Atlanta has exercised its options on catcher Brian McCann, right-hander Tim Hudson, and left-hander Paul Maholm, bringing all three players back for 2013 at a combined cost of $27.5 million.
McCann faded badly in the second half and was benched in the Wild Card playoff game, but it would have been tough for the Braves to justify cutting loose a 28-year-old six-time All-Star over $12 million.
Hudson at $9 million and Maholm at $6.5 million were no-brainers, and the Braves acquired Maholm from the Cubs with the idea that he’d be around for more than just a few months.
Hudson is 37 years old, but has thrown 665 innings with a 3.22 ERA since returning from Tommy John elbow surgery in mid-2009, including a 3.62 ERA in 179 innings this year. Maholm posted a 3.54 ERA in 11 starts for the Braves after coming over in a July 30 deal for Jaye Chapman and Arodys Vizcaino.
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.
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.