Ryne Sandberg wants Ryan Howard to get in better shape

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Now that the Phillies have officially named Ryne Sandberg their manager for next season and beyond he’s starting to talk about what he has planned and one of those things is getting first baseman Ryan Howard in better shape.

Howard has always been huge and his conditioning has declined while struggling through injuries the past two seasons, leading Sandberg to tell Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com:

It all starts right now with the games in Florida along with his workout program the whole winter. Him being healthy will allow him to get into baseball shape. I look for him to come back and be a big guy right in the middle of the lineup. I know I’ll have a conversation with him about continuing to have a good work ethic and get the training he needs this winter.

Beyond those comments on Howard’s conditioning, Sandberg also suggested that the former MVP should take more advantage of studying video of opposing pitchers because “from what I’ve gathered, I think he can be better prepared to face somebody to start a baseball game.”

Astros’ bullpen throws combined one-hitter for MLB-best 30th win

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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.

Brandon Phillips hit his 200th career home run

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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.