Tim Hudson was scheduled to start Atlanta’s season finale, but with the Wild Card spot locked up the Braves will rest him for the playoffs and instead turn to Ben Sheets for Game 162 against the Pirates.
Sheets hasn’t pitched since August 24 because of a shoulder injury and told reporters that he’ll retire after tomorrow’s start.
Sheets made a helluva comeback after not pitching in the majors at all last season, starting eight games with a 3.54 ERA for the Braves when they really needed the rotation help, but the 33-year-old right-hander is apparently tired of dealing with the injuries that have repeatedly sidetracked his career.
He’s expected to pitch two innings tomorrow versus Pittsburgh in what will be his 250th career start. Sheets is a four-time All-Star and his strikeout-to-walk ratio of 3.59 is the fourth-best among all active pitchers with at least 1,500 innings behind only Dan Haren, Roy Halladay, and Cliff Lee.
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.