Lefty Martin Perez, considered the front runner for the Rangers’ #5 spot in the rotation, suffered a fracture of the ulna bone when a line drive was hit back up the middle and struck him in this afternoon’s spring training game against the Mariners. Perez hadn’t allowed a hit in his three innings of work prior to the injury.
The top prospect, soon to be 22 years old, could return in May. In 38 innings in the Majors last year, Perez posted a 5.45 ERA. Baseball America has listed him in their top-100 rankings in each of the last five years.
Justin Grimm is fighting for the fifth rotation spot as well, but gave up six runs in 2.1 innings after entering the game following Perez’s removal. Mike Peasley points out that the Rangers wouldn’t necessarily need a fifth starter until the eighth game of the season due to two off-days.
The Rangers have “remained in contact” with free agent starter Kyle Lohse’s agent Scott Boras. The Perez injury may open up the door for Lohse.
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.