Tag Archives: Charlie Morton

NL’s Cy Young Award has gone to a Phillies hurler seven times

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Denny won the 1983 NL Cy Young Award for his performance with the Phillies that season

 

Major League Baseball continues the announcement of its 2019 awards on Wednesday evening. The top pitchers in both the National and American Leagues will be honored as the Cy Young Award winners are publicly revealed in a 6:00 pm EST broadcast on the MLB Network.

Those will be the more formally recognized awards as voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America. However, a few hours earlier, the IBWAA (Internet Baseball Writers Association of America) will announce the winners of voting from their membership.

The 2019 American League Cy Young Award finalists are teammates Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander of the AL champion Houston Astros and former Phillies pitcher Charlie Morton of the Tampa Bay Rays. Verlander previously won the award back in 2011 and is a three-time runner-up for the honors.

In the National League, the finalists are last year’s winner Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets, Korean southpaw Hyun-Jin Ryu of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and three-time winner Max Scherzer of the world champion Washington Nationals. Both Ryu and Cole are free agents this off-season.

My choices are Cole and deGrom. Those are the two men who received my IBWAA vote.

MLB first began recognizing the best pitcher in baseball with this formal award with the 1956 season. For the first 11 years, just one winner for all of Major League Baseball was honored.

Due to an overwhelming outpouring of fan requests, a winner was honored from both the National and American Leagues beginning with the 1957 season.

In 1969, the American League vote ended in a tie between Denny McLain of the Detroit Tigers and Mike Cuellar of the Baltimore Orioles, and for the only time in the history of the award it was shared. Voting rules were changed as a result, with just one winner honored thereafter.

While the Cy is generally considered to be an honor for the top starting pitcher in the game, that is not a requirement. Mike Marshall of the Los Angeles Dodgers became the first reliever to take the honors in 1974, and eight other relievers have since won the award across the two leagues. The most recent was Eric Gagne of the Dodgers back in 2003.

Roger Clemens holds a record for having won the award seven times. A pair of former Phillies pitchers, Roy Halladay and Pedro Martinez, are among a group of a half-dozen hurlers to be honored with the Cy in both leagues at some point during their careers.

The late Baseball Hall of Famer and Phillies Wall of Famer Halladay is one of just four pitchers to take home a National League Cy Young Award while a member of the Fightin’ Phils pitching staff.

Halladay was the unanimous winner of the award after a historic 2010 season in which he threw a Perfect Game as well as just the second postseason no-hitter in MLB history. He registered an incredible 8.6 WAR value that year, winning 21 games and tossing 250.2 innings with nine complete games.

In 1983, right-hander John Denny captured the honors with the Phillies “Wheeze Kids” team that would go on to win the National League pennant. Denny received 20 of 24 first-place votes to finish as an easy winner.

That Cy followed a 19-win season during which he tossed 242.2 innings over 36 starts. Denny was also the NL’s Comeback Player of the Year in that first full season after coming to the Phillies from the Cleveland Indians in a September 1982 trade.

Four years later, the only Phillies relief pitcher to ever win the Cy took the honors in one of the closest votes ever. Steve Bedrosian saved 40 games for the team that year, exactly half of their total 1987 wins total. He worked 89 innings over 65 games, allowing 79 hits with 74 strikeouts and a 2.83 ERA.

“Bedrock” received just nine of 24 first-place votes, but came out the winner with 57 total voting points. That total edged out the 55 received by Rick Sutcliffe (four first-place) of the Chicago Cubs and 54 for Rick Reuschel (eight first-place), who split the season between the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants.

Halladay, Denny, Bedrosian. Those are three of the seven times that a Phillies pitcher has taken the NL honors. As I said earlier, four pitchers have won the award while with the club. Which means that the fourth hurler would put four Cy Young Awards into his trophy case.

That hurler was, of course, lefty Steve Carlton. The greatest pitcher in Phillies franchise history, Carlton won the Cy for his performances on the mound in the 1972, 1977, 1980, and 1982 campaigns.

That first win in 1972 was one of the most impressive pitching performances in Major League Baseball history. In his first season after arriving from the Saint Louis Cardinals in a spring training trade for Rick Wise, Carlton was the unanimous winner of what has been ranked as the ninth-greatest Cy Young season in history.

