Adding the veteran left-hander makes it easier to handle if Keuchel departs

Miley should have Astros fans smiling

Wade Miley could be a good add for the Astros. Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Astros signed Wade Miley this week to a one year, $4.5 million dollar contract and no one really seemed to be very excited. After all he doesn't throw 95 mph and hasn't won a Cy Young award, but if you dig a little deeper you might find that he could be the perfect replacement for Dallas Keuchel.

Miley, like Keuchel, is lefthanded and has been an all-star previously. More importantly, he has playoff experience just like Dallas and has performed well when on the big stage. He is coming off arguably his best year as a pro as he was 5-2 with the Brewers with a 2.57 ERA. He had four starts in last year's playoff run for Milwaukee and had a stellar 1.23 ERA combined for the Divisional series and the NLCS.

He has never really pitched for a dominant team over the course of his eight-year career, yet his numbers have been steady and he has managed to stay relatively injury free. The opportunity to play for the Astros gives him a chance to play for a contender that has a potent offense, an above average defense and a pitching coach that has proven to be a major factor in resurrecting pitchers' careers. If all goes as planned, he could be the next in a line of veteran pitchers who have found success after coming to H-town.

Making subtle changes to a pitcher' s delivery, mechanics and approach to the craft have been a staple of Brent Strom's role as pitching coach for the Astros. He has been a driving force behind Keuchel's career and Dallas has always been quick to give him credit, particularly when he was interviewed after Houston won the World Series. Strom was singled out and credited with using his lower half more and pinpointing his release point. The two of them spent hours and hours watching videotape and scouring previous starts to find keys to his success and cures for his failures.

Aside from Keuchel, Strom has found success working with Charlie Morton, Gerritt Cole, and Colin McHugh, helping them add spin rate and velocity to their pitches while making them more effective on the mound. Pairing Miley with Strom can do nothing but help the veteran pitcher carry over his success from last season and build on it as he attempts to help the Astros get to another World Series title.

Maybe the deciding factor between bringing in a free agent like Miley and letting a fan favorite like Keuchel walk is the finances. Agent Scott Boras has been trying to formulate a contract in the neighborhood of 5 years and $100 million dollars for his client and that seems to be far too expensive for Jeff Luhnow and owner Jim Crane. With Justin Verlander joining Cole as free agents at the end of the 2019 season, there doesn't seem to be enough money to go around for the third starter in AJ Hinch's rotation.

Miley's contract is very team friendly and it doesn't hinder the franchise going forward when they have some tough negotiations ahead with their top two aces. Saving over $15 million dollars on this year's rotation also allows the team flexibility this season if another free agent bat is targeted or the always-in-demand bullpen arm is considered.

As good as Keuchel has been and for as long as he has been here, it seems as if the time has come to let him find a home for the next chapter in his career that will pay him what he wants and believes he deserves. Meanwhile, the Astros can insert Miley as his replacement with hopes that he will solidify a rotation that lost Morton to free agency and Lance McCullers Jr. to injury while expecting Kuechel to be signing elsewhere soon. If he does, you should wish him well and thank him for helping to bring a title to Houston. If for some crazy reason he is willing to consider giving the Astros a hometown discount on a short term deal, then the rotation could be that much better. Either way, Jeff Luhnow and the 'Stros have all their bases covered.

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Rockets get another much-needed win. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets went on a redemption tour by beating the Detroit Pistons and Dallas Mavericks. But the most pivotal win was against the Mavericks as the Rockets finally showed their true potential. John Wall finally made his return from his injury hiatus and played with a lot of energy. DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Gordon combined for 61 points. It was great to see Stephan Silas crack a smile as he was able to beat his former team.

The Rockets clearly missed Wall during his eight-game absense. This season, the Rockets are a .500 team with Wall on the court. Wall is the Rockets' floor general that leads, constructs, and also pushes his teammates to become better.

Wall only played 21 minutes in the 133-108 win over the Mavericks but still had eight assists. Even though Wall only had 7 points, his presence was still felt by finding his teammates for open looks beyond the perimeter. Wall made sure Cousins and Gordon got a plethora of touches. He called multiple actions, so they got open looks from three, which was mainly Gordon. Gordon and Cousins' struggles have been similar but with Wall on the court, they were successful against the Mavericks. According to NBA Stats, Wall posted a 111 offensive rating with the starters versus the Mavericks, which included Gordon and Cousins.

"He's the engine to this team. He gets everybody going. He makes the game easy," Cousins told a reporter after the game. "The pressure that he constantly puts on the defense is a tough thing to deal with."

Gordon has struggled all season long with three-point shooting and relied on his slashing abilities. Saturday night, Gordon made six three pointers against the Mavericks, which was 66 percent from beyond the perimeter. Gordon increased his three-point percentage from 31 percent to 34.5 percent after Saturday night's game. Gordon's 33 points came from being able to attack the entire Mavericks' defense. Willy Cauley-Stein didn't stand a chance against Gordon as he was burned multiple times. Gordon's been a lifesaver for the Rockets in the last two games, and hopefully he maintains his play.

Cousins played fantastic against the Mavericks scoring 28 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. This is Cousins' first double-double with the Rockets this season. Cousins became the vintage player from the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings. It was extremely fun watching Cousins push the ball up the court and aggressively snatch rebounds. Boogie shot 50 percent from behind the arc by making four three-pointers. He was dominant inside the paint as Cousins went 7/8 from the restricted area versus the Mavericks. This was the game Cousins needed after having a poor performance against the Pistons Friday night.

"It was really, really good. He did it all. He's a physical presence on both ends of the floor," as Silas said on Cousins' performance.

David Nwaba and Mason Jones were big factors off the Rockets' bench by having a combined total of 34 points together. Nwaba has been great in transition for the Rockets the entire season. Keep in mind that Nwaba is returning from an Achilles injury he suffered with his former team, the Brooklyn Nets. Nwaba has became a great defender, slasher, and is averaging a career-high nine points per game with the Rockets. He finished with 18 points on Saturday night versus the Mavericks.

Mason Jones has become a fan favorite of the Rockets because of his confidence. Silas is loving the usage of Jones off the bench but wants to find more minutes for him. Jones had a breakout performance versus the San Antonio Spurs with 24 points off 66 percent shooting from the field. He continues to get better with his reads from the point guard position. Jones' knowledge of running the offense has helped his efficiency on the court. He is never afraid to take clutch shots in pivotal moments of the game.

"To have a young kid who can come in and not be afraid of the moment, that's big. That's a tough position to be in as an undrafted rookie. I trust him. It's a good problem to have," Silas mentioned after the game. "He's showing me he's ready. He's a confident kid, and he should be. That's why he's good. He's not afraid of the moment, at all. He can get us organized, run plays, and score the basketball."

Hopefully, the Rockets can sustain their level of play when Victor Oladipo returns against the Washington Wizards, Tuesday. It will be interesting to watch Oladipo and Wall play in the same backcourt.

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