Random thoughts and questions as July heats up

Just some random thoughts/questions on a steaming hot July day.

Random Thoughts/Questions

  1. Would you really want to be a general manager?  Sure the money would be great. You would be one of 30 people in the world doing what you are doing. And of course, you would be making a great living tied to a game you’ve loved your whole life. But every decision, every move you make or do not make gets sliced and diced in a very public forum. You are called every name you can imagine. And you have to be a psychic. Will Carlos Correa be healthy enough to play? What about Brian McCann? Do I go all out for a replacement for either? Do I fill in another spot and move Alex Bregman to SS? Do I go hard after recently injured Zach Britton? Do I put the season in the hands of those already here or unproven youngsters?
  2. Are the Astros more worried about the M’s  and A’s, or the Red Sox, Yanks, Indians and Dodgers or whoever? The Astros have slowly pulled out to a 6 game lead in the division. If they make a trade or trades right now are they aimed a winning the division or beating the other beasts in the playoffs? The hunch here is that they will move with the confidence that this team is going to win the division, so moves may be more aimed towards a long playoff run.
  3. What is most important to the Astros at this point in the season? a) Getting Correa back whole and performing?  b) Finding bullpen assistance by way of trade? c) Getting wily veteran and leader McCann back for the playoffs? It says here that Correa’s healthy return is important in the long run as he could carry this team for weeks at a time.
  4. Is there any team in the majors with close to the Astros’ starting pitching depth headed to the playoffs? By one standard (ERA) the Astros have three starters in the top 10 in the AL (#1 Justin Verlander, #6 Gerrit Cole and #9 Charlie Morton) and two more in the top 20 (#17 Dallas Keuchel and #20 Lance McCullers Jr.).  Oh and the other starter they let go after 2017, Mike Fiers is #14 with the Detroit Tigers.  They only will need 3 or 4 starters in the postseason and they have those five, plus waiting in the wings… Collin McHugh, who had a 3.55 ERA in a partial 2017 season and is 0.96 out of the ‘pen this season or Brad Peacock, who had a 3.22 ERA in 21 starts in 2017. There will be decisions to be made in a couple of months…
  5. Is there another team, who could be 3rd in the AL in runs scored after what the Astros have been through? Star SS Correa has missed 28 games and counting and his performance was down when he was healthy. 1B Yuli Gurriel has missed 21 games mostly in the beginning of the season. George Springer  great in 2017 (.283 BA / .383 OBP / .889 OPS with 34 HR and 85 RBIs) is not close in 2018 (.249 BA/ .335 OBP/ .756  OPS and on pace for 26 HR and 81 RBIs). Marwin Gonzalez a career year in 2018 (.303 BA/.909 OPS with the club leading 90 RBIs) is poor this season (.233 BA/ .668 OPS on pace for 59 RBIs). Josh Reddick was terrific in 2017 (.314 BA/.847 OPS with 82 RBIs) and is average in 2018 (.261 BA/.755 OPS on pace for 50 RBIs).  Jose Altuve was the MVP in 2017 (.346 BA / .410 OBP / .957 OPS with 112 runs/ 24 HRs / 81 RBIs) and is just very good this season (.329/.394/.860 on pace for 101 runs / 14 HRs/ 72 RBIs). They also had a bunch of sub-Mendoza at bats from Derek Fisher and Jake Marisnick.
  6. Five years from now who will have been the best Astro from this time period (2017 to 2023)? Will it be the super clutch Alex Bregman? An at least one time MVP Altuve? A healthy Correa? A mercurial Springer? A sporadic Lance McCullers Jr.? A young and rising Kyle Tucker? Bregman would be the popular choice based on how he has become “the man” this season. But what will it look like after 5 more seasons in the books?
  7. If the Astros fall short of a second title this season, is that a disappointment? It has been a long time since a team repeated. There are so many top-notch teams this year including the Red Sox, who may win more than 110 games at the pace they are setting. Playoff series are so short that one play, one bad bounce, one bad call can derail a team.
  8. How much time do the Astros give Kyle Tucker? They saw how both Springer and Bregman struggled after their original call-ups. Of course, neither one was 21 years old. They are playing very well now, but if they lose a few do they think about giving their top prospect more time at AAA.
  9. Will they see the Forrest for the trees? There has been speculation about possibly bringing Forrest Whitley up towards the end of the season and maybe supplementing the bullpen with him. But after his suspension and some injury problems – what is his more likely arrival time to the majors? End of 2019?
  10. Will Jeff Luhnow skip the regular trade deadline and try for the waiver deadline….again? This worked in 2017 with the trade for Justin Verlander. Would he try this again if he is not getting agreement on prospects that he has set in his head?

