Astros demote struggling starter J.A. Happ to Triple-A

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J.A. Happ apparently used up all his good luck with the Phillies.

Happ had a 14-5 record and 3.11 ERA in 217 career innings when Philadelphia traded him to Houston in the Roy Oswalt deal last July, but since then he’s 9-18 with a 5.32 ERA in 191 innings.

That includes an ugly 6.26 ERA and league-high 14 losses this season, but Happ won’t have a chance to go for 20 losses because the Astros have optioned him to Triple-A.

Happ was never as good as his win-loss record and ERA suggested in Philadelphia, sporting a mediocre strikeout rate and so-so control while getting outstanding support from the lineup and defense.

On the other hand, he also hasn’t been nearly as bad as his current record and ERA suggest. Ultimately he’s a fairly run-of-the-mill mid-rotation starter and will probably be back in Houston next month, with a full-time rotation spot all but reserved for 2012. After all, it’s not like the Astros have a ton of superior options.

The Cubs will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday

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The Cubs soundly defeated the Cardinals on Monday night, 10-2, sending their magic number down to one. They will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday with another win against the Cardinals. Alternatively, if they lose, they can still clinch if the Brewers also lose on Tuesday.

The Cubs, of course, won the Central last year en route to winning their first World Series since 1908. It wasn’t nearly as easy this year as the club was below .500 entering June and was exactly at .500 entering July. A 16-8 July, 17-12 August, and 15-8 September have helped put the Cubs back in position to return to the postseason.

Not to be forgotten, the Cardinals were eliminated from NL Central contention with Monday’s loss. Now they have their sights set on the second NL Wild Card slot and currently trail the Rockies in that race.

The matchups for Tuesday’s action:

Carter Capps to undergo surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome

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Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune reports that Padres pitcher Carter Capps will undergo surgery this offseason to address thoracic outlet syndrome, which doctors believe caused the right-hander’s blood clots. The Padres hope to have him ready by spring training next year.

Capps, 27, underwent Tommy John surgery last year and didn’t debut this season until August 7. He made 11 relief appearances, yielding nine runs on 12 hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings. He went back on the DL on September 12 due to the blood clot issue.

The Padres acquired Capps from the Marlins last July in the Andrew Cashner trade which ended up having a lot of moving parts. Capps will enter his third and final year of arbitration eligibility this offseason. It’s quite possible the Padres choose to non-tender him.