Monday, June 11, 2018

Monday Morning Hot Links

What a crazy game. The Astros had a 6-run lead, Dallas Keuchel gave it back, then took a 7-6 lead, and Will Harris gave it back, and A.J. Hinch got the umpires to call a balk in the 9th inning, giving the Astros an 8-7 win and a four-game sweep of the North Waxahachie Rangers.

*The Astros are 42-25 and had never swept the Rangers in a four-game series before. The seven runs allowed are the most in an Astros win this season. It's the Astros' 4th 5-game winning streak of the season. Notably the Astros picked up a win in the Pythagorean Standings. Long since a -6 (expected record based on runs scored/runs allowed), the Astros' Pythag Record is currently 47-20.

To the balk:
With runners on second and third and the count 1-2 on the Astros' Evan Gattis, Kela made a quick pitch to Gattis that was called a ball. After he made the pitch, Hinch came out of the dugout to point out that the pitch was illegal and should have resulted in a balk. The umpires convened and agreed, calling a balk that allowed George Springer to score from third base. Rangers manager Jeff Banister then came out to argue and was ejected from the game.

The question is on Kela's delivery. Rule 8.01 says:
Pitchers may disengage the pitcher's plate after taking their signs but may not step quickly onto the pitcher's plate and pitch. This may be judged a quick pitch by the umpire. When the pitcher disengages the pitcher's plate, he/she must drop the hands to the sides...In disengaging the pitcher's plate, the pitcher must step off with the pivot foot and not the free foot first. The pitcher may not go into a set or stretch position. If the pitcher does, it is an illegal pitch [a balk]...

Banister:
The explanation was to me that (Kela) didn't tell anybody that he was going out of the windup...I've never seen a non-balk call turned over and called a balk. My argument was that I didn't know that we could come out and get the umpires to convene to try to see what everybody came up with. It's upsetting in a sense that you can't argue against a balk.

Hinch:
It's as clear as day what happened...It's an illegal pitch with a runner on third. Kela does that all the time with nobody on third. He was so focused on the hitter, he decided to go to a quick pitch, which you can't do. It's a balk. Once the umpires convened, they got the call right. 

Kela:
It's frustrating, but at the end of the day there are certain rules that are laid out and I have to abide by them. 

Go back to June 18, 2015 to see the first time Kela lost a game on a balk.

*Keuchel had a miserable day: 4.1IP, 13H/6R (5ER), 3K:0BB, 1HBP. Twelve of those 13 hits were singles. And he's not real happy about those singles finding holes:
So maybe Max Stassi is giving the opponent signs, or maybe the fielders aren't doing their jobs? Which one is it, so I know who I can be proper mad at. Guess it's not Keuchel...

Keuchel's last three starts: 16IP, 27H/16ER, 13K:4BB.

It's the third time Keuchel has allowed 13 hits: April 21, 2016 at Arlington and July 4, 2014 at Anaheim. To say this is disappointing would be an understatement.

*Tony Sipp threw yet another scoreless inning. On May 7 at Oakland, Tony Sipp allowed 3H/1ER against a team that would go on to lose 16-2. His ERA was 5.68. Since then Sipp has rattled off eleven appearances: 8.1IP, 4H/0ER, 8K:3BB.

*Ken Giles' ERA is under 5.00! Kenneth threw 1.2 scoreless innings (2K:1BB) to lower his ERA to 4.98. In 24 of his appearances this season, Giles has pitched the 9th in 22 of them. He pitched the 8th against the White Sox back in April. The last time Giles came in for the 6th inning was May 3, 2016. Giles:
Doing my job, giving us a chance to win, whatever the cost may be. It was a step in the right direction. Keeping a positive mindset. I'm old enough to not put stress on myself. I enjoyed giving my team a chance to win. It all worked out.

*Will Harris has quietly been sucking. Harris, June: 3.1IP, 7H/4ER, 6K:1BB.

*Hector Rondon struck out the side to earn his 3rd save in five days. Rondon has made 27 appearances and has given up a run, earned or unearned, in four of them. He has 29K:5BB in 24IP.

*Yuli Gurriel was 4x5 with two doubles, a home run, and 2RBI. It's the first 3XBH game of his career.

*George Springer hit his 14th home run on the first pitch of the game, his 5th leadoff home run of the season, leading MLB.

*Six of the Astros' eight runs came with two outs in the inning.

*The Rangers got 16 hits, and lost. So let's run this back: On Saturday the Rangers got five hits, ten walks, five hit batters, one reached on an error, and lost. Sunday the Rangers get 16 hits and three walks and lose. It's the 11th time the Astros have allowed 10+ hits. Houston is 4-7 in those games.

*The Astros have been tied for 1st or out of 1st place in the division following 30 games this season. They've been in 1st place for 55 days (including off-days). The 2017 Astros were tied or out of 1st place in the division for seven games, the last of those on April 12.

Off-Day Playoff Odds Check

-FanGraphs (102-60): 95.4% to win the AL West, 99.6% to make the playoffs, 34.7% to win the Pennant, 24.2% to win the World Series. Worth mentioning that the Astros have the weakest strength of schedule of the AL West teams.
-FiveThirtyEight (102-60): 82% to win the AL West, 96% to make the playoffs, 21% to win the World Series.
-Baseball Prospectus (98-64): 86.2% to win the AL West, 98.2% to make the playoffs, 16% to win the World Series.

All three forecasting models have the Mariners at 88-90 wins on the season.

*Joe Smith was put on the 10-Day DL with a sore elbow, for which he'll be checked out by team doctors in Houston today. Reymin Guduan was called up from Fresno. Hinch, on Smith:
It wasn't bad, and then it felt a little better, then it felt a little worse. Then it got to the point where we weren't going to use him again today. You're starting to talk about four and five days off.

In that link we find that Correa should be back on Tuesday.

*The Mariners won another 1-run game against Tampa Bay to improve to 21-9 in 1-run games. They're 17 games over .500 with a run differential of +20. In seven games with Tampa Bay the Mariners are 6-1, outscoring them 26-23. Their next 13 games are vs Anaheim (3), vs Boston (4), at New York (3), at Boston (3). The Astros and Mariners will play each other 13 more times in 2018.

*Tim Federowicz cleared waivers and has accepted an assignment to Triple-A Fresno.

*Here's a cool story about Alex Bregman's friendship with indie baller Tyler Straub.

*Fresno had an 11-2 lead before things got a little interesting but ultimately led to a 12-8 win over Oklahoma City. A.J. Reed hit two home runs and drove in six while Kyle Tucker, J.D. Davis, and Derek Fisher all hit long balls. Tyler White and Garrett Stubbs each had three hits.

*Fresno pitcher Jacob Dorris was released. Dorris was signed as an undrafted free agent after the 2015 draft and got all the way to Triple-A. He impressed A.J. Hinch in Spring Training this year:
He's a good story for the minor league camp that anything's possible. He hasn't been a top prospect, he wasn't a high pick, he wasn't handed anything, he just performed his way to big league camp.

*Randy Cesar was 2x3 with a walk to extend his hitting streak to 32 games in an 8-2 Corpus win over San Antonio. Former Astros Great Jacob Nix (a casualty in the Brady Aiken fiasco) threw 5.1IP, 2H/1ER, 4K:5BB.

*Esquire: How marijuana turned me into a monster marathoner, but not invincible.

*GQ: The untold story of Kim Jong-Nam's assassination.

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