Rays turn to Alex Cobb, not Wade Davis, as Jeff Niemann’s rotation replacement

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Jeff Niemann is out 4-6 weeks with a fractured right leg, but rather than shift Wade Davis back to the rotation the Rays are turning to Alex Cobb as the fill-in.

No official announcement has been made yet, but Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Cobb will pitch in Niemann’s place tomorrow versus the Braves. And according to Topkin the other candidate considered for the job was not Davis, but rather Chris Archer.

In other words, the Rays really want to keep Davis in the bullpen, where the career-long starter currently has a 1.86 ERA and 18/7 K/BB ratio in 19 innings.

Cobb made nine starts for the Rays as a rookie last season and the 24-year-old right-hander pitched well with a 3.42 ERA and 37/21 K/BB ratio in 53 innings, but then missed the final two months following surgery to remove a blockage near his rib cage and began this year in the minors.

Astros clinch postseason berth with 11-3 win over Angels

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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.