THE PALLILOG

Here's what to expect from the Astros new-look bullpen

Kendall Graveman is having a career year. Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images.

Astros' General Manager James Click did fine work this week in trading for two boosts to the Astros' very shaky bullpen in acquiring Kendall Graveman from Seattle and Yimi Garcia from Miami. Graveman especially. He has pitched well over his head this season but that's what "career" seasons are about. A 0.82 earned run average is obviously attention grabbing. The mere eight walks he's issued in 33 innings is a big part of that and a sight for Astros' fan sore eyes that have watched just about all their relievers not named Ryan Pressly struggle with control. 2021 Graveman is a clear upgrade over Ryne Stanek as the number two weapon in the Astros' pen. One question to be determined about Graveman is how he fares under the pressure of big late season and postseason games. He's yet to throw a big league pitch in one.

Garcia from the Marlins has been more or less average. Average is an upgrade over the work of Stanek, Joe Smith, Enoli Paredes, Andre Scrubb, Brandon Bielak, Bryan Abreu, and Brooks Raley.

Click gave up nothing of consequence to acquire either guy. Abraham Toro could develop into a decent regular with the Mariners, but other than occasional power he didn't show much over parts of three seasons with the Astros. The occasional power does include one moment many Astros' fans will remember. Justin Verlander sure will. A couple of years ago in Toronto it was Toro's top of the ninth two run homer that provided a 2-0 lead ahead of Verlander finishing off his third career no-hitter. If the Astros have Carlos Correa to replace after this season, it is unlikely that Alex Bregman slides over to shortstop. So other than via injuries to others Toro had no path to starter status here. He should have a shot in the Mariners' weak lineup.

The balance of the top six in the Astros' lineup is amazing. I'm thinking unprecedented. None is among the top 10 in the American League in OPS but all are in the top 20. Yordan Alvarez enters the weekend at .867, Yuli Gurriel .861, Jose Altuve .860, Michael Brantley and Kyle Tucker .856, Carlos Correa .849. Alex Bregman should rejoin the party next week.

Football time in Houston

Texans' training camp is underway with Deshaun Watson on the team and on hand, and that's about it. He's not taking part in full, with new Head Coach David Culley offering silly explanations about Watson missing all the offseason work. Culley is in a tough spot but come on. As if a few OTA practices were a big deal. Mandatory minicamp was so important the Texans cancelled it. Plus, the Texans aren't installing a new offense. Coordinator and Watson endorsee Tim Kelly was retained. We'll see how this plods forward.

Don't know if Texans' GM Nick Caserio sent Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers a thank you note but he should. Pouty Rodgers wanting wide receiver Randall Cobb back with the Packers gave the Texans a millions of dollars saving escape hatch from the absurd contract Bill O'Brien signed Cobb to before last season. The Texans had to send the Pack three million to close the deal, so the Texans take a five million dollar dead money charge on Cobb this season. That's a lot better than the more than ten million dollar cap figure Cobb carried if here. The Texans are in all likelihood going to stink this season, so taking all the dead cap hit this year (especially with it cut roughly in half) is a boon ahead of 2022.

Rockets draft reaction

Jalen Green in Rocket Red. Or white, silver, black, powder blue, or whatever else they plan to wear. The 19-year-old Green was widely considered the most explosive offensive talent on the board this year. At number two overall, Green is the Rockets' highest choice since Yao Ming. Green is the Rockets' first first round pick period since 2015 (Sam Dekker). Qualitatively if Green becomes what Yao did they nailed it. Quantitatively it's a disappointment if Green doesn't go beyond Yao. The only other time the Rockets made the second overall selection was 1970. The San Diego Rockets drafted Rudy Tomjanovich. That worked out fairly well. In all the Rockets' haul was four first rounders. Six foot 10 Turk Alperen Sengun is an interesting choice, but what Jalen Green becomes ultimately defines the Rockets' Class of '21.

Buzzer Beaters:

1. Simone Biles had every right to make the decision to drop out of Olympics events if she felt doing so best for her mental health. That needs to be respected and treated sensitively. However, is it so unfair to wonder if Biles had been performing up to her previous standards would the pressures have felt so intense and would she have dropped out? Seems a chicken or egg situation.

2. Possible World Series preview this weekend with the Astros at San Francisco for three. The Giants have been shockingly good this season. Best record in Major League Baseball and on pace to win 101 games good, leading the mighty Dodgers by three games in the National League West.

3. Greatest ever Giants: Bronze-Andre The Silver-Lawrence Taylor Gold-Willie Mays

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Texans fall to Browns. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans kept it closer than the experts thought they would, but couldn't pull out a victory. Here are 11 observations from the loss in Cleveland to the Browns.

1. The game looks totally different if Texans quarterback Tyrod Taylor finishes the game. Taylor left at halftime with a hamstring injury. He was playing exceptionally well against his former team. Taylor is not expected to play Thursday according to NFL Network.

2. Davis Mills had a rocky NFL debut which was to be expected. Mills looked to have the wrong elements of a few plays. He also couldn't hit backup wideout Andre Roberts over the middle and threw an interception. It was a fine performance considering what Mills showed he could do in the preseason.

3. Mills didn't work with a full load of offensive weapons in the second half. Rookie wideout Nico Collins didn't return to the game after his lone catch and big run early in the game. Veteran slot receiver Danny Amendola left the game with an injury. Tight end Anthony Auclair left with an eye injury. The Texans entered the game without wide receiver Anthony Miller who was inactive.

4. Brandin Cooks is a monster through two games. He is the most dangerous skill position player on the team, and defenses still have trouble covering him and staying with him. Cooks turned in yet another impressive day for this team and hauled in a Davis Mills touchdown pass.

5. The Browns did a solid job against the ground game of the Texans. Mark Ingram averaged under three yards per carry and Tyrod Taylor was the only rusher to have a big play on the ground. This led to a fair number of third-and-long situations which the Texans usually had trouble converting.

6. Justin Reid was set to increase his payday on his next contract with his early play. Reid forced a fumble and had an interception in the first half. Unfortunately, Reid would leave the game multiple times with injuries. The knock on Reid has always been his health.

7. The Texans were worn down by the Browns rushing attack all day. Once Cleveland committed to the run they saw the success of their work culminating in a 26-yard scamper by Nick Chubb for a touchdown. The Browns didn't run as much as I excepted them to run early.

8. Tim Kelly had another nice day calling plays. Kelly remains creative in finding ways to get the ball out of Taylor's hands quickly as well as manufacturing matchups where the Texans can win and pick up yards. He even got creative to get Davis Mills a passing touchdown late in the game. Kelly has been very impressive through two games.

9. Andre Roberts was inexcusably bad today. The Texans defense held on the opening drive and his muffed punt eliminated the momentum from the defensive stand. He also had poor returns on kickoffs. His lone job is to be a solid returner, and he failed at that on Sunday.

10. David Culley had a head-scratching decision foregoing an offsides call on a third down. The head coach opted for the result of the third down, and a punt on fourth down, instead of another third down. He did not explain himself well postgame on the decision either.

11. The Texans hung tough and should feel solid about where they could have been without the injury to their quarterback. With no Taylor in the short week, it will not be easy to beat the Panthers who upset the Saints on Sunday.

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