Astros exploit MLB’s newest loophole

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If you hadn’t heard, MLB made a new rule in the offseason, allowing teams to promote a player and go with 26-man rosters on doubleheader days. A lot of teams were making moves in between games of doubleheaders anyway, so it seemed like a pretty good idea to help alleviate any bullpen issues that might arise playing 18 innings.

Unfortunately, the league left a loophole.

See, the player recalled before the doubleheader doesn’t necessarily have to be the one sent down the next day to get back to 25 players. Also, the player sent down after the doubleheader doesn’t have to stay in the minors for 10 days (barring a DL move), which is the way it works following typical demotions.

The Astros this week became the first team to take advantage of that latter fact. They sent fifth starter Jordan Lyles down after Monday’s doubleheader and recalled him Saturday night to start Sunday’s game against the Reds.

By taking advantage of the loophole, the Astros essentially got to play with a 26th man for five days instead of one. Which is smart thinking on their part. Of course, being that they lost their eighth straight game Saturday, it didn’t do them a lot of good.

Regardless, MLB needs to close the loophole. Require players sent down after doubleheaders to stay in the minors for 10 days, just like everyone else.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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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.