Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors dug up an interesting article from February of 2010 in which ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark polled “20 baseball wise men” about which of that offseason’s free agent signings were the best. Their answer?
1. John Lackey (5 years, $82.5 million)
2. Chone Figgins (4 years, $36 million)
3. Matt Holliday (7 years, $119 million)
Well, so far they’ve been right about Holliday at least. Stark’s write-up of the poll is plenty interesting in retrospect too:
You might think the Red Sox needed another top-of-the-rotation type starter about as much as the U.S. Curling team needs another broom. But in truth, there’s no such thing as too many big-time starting pitchers. So, faced with a free-agent class that featured no hitters they felt comfortable turning into mega-millionaires, the Red Sox reeled in Lackey.
I really don’t mean to mock Stark, who was merely discussing the results of a poll he conducted and was hardly alone in those thoughts about the Red Sox and Lackey at the time, but the notion of Boston having too much rotation depth is sort of mind-boggling right now.
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.