Astros release Francisco Cordero and his 19.80 ERA

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Francisco Cordero’s disastrous stint with the Astros is officially over, as he was given his release by the club today.

After being acquired from the Blue Jays in July as part of a 10-player deal, Cordero allowed 11 runs on 13 hits and four walks in five innings over six appearances. That’s a 19.80 ERA. If that wasn’t bad enough, he also went 0-for-3 in save opportunities. The 37-year-old right-hander hasn’t pitched since August 1 due to an inflamed ligament in his right toe and recently developed some shoulder soreness, so the Astros just decided to get rid of some dead weight.

Cordero has a career-worst 7.55 ERA over 47 appearances this season overall. Only Manny Acosta has a higher ERA (7.62) among pitchers with at least 30 innings pitched. It’s possible he could land somewhere on a minor league deal this winter, but he’s looking pretty much cooked.

MLB’s juiced baseball is juicing Triple-A home run totals too

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There has been considerable evidence amassed over the past year or two that the baseball used by Major League Baseball has a lower aerodynamic profile, leading to less drag, which leads directly to more home runs. If you doubted that at all, get a load of what is happening in Triple-A right now.

The minors have always had different balls than the majors. The MLB ball is made in Costa Rica at a Rawlings facility. The minor league balls are made in China. They use slightly different materials and, by all accounts, the minor league balls do not have the same sort of action and do not travel as far as the big league balls. Before the season, as Baseball America reported, Major League Baseball requested that Triple-A baseball switch to using MLB balls. The reason: uniformity and, one presumes, more accurate analysis of performance at the top level of the minor leagues.

The result, as Baseball America reports today, is a massive uptick in homers in the early going to the Triple-A season:

Last April, Triple-A hitters homered once every 47 plate appearances. As the weather warmed up, so did the home run rate. Over the course of the entire 2018 season, Triple-A hitters homered every 43 plate appearances. So far this year, they are homering every 32 plate appearances. Triple-A hitters are hitting home runs at a rate of 135 percent of last year’s rate.

Again, that’s in the coldest, least-homer friendly month of the season. It’s gonna just get worse. Or better, I guess, if you’re all about the long ball.

Which you had better be, because if they did something to deaden the balls and reduce homers, we’d have the same historically-high strikeout and walk rates but with no homers to provide offense to compensate. At least unless or until hitters changed their approach to become slap hitters or something, but that could take a good while. And may still not be effective given the advances in defense since the last time slap hitting was an important part of the game.

In the meantime, enjoy the dingers, Triple-A fans.