Red Sox tell Franklin Morales to prepare as a starting pitcher

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Franklin Morales was used primarily out of the bullpen this past season, but new Red Sox manager John Farrell told Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe today that the current plan is for him to come into spring training as starting pitcher.

Morales had a 3.77 ERA and 76/30 K/BB ratio in 76 1/3 innings with the Red Sox this year before coming down with shoulder fatigue in late August. The 26-year-old southpaw enjoyed some success during a small sample in the starting rotation, posting a 4.14 ERA and 47/19 K/BB ratio in 45 2/3 innings over nine starts. Once considered one of the top pitching prospects in the game, it was his first stint as a starting pitcher since 2009 as a member of the Rockies.

As of now, the Red Sox have three locks for their rotation next season with Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and Felix Doubront. John Lackey is coming off Tommy John surgery, but he should be in there too if he can avoid setbacks. The Red Sox would probably prefer to keep Morales in the bullpen, especially considering that he wore down toward the end of the season, so plans could change if they add a starting pitcher this offseason.

Astros extend winning streak to 11 games

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The Astros rallied late to keep their winning streak alive, extending it to 11 games with a 7-4 victory over the Royals on Sunday afternoon. The club is now 48-25, leading the Mariners by a full game in the AL West.

The Royals took a 4-2 lead after three innings, but Brian McCann knocked in a run with a single in the top of the fourth to cut the deficit to one run. Carlos Correa hit a game-tying solo home run in the eighth. The Astros kept their foot on the gas, scoring two more runs on RBI singles from Evan Gattis and Marwin Gonzalez in the top of the eighth and another in the top of the ninth on Correa’s sacrifice fly.

Starter Lance McCullers allowed four runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks with nine strikeouts over six innings. Tony Sipp worked a scoreless seventh. Ken Giles did the same in the eighth. Hector Rondon finished off the win in the ninth, working around a one-out walk with a game-ending double play.

After winning all 10 games on their road trip against the Rangers, Athletics, and Royals, the Astros will head home for a nine-game homestand against the Rays, Royals, and Blue Jays. Each club is below .500.