First-year manager Brad Mills quietly has Astros playing well

5 Comments

Brad Mills’ managerial career got off to a rough start, as the Astros stumbled out of the gates with eight straight losses, had the majors’ worst record through two months at 17-34, and began trading away veterans a short time later.
However, since the calendar flipped to June the Astros have quietly gone 50-39 for the fourth-best record in the league behind only the Phillies, Giants, and Braves.
During that stretch Hunter Pence (.299/.351/.509) and Chris Johnson (.332/.364/.508) have led the offense, Brett Myers (2.75 ERA in 19 starts) and Wandy Rodriguez (2.99 ERA in 18 starts) have carried the rotation, and the bullpen has been shored up with Brandon Lyon closing and Wilton Lopez setting him up.
They’ll still need a very strong finish to avoid their third losing season in the past four years, but for over three months now the Astros have been playing much better than anyone could have possibly expected and even the future looks somewhat brighter thanks to general manager Ed Wade finally deciding it was time to do a full-scale rebuilding effort.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

Daniel Shirey/Getty Images
4 Comments

Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.