The man who became alternately known as “Lefty” or “Super Steve” won 27 games with a putrid Phillies team that would win just 59 games. He made 41 starts with 30 complete games, numbers that are unheard of in today’s game. Carlton allowed just 257 hits over 346.1 innings with 310 strikeouts, registering a 1.97 ERA and 0.993 WHIP.

In 1977, Carlton won 23 games while tossing 283 innings over 36 starts. He registered 17 complete games and struck out 198 with a 2.64 ERA and 1.124 WHIP. That performance allowed him to receive 17 of 26 first-place votes and finish comfortably ahead of runner-up Tommy John of the Dodgers.

For his performance during the Phillies first-ever World Series-winning campaign in 1980, Carlton became just the third pitcher to ever win three Cy’s, joining Sandy Koufax and Tom Seaver with that distinction.

That year, the lefty won 24 games, with 38 of his starts resulting in 13 complete games. He struck out 286 batters while allowing just 243 hits across 304 innings pitched. Carlton registered a 2.34 ERA and 1.095 WHIP, and received 23 of the 24 first-place votes as the runaway winner.

Two years later, Carlton became the first pitcher to ever win four career Cy Young Awards, and did so again in runaway fashion, receiving 20 of 24 first-place votes.

That season, Carlton won 23 games while making 38 starts, half of those resulting in complete games. He struck out 286 over 295.2 innings with a 1.147 WHIP for a Phillies team that would battle his old Saint Louis club for the NL East crown down to the last two weeks of the season before falling three games short.

Carlton and Halladay went on to become both Baseball Hall of Famers and Phillies Wall of Famers. Carlton’s 84.1 career WAR mark is the fifth-best in baseball history among left-handed pitchers, while Halladay’s 65.4 mark leaves him among the top 50 hurlers in the history of the game.

Denny had a nice career, winning 123 games over 13 big-league seasons, 37 of those with the Phillies over parts of four years. Bedrosian registered 184 career saves and 76 wins in a 14-year career.

At this time last season, Phillies right-hander Aaron Nola was a finalist for the award after winning 17 games and allowing just 149 hits over 212.1 innings across 33 starts with 224 strikeouts.

Will Nola some day become the fifth Phillies pitcher to capture an NL Cy Young Award? Perhaps Zach Eflin will elevate his game to that level. Or maybe the club will be able to lure Cole or Ryu this winter in free agency and find one of them taking the honors in some future season.

One thing is certain, as the 2011 Phillies who won a franchise record 102 regular season games while featuring a “Four Aces” rotation of Halladay, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, and Roy Oswalt showed, starting pitching is the name of the game in Major League Baseball.

The Phillies need to upgrade their starting pitching rotation by landing a pair of new, proven arms in the free agent market this winter. If they do, the club should finally once again become a serious challenger for a postseason berth in 2020. And perhaps they’ll also get a Cy Young winner in the bargain.

 

MORE RECENT PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES CONTENT:

 

Lefty starting pitching still a priority for Phillies this off-season

Keuchel won the 2015 NL Cy Young Award with the Astros
After agreeing to a deal with the free agent lefty starting pitcher a couple of days ago, the Washington Nationals today announced the signing of Patrick Corbin to a six-year, $140 million deal. Corbin now joins Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg in the Nationals starting rotation.
With their own rotation headed by a pair of talented right-handers in Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta, the Philadelphia Phillies are known to be looking for a left-hander as well.
The Phillies appear to have been one of the finalists for Corbin. Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports reported  “five years at what is believed to have been a bit over $100 million” as the Phillies offer.
The Phillies have not had a southpaw in their rotation since Adam Morgan made 21 starts in the 2016 season. They haven’t had an effective left-handed starter since Cole Hamels was dealt in late July 2015.
Having lost out on Corbin to a division rival, where might Phillies general manager Matt Klentak turn next in his search?
There are a handful of remaining left-handed starting pitchers who have each been linked to the Phillies in recent weeks. Each one comes with his own question marks and challenges in bringing them to Philadelphia. Let’s examine a few of the better options.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS VETERAN

The biggest name is that of San Francisco Giants veteran Madison Bumgarner. The 29-year-old helped lead the Giants to three World Series titles earlier in this decade, and was the Most Valuable Player of the 2014 Fall Classic.

