Friday, August 23, 2019

Friday Morning Hot Links

Holy Hannah. What a day yesterday was. The Astros beat the Tigers 6-3 but there was so much going on that it felt a little bit like an after-thought. Houston is 82-47. There are 33 regular season games left.

Let's get some game stuff out of the way. The Astros have won four of their last five games. They're one game back of the Yankees for the best record in the American League.

*Houston is 46-16 at home. The 2013 Astros won 24 home games all season. The 2018 Astros went 46-35 at home.

*Best home record, franchise history:
1998: 55-26
1980: 55-26
2015: 53-28
2005: 53-28
1986: 52-29
1979: 52-29
1969: 52-29
1999: 50-32 (they played 82 home games, and 80 road games in 1999. I'm looking into it.)
1978: 50-31
2019: 46-16

Remaining home series in 2019 are against the Angels (6), Rays (3), Mariners (4), A's (4), and Rangers (2). The Astros are a combined 30-13 against these teams and would need to go 10-9 to break the franchise home single-season record.

*Gerrit Cole's hamstring is apparently okay, as he threw 7IP, 2H/0ER, 12K:1BB. His outing put him in 1st Place in the ERA Title, at this point. Verlander is 2nd, CFM is 3rd, and Wade Miley is 5th.

It's the 10th time Cole has struck out at least 12 batters while allowing no more than one walk. Nine of those have come with the Astros. It's worth noting again, because it's absolutely remarkable:

Cole, 10+ strikeout starts, by year:

2013: 1
2014: 2
2015: 1
2016: 0
2017: 2
2018: 8
2019: 14

So, six double-digit strikeouts in 127 starts for Pittsburgh (4.7%). 22 double-digit strikeouts in 58 starts for Houston (37.9%). Hinch, on Cole:
He was letting it go and pitching very effectively. I was very impressed with how he approached the game from the very beginning. He was going to set a great tone for us after a tough loss. Comes out and punches out a bunch of guys and commands the game.

The 14 double-digit strikeout starts tie J.R. Richard's 1978 and 1979 franchise record.

Cole's 13.09 K/9 rate is 4th in MLB history for a starter, behind:

1. Chris Sale, 2019 (13.32, and he's done for the regular season, so...)
2. Pedro Martinez, 1999 (13.22)
3. Randy Johnson, 2001 (13.20)
4. Gerrit Cole, 2019 (13.09)

*Michael Brantley has a 15-game hitting streak dating back to August 3, with ten of those being multi-hit games. He's hitting .476/.522/.762 in that span. Brantley is leading the AL with a .338 average, and Sarah Langs takes a look at how he's doing it.

*Bregman's 31st home run of the season ties a career-high.

*The Biggest News of the Day was from Baseball Writers who were Outraged over Justin Verlander's actions after last night's CG 2H loss. So let's try to recreate this:

The Astros blocked the Detroit Free-Press' Anthony Fenech from entering the Astros' clubhouse to ask Justin Verlander questions. Verlander was "adamant" about this. That was wrong. They should not have done that. It's a violation of the CBA, and the CBA is what keeps the gears of baseball moving. Don't like it? Negotiate a new one. The link outlines all the ways the Astros and Verlander decided to avoid the issue/violate the CBA.

Now, Anthony Fenech has been around for a while. He has reported on the Tigers for a good while, and doubtless has had a number of interactions with Verlander. There's no way of knowing what happened between those two in the past that would create the animosity that would lead Verlander to ask Astros' staff to not let One Guy in. Fenech released a statement (because that's apparently what happens now):
I'm extremely disappointed with the Astros' inexplicable decision to limit my [BBWAA]-credentialed clubhouse access on Wednesday night. In my time as the Tigers beat writer for the Free Press, my foremost goal has been fair and ethical coverage. I am confident that goal has been clearly and consistently achieved in my body of work and with the personal and professional way I build relationships across baseball. As I do with every player in the clubhouse each season and dozens whom I have covered over the past five years, I wish Justin Verlander good luck and good health for the remainder of the season.

This is the statement of someone who has had a lot of time to craft a response. It's well-written, but Anthony Fenech is a good writer. I have had no issue with any of his reporting across which I have come. The Free-Press editor said they'll protest. And of course the Baseball Media rallied around Fenech.

But we don't know why Verlander freakin hates Fenech. Our Dude McTaggart has been around for a while and has not embarrassed himself or his employer. Alyson Footer, Richard Justice, Chandler Rome, hell, Hunter Atkins. It had to have been egregious enough for Verlander to act this way.

Verlander tweeted:
I declined to speak with the [Free-Press reporter] last night because of his unethical behavior in the past. I reached out to the [Free-Press] multiplie times before the game to notify them why and to give them an opportunity to have someone else there. Ironically they didn't answer. 

Predictably, Verlander - and the Astros - got savaged by The Media, one of which Fenech is obviously one. Gene Dias, the Astros' VP of communication, decided to side with Verlander, and why wouldn't he (this is not a position I'm endorsing). Verlander is The Man in this team, and if The Man decides to bust up the CBA, then what team executive is going to stand in the way?

But still, the Collective Bargaining Agreement trumps all of this. If Verlander had just stood before Fenech and maintained awkward eye contact while not saying a word, that would have been baller acceptable, I guess. Ultimately, Verlander won this round, because the organization rallied around their guy at the expense of the CBA. Not sure if/how this is a long-term win.

I bet it gave Gerrit Cole the Cy Young Award. I don't approve of the way the Astros handled this situation. And in response, the BBWAA will collective blast Springsteen's "Born To Run" as they remove Verlander from their consideration.

*MEANWHILE: Ryan Pressly is going to have arthroscopic knee surgery today. Hinch:
You lose an All-Star reliever, it's a tough blow for the bullpen and for our team. Quite honestly, I'm glad we have answers. We've been battling something similar for a few weeks - sometimes getting the good version of Pressly and sometimes getting the sore version of Pressly. It got to the point we were seeking answers.

Pressly will be out 4-6 weeks. Four weeks would bring him back on September 20. Six weeks would be October 4. The regular season ends on September 29, so there is the possibility that Pressly is not on the ALDS roster. Luhnow:
Worst-case scenario, he's not available for the division series. But I think he will be. And I think we need him because whoever we face is going to be a strong opponent. And, late in games, Pressly knows how to get those guys out.

Luhnow deferred comment on what the "small issue" is in Pressly's knee to Pressly himself, who was not made available to reporters.

*Chandler Rome went on 790 and said that Correa will be out until early September. No surprise there. There is no structural damage to Correa's back. I'm glad he didn't structurally damage his back swinging in the 1st inning. Correa told reporters that it's not as bad as it was last year. He plans to play rehab games during the first week of September.

*Abraham Toro made his major-league debut and Hinch says he'll primarily play 3B. Bregman played SS last night. And that's probably how we'll see the lineup shake out. Jake Kaplan wrote that Toro, with the help of hitting coach Troy Snitker, made a mechanical adjustment last fall which led to his breakout season. Toro went 0x4 last night, but absolutely smashed a ball that went foul. To make room for Toro on the 40-Man Roster, Brady Rodgers was DFA'd.

*FanGraphs: The best bullpens in baseball.

*SI's Stephanie Apstein: MLB's punishment under the domestic violence policy needs to change. (Inject boner sauce into your veins? No playoffs! Violent towards your spouse/significant other? Playoffs!)

*A Musical Selection: