EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH ASTROS ANALYST

Mike Stanton on MLB's return & Astros chances of winning another championship

Photo by Getty Images.

Baseball fans aren't quite sure what to call Major League Baseball's second attempt at starting the 2020 season but Wednesday marks the start of Spring Training 2.0 or MLB Summer Camp. Most MLB teams are preparing for the upcoming 60-game season at their home city ballparks instead of their usual Spring Training locations, but not every player will be playing for their team in 2020.

Multiple players have decided to opt-out of playing the 2020 season for various reasons regarding health concerns or potentially exposing the virus to an at-risk person in their family. The Nationals Ryan Zimmerman, announced earlier in the week he was opting out of playing because he has a newborn child and a mother suffering from Multiple Sclerosis.

But will the rest of the players on those teams losing key members support or resent these decisions?

Former MLB All-Star reliever and current Houston Astros analyst on AT&T SportsNet Mike Stanton joined The Jake Asman Show on Gow Media's SB Nation Radio Wednesday to discuss this situation. When asked if what players say publicly about supporting their opting-out teammates differs from what they may think privately, Stanton said that could definitely be a factor.

"I think there could be some resentment," Stanton said. "I don't know if it ever becomes public or if it ever becomes known by the player that opts-out, but yeah there is going to be some of that here or there. I'm not going to say it's going to be rapid because I think the players that do opt-out will be dealing with inner turmoil with that decision. It's not going to be a decision that is made on a whim, a snap decision, it's not going to be an emotional decision, there's going to be a lot of things that go into that. I think most players are going to understand why these players are going to be opting out but there might be some players that go 'man I wish Mike Stanton' was here today."

Unlike other sports attempting to return, MLB will not be playing games in an isolated bubble meaning that it will be on the players to police themselves and abide by the social distancing guidelines when they are away from the ballparks. Stanton says veteran players are going to have to lead the way to ensure that the younger players follow in-line.

"There is going to have to be accountability," Stanton said. "Those conversations need to be had in between the players... You can't be on the road and be like 'I'm tired of this hotel room, I'm going to go out to lunch today' you just can't do that. You have to maintain your discipline and not get too comfortable in your situation because that is when mistakes happen."

How does the current Astros analyst on AT&T SportsNet feel about the 2020 Astros chances of winning another championship?

"I think they are definitely one of the top two or three teams in the American League," Stanton said. "I think they have as good of a chance as anyone… Especially in a short season, really anything can happen."

You can listen to The Jake Asman Show weekdays from 8 AM -10 AM Central on SB Nation Radio.

You can listen to the full interview with Mike Stanton below:


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With the disappointing loss in extra innings late the night before, the Astros returned to RingCentral Coliseum on Saturday afternoon to try and even the series against the A's, who now owned a 3.5 game lead in the AL West over Houston. Here is a quick rundown of the middle game of the series:

Final Score: A's 3, Astros 1.

Record: 6-8, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Frankie Montas (2-1, 1.57 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Framber Valdez (0-2, 2.04 ERA).

Valdez does his job

Framber Valdez ran into stress early on Saturday, facing trouble in the bottom of the first inning. It started with a leadoff solo home run, putting Oakland up 1-0 before they would record an out. He later allowed back-to-back one-out singles to rack up his pitch count in the frame but would limit the damage to the single run.

He was able to re-focus and settle in during the following innings, getting quick, scoreless innings in the next four. In the bottom of the sixth, a leadoff groundball that likely should have been the first out was instead a single that would come back to bite Houston. That runner stole second and advanced to third on a bad throw, then scored on an RBI-groundout, doubling Oakland's lead to 2-0. Valdez would go one more inning, giving Houston precisely what they needed by helping give their exhausted bullpen a break. His final line: 7.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 1 HR.

Houston's offense unable to get anything going

Unfortunately for Houston, Frankie Montas was even more efficient on the other side. Houston was only able to notch two hits against him over seven innings while Montas only had to throw 86 pitches over that span. Oakland would go to their bullpen in the top of the eighth, with the Astros getting just a single in the inning.

Nivaldo Rodriguez would take over for Valdez in the bottom of the eighth and allowed a solo home run to make it 3-0 before completing the inning. Houston would get a leadoff double by Kyle Tucker to start the top of the ninth, and he would come around to score on an RBI-single by Alex Bregman. That's as close as Houston would get, though, as Oakland would finish off the win to secure the series and extend Houston's losing streak to four games.

Up Next: The final game of this series and Houston's nine-game road trip will be on Sunday at 3:10 PM Central. Jesus Luzardo (0-0, 2.31 ERA) will make a start for the A's while Cristian Javier (1-0, 1.42 ERA) will look to continue his success in 2020 for the Astros.

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