Your turn. What do you think?

93 comments on “Random thoughts and questions as July heats up

  1. 1. If I were 22 and fresh out of college again, I guess I would like to be a GM.
    When I got out of college there were no computers or cell phones or stats. I’d have to start over and learn a lot more skills than I currently possess.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. 2. I believe Luhnow is focused on the Astros, while worrying about his SS.
    I believe Hinch is worried about the Angels and Rockies
    I believe the Astros players are focused on Andrew Heaney, Mike Trout and video games.

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  3. 1. I would have loved to be a GM when I was 24 and knew everything. Not today. I know very, very little. 2. Two answers – Playoff run, and the long term future of the team. 3. Again two answers. Carlos and Correa. 4. NO. 5. When you look at the stats and injuries to other teams, the Astros do well because they don’t have many black holes or irreplaceables. There are some terrible hitters in MLB making millions that are Jake or worse. 6. I am still going with Altuve, but Correa has a lot more potential with the power bat. 7. Not for me. As long as they win or at least are in games, I am content. I have watched a lot of bad baseball teams in the past so the 2018 Astros are not one of them. 8. They brought him up to stay. You don’t crater your #1 prospect. He will finish the regular season here. Might not be on the playoff roster. 9.
    Whitley, I don’t know enough to even guess. 10. I think he will try to do either or both. He has to be working the phones right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. 1. I would not want to be GM. People like me second guess everything you do and just won’t let you “win”.
    I expect Correa back at full strength before the playoffs.
    I expect McCann back, but just don’t see him catching more than once a week. Let’s face it, he is fat, not very athletic and youth is not on his side.
    I’m not wild about Britton.

    2. Most worried about the Indians. Indians have tremendous playoff rotation and have bolstered BP.

    3. No trade needed to win division. Any trade is to strengthen playoff run.

    4. Getting Correa back.

    5. No. No team is as deep or as good.

    6. See number 5 above.

    7. Altuve or Bregman. Tucker/ Whitley are dark horse candidates.

    8. Disappointment. This team is built to win it all this year.

    9. As long as they need to. His peripherals definitely do not suggest that he is overmatched at this level. High exit velo and good k/BB. BABIP will come up. He’s going to be fine.

    10. We will definitely see Whitley in September, if only to measure him against MLB hitting. Don’t really see him being a factor in the playoffs unless he stuns in his cameo.

    11. No. It’s too risky. If he is zoned in on a target it will happen before the deadline.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. When you rely too much on 1 pitch you become predictable (McCullers curve/ Devo changeup). If you pitch conventional you throw your FB to set up offspeed. If you pitch backwards you throw your offspeed to set up FB. Either way, you have to be able to locate a FB for a strike and you can’t throw offspeed in the heart of the zone. Hitters today were just sitting on an offspeed/ breaking ball mistake in the zone. We couldn’t locate the FB to keep them honest.

    Despite the little rough patch in his second inning of work, I remain impressed with Perez. The 22 year old is acquitting himself very well. He hit 98 today and has a really, really nice compliment of breaking balls. With a little experience he could be very special.

    Like

  6. Also, don’t discount the “Fedora affect”. He has parts of 7 seasons of sucking both defensively and offensively at the MLB level. The Astros grabbed him off of the scrap heap when 29 other teams saw NO value. Don’t get enamored with his MiLB stats, he has no business being on any MLB roster, much less on a WS contender. Catchers have a huge influence on a pitchers effectiveness, so don’t discount his role in this game.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. PEE…U!!! Our bullpen laid a BIG STINKY EGG today! Good HEAVENS…..what on earth happened to our bullpen today?!!! Better spend tomorrow eating their spinach, cause we don’t want to see that happen again this year!! I’ve said it before…..I’ll say it again, McCullers is his own enemy. He gets soo amped up when he has guys on base, and losses his focus in a nano second. Will he grow out of it? Will he be able to be a bonified Ace? If I was the GM, a future trade might be on my mind with Lance. Dude needs to be checked for adult ADHD.

    Dan I’ll answer your questions tomorrow ok!

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    • Whenever you can Becky – no problem.
      The good part about the bullpen performance is they just stunk up one game. If they spread all that around they could have lost 4 or 5 games.

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      • Makes you appreciate our starters even more! Still think McCullers biggest problem is “between his ears”.

