Even in a season full of tough days for the Astros yesterday stood out, as they lost for the 104th time to clinch MLB’s worst record along with the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft and also set the all-time attendance low at Minute Maid Park.
The announced crowd was 12,584 and overall this season the Astros rank last among NL teams in attendance while drawing 5,678 fewer fans per game than in 2011, when they also had MLB’s worst record. That represents a drop of nearly 450,000 total fans.
Oddly enough the Astros have actually been pretty decent in front of their diminished home crowds, at least compared to how they’ve played on the road. At home this season Houston is 34-45, compared to 16-59 on the road.
Athletics right-hander Jharel Cotton will undergo Tommy John surgery, per an announcement on Saturday. Cotton initially experienced some elbow soreness during a Cactus League start earlier this week and was officially diagnosed with a strained ulnar collateral ligament and strained flexor muscle on Thursday. He’ll be out of commission until 2019 at the earliest.
This isn’t the first time Cotton has dealt with elbow issues. According to MLB.com’s Jane Lee, he had screws inserted in his right elbow after sustaining a stress fracture in 2013 and suffered some minor elbow discomfort again last fall. Prior to his diagnosis, the 26-year-old was poised for his third run with the A’s in 2018. He pitched his first full season with the club in 2017, turning in a 5.58 ERA, 3.7 BB/9 and 7.3 SO/9 in 24 starts and 129 innings.
Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle adds that the team is open to adding pitching depth this spring, though they’ll wait to see if the price goes down on some free agents first. Barring that, right-handed long reliever Andrew Triggs could be tabbed to fill the fifth spot in the rotation.