Big thanks to Flick for taking over on some Hot Links while I took a little break in order to sacrifice ten bulls to Base Ba'al and gear up for the 2nd Half (if by "half" you mean "the remaining 38.9% of the season").
Remember the Astros? They haven't played since April. Tonight they start the final push for the playoffs. They're 64-35 with a 5.0-game lead on Seattle. Before we get into it, here's your Playoff Odds check:
FanGraphs (103-59): 98.5% to win division, 100% to make playoffs, 23.1% to win World Series
FiveThirtyEight (103-59): 92% to win division, 99% to make playoffs, 22% to win World Series
Baseball Prospectus (102-60): 96.9% to win division, 99.6% to make playoffs, 17.5% to win World Series.
It's worth mentioning that the Astros' World Series percentages for all three of the major projections are the highest in baseball.
FanGraphs projects the Mariners to win 90 games, which is a .494 win% for the rest of the season, but with a 64.7% chance of playing the Yankees in the Wild Card Game. Oakland is projected to win three fewer games than Seattle. WE WILL SEE ABOUT THAT.
*Brian McTaggart writes that, while the Astros could look to get greedy at the Deadline, the Astros aren't willing to part with their top prospects or dig into their minor-league depth.
*Jake Kaplan wrote in The Athletic about how the upcoming schedule will allow the Astros to manage the rotation's workload. Hinch:
I think the schedule's been very kind to us. Every team has this new schedule of five or six days off in one month. Ours happens to come in August, which is pretty much where I would draw it up if I had to choose myself. You don't really want that kind of rest in April and May. July, we get the natural off days with the All-Star break. August is a picture-perfect time for our players.
Having played 41 games in the 45 days leading up to the All-Star Break, the Astros are due for some rest, and since 24% of the active roster was a part of the All-Star festivities, they may enjoy some more. In fact, the Astros are off for four of the next 21 days.
*Chandler Rome: Alex Bregman's obsession with baseball perfection.
*Apparently J.D. Davis is on his way up.
*Heard from a #source that Carlos Correa is in traction in Ibiza.
*Fresno scored six of the final seven runs of the game in an 8-7 win over Sacramento last night. Derek Fisher was 2x5 with a grand slam. Antonio Nunez was 1x3 with a home run and 3RBI. Ken Giles threw a perfect inning, striking out two in a 12-pitch inning.
Every website is conspiring against me to get the PCL standings. Screw 'em.
Corpus is 18-9 since winning the 1st Half division title, two games up on Frisco. They're 61-35 overall and have already guaranteed a playoff spot.
Buies Creek is 17-11 since their All-Star Break, a half-game behind Winston-Salem. They're 54-43 overall.
Quad Cities is 13-13 since their All-Star Break, 5.5 games back. They're 53-43 overall.
Tri-City is 19-14, tied for the Stedler Division lead with Lowell.
The GCL Astros are 14-13, 5.5 games back of the GCL Cardinals.
*ESPN's wonderfully-named Bradford Doolittle writes about the most common mistake teams make at the Trade Deadline. Doolittle:
When you are acquiring a player at or near the trade deadline, you are acquiring his baseline performance, not his season-to-date performance. To make a decision on a potential deal based on the current season's numbers is borderline malpractice.
*FiveThirtyEight's Neil Paine asks if the Mariners can end their 17-year long playoff drought this year.
*The Ringer: The Last Days of Blockbuster Video. Maybe I don't have to feel so bad about moving out-of-state with a copy of the Ethan Hawke/Angelina Jolie classic "Taking Lives."
It's after 10am. I'm calling it a day.