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  8. I rarely come to McCullers’ defense but I do think he was victimized by some pretty poor umpiring. He had a good fastball going today but could not get a call in the upper part of the zone. The strike zone on TV and the At Bat app showed a lot of FB completely in the zone called balls. The problem is that McCullers seems to be poorly equipped to suffer adversity. His starts are either good or awful. The last two have been real stinkers.
    I like Perez but he needs to finish his own innings. The two runs he has allowed so far have scored when Harris and Peacock allowed inherited runners to score. Perhaps it was poetic justice that Harris got his ERA blown up by inherited runners scoring. I thought Davis pitched better than Harris. I’m mystified as to why Harris is getting any innings that have even the tiniest significance.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree but also the Angels were squeezed also. When a pitcher has to groove it to get a strike call, normally a lot of runs will score. Blummer mentioned several times that part of the ball caught the strike zone and was called a ball.

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  9. 1. Be a GM? Heck yeah! What a cool job. Just ignore all those wise guys who don’t have your job.
    2. I think the current strategy is determined by playoff implications.
    3. We need our SS back. McCann is this year’s version of Beltran from here on out.
    4. Not even close.
    5. Our offense last year was one for the ages. Several guys had career years and no one is this year, other than Bregman stepping up. And the production we got from the 7-8-9 slots in the batting order last year is nowhere close this year. All that said, we are still basically good, so being third in the league is not really a shock.
    6. Gotta go with the mighty mite: Altuve.
    7, Not a disappointment if we don’t repeat by losing in the WS or the ALCS, that’s just the breaks. Although not making the playoffs, for example, would be a huge disappointment.
    8. I’m happy for KT to take ABs away from Jake and Marwin all day long. I’d even give him some ABs at DH.
    9. I’d be surprised not to see Whitley in September
    10. I can see JL skipping the July 31 deadline. Back in the days when they played draw poker (does anyone still play that?), standing pat could be a good psychological ploy. The Aug 31 deal was lightning in a bottle last year. I don’t expect to see that again.
    ac45’s 11. Dan rocks!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. 3. I think the most important thing for the Astros is to build momentum and be consistently in games. The Astros have a tendency to lose the last game of a series lately. They take their foot off the gas and get behind early in those series-ending games. They did it against Detroit with Verlander on the mound and then again in LA.
    4. I think the Astros have the best starting pitching right now, but other teams will make moves to get closer to our playoff rotation depth. The Indians are the closest to us in starting pitching and that is who we would match up against in the ALDS if it were to start tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Answering my own questions….
    1) I would have been more interested in being a GM back when I was younger. Today I’d like to be a high paid consultant, who just gives his opinion, collects his paycheck and hides in anonymity.
    2) Yes the Astros are thinking about what it takes to get past the other playoff teams – the Verlander and Cole trades trumpeted the mind shift from making the playoffs to dominating them.
    3) They really need Correa back. That just makes their lineup that much deeper and easier to flip over. It would be good if he could get real hot too….
    4) The Astros have the most depth around in starting rotation. Of course in the playoffs the depth is not as important as the quality, which they have too.
    5) They have done a good job of scoring runs even when not running on all cylinders. Will they ever start running on all cylinders this season?
    6) I think Altuve is the guy – it helps to know he will be around quite a few seasons too under his new contract as opposed to the unknown on others. I think Bregman may have the best chance of dethroning him….
    7) I think, like roadthriller, that it will be a disappointment if they don’t make the playoffs. I think a wild card spot and a one and done would also be a disappointment.
    8) I’m willing to see if KT can get himself acclimated. We know he took a little while at each level to excel and this is the biggest step up he has had to make.
    9) I don’t think Whitley is coming up this season unless he really gets rolling far beyond what he is doing now.
    10) Luhnow will do what is best for the team. I think he is most likely to grab a reliever before the July 31 deadline because they are more likely to disappear on him – unlike Verlander last season.
    11) That Dan P guy is good and so modest.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. I’m not huge for coming up for excuses for folks, but I will throw this out there.
    Lance McCullers had not pitched in 11 days
    Chris Devenski had not pitched in 8 days
    Will Harris had not pitched in 7 days.

    I know that some other folks had fairly long lay offs and looked good – but sometimes guys just have a problem getting a feel for things and especially locating their pitches. And it just looked like the guys were having problems locating their pitches…. though Harris has been struggling for a while…..

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    • Half kidding and half serious. Send Devo down for 5 weeks. Have him throw ONLY 1 pitch. It can be a curve, a slider, an eephus pitch, a palm ball, a fadeaway, a screwball, even a spitter, I don’t care but get a 3rd pitch.

