Sports Illustrated crowns the Astros World Series champs . . . for 2017

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File this one away for three years from now:

 

Eh, it’s possible that it’s conservative. Not that I would pick the Astros to win it at all anytime soon, as picking such things is a sucker’s game. But if a team does put it together after a lot of futility, it often happens more quickly than you’d expect. The Rays came out of basically nowhere to win the 2008 pennant, for example. When things click, they tend to click fast or they don’t click at all.

Shohei Ohtani medically cleared to begin a throwing progression

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The Angels released a medical update on P/DH Shohei Ohtani Thursday evening. Ohtani was reevaluated by Dr. Steve Yoon at the Kerlan Jobe Institute. The right-hander’s sprained UCL showed improved healing and, as a result, he has been cleared to begin a throwing progression.

Ohtani, 24, was diagnosed with a Grade 2 sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow after his June 6 start against the Royals and hasn’t pitched since, though he has been in the lineup as a hitter since July 3. It was initially believed he would undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery. Then the thought was that Ohtani wouldn’t pitch again for the rest of the season, but this update suggests a possibility he could return to the mound before the season is over.

In nine starts, Ohtani put together a 3.10 ERA with a 61/20 K/BB ratio in 49 1/3 innings. As a hitter, he batted .283/.365/.522 with seven home runs and 22 RBI in 157 plate appearances.