Will the Astros ever win a game?

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Well, yes, I suppose they will simply because there are so many of them in a baseball season.  Perhaps the more germane questions are (a) when will they win a game; and (b) will they challenge the 1988 Orioles’ record for season-opening futility?

Taking the second question first, I think the answer is no, they will not go 0-21. The reason for it, besides sheer statistical improbability, is that they have a series against the Pirates kicking off a week from tomorrow. Even if they somehow drop today’s game against the Cards and get swept by Chicago and Florida after that, there’s no way the Pirates sweep them at home, right?

Anything can happen on any night in baseball, so it’s entirely possible that they’ll win today or tomorrow. But even if we played these games like computer simulations, with each team getting no more than that which appears on paper, I can’t see the Astros’ opening season streak lasting more than the 15 games it will take to bring the Pirates to town.

In other news, I’m guessing that there are still plenty of good seats available for that series.

Brandon McCarthy wins final spot in Dodgers’ rotation

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We learned on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu won one of the final two spots in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Brandon McCarthy has won the other, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports. Alex Wood was McCarthy’s competitor for the spot.

McCarthy, 33, posted a 4.85 ERA across four appearances spanning 13 innings this spring, yielding seven earned runs on 14 hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. Wood, a southpaw, gave up five earned runs in six innings against the Reds on Tuesday, which might have factored into the decision.

Last season, McCarthy made nine starts and one relief appearance, posting a 4.95 ERA with a 44/26 K/BB ratio in 40 innings. In the event McCarthy falters, the club has Wood as well as Julio Urias and the injured Scott Kazmir as potential replacements.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.