Pettitte looks in

I’ll take “Things that may impact Andy Pettitte’s decision” for $100, Alex

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I have no idea what’s taking Andy Pettitte so long to decide if he’s retiring or not. You’d think it would be pretty simple: (a) pitch for Yankees; or (b) stay home in big house with family.  I mean, sure, if there was some option (c) that represented harrowing unknowns I could see the reason for the delay, but it’s not like he’s dealing with some strange and sinister Z-axis here.

Oh well, his life and his decision.  But that won’t stop us from speculating what might complicate it all for him. Bob Klapisch has an intriguing theory:

One theory circulating at Yankee Stadium is that Pettitte is spooked by none other than Roger Clemens. Knowing he’s going to be the government’s star witness this summer might be enough to force Pettitte into hiding – especially if Clemens decides he’s going to take his former buddy down with him.

The trial, which is set to begin in July, figures to be a doozy. Unless The Rocket has a change of heart (or tactics), he’s going to swear he never used HGH or steroids. Those who’ve testified otherwise, including Brian McNamee and Pettitte, will be cast as witnesses with bad memories or are just flat-out lying.

It would certainly be way harder to concentrate on the season if the trial actually starts on time and if Pettitte is in the middle of that firestorm.  And given that he has already implicated Clemens under oath before the grand jury and in closed Congressional sessions back in 2008, he will be antagonistic to Clemens and Clemens’ lawyers will go after him. Query: if you had to deal with that would you rather go home for a couple of days afterward or would you rather have to get on a plane to Boston and face the Sox?

Let’s see, what else could be holding up the decision?  Maybe it’s a stretch, but here’s one:

Dow Jones reports a ruptured storage tank spilled 15,000 gallons of beef fat Tuesday, closing the northern end of the Houston Ship Channel … “Luckily the stuff is easy to clean up,” Brahm said. “It solidifies at room temperature, so as soon as it hit the water it just kind of sat there.”

Pettitte’s hometown of Deer Park, Texas is right next to the Houston Ship Channel. I don’t know if I’d want to be next to a beef-fat-filled waterway in 95 degree weather. Maybe this will make Pettitte decide to spend one more summer in New York instead of back home.

What? You got a better theory?

What’s on Tap: Previewing Monday’s action

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 21: Starter Corey Kluber #28 of the Cleveland Indians pitches during the first inning against the Kansas City Royals at Progressive Field on September 21, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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The Indians, leading by one game over the Tigers, can clinch the AL Central on Monday night and they’ll have their best starter going for them in Corey Kluber. Kluber will match up against the Tigers’ Buck Farmer in a 7:10 PM EST start at Comerica Park.

Kluber won the American League Cy Young Award in 2014, going 18-9 with a 2.44 ERA, but regressed last season, finishing with a league-worst total of 16 losses and a 3.49 ERA. Thankfully for the Indians, he bounced back in 2016. He’ll enter tonight’s start with an 18-9 record, a 3.11 ERA, and a 224/56 K/BB ratio in 211 innings. Among qualified starters in the AL, Kluber is fourth-best in ERA behind Michael Fulmer, Masahiro Tanaka, and Rick Porcello.

Kluber’s best case for the Cy Young is a Sabermetric one. Though his record is good, Porcello shares his 3.11 ERA but with a 22-4 record. Kluber, however, has the best Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) in the league at 3.11. FIP, for the uninitiated, is a “retrodictor.” In other words, it attempts to figure out what a pitcher’s ERA should have been if defense weren’t a factor. Kluber shines with a 26.6 percent strikeout rate that ranks as the fourth best in the league and a 6.7 percent walk rate that is the 17th-lowest. xFIP is like FIP but it assumes a home run rate close to the league average (about 10 percent as a percentage of fly balls). Kluber falls back to fifth in the league at 3.46 here, but the only players above him have much worse real results. So, even xFIP bolsters Kluber’s case for the Cy Young Award.

If Kluber is able to help the Indians beat the Tigers on Monday night, the club will have won a division title for the first time since 2007. That was when the club was led by CC Sabathia, then all of 26 years old. It’s been a long time coming for the Indians.

The rest of Monday’s action…

Arizona Diamondbacks (Archie Bradley) @ Washington Nationals (Tanner Roark), 7:05 PM EDT

Chicago Cubs (Kyle Hendricks) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Chad Kuhl), 7:05 PM EDT

New York Yankees (Luis Severino) @ Toronto Blue Jays (J.A. Happ), 7:07 PM EDT

New York Mets (Bartolo Colon) @ Miami Marlins (Adam Conley), 7:10 PM EDT

Milwaukee Brewers (Matt Garza) @ Texas Rangers (Martin Perez), 8:05 PM EDT

Seattle Mariners (Hisashi Iwakuma) @ Houston Astros (Collin McHugh), 8:10 PM EDT

Tampa Bay Rays (Drew Smyly) @ Chicago White Sox (James Shields), 8:10 PM EDT

Cincinnati Reds (Tim Adleman) @ St. Louis Cardinals (Jaime Garcia), 8:15 PM EDT

Oakland Athletics (Sean Manaea) @ Los Angeles Angels (Jered Weaver), 10:05 PM EDT

Officials: Speed, impact likely killed Jose Fernandez

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 03: Jose Fernandez #16 of the Miami Marlins looks on during a game against the New York Mets at Marlins Park on August 3, 2015 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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Some details have been released in connection with the investigation into the boat crash which killed Jose Fernandez.

Lorenzo Veloz, an official with the Florida Wildlife Commission, told USA Today that the boat carrying Jose Fernandez and two others was traveling at a high rate of speed when it struck rocks as it approached a channel near the port of Miami. While autopsy results have not yet been released, it is likely that trauma from the crash, and not drowning, is what killed the boat’s passengers. Veloz said it did not appear that Fernandez was driving and that, while it was a boat he used often, it did not belong to him. Rather, it belonged to one of the other men killed in the crash.

Veloz said neither drugs nor alcohol are believed to have been a factor in the crash. Toxicology results will take some time, however.

It is estimated that the boat was traveling at full speed, between 55 and 65 miles per hour, when it hit rocks and capsized.