ICYMI, Edwin Encarnacion is superb

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The Blue Jays are just going through the paces right now. Absent Jose Bautista, they’ve lost seven in a row and fallen to 57-73 on the season. The year’s most disappointing team, they have nothing left to play for.

Just don’t tell Edwin Encarnacion that. He’s homered three times during the current seven-game losing streak. Tonight’s was his 33rd of the year. He also walked three times, and he’s now sporting an outstanding 55/71 K/BB ratio for the year. Since the beginning of June, he has 18 homers, 47 walks and just 22 strikeouts.

Encarnacion is currently on pace to finish the season with 41 homers and 69 strikeouts. Just two different players since 2001 have managed to have 40-homer seasons while striking out less than 80 times: Albert Pujols did it six times, the last in 2010, and Barry Bonds did it three times (plus twice more in the 1990s).

This is Hall of Fame-type territory, for sure. Not that every player who has done it has gone on to the Hall of Fame, but almost everyone to accomplish it is at least a fringe candidate. Besides Bonds and Pujols, the last to get there were Gary Sheffield, Vladimir Guerrero, Todd Helton, Rafael Palmeiro and Mike Piazza. The exceptions to the fringe-HOFer rule in the last 40 years are Tino Martinez in 2007, George Bell in 1987 and Ben Oglivie in 1980.

Obviously, Encarnacion currently rates a lot closer to Martinez than Pujols, but he’s far from a flash in the pan. He was an underrated hitter in his early years in Cincinnati, with his poor glove holding him back and getting him sent to the bench whenever he had a few bad games in a row. He’s been one of the AL’s best hitters the last two years now and he’s still just 30. He should have at least another two or three big years in front of him.

Report: Astros, Ryan Pressly close to agreement on two-year, $17.5 million extension

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Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle reports that the Astros and reliever Ryan Pressly are close to finalizing a two-year, $17.5 million contract extension, which will also include a third-year vesting club option. Rome notes that the extension is believed to be the largest, in terms of both total money and average annual value, for a reliever who is not a closer.

Pressly, 30, agreed to a $2.9 million salary for the 2019 season back in January, avoiding arbitration in his final year of eligibility. The Astros acquired Pressly from the Twins near the end of July in exchange for a pair of minor leaguers. Pressly posted a 3.40 ERA in 47 2/3 innings with the Twins and a 0.77 ERA in 23 1/3 innings with the Astros. In the playoffs, Pressly allowed just one run on one hit and three walks with seven strikeouts across five innings of work.

Along with Héctor Rondón, Pressly will once again help bridge the gap to closer Roberto Osuna.