Astros make sweeping roster changes, including calling up prospect Domingo Santana

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One day after making headlines for all the wrong reasons the Astros are adding a bunch of young talent to their roster, calling up prospects Domingo Santana, Enrique Hernandez, and Kevin Chapman. They also placed center fielder Dexter Fowler on the disabled list with an intercostal strain, demoted shortstop Jonathan Villar to Triple-A, and designated right-hander Jerome Williams for assignment.

That’s a whole bunch of changes, so let’s break it all down …

Santana is the big draw, as the 21-year-old outfielder hit .304 with 13 homers and an .885 OPS in 84 games at Triple-A after putting up similarly strong numbers at Double-A last season. He now joins Jon Singleton, Jarred Cosart, and Josh Zeid on the Astros’ roster after all four players were acquired from the Phillies as prospects in the Hunter Pence trade in 2011. That is starting to look like one of the more lopsided deals in recent history.

Hernandez was the Astros’ sixth-round draft pick in 2009 and didn’t look like much of a prospect before this season, but the 22-year-old infielder/outfielder has had a breakout campaign by hitting .336 in 77 games between Double-A and Triple-A.

Chapman was very effective in his 25-game debut with the Astros last year, but was demoted back to the minors after struggling to begin this season and the 26-year-old left-hander returns after posting a 0.94 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 29 innings at Triple-A. His control has always been shaky, but Chapman has bat-missing raw stuff out of the bullpen.

Fowler was acquired from the Rockies this offseason and proved to be a fantastic addition atop the lineup before the injury, posting a .377 on-base percentage despite no longer calling Coors Field home. Villar has a ton of speed and remains in the Astros’ long-term plans at age 23, but he’s hit just .221 with a .618 OPS and ugly 139/39 K/BB ratio through 129 games as a big leaguer.

Rougned Odor didn’t technically steal home, but he basically did

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Just saw this from last night’s Tigers-Rangers game. It was pretty wild.

Rougned Odor walked in the seventh inning. He broke for second on a steal and was safe due to the throw going wild, allowing him to reach third base. The Tigers called on reliever Daniel Stumpf and he was effective in retiring the next two batters, leaving Odor on third with two out.

Stumpf, a lefty, was paying no attention whatsoever to Odor, so Odor just took off for home, attempting a straight steal. Stumpf was so surprised that he tried to throw home to nail Odor, and in so doing, he balked. That technically means that Odor scored on the balk, but I think it’s safe to say he would’ve scored on the strait steal regardless. Watch:

 

He definitely gets points for style.

 

Aroldis Chapman is pitching himself out of a job

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Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman looked shaky again last night, coming in to the game with a three-run lead before allowing a two-run homer to the Mets’ Amed Rosario. He would nail down the save eventually, giving Sonny Gray his first win as a Yankee, but Chapman’s struggles were the talk of the game afterward.

It was the third appearance in a row in which Chapman has given up at least one run, allowing five runs on three hits — two of them homers — and walking four in his last three and a third innings pitched. He’s also hit a batter. That’s just the most acute portion of a long slide, however. He posted a 0.79 ERA in his first 12 appearances this year, before getting shelled twice and then going on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation, missing over a month. Since returning he’s allowed 12 runs — ten earned — in 23 appearances, breaking out to a 4.09 ERA. He’s also walked ten batters in that time. At present, his strikeout rate is the worst he’s featured since 2010. His walk rate is up and he’s allowing more hits per nine innings than he ever has.

It’s possible that he’s still suffering from shoulder problems. Whether or not that’s an issue, he looks to have a new health concern as he appeared to tweak his hamstring on the game’s final play last night when he ran over to cover first base. Chapman told reporters after the game that “it’s nothing to worry about,” and Joe Girardi said that Chapman would not undergo an MRI or anything, but he was clearly grimacing as he came off the mound and it’s something worth watching.

Also worth watching: Dellin Betances and David Robertson, Chapman’s setup men who have each shined as Yankees closers in the past and who may very soon find themselves closing once again if Chapman can’t figure it out. And Chapman seems to know it. He was asked if he still deserves to be the closer after the game. His answer:

“My job is to be ready to pitch everyday. As far as where I pitch, that’s not up to me. If at some point they need to remove me from the closer’s position, I’m always going to be ready to pitch.”

That’s a team-first answer, and for that Chapman should be lauded. But it’s also one that suggests Chapman himself knows he’s going to be out of a closer’s job soon if he doesn’t turn things around.