The Astros intend to use Jose Veras as their closer

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There wasn’t anything interesting on the surface about the Astros signing Jose Veras to a one-year, $2 million deal earlier this week, but Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports hears that the club intends to use him as their closer next season. In fact, they have included incentives in his contract with that very role in mind.

Veras will have the opportunity to earn an additional $500,000 next season based on games finished. His contract includes a $3.25 million option for 2014 or a $150,000 buyout, but the price of the option can increase to between $4 million and $5.5 million based on games finished. If exercised, he could also make an additional $500,000 with incentives.

Veras has a 4.01 ERA over eight seasons in the majors and only has five career saves to his name, but he throws in the mid-90s with his heater and can make hitters look silly with his curveball at times. Of course, the 32-year-old has averaged 4.9 BB/9 during his career, so he doesn’t always know where it is going. The rebuilding Astros might not offer a ton of save chances next season, but they can afford to experiment in the ninth inning. If Veras emerges as a solid closer, they could have a nice trade chip on their hands.

Aaron Judge has a “pretty significant strain” of his oblique

Aaron Judge
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In case you missed it over the weekend, the New York Yankees suffered yet another huge blow when another huge star went on the injured list. The star: Aaron Judge, who strained his oblique during Saturday’s 9-2 win over the Royals.

Yesterday the Yankees placed him on the injured list. In so doing, Yankees manager Aaron Boone called it a “pretty significant strain in there.” The team did not offer a timeline, but Boone said they’ll monitor Judge for a couple of weeks to see where he is. Oblique strains, however, can cause a player to miss a lot of time. Four to six weeks is not unheard of for even moderate oblique strains. Guys with major strains have missed months.

Judge is the Yankees’ 13th player currently on the injured list and is the 14th Yankees player to visit it overall on the young season. Joining him there at the moment :

It’s an All-Star team’s worth of injuries. It’s such a good group of players that Ellsbury couldn’t even make the starting lineup of the all-injured team.

Though we often ignore it in season-long narratives of successful and unsuccessful teams, choosing to focus on great or poor performances, the fact of the matter is that team health is almost always a big, big factor in who wins and who loses. No one is going to cry for the Yankees here, of course, but at some point there are just too many injuries to overcome. One has to wonder if New York has reached that point yet.