The Rangers have asked about Cliff Lee and, oh yeah, Roy Oswalt

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MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan reports that the Rangers are inquiring about big name pitchers such as Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt. Poor Sullivan. Now Buster Olney and everyone is going to tell him how full of it he is.  Sad.

There is nothing imminent on any front and the club has not confirmed
its interest in Lee, or any other player. The Rangers still have
financial issues that must be considered in any trade discussions.

But the Rangers are actively making it known they are looking for
pitching and they haven’t been afraid of asking about some of the big
names available including Lee and Astros ace Roy Oswalt. Both pitchers
could be available at some point this summer but have not been actively
shopped to this point . . . Assistant general manager Thad Levine, who is with the team in Florida,
declined to discuss specific names but did acknowledge the Rangers’
pursuit of pitching.

We can quibble about what one means by the word “preliminary,” but all of this is consistent with my report earlier this week about the Rangers talking to Houston about Roy Oswalt.  Given the financial approvals that are required, even agreeing in principle to the players who would change teams — as my sources say the Rangers and Astros did — would qualify as “preliminary” in my book.

As Sullivan notes, however, once the Rangers’ bankruptcy is in the past — which could happen very soon, as the court is scheduled to rule on it all on Tuesday — the financial constraints will be lifted, the Rangers will be able to add some money to offers that already include some of the prospects from their top-shelf system and they will likely be able to land anyone they want.

Cliff Lee would make the most sense because he’s relative cheap and happens to be the best pitcher available. Oswalt would make some sense too because he won’t require as many prospects and Texas fans like him a hell of a lot.  Either way, the Rangers are likely to do some damage before July 31st.

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.