Left-hander Neal Cotts signs with the Astros

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Looking for a second left-handed reliever to pair with re-signed setup man Tony Sipp, the Astros have agreed to a minor-league deal with veteran Neal Cotts.

Cotts split last season between the Brewers and Twins, logging a total of 63 innings with a 3.41 ERA and 58/22 K/BB ratio. He has a 3.03 ERA in 187 innings since resurrecting his career in 2013 and fares well enough versus right-handed hitters to be more than just a southpaw specialist.

Houston has made the bullpen a priority this offseason, trading for stud closer Ken Giles from the Phillies, spending $18 million to retain Sipp, and bringing in Cotts as depth to go along with holdovers like Luke Gregerson, Pat Neshek, Will Harris, and Josh Fields. It’s an extremely good, depth relief corps.

Gerrit Cole second-fastest to 200 strikeouts in a season

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Astros starter Gerrit Cole dominated the Athletics on Monday night, limiting them to one run on two hits and a walk while striking out 11. It marked his 12th start out of 22 this season with double-digit strikeouts, giving him 205 total on the season.

It is no surprise, then, to hear that Cole is the second-fastest in baseball history to reach 200 strikeouts in a season, per MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart. Cole got there in 133 1/3 innings. The only pitcher faster than Cole was Randy Johnson, who reached 200 K’s in 130 2/3 innings back in 2001 with the Diamondbacks.

Along with the 205 strikeouts, Cole holds an 11-5 record with a 3.03 ERA across 136 2/3 innings. Among qualified starters in the American League, only Charlie Morton (2.61), Mike Minor (2.86), José Berríos (2.96), and teammate Justin Verlander (2.99) have a better ERA than Cole, who has twice finished in the top-five in Cy Young Award voting.