Buck Showalter thinks A-Rod’s ban will help the Yankees too much

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I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I don’t believe that MLB’s discipline of Alex Rodriguez is specifically designed to get the Yankees out from under their contract obligations to him and save them from their awful mistake of promising him all of that money they agreed to give him before the 2008 season.

But man, it sure is a stroke of good fortune for the Yankees! Buck Showalter agrees:

Getting Rodriguez’s $25 million salary off their 2014 books would effectively reset a Yankees payroll projected to exceed a $189 million luxury tax threshold the club hoped to slip under. And if they’re freed from the $86 million owed Rodriguez from 2014 to ’17? Showalter fears Commissioner Bud Selig’s zeal to ban Rodriguez might turn the Yankees into free agent predators again.

“If Bud lets them get away with that, they’re under the luxury tax,” Showalter told USA TODAY Sports. “If they can reset, they can spend again and I guarantee you in two years Matt Wieters is in New York.”

That’s ridiculous. Why would the Yankees wait two years to use A-Rod money to sign Matt Wieters when they can simply sign Brian McCann this winter?

But in all seriousness: intended or not, let no one pretend that this Biogenesis business won’t be a boon to the Yankees.

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.