The Pallilog

Injuries mount for Astros, but they should be just fine with a less than daunting schedule ahead

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Despite Jose Altuve's setback, George Springer's zinged hamstring, and Carlos Correa's rib breaking massage, while the Astros' offense will suffer in the coming weeks the team should hold up fine. After this weekend's three game series at Oakland, the schedule softens dramatically with four games at the sunken Mariners then three vs. the inept Orioles. Those series are followed by a two game quickie with the Brewers, then six more games vs. losing teams: three vs. Toronto, three at Cincinnati. The Astros prevailing strength is pitching, a strength that remains mostly intact. The loss of Collin McHugh shouldn't be considered major.

Good thing the big league pitching has been generally excellent because the picture has been ugly this season for several of the Astros top pitching prospects. Corbin Martin pitched well to get a first crack at the big leagues, but after an exciting debut he has been poor in three consecutive starts. The universally heralded Forrest Whitley was blasted in five straight AAA outings, ballooning his earned run average to 12.21 (not a typo-12.21) and pushing the Astros to shut him down with no specific injury cited, just shoulder fatigue. After 24 and one third innings pitched. Last year Whitley spent two different stints on the injured list and those came after the start of his season was delayed 50 games because of a PED suspension. He doesn't turn 22 until September so has time to get things straightened out. But by the time they're 22 most super phenom pitching talents are pounding the door earning entrance to the majors. After Whitley and Martin, J.B Bukauskas is the Astros next most touted hurler. He takes a 7.27 ERA with AA Corpus Christi into the weekend. Cionel Perez is at 6.44 at Round Rock. A tier lower on the prospect totem pole, Rogelio Armenteros is at 5.73.

Dallas Keuchel figures to finally sign somewhere next week. With draft pick compensation removed he'll have multiple contenders as suitors.

Charlie Morton is 6-0 with a spiffy 2.54 ERA for the Rays.

Finally, Finals

The NBA Finals are finally underway. Your interest level on a scale of 1-10 scale? Should be high! Especially with Toronto solidly winning game one.

Golden State is playing to further burnish its all-time greatness stature. Even embittered Rockets fans must acknowledge the Warriors play one of the most entertaining styles ever, with Stephen Curry as their most important player and one of the more compelling players ever. However, while the Warriors were sizably favored to start the series, their one point underdog status for game one reflects that this no way is an inevitable re-coronation.

The Raptors are likely better than any of the LeBron James Cavaliers teams that played the Warriors the last four years. Kawhi Leonard isn't quite as great as peak LeBron, but he's in the arena. The Cavs' top win total over their four season Finals run was 57. The Raptors won 58 games this season with Kawhi sitting out 22 of the 82 regular season games. Last season the Cavs won 50 as LeBron played in all 82.

A healthy Leonard for the Raptors and if Kevin Durant is not to play, yes the trophy could very well wind up north of the border.

I wonder how many of the Rockets will watch how much of the series. The Rockets have thrust themselves into a state of flux, though it should be remembered that again this season they gave Golden State more of a challenge than any other Western Conference opponent.

An interesting Rockets' offseason is under way. Owner Tilman Fertitta "promising" championships. In some combination Fertitta and General Manager Daryl Morey have taken a hatchet to Mike D'Antoni's coaching staff. D'Antoni basically made public his desire for a contract extension and then when not greeted super receptively, broke off talks.

Reportedly the Rockets have interest in hiring Tyronn Lue as an assistant coach. That would be quite the interesting turn of events. Lue would not be a D'Antoni hire. The scenario would then clearly exist in which the Rockets and D'Antoni wind up parting ways with Lue winding up head coach.

How would that play with James Harden? Will Harden and Chris Paul get back to being basketball besties? Or is that rendered moot if the Rockets can find a taker for the anvil-heavy three seasons 124 million dollars left on Paul's contract? Will Morey have a much better offseason than he did last year (not the highest of bars to clear)?

That's the summer ahead, As the Rockets Turn.

Buzzer Beaters

1. Very slim pickings for athletes named June. The best, former linebacker Cato June. He's also quite possibly the best athlete named Cato (otherwise it's Kelvin?) 2. Another week of OTA non-news for the Texans. That means no notable injuries. 3. Best Canadian cities: Bronze-Vancouver Silver-Montreal Gold-Toronto


ROOT FOR THE HOME TECH

Astros executive addresses innovations in sports

Courtesy photo

This article originally appeared on InnovationMap and was written by Natalie Harms.

Over the past decade or so, sports franchises have seen a boom in technology integration. The fact of the matter is that both the teams and the players need to tap into tech to have a competitive advantage on the field — and especially when it comes to the business side of things.

"Technologically advanced companies want to do business with technologically advanced companies," says Matt Brand, senior vice president of corporate partnerships and special events at the Houston Astros. "Old cats like me need to realize you have to stay current or else you're just going to get passed up."

Brand was the subject of a live recording of HXTV — the video arm of Houston Exponential — at The Cannon. He addressed several trends in sports technology, and shared how the Astros are approaching each new hot technology.

The Astros are pretty ahead of the curve when it comes to technology, Brand says, and the trick is keeping a pulse on potential game-changing technology far in advance of implementation.

"The things that we're developing now in 2019 and 2020 are the thing that are going to help us in 2024 and 2025," Brand says.

The approach to technology in sports is changing as younger players enter the scene.

"This generation of players want all the technology they can get," Brand says. "They want what's going on up to the day."

From esports to sports betting sites, here's what the hometeam has on its radar, according to brand.

The evolution of pitching technology

One aspect of the game that's been greatly affected by technology is pitching. Brand says that pitching coach, Brent Strom, is better able to do his job nowadays that there's better quality video and monitoring technologies. Brand cited the transformations of former pitcher Charlie Morton and current pitcher Ryan Pressly. Both saw impressive transformations in their pitching ability thanks to Strom and his technology.

"Brent has the ability to take technology and blend it with the craft," Brand says.

The players as industrial machines

One way the franchise thinks about its players is as machines — in the least objectifying way, surely. But Brand compares baseball players to major, expensive oil and gas machines, and in heavy industry, it's very common for a company to drop $30 million or more on a machine. Of course the company would schedule preventative maintenance and service appointments to protect their investments.

"We've got players now who are high performance machines," Brand says, citing players like Justin Verlander. "We want to make sure we have the best technology and the best care around them."

From doctors and nutritionists to the latest and greatest technologies, implementing the best practices is a good way to protect your assets.

Wearables and sleep technology

Another trend within sports is tracking sleep using technology. Wearable devices to track sleep and health are widely used, says Brand, but the Astros weren't comfortable with the constant monitoring.

"They feel like it's an invasion of privacy," Brand says. They feel like the data would be used against them when it came time to negotiate their contracts.

But prioritizing sleep is crucial in a sport where players travel across the country playing 162 games a season. Brand says investing in the players' sleep equipment is something they make sure to do.

Esports

Brand says, somewhat controversial, that esports is pretty low on the franchise's priority list, and there's one reason for that: Money.

Continue reading on InnovationMap to learn about a movement coming in marketing and betting within sports.

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