Two fun things about the Rule 5 draft

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The Rule 5 draft just went down. None of the picks seem all that exciting or interesting to me, but here are two fun things I learned about it in the past 12 hours:

As you probably know, players selected in the Rule 5 draft have to remain on the 25-man roster all season after being selected. If not, they are offered back to their original team at a nominal fee. Lots of teams find out that they really can’t carry their Rule 5 selectees on the roster, but do want to keep them in the organization. So, historically, a lot of Rule 5 draftees find themselves “injured” at some point early in the season and wind up on the disabled list, where they (a) don’t take up a roster spot; but (b) aren’t subject to being taken back by their old team.

I spoke with a team official last night about all of this, and he told me that the good old days of hiding guys on the DL with phantom injuries is over. MLB sent a memo out to the entire league telling them that they will be checking out Rule 5s who are disabled to make sure it’s legit.  So, sadly, we may see a lot less “dead arm” and tendinitis this year.

Second fun thing: I asked the same team official about their plans for the Rule 5. Specifically, how one goes about identifying minor league Rule 5 guys who no one has ever heard of.  After talking about how great their scouts are and how hard everyone works, the team official said: “we are about 90% sure that a guy we’re looking at in the late rounds actually exists.”

I think he was joking.  Almost positive he was joking.  OK, he may not have been joking.

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.