*Well now we know: The Astros will start a five-game series at home tomorrow against Florida Men at [giggles] 1pm. The A's have the longest winner-take-all postseason game losing streak, at nine games. Six of those were at home.
More of this to come tomorrow, but an early analysis of Sarasota vs. Houston:
-The Rays won four out of seven games against Houston in 2019.
-The Astros outscored the Rays 40-27 in 2019.
-Tampa won three of those four games to open the 2019 season.
-The Astros scored nine runs in those four games, and scored four runs in the last three games of that opening series combined.
-The second HOU/TBR series was Aug 27-29. Houston won 15-1, won 8-6, and lost 9-8.
-The Astros are 5-12 at Tropicana Field since the beginning of the 2015 season. They're 2-6 at West Lakeland in 2018-2019.
FiveThirtyEight currently has it at 70% that the Astros make it to the ALCS. Bovada has the line at -125 that the Astros win the AL Pennant.
*There's a playoff rally today at City Hall in Houston at 10am. It's free. Reid Ryan, Jeff Luhnow, Chris Devenski, and Josh Reddick, and the Alien will be there.
*The Astros are set to open the ALDS with Verlander-Cole-Greinke. Hinch:
Not really news breaking when it comes to those three. I'm sure everybody could have predicted how we were going to go, and I wasn't going to commit to a Game 4 quite yet. All those guys are prepared and ready to go.
As for Correa, Hinch:
He looks great and is moving around in normal fashion, and I expect him to play on Friday.
Also: Framber, Cionel, Cy Sneed, and Joe Biagini were sent home. Biagini will remain on a throwing program in case he is needed in a later series.
It's worth mentioning, for the first note, that Verlander-Cole-Greinke lined up in the rotation seven times for 21 games, beginning on August 21. The Astros went 17-4 with those three, playing against Detroit, Anaheim, Tampa, Toronto, Milwaukee, Seattle, Oakland, Kansas City, Arlington, Anaheim, and Seattle
Looks like it'll be:
G1: Verlander v Glasnow
G2: Cole v Snell
G3: Greinke v Morton
*Chandler Rome has a good story on the relationship between Justin Verlander and Robinson Chirinos, the first personal catcher he has ever had. Hinch, on Chirinos:
He's going to be the calm one in the moment, maybe even the more reasonable one in the moment. That Midas touch he has, to be the calmest heartbeat, is very valuable to me.
*Zack Greinke threw four simulated innings in the bullpen today to stay fresh in the 11 days from his last start of the regular season to ALDS G3.
*Bregman admitted he gets "jittery" in the few days after the regular season and before the playoffs start, but "I'd rather take batting practice...and wait three days than play in that Wild Card game."
Just things that add to a culture of playing 162 games you can't fake, you can't pretend. It's part of your DNA or not. [Bregman's] as authentic a baseball player as I've ever been around and as likable as anybody on our team. The other side probably feels a little differently. He plays with a little chip on his shoulder that irritates some people. I love that about him, and he owns it and doesn't run from it.
*"Everyone thinks I'm way fatter than I really am." Hunter Atkins has a great profile on sneaky good Will Harris.
*Jim Crane said he'd like to re-sign Gerrit Cole, but the Unofficial Luxury Tax will be an issue. Crane:
We'll see where we end up after the year. We may make a run at it. We're not sure yet. We're going to wait and see what else unfolds and who else is going to stay on the team. There's a lot of moves that Jeff will probably make in the offseason. We're going to keep a very close eye on it, communicate and see where that ends up. He's had a great year. He's young and he's likely going to command a big salary.
Yes, that's all true. But it's true because Gerrit Cole is the best option right now if you need a pitcher and heywhaddayaknow the Astros will need a pitcher. Feel free to play around with Spotrac if you want to see how the numbers work out. If the Astros go over $208m in 2020, they would pay a 20% tax on the overage. So let's say the Astros hit $215m on payroll in 2020, that's a $1.4m penalty the Astros have to pay in order to win another 106+ games.
*Braves manager Brian Snitker, on picking Dallas Keuchel to start NLDS G1 against St. Louis:
It's why we got him. He brought instant credibility. He's been through this war. He's a World Series champion. And I think when we signed him, we envisioned him making this opening start.
*Baseball Watching Today:
-St. Louis at Atlanta: 4:02pm Central
-Washington at Los Angeles: 7:37pm Cental
*Inside MLB's war on high-tech sign-stealing.
*Meet Pete. Pete is currently in the process of watching the extremely good show Gilmore Girls. Without sleeping. For charity.
*A Musical Selection: