DEAL IS DONE?

After a week of rumors, Astros finally add starting pitcher Cole

Gerrit Cole will apparently be an Astro. Sbnation.com

The Astros have turned up the heat in the Hot Stove season, making a huge splash today by adding another strong arm to their rotation: Gerrit Cole. Cole adds an immediate improvement to an already championship-caliber roster and rotation. Sources are currently stating that the Astros will send third baseman Colin Moran, outfielder Jason Martin and pitchers Michael Feliz and Joe Musgrove to Pittsburg in the trade.

Cole finished the 2017 season with a 12-12 record in 33 starts with the Pirates. His ERA was 4.26 last season, the highest of his 5-year run with Pittsburg. He also allowed 31 home runs last year, a high number compared to his yearly averages.

Cole's most reason playoff appearance was in the NL Wild Card game in 2015 where he was tagged with the loss after allowing four runs in five innings to the Cubs. He also started two NLDS games in his 2013 rookie season, splitting those starts to go 1-1, the loss coming in the decisive Game 5 versus the Cardinals.

However, Cole has tremendous upside and is a lot better than last season's numbers, as evidenced by his 2015 season. In 2015, he finished fourth in Cy Young voting after a 19-8 season with 2.60 ERA and 202 strikeouts in 208 innings pitched. The Astros pitching coaches led by Brent Strom have shown they can get the best out of pitchers so this move can pay off huge if they can get him back to 2015 form or better. 

This move unquestionably gives an immediate upgrade to the Astros' rotation, something they will desperately need considering some of their biggest foes in the AL have made moves this offseason to improve their offense. The move does somewhat improve the bullpen by potentially moving Brad Peacock there, though it sounds like the Astros did give up two bullpen pieces in Feliz and Musgrove in the trade. 

Projected 2018 Astros Starting Rotation:

Verlander
Keuchel
Cole
McCullers
Morton

That rotation, paired with the already potent Astros offense, sets Houston up for another deep run in 2018, and they didn't even have to trade any "untouchable" players to do it. 

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RAVENS 33, TEXANS 16

5 observations from the Ravens win over the Texans

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Let's be honest; the Texans were not going to beat the Ravens. Baltimore has better players, a better quarterback and a better coaching staff. (And oh, a better kicker). All of that was on display in the Ravens' 33-16 win.

The Ravens move to 2-0, while the Texans dropped to 0-2 after facing the AFC's two best teams.

The Texans will still likely contend for a playoff spot, but nothing the last two weeks indicates they are anywhere near contending in the AFC. A look at five things from the Ravens win:

1) Oh, Brien...It did not take long for Bill O'Brien's goofy coaching to rear its ugly head. Down 3-0 at their own 34 as the first quarter was running out, O'Brien chose to go for it on fourth and one. The play was predictably blown up, the Ravens quickly scored to make it 10-0, and the Texans were instantly in a hole against a superior opponent. You can't give points away against the Ravens. They might have scored anyway with a punt, but there was no stopping them with a short field.

2) Some positives on defense. Despite the score, The Texans looked much better on that side of the ball against an explosive offense. J.J. Watt had two sacks, the team had four total, and they kept Lamar Jackson from destroying them. Seven of the points were scored by the Ravens defense, and O'Brien's gaffe led to seven more. The Ravens wore them down in the fourth quarter, but they played well enough until then to keep the team in the game had the offense been better. They did not force any turnovers, however, and that was one of the differences in the game. They were also blown off the ball on a fourth and one in the fourth quarter that led to the Ravens' 30th points and could not stop the run at all in the fourth quarter. But that's what the Ravens do with a lead, and the Texans offense gave them no breaks by being unable to stay on the field.

3) The difference between real contenders...The Ravens were just so much more skilled on both sides of the ball. Defensively, they focused on taking away the run. David Johnson averaged 3.1 yards per carry. Will Fuller had as many catches as you did. The Ravens forced two turnovers on just really good football plays. The Texans don't make plays like that. They might against lesser teams, but if your goal is to compete with the best, it's just not good enough.

4) Deshaun Watson needs to be better. His numbers looked so so on the surface (25 of 36, 275 yards, 1 TD, 1 interception). He was sacked four times and added 17 rushing yards on five carries. He did not make plays late when they needed one here or there to maybe get back in the game. With his big contract, it's time for Watson to stop being close to elite and take the next step. His interception was more of being fooled by Marcus Peters than throwing a bad ball, but the Texans were just 3 of 9 on third downs. Throw in the ill-advised fourth down play, and they were just 3 of 10 extending drives. Give the Ravens a lot of credit, but again, to compete with the best, you have to be better than that.

5) Now what? The Texans travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers, who have not been impressive in their two wins. Still, it's hard to see Houston as anything but serious underdogs. They are last in the AFC South, and have a lot of work to do. The defense showed some promise at times, but will have to continue to improve. The offense has a long way to go. They match up better with the Steelers than they do the Ravens and Chiefs, but that does not mean they can win. If you were hoping they would give you some indication they can be more than just also-rans, they failed to do that on any level against either the Chiefs or Ravens.

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