Towles likely to get nod behind plate for 'Stros

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That’s the part I agree with.
I’m not sure about the rest of Alyson Footer’s MLBlog entry, in which she looks at the battle between J.R. Towles and top prospect Jason Castro for the catching job in Houston. Footer thinks Towles will be the starter, Humberto Quintero the backup and that Castro will get some Triple-A seasoning after finishing last year in Double-A.
And that’s the way it’s likely to shake out. But Footer’s arguments are pretty weak.

The raw numbers suggest they can’t go wrong with either. Towles has played in nine games and has 12 hits in 27 at-bats for a .444 average. In 10 games, Castro has a .391 average, logging nine hits in 23 at-bats.

Yeah, let’s look at batting averages over the course of 27 at-bats and 23 at-bats in making a judgment. For the record, that’s 50 at-bats between them. In that time, they’ve combined for no homers, four RBI and three walks.

Another issue is roster space. Should he make the team, Castro would first have to be added to the 40-man, which currently stands at 39. That could be problematic, considering the front-runner to win the fifth outfielder position is Cory Sullivan, who would also need to be added to the 40-man. The addition of both Castro and Sullivan would necessitate taking someone off the roster, but if it’s not a dire situation, why do it?

Have you looked at the Astros’ 40-man roster? Outfielder Yordany Ramirez might be the single least promising player on a major league roster today, and it’s incredible that he’s lasted two years now. There’s also a 28-year-old utilityman in Edwin Maysonet, who hasn’t been included in the team’s plans for this year, and a handful of expendable pitchers, with Yorman Bazardo likely topping the list.
Excluding the top 25, the Astros probably have the weakest 40-man roster in the game. The idea that you’d hold Castro back based on the one-percent chance that someone might claim Ramirez on waivers is simply absurd.
Footer, though, also does go into the real reason for the choice; Castro is a 22-year-old who has never set foot in Triple-A, while Towles is 26-year-old with nothing left to prove in the minors. Towles deserves one more chance to show what he can do as a starter. If it doesn’t work out, Castro will still be there on June 1.

Albert Pujols is eighth on the all-time home run list

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Albert Pujols kicked things off for the Angels in dramatic fashion on Friday night, cranking a two-RBI home run off of the Orioles’ Jeremy Hellickson to give the club an early lead in the first inning. The 350-footer was his 18th home run of the year and No. 609 in his 17-season career, tying Sammy Sosa on the all-time home run list for eighth overall and most home runs hit by a player born outside of the United States.

With the home run, Pujols sits just three homers shy of tying Jim Thome’s 612-home run record for seventh on the all-time list. That figures to be the last major milestone still ahead of the designated hitter this season, with Ken Griffey Jr.’s 630-home run mark still a distant 21 blasts away.

The Angels, meanwhile, ran with Pujols’ lead, collecting home runs from Kole Calhoun, C.J. Cron, Kaleb Cowart and Mike Trout. It wasn’t quite enough to quash the Orioles, however, who surged to a 9-7 finale after Manny Machado went 3-for-5 with three home runs and struck a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth.

Nationals place Max Scherzer on 10-day disabled list with neck inflammation

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The Nationals placed right-hander Max Scherzer on the 10-day disabled list with left neck inflammation, the team announced Friday. Scherzer was scratched from his scheduled start against the Padres and replaced by left-hander Matt Grace, though an official roster move has yet to be made to fill his spot on the roster. The assignment is retroactive to August 15.

Scherzer experienced a similar pain on the right side of his neck at the start of the month, though this is the first official stint he’ll serve on the disabled list in 2017. While comments from club manager Dusty Baker suggest that the injury wasn’t caused by any particular trauma, it seems likely that the ace right-hander will be sidelined for at least one more start.

It’s a terrible time to lose a star pitcher, especially with the Nationals positioned to make a deep run in the postseason, but their 14-game cushion in the NL East should buy them some time while Scherzer’s on the mend. Prior to his bout of inflammation, the 33-year-old looked remarkably healthy this season. He pitched through his fifth consecutive All-Star campaign and currently boasts a 12-5 record in 24 starts, complete with a 2.25 ERA (good for second-best among qualified starters), 2.2 BB/9 and 12.3 SO/9 in 160 1/3 innings.