Trade rumors involving MadBum have blazed in the Hot Stove in recent days. (Photo: Arturo Pardavilla III)
Bumgarner made four straight NL All-Star teams from 2013-16, finishing among the top 10 in NL Cy Young Award voting each of those seasons. He also knows how to handle a bat, having blasted 17 career home runs and won a pair of Silver Slugger Awards.
After missing the first three months of the 2018 season with a broken hand, Bumgarner returned to make 21 starts. The North Carolina native is owed just $12 million for next season after which he will become a free agent, so there is not a big contract commitment.
However, he would not come cheap as far as the price to land him. Giants new GM Farhan Zaidi is likely to ask for a player/prospect combination with some real value. It might take something like an Odubel Herrera and Adonis Medina package.

HOUSTON ASTROS FREE AGENT

Assuming that Corbin was free agent pitching ‘Plan A’ for Klentak, perhaps the ‘Plan B’ is named Dallas Keuchel, who turns 31-years-old on New Year’s Day 2019.
Keuchel was the Houston Astros seventh round pick in the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft. He has spent his entire seven-year big-league career in Houston, and was a key member of the 2017 World Series champions pitching rotation.
Keuchel has a 76-63 career record with a 3.66 ERA, 1.250 WHIP, and 3.72 FIP mark. The Oklahoma native is more of a typical crafty left-hander than a power pitcher, with career 2.76 K/BB and 7.2 K/9 marks.
The 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner has won a dozen or more games in four of the last five years, is a 2x NL All-Star, and has won five Gold Glove Awards including this past season.
It is believed that Keuchel will be looking for a four-year deal at an $80 million total. While that is less than Corbin’s total cost, it still takes him out to age 34. The Phillies supposedly balked at a sixth year on their Corbin offer, which would have been his age 34 season.

LATEST JAPANESE POSTED TALENT

Any of Major League Baseball’s 30 teams who might be interested can now negotiate with lefty pitcher Yusei Kikuchi during a window that closes on January 5, 2019. He will surely sign prior to that date, and I wrote last month here at Phillies Nation that the Phillies are believed to be one of the teams seriously involved.

Kikuchi is an eight-year veteran lefty in the Japanese Pacific League (Photo: えすぱにぃ )
Kikuchi is 27-years-old, and will turn 28 next June, so a signing team will get him for his prime years. He debuted at age 20 in the Australian Baseball League before making his Japanese Pacific League debut later that same year.
Over his eight pro seasons, Kikuchi has gone 74-48 with a 2.81 ERA and 1.177 WHIP. He has allowed 838 hits over 1,035.1 innings across 163 games, 158 of those as starting assignments. Kikuchi has registered a 2.43 K/BB mark and has struck out exactly eight batters per nine innings.
On top of whatever actual contract value a team such as the Phillies might work out with Kikuchi, they would also be obliged to pay what amounts to a 15-20 percent posting fee to his Japanese team, the Seibu Lions.
Danny Knobler at Bleacher Report quoted an unnamed American League scout who has seen him pitch multiple times as follows on Kikuchi’s talent level:

“At least a third starter. If it all comes together, a highly respected No. 2. Will be one of the better left-handed starters in the big leagues.”

However, Knobler also quotes a National League scout who stated: “He’s just fair. Not as good as others who have come over and failed.
I have seen a wide variety of potential contract possibilities for Kikuchi that seem to average out to about five years and $50 million total.

OTHER POSSIBILITIES

There are a number of talented starting pitchers remaining available on the free agent market. Among left-handers with starting experience most likely to be of interest are two who formerly were Phillies property: J.A. Happ and Gio Gonzalez.
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Happ might be only the Phillies third or fourth choice, but could still end up a good short-term option. (Photo: Tom Mihalek)
Happ was the Phillies third round pick in the 2004 MLB Amateur Draft and pitched with the club from 2007-10, including a 2009 season in which he finished as runner-up in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.
Happ was dealt to the Houston Astros along with a pair of prospects in the deal that brought Roy Oswalt to the Phillies. Over a 12-year career, Happ has gone 109-82 with a 3.90 ERA and 1.309 WHIP.
He was outstanding down the stretch last year after being obtained in trade by the New York Yankees from Toronto. Happ went 8-0 with a 2.69 ERA, allowing just 51 hits in 63.2 innings with a 63/16 K:BB ratio over 11 starts.
Gonzalez was the first round pick of the Chicago White Sox in the 2004 MLB Amateur Draft. He was traded to the Phillies in December 2005 as the player to be named later in the deal sending Jim Thome to Chicago in exchange for Aaron Rowand.
Almost exactly one year later the Phillies sent Gonzalez back to the White Sox as part of a deal in which the two teams swapped starting pitchers, Gavin Floyd going to Chicago and Freddy Garcia coming to Philly.
In January 2008 the Chisox included him in yet another deal to bring Nick Swisher from the Oakland Athletics. It was with the A’s that Gonzalez finally broke into the big-leagues from 2008-11.
Following a 2011 season in which he was an AL All-Star, Gonzalez was dealt for the fourth time his career. This time the A’s sent him to the Washington Nationals as the key piece that brought back a four-player package.
With the Nationals, Gonzalez became a rotation mainstay. From 2012 through late this past summer he compiled an 86-65 record with a 3.62 ERA and 1.283 WHIP. He was a 2012 NL All-Star when he finished third in NL Cy Young voting.
Happ is now 36-years-old. Gonzalez is 33-years-old. You might be able to get either pitcher on a two-year contract at something along the lines of $20 million total value.
Among the available right-handed rotation options the most attractive is probably another former Phillies property, Charlie Morton.
How much the Phillies might be willing to spend on a starting pitcher in the free agent market might depend on how much they commit to improving their offense in that same manner.
The Phillies are believed to still be among the front-runners for both outfielder Bryce Harper and infielder Manny Machado. That could complicate their making a move on a big-ticket arm. However, it apparently didn’t slow them down from going after Corbin.

Originally published at Phillies Nation as Phillies still want a lefty starter after losing out on Corbin, so who is available?

A reunion with Charlie Morton might make free agent sense for Phillies

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Morton could make sense on a short-term free agent deal

The MLB Hot Stove has now finally been lit with dozens of free agents now eligible to negotiate with any team. The Philadelphia Phillies are widely considered to be one of the leading contenders to strike it big in the market this off-season.

In addition to big hitters such as Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, the Phillies are in need of at least one more proven veteran starting pitcher for their rotation of they wish to contend in the 2019 season.
One name now being connected to the club is that of Charlie Morton. The Phillies obtained the right-hander from the Pittsburgh Pirates in a December 2015 trade for low-level prospect pitcher David Whitehead.
Unfortunately for the Phillies, Morton made just four April starts in the 2016 season. He suffered a torn left hamstring during his April 23 start in Milwaukee while running to first base on a sacrifice bunt attempt, and was done for the season.
For the $8 million paid to Morton that year the Phillies received 17.1 innings. He allowed 15 hits, just one of those a home run, with a 19/8 K:BB ratio over the four outings.
The team and Morton had a mutual $9.5 million option for the 2017 season, but the Phillies declined, reportedly against the opinion of some on the coaching staff, and instead paid him a $1 million buyout. He then became a free agent, signed with the Houston Astros, and became one of the American League’s most consistent starters over the last two seasons.
During the Astros run to the 2017 World Series championship, Morton made a half-dozen postseason appearances. In the title-clincher against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Morton was called upon to provide four innings in relief and was on the mound for the final out.

Morton will turn 35-years-old in just over a week. With the Phillies supposedly looking at starting pitching options, the MLB Trade Rumors site has listed them as their choice to bring back Morton in free agency. They are predicting a two-year, $32 million deal.
Per Tim Dierkes of MLBTR, the Phillies and Washington Nationals might end up as the leading contenders for his services:
Morton will entertain many two- or even three-year offers on the open market, especially unencumbered by a QO.  If he doesn’t return to the Astros, Morton has cited proximity to his wife’s family in Delaware as a major factor.  That could put the Phillies and Nationals as frontrunners.
Among the other starting pitchers who the Phillies could look at signing in free agency are Boston Red Sox postseason hero Nathan Eovaldi, lefty Patrick Corbin, righty Dallas Keuchel, and former Phillies pitcher J.A. Happ.
The Cleveland Indians will reportedly put Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco on the trade market, but it’s hard to see the Phillies coming up with a deal that big.
The 2019 Phillies pitching rotation will include Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta. That would leave Vince VelasquezNick Pivetta, and Zach Eflin battling youngsters such as Enyel De Los Santos for two spots in the spring should the club successfully land a starting pitcher via free agency or trade.

