stand as they come to Houston? It depends on what you're looking at. Hoynes:
Just how one views the Indians depends on their line of sight. From outside the walls that every team builds around itself when things aren't going well this is an under-performing team playing in a weak division with one of the worst bullpens in the big leagues.
Yeah, I cherry-picked that. Click the link for the other side of that opinion.
Cleveland is 21-21 and leading the AL Central, a division in which there's not a team above .500. They're 5-10 in 1-run games. They're 0-4 in extra innings. They're 5-8 against the AL West.
*Check Lance McCullers' appearance on SportsRadio 610 yesterday. McCullers:
The game is not as clean as people think.
*MLB.com's Jane Lee: Analyzing the AL West, 1/4 of the way through the season.
*Here's an interesting piece from Joe Lemire about the modern baseball coach's job description: Knowing SQL.
*God. Jon Heyman's Inside Baseball column is absolutely useless for Astros fans. To recap, in layman's terms:
a) Wow Charlie Morton is good! Here's something we wrote a few weeks ago about free agency!
b) A scout, the group to whom Heyman exclusively speaks, has a fun nickname for the rotation
c) Verlander is a Hall of Famer
d) Wow haha Derek Fisher is struggling
e) Houston hopes Marisnick figures something out
Good column, bro.
*Scott Miller: Baseball headliners debate pine-tar.
*Around the AL West: Angels lost, Mariners lost, A's won, Rangers lost.
Off-Day Playoff Odds Check:
FanGraphs (101-61): 94.9% to win AL West, 35.5% to win AL Pennant, 26.1% to win the World Series
FiveThirtyEight (100-62): 77% to win AL West, 18% to win the World Series
Baseball Prospectus (96-66): 89.7% to win AL West, 17.3% to win the World Series (updated Thursday morning)
*The plan to make J.D. Davis feel so slighted that, when he eventually gets called up, he literally destroys a baseball seems to be working. On the night after Tony Kemp got his first MLB hit of 2018, J.D. Davis (wink) hit for the cycle in a 9-7 at El Paso, going 4x4 with 5RBI and a walk. Jake Marisnick made his Triple-A debut and went 0x4 with 2Ks. But he did draw a walk!
*Corpus Christi Caller-Times: Myles Straw is just showing off at this point. Hinch apparently told Straw in Spring Training that they almost called him up for the playoffs to run the bases. I love Myles Straw, and A.J. Hinch. 30 more steals and Straw breaks Arlington's Delino DeShields' Corpus record. Straw, the Astros' 2015 12th Round pick, wants to steal 100 bases this season. Go get it, kid.
Straw went 2x4 with two more stolen bases last night in a 4-0 Corpus win, giving him 25 on the season through 40 games. Josh Rojas was 3x4 with 2SB. Ryan Hartman (9th Round, 2016) threw 6.1IP, 4H/0ER, 11K:1BB. In 35.1IP this season, Hartman has allowed 31H/6ER, 42K:6BB.
Yordan Alvarez (hand) hasn't played since May 6.
*ESPN: Mike Trout is on pace for the best season in MLB history.
*Angels closer Keynan Middleton will have Tommy John surgery.
*FanGraphs' Rian Watt has a very fun read on the rarest sight in baseball: a pitcher swinging on a 3-0 count.
*This is bullcrap, and I hate college baseball:
Can confirm @Heininsports' report that Temple College will be the @NJCAARegion5 representative in the JUCO World Series. Here's video of the incident that led to a double forfeiture between MCC & Cisco. pic.twitter.com/HdD1cNSqzL— Tyler Bouldin (@tylerbouldin) May 15, 2018