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  13. If we look at the current standing with a week to go, Red Sox, Yankees, Indians, Astros are in the playoffs. That leaves 1 spot. Probably A’s or Rays or Mariners. That would make Angels, Rangers, Blue Jays, Orioles, Twins, Tigers, White Sox, and Royals probable sellers. As I go through each roster, not much would improve our team. Maybe Tigers’ Alex Wilson. Maybe Twins’ Hildenberger. Just not much there with the current stats on these guys. The NL is a tighter race. Maybe Realmuto of the Marlins. Maybe Marlins’ Barraclough. Couple of Mets’ starters maybe. Votto of the Reds’ and $132 Million contract. And the Padres have already dumped their valuable assets. So we have 10+ teams looking at these guys plus some sleepers. Lots of competition to buy some that probably do not improve the team.

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  14. I know everyone is looking at the bullpen but what about the catching situation.
    Is it my imagination or did the pitching start to slide when McCann went on the DL. Fedorwhatever just looks awful out there.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I was asked to write an article on an “out of the box” trade that could make sense for the Astros. I chose to focus on Michael Fulmer.

    The article is currently sitting in draft, waiting for editors to clean it up.

    I am including a link to the draft article if anyone wants to take a look. I think that permissions are set for public viewing of this article only, but if anyone has a problem viewing let me know.

    https://rainbowstros.wordpress.com/2018/07/23/out-of-the-box/

    Like

    • Note. The above link is not a blog site. Please do not comment on that site. It is only a drop box for review/ edit before articles are pushed to an end distributor.

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    • Fulmer at 25 already goes 250. And he really does not have a reliable strike out pitch. I would not give up any of our top tier guys to get him.

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      • For what its worth, I’m not a big Fulmer fan. However, I do think he’s a notch above Archer at this point and more of a sure thing over the next few seasons. IF he can stay healthy.

        I don’t think there is any way the Tigers try to trade him, nor do I believe any team would give up what it would take to get him.

        What is really an eye opener is just how valuable a cheap, proven and controllable arm is. They can get you immense talent, buy you out of bad contracts or provide a solid building block.

        Fulmer was never projected to be an ace. Scouting reports showed him to be a solid #3/ possibly #2. Whitley on the other hand projects to be an ace. He is more athletic and better developed at his age. Just think what his future value could be.

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  16. With 9 teams reportedly in on Britton, his price is going to be sky high. If some of the packages I’ve seen thrown about on social media are accurate, they are looking to get more for Britton than they got for Machado.

    Despite having 8 straight scoreless appearances, Britton’s putting a lot of guys on base (most via 4 BB and 2 HBP) and pitching from behind most of the time (35.7% first pitch strike rate). His peripherals do not support his recent success. FIP 4.43, xFIP 4.02 and SIERA 4.37.

    I’d like to have him but I sure hope we don’t give up too much.

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    • I have 100% confidence that Luhnow will not give up too much, unless he’s a lot more concerned about our pen then I think. We should not forget that we’ve got a couple of experienced closers in the rotation.

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  17. 1. Sure I would have taken the job back a couple or a few decades ago. I knew everything everything back then. But yes, Correa will be back and remain at short with his cannon and where he works so well with Altuve. And really, Bregman is getting pretty good at coming is on balls down the line that Correa would not make a play on. Britton, yes. And McCann will get the juices flowing one more time down the stretch.

    2. The other two best teams in baseball are the Yankees and Sox. At the end, it will come down to a big hit or a great pitching job and rosters tweaked to make one team better.

    3. Getting Correa back. 1b. Getting McCann back on the job.

    4. No. And that will again make our pen unique in the post season.

    5. The Astros have been mostly healthy so I don’t think we’ve been through a lot, comparatively speaking. We’ve taken turns slumping, usually at least a couple of guys at a time. We’ll be tough if everyone hits at the same time.

    6. Altuve is always going to be there, but I see big seasons out of Correa much more growth from Bregman. Sorry, I can’t pick one guy.

    7. It would depend how they lost it this year. We went seven games against the Dodgers. Without game 5, we might have been toast. One play might very well decide who the champs are. There is always a lucky, or fortunate play or three that help the ultimate winner.

    8. At least 200 AB’s for Tucker, unless he gets down on himself.

    9. Kind of a lost season for Whitley at this point. But you never know.

    10. Luhnow will continue to work to improve his club all the way through the August deadline and will do a deal if it makes sense at the time.

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  18. I think the Baltimore owner is still micromanaging these trades, and who knows if he still has a grudge against Luhnow from last year. What is irritating to me is when we grow our young pitchers, they get traded away. We have 2-3 young pitchers that will be ready to join the big club next year. DON’T TRADE THEM!

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  19. I had to turn off the TV because I was in a moral quandary. I was starting to cheer for a Rangers’ comeback and I don’t want to explain that to my maker ….. or to Becky.

