Jeff Luhnow

Checking in on the Astros’ latest experiments

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The Astros coming to New York meant that they’re getting a lot more of a national spotlight this week. And two columns came out about them yesterday. One by Ken Rosenthal and one by Danny Knobler. Each looks at a different part of the Astros new directions.

Rosenthal’s focuses on the Astros’ use of duel starting pitchers for each game in the minor leagues. Each team carries eight starters, with the first one going abut 75 pitches, the next coming in and a closer finishing up if necessary.  GM Jeff Luhnow explains how it works and why they’re doing it. It makes an awful lot of sense for a team in the Astros’ competitive and developmental position. Actually makes a lot of sense at the lower levels for any team, I would think.

Knobler looks at the Astros’ use of defensive shifts. Shifts are all the rage these days, but the Astros are using far more of them and far more complicated ones than anyone. Coach Eduardo Perez is the shift guru in Houston, and he talks about how it has been implemented and adapted as the season has gone on and various Astros pitchers have weighed in on how they feel about it all.

I imagine some will make fun of the Astros for being unconventional. Or look at what will certainly be a poor record at the end of the year and say “see, it didn’t work!” But there is absolutely zero reason for the Astros to not try to innovate and learn as much as they can now, when the games are comparatively unimportant for the franchise. If they help them find one player or one strategy that traditional developmental methods would not have, and if it helps them win any more games when the team is truly competitive, it will have been worth it.

The Royals and Cardinals make a minor trade

FILE - In this Oct. 6, 2006 file photo, a freshly painted St. Louis Cardinals logo adorns the grass behind home plate at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. The St. Louis Cardinals have been the toast of their Midwestern town for generations, a source of civic pride as one of baseball's most successful and cherished franchises. Suddenly, they're an embarrassment, under federal investigation for the previously unprecedented crime of hacking into the computer database of an opponent, the Houston Astros, whose general manager, Jeff Luhnow, is a former Cardinals executive. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam, File)
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The St. Louis Cardinals just announced that they have acquired minor league outfielder Jose Martinez from the Royals in exchange for cash considerations.

Martinez was the 2015 Pacific Coast League batting champ, hitting .384 in 98 games. This year he’s hitting .298/.356/.433 in 37 games. He doesn’t have a ton of power — he’s more of a doubles guy — and turns 28 this year so he’s not a prospect but he’s not chopped liver.

Meanwhile, Cash Considerations continues to be well-traveled. It must be hard for him to be dealt so many times a season. So much uncertainty and time away from his family. Feel for the guy.

What’s On Tap: Previewing Wednesday’s afternoon action

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We have a lot of day games today.

Steven Matz and Tanner Roark are both coming off of good starts against lesser teams and now face tougher tests. Tyler Duffey is coming off of a terrible start and faces the defending world champs. The Tigers are on a roll but Anibal Sanchez has still struggled a lot. He’ll try to get back on track against the weak-hitting Phillies lineup.

Jake Arrieta goes against a struggling Carlos Martinez in St. Louis. Arrieta has, obviously, been on a roll, with the only person coming particularly close to him being Clayton Kershaw. After Kershaw’s two-hit shutout the other day we’ll see if Arrieta can do the anything you can do I can do better trick. Though doing it against St. Louis is a taller order than Kershaw doing it against Cincy.

No matter what happens, God help these guys if they don’t talk to the media afterward.

New York Mets (Steven Matz) @ Washington Nationals (Tanner Roark), 1:05 PM EDT, Nationals Park

Kansas City Royals (Dillon Gee) @ Minnesota Twins (Tyler Duffey), 1:10 PM EDT, Target Field

Philadelphia Phillies (Aaron Nola) @ Detroit Tigers (Anibal Sanchez), 1:10 PM EDT, Comerica Park

Chicago Cubs (Jake Arrieta) @ St. Louis Cardinals (Carlos Martinez), 1:45 PM EDT, Busch Stadium

Los Angeles Angels (Hector Santiago) @ Texas Rangers (Colby Lewis), 2:05 PM EDT, Globe Life Park in Arlington

Cleveland Indians (Corey Kluber) @ Chicago White Sox (Jose Quintana), 2:10 PM EDT, U.S. Cellular Field

San Diego Padres (James Shields) @ San Francisco Giants (Jake Peavy), 3:45 PM EDT, AT&T Park

 

 

Matt Harvey to make his next start

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 19: Pitcher Matt Harvey #33 of the New York Mets walks off the mound after being relieved during the third inning of a game against the Washington Nationals at Citi Field on May 19, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
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After Matt Harvey‘s bad start last night — his third in a row in a heretofore lost season — many speculated that he could be skipped, sent down or shut down. If that happens it won’t happen yet, however. The Mets just announced that Harvey will make his next start against the White Sox on Monday.

Matt Harvey could not be reached for comment, but I’m sure if he did comment it would be interesting and insightful and would totally change the manner in which he was handled by the New York press corps.

Video: Mike Napoli face-plants into third base after a triple

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Indians DH/1B Mike Napoli has hit ten triples in his 11-year big league career, so sliding into third base after a long run is not something with which he has tons of experience. As such, the slide — and I use that term in the loosest sense possible — he executed — and I use that term as loosely as possible too — when he hit a triple last night against the White Sox was somewhat unconventional.

The best part, though, was that he didn’t even need to slide as the throw from the outfield was delayed due to the outfielder not getting a great handle on the ball and the relay throw which never came was dropped by the infielder. He could’ve gone in standing up.

Thank God he didn’t, though, because this was too good: