Corbin Martin
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Astros to promote Corbin Martin

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The Astros are expected to promote top pitching prospect Corbin Martin ahead of Sunday’s game against the Rangers, manager A.J. Hinch told reporters Saturday. Martin will slot into the rotation spot usually held by right-hander Collin McHugh, who will be temporarily reassigned to the bullpen as he works out some mechanical issues.

Martin, 23, is currently tabbed as the Astros’ sixth-best prospect, per MLB.com. The righty made the jump to Triple-A Round Rock at the start of the 2019 season and has issued four runs, 11 walks, and 28 strikeouts through his first 24 1/3 innings. He’s shown a remarkable ability to control the ball in each of his outings so far, a trend the Astros will hope he continues as he sees longer starts and more regular pitching opportunities on a major-league level.

McHugh, meanwhile, has hardly looked like the 1.99-ERA, 1.4-fWAR pitcher the Astros relied on in 2018. In a brutal 12-2 loss to the Royals on Tuesday, the 31-year-old hurler permitted eight runs on seven hits and three walks and struck out just three of 19 batters faced. He’s 3-4 in eight starts this spring, with a 6.37 ERA, 3.1 BB/9, and 9.2 SO/9 through 41 innings. No timetable has been placed on his bullpen stint, though it’s likely the Astros will wait to see him return to some of his early-season totals before shifting him back to the rotation — especially if Martin rises to the occasion in his absence.

Dodgers upset with Héctor Neris after Thursday’s game

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July hasn’t treated Phillies closer Héctor Neris well. Entering Thursday, he had allowed runs in three of his last four appearances, blowing two saves in the process. His struggles continued as he allowed a two-out solo home run to Alex Verdugo in the bottom of the ninth inning on Thursday afternoon, closing the deficit to 7-6. Thankfully for the Phillies, he was able to get the final out, getting Justin Turner to fly out to right field. An excited Neris looked into the Dodgers’ dugout and yelled an expletive.

The four-game series between the Dodgers and Phillies had quite some drama. After Matt Beaty hit a go-ahead three-run home run in the top of the ninth inning on Tuesday, Neris threw a pitch at the next batter, David Freese, seemingly in frustration. Neris was suspended three games. He appealed his punishment, which is why he’s been allowed to pitch. In the fourth inning of Thursday’s game, Max Muncy and Beaty stepped on first baseman Rhys Hoskins‘ ankle on consecutive plays. That, along with his own struggles, explains why Neris might’ve been amped up after closing out the ballgame.

The Dodgers were, understandably, not happy about Neris yelling at them. Several players shouted back, including Clayton Kershaw and Russell Martin. An unamused Muncy glared at Neris. Martin suggested to Neris that they meet in the hallway.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said after the game, “I think we played this series the right way, played it straight. To look in our dugout and to taunt in any way, I think it’s unacceptable. Look in your own dugout.”

Muncy said, “He’s blown about eight saves against us over the last two years. I guess he was finally excited he got one. Whatever.”

Neris attributed his outburst to emotions, saying, “It’s a great win for my team and just I let my emotion get out.”

In baseball, everyone is pro-showing-emotion when it’s himself and his teammates, and against when it’s players on the other team. Muncy got into a back-and-forth with Giants starter Madison Bumgarner after flipping his bat and watching his long home run at Oracle Park last month. Bumgarner jawed at him and Muncy said, “I just told him if he doesn’t want me to watch the ball, go get it out of the ocean.”

Neris, however, is the last guy on the Phillies who should be antagonizing the Dodgers after his terrible decision to throw at Freese, not to mention his overall poor performance against them. The Phillies were pigs in mud who wanted to wrestle and the Dodgers jumped in with them for some reason. Thankfully, the two teams are done playing each other for the rest of the regular season.