Angels demote $8 million starter Joel Pineiro to the bullpen

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Yesterday’s chicken-sacrificing speculation that Joel Pineiro was in danger of losing his spot in the rotation proved accurate, as the Angels demoted the veteran starter to the bullpen after an ugly four-start stretch in which his ERA rose from 3.90 to 5.31 in just 13 innings.

Mike Scioscia and company must have really been sick of watching Pineiro take the mound every fifth day, because their options to replace him in the rotation aren’t exactly great and the Angels aren’t going to name a replacement until next week.

According to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times the candidates include relievers Hisanori Takahashi and Horacio Ramirez, Triple-A starters Trevor Bell, Jerome Williams and Eric Junge, and Double-A starter Garrett Richards. Richards is considered the Angels’ best pitching prospect, but it’s unclear if they’re ready to let the 23-year-old right-hander make the leap from Double-A.

Pineiro has been a mess for the past month or so, but prior to that he had a 3.88 ERA in 37 starts for the Angels dating back to last season, when they signed him to a two-year, $16 million deal. Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, and Ervin Santana give the Angels a potentially dominant playoff rotation, but they may need a fourth or fifth starter to step up in order to get there.

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.