    Liked by 2 people

    • He wanted to go back to the Phillies, but they don’t have a need for a starting pitcher. He does want to go back to the NL.

      Like

  20. I was just reading about the death of Dennis Liborio the former Astros clubhouse manager. Was there for 30+ seasons and then retired at 57 with the onset of Alzheimer’s (wow so young). Passed away at 63 – Biggio said he cried for an hour when he heard.

    Liked by 3 people

  21. Random thoughts and Questions? Okay!
    – Patrick Sandoval
    Brandon Bielak
    Peter Solomon
    JB Bukauskas
    Christian Javier
    Jorge Alcala
    Corbin Martin
    Forrest Whitley
    Dean Deetz
    Riley Ferrell
    Josh James
    Brandon Bailey
    Hector Perez
    Cionel Perez
    Framber Valdez
    Jairo Solis
    Rogelio Armenteros
    The Astros are loaded with young guys who can pitch. Will a couple of them end up in Baltimore?
    -Sure would like the Astros to take game 1 in Colorado.
    -The Angels pitching gets wiped out by injuries every season. How is it they can’t figure this out and do something about it?
    -The Nationals are one game under.500 and trail both Atlanta and Philadelphia by 6.0 games. All kinds of swamp in DC.
    -Finally! Yesterday the high was 92 and the entire family sat outside until midnight, talking about everything. I’m going to get a glass of water anyway, just in case.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I haven’t looked yet, but it seems like we will be having a few more players hit Rule 5 draft eligibility from the big draft hauls pre- 2015. There’s a waiting line for the 40 man so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to open a few spots or leverage any surplus of upcoming Rule V players. This years players will be from our premium draft years and there are a few that probably won’t make it through.

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      • This may not be a consolation, but, long before we have to secure those prospects on the 40-man roster: Harris, McCann, Federowicz, Morton, Keuchel, Sipp, Gattis and Gonzalez might have gotten off the 40-man. That’s 8 spots right there.
        That’s not counting anyone else who might be traded or released.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Something more here than just a sprain or soreness. I once had a pulled muscle so bad I couldn’t even straighten up for a week and I was back to “normal” after about two weeks. But then again, I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV.

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  22. Word on the street is that the Yankees will get Britton, using their 9th rated prospect as the main piece.

    If that’s the case, Luhnow must think his bats can hit Chapman/Britton late.

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    • Or maybe Lunhow believes his advanced metrics, such as FIP, xFIP and SIERA are more indicative of what the real post- injury, 2018 Britton is. His high walk and HBP, falling behind over 2/3 of the batters he faces and 37% 1st strike highlight command issues. I’m taking a pass at the price they require. There are other options, including internal.

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  23. Should know better than to do a trade when the Yankees enter the picture.
    They are getting Britton……Astros are getting zero. Baltimore want 2 of our prized prospects, and Luhnow said nope! Still a few more days to TRY and get another bullpen piece.

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  24. Also, could lack of clarity around Correa’s return, or severity of injury, cause the Astros to buy some more time to see if a move for insurance in the infield is in order?

    Same comment for McCann. Can an aging, big bodied catcher with a history of knee issues get back in good enough shape for the playoffs after missing 6 – 8 weeks? He’s not supposed to be ready for assignment until mid- September. Doesn’t leave much time to get ready.

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    • I think McCann will be fresh as a daisy. His entire process has been timed to have him rested to the point where he’ll potentially catch every game in the post season.

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  25. Man two pickoffs at first tonight – Lordy what will it take to improve this team’s base running? This could kill us in the playoffs.

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  26. I think AJ left Cole in a little too long. Pitch count was up and the command was wavering. Hopefully, McHugh can save the day and the bats will come alive.

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  27. Good guys 8 Rockies 2!!!!
    I thought for SURE we were going to lose this game, nobody looked like they wanted to win! Tony Kemp was the spark plug they needed tonight! Good to see baby Tuck get a triple!! YAAAAAAAAAA-HOOOOOOOOO

    Liked by 1 person

  28. We know the Astros have the ability to do what they did tonight: strike big and strike late. We saw it all year last season, but seems like not so much this season. The SP for the Rockies pitched very well, as did their first reliever. But once we got deeper into their pen it was lights out. Our pen looked good, although Peacock did not have his best stuff. Hoping to see more performances like this as we get into the “dog days”.

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  29. Don’t go to sleep on Josh James in Fresno! Here is tonight’s line:
    6 innings
    2 hits
    1 run
    0 earned runs
    4 walks
    *11* strikeouts
    I really like this kid, he’s been flying under the radar all year!

    Like

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