For whatever reason manager Tony La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan have been reluctant to actually name a replacement for Ryan Franklin, who was stripped of closing duties last week.
However, after giving Mitchell Boggs three straight save opportunities and watching him handle them successfully while looking very good in the process Duncan finally admitted that Boggs is the Cardinals’ new closer. Well, sort of.
Here’s what he told Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch:
I’d say that’s an accurate description of the current situation. Does that mean we will exclusively use him in the ninth inning? Probably not. But he’s going to get an opportunity to see what he can do. I think you present an opportunity and let results take you where they take you.
Perhaps not actually saying “Boggs is the new closer” would make it easier to eventually hand the job back to Franklin, but short of that I’m not sure what the reluctance comes from. Whatever the case Boggs now has a 3.51 ERA in 92 career innings as a reliever, including a 1.46 ERA and 15/3 K/BB ratio in 12 innings so far this season, and his average fastball has clocked in at 94.2 miles per hour.
In related news, Franklin has taken to shaving off his monstrous goatee in an effort to change his luck. He ought to speak to Don Mattingly about the situation.
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.