Getty Images

The Rockies’ fifth starter spot is still up for grabs

Leave a comment

A report from Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post suggests that the Rockies have a few position battles ahead of them in spring training. That includes the back end of the starting rotation, where right-hander Jeff Hoffman is expected to compete with fellow righty German Marquez for the fifth starting role.

Hoffman, 24, finished his first cup of coffee in the majors during the 2016 season. He went 0-4 in six starts with Colorado, pitching to a 4.88 ERA, 4.9 BB/9 and 6.3 SO/9 over 31 1/3 innings. Despite a less-than-stellar transition to the big leagues, he retains an impressive pitch arsenal and hasn’t experienced any setbacks since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2014. In a best-case scenario, Saunders writes, Hoffman could round out the “best starting rotation in team history” come Opening Day.

Marquez, 21, is also coming off of a rocky debut in 2016. The right-hander labored through 20 2/3 innings out of the Rockies’ bullpen and rotation, posting a 5.23 ERA, 2.6 BB/9 and 6.5 SO/9 in six appearances. It was the latest in a series of rapid-fire promotions for Marquez, who spent the majority of his season in Double-A Hartford and made a brief stopover in Triple-A Albuquerque before getting a call-up in September. His ceiling isn’t expected to be quite as high as Hoffman’s, though he’ll have plenty of opportunities to compete for the No. 5 spot in the weeks to come.

Astros claim AL pennant with walk-off win against the Yankees

Astros
AP Images
10 Comments

Following a rollercoaster performance on Saturday, the Astros clinched the American League Championship Series with a decisive 6-4 walk-off win against the Yankees, claiming their second AL pennant and earning a well-deserved entrance to the World Series.

Both clubs decided to preserve possible Game 7 starters Luis Severino and Gerrit Cole, electing to have a “bullpen day” for a pivotal Game 6. Chad Green took the mound for the Yankees, tossing one inning before handing the ball off to a long line of relievers, while Brad Peacock‘s rare playoff start was capped at 1 2/3 innings. According to ESPN Stats & Info, that made it the first postseason game since 1999 in which neither starting pitcher lasted two innings or longer.

All told, the two clubs utilized a total of 13 pitchers to make it through nine innings. The Astros lost Ryan Pressly to a worrisome knee injury in the third, but were able to lean on José Urquidy for 2 2/3 innings of one-run, five-strikeout ball. Although Yankees’ bullpen fought back in every inning, they had considerable difficulty recovering from Yuli Gurriel‘s three-run homer off of Green in the bottom of the first:

Still, New York managed to get in a couple of knocks as well: first, with Gary Sanchez‘s RBI single in the second inning, then with Gio Urshela‘s 395-foot blast in the fourth inning — the second of his postseason career to date. That wasn’t enough to close the gap, however, and Alex Bregman‘s productive groundout in the sixth helped cushion the Astros’ lead as they headed toward the final few innings of the series.

That lead started to look a little shaky in the ninth. Only three outs away from a ticket to the World Series, Houston closer Roberto Osuna gave up a leadoff single to Urshela, which was quickly followed by a jaw-dropping, full-count, game-tying two-run shot from DJ LeMahieu that barely cleared the right field fence.

With the threat of extra innings and a potential loss looming, the Astros engineered a last-minute rally to regain the lead and stake their claim for the pennant. With two outs and no runners on, George Springer took a five-pitch walk from Aroldis Chapman. In the next at-bat, Houston pinned their hopes on José Altuve — and he didn’t disappoint, lifting a 2-1 slider out to left field for a 406-foot, two-RBI homer that confirmed the Astros’ series win.

The 2019 World Series will mark the third Fall Classic appearance for the Astros and the first for the Nationals. It all begins on Tuesday night.