There’s been some speculation that the Rays would make a run at Colby Rasmus should the Cardinals make their center fielder available. Now we know whom the Cardinals would ask for in return. According to the Post-Dispatch’s Joe Strauss, Jeremy Hellickson is the pitcher the team most covets in any potential deal.
And for good reason. Hellickson entered the season as one of the top three pitching prospects in baseball, and he’s very much in the Rookie of the Year race with an 8-7 record and a 3.21 ERA in 16 starts for the Rays. He might not quite have Michael Pineda’s ceiling, but he could be one of the game’s top 30 starters for a long time.
So, even with Rasmus as a potential return, it’s highly unlikely that the Rays will move Hellickson. He’ll make barely more than the minimum through 2013, and he’s not going to be a free agent until after 2016. If the Rays were to dip into their stellar rotation depth in order to upgrade elsewhere, then such a deal would be far more likely to involve Jeff Niemann or Wade Davis.
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.