Following four-game sweep, Astros send Brad Peacock to pen

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Forced to try something new with their starters putting way too much pressure on their bullpen, the Astros dropped Brad Peacock from the rotation on Monday.

No replacement was immediately announced by the team, which lost four straight in Boston this weekend to drop to 7-18.

Peacock, who was part of the Jed Lowrie-Chris Carter deal with the A’s in the offseason, had a 6.01 ERA in Triple-A last year, so his struggles don’t come as much of a surprise. He was 1-3 with an 8.44 ERA in five starts this season. He gave up five runs and walked five in 3 1/3 innings Saturday in a loss to the Red Sox.

Unfortunately for the Astros, that 8.44 ERA didn’t make Peacock the only obvious choice for demotion. While Lucas Harrell and Bud Norris have both been solid in posting ERAs in the low-4.00s, Erik Bedard is at 7.98 and Philip Humber is at 7.99.

In 25 games this season, the Astros have already had three starters pulled in the first inning. Starters were removed prior to completing five innings 12 times in all. In just six of the 25 games have their starters lastedsix innings.

Current relievers Dallas Kuechel and Paul Clemens appear to be the most likely choices to replace Peacock. Travis Blackley might also be a possibility, though he’s struggled some since coming off the DL. Top prospect Jarred Cosart figures to spend a bit more time on the farm before he gets a chance. Ideally, Jordan Lyles would be ready to contribute, but he’s posted a 5.32 ERA and struck out just 11 in 23 2/3 innings for Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Fox, MLB sign broadcast rights extension through 2028

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FOX Sports and Major League Baseball announced a few minutes ago that they have agreed to a multi-year broadcast rights extension. The deal keeps Fox as the lead MLB rights holder, and home of the World Series, All-Star Game and a good chunk of the playoffs through at least 2028.

While the press release does not announce the financial terms, Bob Nightengale of USA Today is reporting that it will pay Major League Baseball about 30-40% more than the previous contract. While ratings are not what they used to be, it would seem that the eyeballs Fox is getting are more valuable to it.

UPDATE: That bump is actually even bigger:

For the time being, things will look very much like they do now. Starting in 2022, there will be more games broadcast. There are no specifics about how many more. The release says “FOX Sports will also expand its digital rights,” but again, no specifics on what that means, exactly.

FOX Sports has been a baseball rights-holder since 1996 and has been the exclusive national non-cable rights holder since 2001. That’s gonna continue for at least another decade.