Lance Berkman to begin season on disabled list

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Lance Berkman was doing well enough in his recovery from March 13 knee surgery that he took batting practice and did some running yesterday, but afterward his knee swelled up and this morning the Astros placed him on the disabled list.
Berkman will miss at least the first four games of the season and Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports that veteran utility man Geoff Blum is expected to replace him at first base. Seriously.
Berkman batted .274 with 25 homers in 136 games last season, posting a .907 OPS that actually ranks as the second-worst of his excellent career. By comparison, Blum batted .247 with a .681 OPS in 120 games last season, hasn’t topped a .705 OPS since 2002, and sports a career line of .250/.310/.398 in 11 seasons.
Obviously the Astros are hoping that Berkman will be ready to come off the disabled list by mid-April, in which case replacing him with Blum isn’t such a big deal, but if their best hitter needs an extended stay on the disabled list and his replacement is a 36-year-old with a .698 career OPS … well, they may be headed for a third losing season in the past four years.

Astros’ bullpen throws combined one-hitter for MLB-best 30th win

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The Astros’ bullpen did yeoman’s work in place of the injured Dallas Keuchel on Monday against the Tigers. Keuchel is temporarily sidelined with a pinched nerve in his neck.

Brad Peacock made the spot start, limiting the Tigers to one hit and two walks with eight strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings. Chris Devenski took over with one out in the fifth, finishing out that inning as well as the sixth and seventh, facing the minimum. Will Harris pitched a perfect eighth and Ken Giles closed out the 1-0 victory in the ninth. Devenski, Harris, and Giles each had two strikeouts.

The Astros scored their only run in the bottom of the first inning as George Springer drew a leadoff walk, then scored on Jose Altuve‘s one-out double. Tigers starter Brad Fulmer pitched well enough to win on most days, giving up the lone run in seven frames.

After Monday’s win, the Astros became the first team to reach 30 wins, sitting on a 30-15 record. With a +55 run differential, even their expected record matches up with their actual record.

Brandon Phillips hit his 200th career home run

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Braves second baseman Brandon Phillips became the 337th player in baseball history to hit 200 career home runs, driving a solo home run to left-center field during Monday night’s home game against the Pirates. Phillips is the 14th second baseman (who played a min. of 75 percent of his career games at the position) to rack up at least 200 career home runs.

Phillips, 35, entered Monday’s action batting .290/.345/.405 with two home runs and 12 RBI in 142 plate appearances. If he’s anything, he’s consistent, as he finished with an adjusted OPS between 90-99 (100 is average) every year between 2012-16 and it was sitting at 97 coming into Monday.