Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times reports that Matt Kemp checked into camp at 215 pounds. Last year he was at 230.
After Pablo Sandoval, I think that Kemp’s weight may be the most significant conditioning story of spring training. No, not because he was fat like Sandoval or anything. But because I don’t think anyone suffered more last season from the perception that he was dogging it or lackadaisical or unfocused or whatever than Kemp did. His defense and base running suffered in 2010. That could be because of mental issues, but it might also have been because of physical ones. And no matter what the cause was, people were all OVER him for it.
If it was a mental block or something else altogether we’ll probably know once the season gets going. But by coming into camp slimmed down like he has, Kemp will at least buy himself a little more goodwill before anyone jumps on his case.
No surprise here: The Astros are headed back to the postseason to defend their title following a landslide 11-3 win over the Angels on Friday. This figures to be their third playoff run since 2015, though they have yet to wrap up the AL West with a division title.
First baseman Yuli Gurriel led the charge on Friday, smashing a grand slam in the first inning and tacking on a two-run homer in the second and RBI single in the fifth to help the Astros to a seven-run lead. The Angels eventually returned fire, first with Mike Trout‘s 418-foot homer in the sixth, then with an RBI hit from Francisco Arcia in the seventh, but they couldn’t close the gap in time to overtake the Astros.
On the mound, right-hander Gerrit Cole clinched his 15th win of the year after holding the Angels to seven innings of three-run, 12-strikeout ball. His sixth strikeout of the night — delivered on an 83.1-MPH knuckle curveball to Kaleb Cowart — also marked the 1,000th strikeout of his career to date. He was backed by flawless performances by lefty reliever Tony Sipp and rookie right-hander Dean Deetz, both of whom turned in scoreless innings as the offense barreled toward an 11-3 finish with Jake Marisnick‘s sac bunt and George Springer‘s three-run shot in the eighth.
Despite having qualified for the playoffs, the Astros still carry a magic number of 6 as they look to clinch a third straight division title. They’re currently up against the Athletics, who entered Friday’s contest against the Twins just four games back of first place in the AL West.