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Rockets would feel the heat from this bold move, but it's worth it

Which option is better? Composite image by Jack Brame.

After their 130-101 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, the Houston Rockets stand at 11-13. That puts them 12th in the Western Conference and near the bottom (14th place) in the draft lottery. The only way the Rockets keep their first round pick this year is if it is in the top four. In a rebuilding phase like the Rockets are clearly in, it begs the question: should they compete for a playoff spot, or make moves to tank and get a high draft pick?

On the one hand, Rockets' fans would like to think this team, when fully healthy and all hands on deck, is a playoff contender. They're hoping John Wall stays healthy, Jae'Sean Tate, David Nwaba, Mason Jones, and Sterling Brown all improve enough to make them competitive in the Western Conference this season. They're also banking on Christian Wood's continued growth as a future superstar in the league, while Victor Oladipo progresses as an established star.

On the other hand, some are hoping guys like Oladipo, Wall, and others are traded for future assets and expiring contracts (like Oladipo's). If the Rockets' pick is in the top four selections of the draft, they keep their own pick. In my eyes, this draft isn't shaping up to be much, but a top four pick is better than not having one in any given draft, especially when your team is devoid of talent.

So which option is better? Should the Rockets make a run at a playoff spot? Or should they trade away assets and "tank" to see if they can get and keep a top pick in the draft to help with the rebuild? In my opinion, I think they should trade assets and aim for the draft pick. I highly doubt they make enough of a run in the regular season to make a decent seed. Even if they make the playoffs, it's even more doubtful they will make it out of the first round, which would result in them not having that first round pick to help them rebuild. Add that to the fact that they won't have cap space to offer a max contract free agent a spot, and you get a team in purgatory.

This is why I believe they should tank, get the high draft pick, and have that assist in the rebuild assuming the lottery falls their way. Sure, I'd love to see them in the playoffs, but this team isn't built for a playoff run. Look around at the Western Conference. Can this Rockets team honestly beat the Jazz, Clippers, Lakers, or even the Suns in a seven game series in the first round? If you think so, I have a therapist I can refer you to. While they're only three games out of the fifth seed in the West at this time, I can't see them making any waves. I also don't see them keeping guys around, especially since Oladipo has an expiring contract that could prove very attractive come the trade deadline. Here's to hoping they do the right thing for the team's future, whatever you, or I believe that looks like.

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Houston's offense had another strong day at the plate in Seattle against the Mariners on Wednesday. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

After striking a deal with the Mariners before Tuesday's game, along with a reported deal with the Marlins on Wednesday before the finale, the Astros continued to try and bolster their bullpen with fresh arms while also focusing on this series against Seattle. Having won the night prior to even it up, it came down to the rubber game on Wednesday afternoon to decide the series.

Final Score: Astros 11, Mariners 4

Astros' Record: 63-40, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (4-5)

Losing Pitcher: Yusei Kikuchi (6-6)

Astros continue to score runs in Seattle

Just like in the earlier games in this series, the Astros had no problems offensively. They strung together four consecutive one-run innings, starting in the top of the second when they loaded the bases, then got an RBI groundout by Myles Straw to go up 1-0. In the top of the third, Yuli Gurriel drove one in on a two-out RBI double, bringing in Jose Altuve, who led the inning off with a double of his own. Chas McCormick led off with a single in the fourth, then later scored on an RBI single by Aledmys Diaz.

The fourth run in as many innings came in the top of the fifth, as Gurriel would notch his second RBI with a solo homer to start that inning, pushing the lead to 4-0. They didn't stop there, and neither did Gurriel, as he would get RBI number three on the day as part of a four-run top of the sixth, with RBI hits him, Altuve, Diaz, and Carlos Correa, doubling the lead to 8-0.

Odorizzi gets to the sixth before allowing two homers

The run support gave Jake Odorizzi plenty of leeway, which he didn't need until the bottom of the sixth. He held Seattle scoreless over the first five frames, allowing just four baserunners on a hit by pitch, a walk, and two singles, all peppered over that span and erased in each inning. Kyle Seager would get the Mariners on the board in the bottom of the sixth, blasting a one-out solo homer to cut the lead to seven runs at 8-1. After a single in the next at-bat, recently traded Abraham Toro made it four games in a row with a homer, this one a two-run shot to cut the lead to 8-3 and end Odorizzi's day. His final line: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 2 HR, 95 P.

Houston wins the series

Houston brought in Brooks Raley to finish the sixth, issuing two walks but stranding them to keep it a five-run lead. Myles Straw helped push that back to six in the top of the seventh, reaching on a single to start the innings, then stealing both second and third to get in position for Diaz's third RBI of the day, a groundout to make it 9-3. Cristian Javier was the next reliever out for the Astros, but he would not make it through the bottom of the seventh, allowing a single and three walks, the third with the bases loaded to bring in a run.

Bryan Abreu was brought in to get out of the jam, getting a strikeout to end the seventh. Then, in the top of the eighth, Kyle Tucker would put two more runs on the board with a two-run homer making the lead seven runs at 11-4. Abreu remained in for the bottom of the eighth, erasing two one-out singles to get through the frame. Brandon Bielak took over in the bottom of the ninth to close things out, posting a 1-2-3 inning to wrap up the win and give Houston the series victory.

Up Next: Houston will travel down the coast to San Fransisco before getting a day off on Thursday. They'll pick up an exciting three-game series with the Giants on Friday, with the opener slated to start at 8:45 PM Central. Framber Valdez (6-2, 2.97 ERA) will take the mound for the Astros, while San Fransisco's starter is TBD.

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