Originally published at Phillies Nation as Would the Phillies consider a second go-around with Charlie Morton

Yankees find life as C.C. Sabathia turns back the clock

Sabathia gem helps cut Yankees ALCS deficit in half

The New York Yankees were in desperate shape entering Game Three of the 2017 American League Championship Series.

The Yanks trailed the Houston Astros by two games to none in the best-of-seven series. A loss back home in the Bronx would put them in an almost impossible 3-0 hole.

Manager Joe Girardi handed the ball to 37-year old, 17-year veteran C.C. Sabathia for the pivotal starting assignment on the mound.

Sabathia delivered, and then some. He would shut out the tough Houston lineup for six innings over which he threw 99 pitches. The big lefty surrendered just three hits, walked four, and struck out five batters in what he described as a “smoke and mirrors” performance per MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch.

Despite his age, there is no one his team would have wanted more in that position. Per Hoch, Sabathia is now 10-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 13 starts following a Yankees loss during the 2017 regular season and postseason.

“Obviously you want to go out and have a good performance in the playoffs and give us a chance to get back in the series. Hopefully we did that tonight. We can come out tomorrow, swing the bats and score some more runs.” ~ Sabathia, per Hoch

Swing the bats they did last night as well. The Bronx Bombers came out bombing early and often against Houston starter Charlie Morton. The veteran right-hander yielded seven earned runs on six hits and two walks over just 3.2 innings of work.

Todd Frazier got it started in the bottom of the second inning. The former Little League World Series hero reached out and poked a three-run homer just over the right field wall. That blast got the offense rolling in what would become an eventual 8-1 Yankees victory.

For all of the offensive fireworks that followed, including yet another prodigious home run from mammoth rookie Aaron Judge, it was the work of Sabathia in keeping Houston’s own potent offense in check that would make the biggest difference.

With the left-hander taking the hill against his club, Houston skipper A.J. Hinch loaded his lineup with right-handed hitters. Hinch had Evan Gattis and Cameron Maybin take the places of Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran. He also moved shortstop Alex Bregman up into the two-hole in the batting order.

None of it mattered in the end. Maybin delivered a hit, but it was one of only four that the Houston order would generate on the night against Sabathia and a trio of Yankees relievers.

He comes up big for us when we need him,’’ said outfielder Brett Gardner per Mark Herrmann for Newsday. “He’s a big-game pitcher. He might not have the velocity that he used to have, but he’s a better pitcher and has better command than he’s had. He knows what he’s doing out there. We’re lucky to have him on our side.”

SABATHIA’S BIG LEAGUE HISTORY

Sabathia was the first round pick of the Cleveland Indians all the way back in the 1998 MLB Draft at 20th overall. Just three years later he was in Cleveland, winning 17 games as a 20-year old and finishing as the AL Rookie of the Year runner-up to a legend named Ichiro Suzuki.

In parts of eight seasons with the Tribe, Sabathia amassed a 106-71 record. He was the 2007 American League Cy Young Award winner, as well as a three-time AL All-Star.


With Sabathia headed for free agency, the Indians dealt him to the Milwaukee Brewers at the 2008 trade deadline. He went 11-2 for the Brew Crew, helping them to the playoffs, and then entered free agency.


Entering his age 28 season, an ace-caliber starting pitcher, Sabathia was one of the most coveted free agents on the market. He received a huge nine-year, $202 million dollar contract from the Yankees. That deal expires following this season.




With the Yankees, Sabathia has added on another 120 victories to his personal career win column. He also has three more AL All-Star Game nods, has finished in the top four of the AL Cy Young voting three times, and helped lead New York to their last World Series championship in 2009.

GEM CUTS YANKS DEFICIT IN HALF


We wanted him on the mound tonight,” Girardi said per Peter Botte of the New York Daily News. “We thought we had the right guy on the mound. Six innings, just an outstanding effort. Couldn’t ask for anything more.

Adam Warren followed Sabathia, tossing a pair of shutout innings. The only Houston offense was generated off Dellin Betances in the top of the 9th inning, but Tommy Kahnle came in to shut the Astros down and close out the victory.

The turn-back-the-clock Sabathia win cuts the Yankees deficit to 2-1 now, with the next two games slated for Tuesday and Wednesday. Those will once again take place in the postseason hotbed of Yankee Stadium.

