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Edwin Jackson sidestepped game plan, threw all fastballs on Friday

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Edwin Jackson gave up three runs on four hits in his start against the Indians on Friday, but that wasn’t the shocking part of what happened. Unbeknownst to manager Rick Renteria and pitching coach Chris Bosio, Jackson threw all fastballs in his outing — 50 of them.

Via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat:

“I think maybe, as we talk about fastball command, maybe he was thinking, ‘I’m going to try to hit the spots,’” Renteria said. “He got into a little trouble yesterday and he had some elevated pitches and some pulled pitches. I think you have to kind of allow some flexibility in what he’s trying to do. In his mind’s eye, he had a particular idea of what he wanted to do and he did it for three innings.”

Was Renteria surprised at Jackson’s game plan?

“I saw a lot of fastballs,” Renteria said. “I’ll just say that I noticed it.”

According to FanGraphs, Jackson threw fastballs at his highest rate since 2009. Additionally, his fastball velocity was at its lowest since 2005 with the Dodgers.

Hitters last season posted a .370 weighted on-base average on Jackson’s fastball. For a nifty comparison, Jose Bautista posted a .372 wOBA last season, so hitters essentially were like Bautista against Jackson’s heaters. One can understand the right-hander’s insistence on improving it.

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.