On Tuesday for a late afternoon 5pm EDT start, Girardi will send Sonny Gray to the mound. Hinch will go with Lance McCullers in Game Four. Both managers will be hoping for a performance as clutch as the one delivered by Sabathia on Monday night.

2017 MLB Spotlight Series: Cleveland Indians at Houston Astros

The team with the best record over the first month and a half of the 2017 MLB season has been the Houston Astros. The Cleveland Indians are the defending American League champions.

This weekend at Minute Maid Park, the Tribe comes to town for a showdown of two of the game’s top ball clubs in a series that will shine the baseball spotlight on Houston.
The Astros come into the weekend series with a 29-12 record for a .707 winning percentage. That gives manager A.J. Hinch‘s squad a 3.5 game lead over three other teams for the honor of best record in Major League Baseball.
For manager Terry Francona‘s Indians, it has been more of a struggle. Cleveland is just 20-19, sitting in second place in the AL Central Division, a game behind the surprising Minnesota Twins.
The pitching matchups for the series are as follows:
Indians
Fri – Trevor Bauer (Cle) vs Charlie Morton (Hou)
Sat – Mike Clevinger (Cle) vs Mike Fiers(Hou)
Sun – Danny Salazar (Cle) vs Joe Musgrove (Hou)
The Indians have been up and down all season to this point, possibly showing signs of a hangover after storming to the American League Pennant a year ago. Their World Series vanquishers, the Chicago Cubs, have experienced a similar slow-start hangover in the National League.
Cleveland began the year 5-7, then won 12 of 18 to reach a season-high four games over the .500 mark for the most recent time on May 9. The club now enters this weekend cold, having dropped five of it’s last seven games.
Houston on the other hand has not lost three straight games since early April. The Astros have only lost back-to-back games once since that time.

STATISTICAL COMPARISON

The host Astros own a distinct offensive advantage. They are fourth in MLB and second in the American League in both OPS (.789) and Runs Scored (211) to this point.
Astros
Cleveland comes in just 22nd in Major League Baseball in OPS, and their 168 Runs Scored is also 22nd in the game.
The Tribe are better on the mound, but here the Astros further demonstrate the edge that has produced their outstanding record.
Houston’s pitching staff has a .227 Batting Average Against, best in MLB by a wide margin. They have allowed just 128 walks, tied for seventh in the game. They do surrender the long ball. The 51 homers surrendered by the Astros pitchers has them at 11th in baseball.
Cleveland has a .241 BAA, tied for ninth in MLB. And you have to earn it against Indians pitching. The Tribe staff has given out just 119 free passes, the fourth best total in baseball. Their 43 home runs allowed is tied for the eigth best mark in the game.

PITCHING PROBLEMS FOR TRIBE

Part of the problem for the Indians has been a starting rotation that has been slowed by key injuries, and by staff-wide inconsistency. Ace Corey Kluber appeared hurt for much of the first month, and has now been on the Disabled List for the last two weeks.
Francona addressed the situation in a quote captured by Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com after the Tribe dropped the final two games of their most recent series in Tampa Bay:
“We need to make this correct itself.Mickey Callaway (pitching coach) and I were talking a bunch at the end of the game and we want to sit down maybe with the pitchers when we get to Houston because I don’t think by just showing up and saying, ‘Well, it’s a new day,’ is (going to change a lot). That’s a good way to start, but we need to do some things better.”

ALL SYSTEMS GO IN HOUSTON

Over in the other dugout, things could hardly be going better for Hinch and company. The in-state rival Texas Rangers have run off nine consecutive wins. And still, Houston holds a 7.5 game lead on the two-time defending AL West champions.
Hinch was quoted on his club’s success recently by Jon Tayler at Sports Illustrated:
“We’ve had a different guy every night do the job. Some days it’s been George Springer, some days it’s been Carlos Correa, some days it’s been Jose Altuve. Every fifth day, it feels like it’s Dallas Keuchel. Being able to rattle off names like that is the strength of this team.”
They’re hot, and they’re at home. As a result, the Astros are the clear favorites this weekend. But one senses that this talented Indians ball club is due to go on a run at some point. For Cleveland fans and the team itself, the hope is to begin by winning this weekend series under the MLB spotlight.