Every-Thing Sports

Why (and how) the Astros and Gerrit Cole should stay together

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Gerrit Cole is in the midst of Cy Young run this year. Cole, who turned 29 on Sunday, is 16-5 this year with a 2.73 ERA and has 281 strikeouts. He would be the going away choice for the award if it weren't for teammate Justin Verlander who's18-5 with a 2.52 ERA and has 264 strikeouts. Cole is set to test free agency this offseason for the first time in his career. I don't fault him for wanting to explore his options. How often do you get to be at the peak of your profession, able to pick who and where you work while simultaneously commanding one of the best salaries in your field? Anyone of us would be chomping at the bit to do so. I believe there's a way for the Astros and Cole to stay together and here's how/why:

Winning

The Astros are set up to win and compete for World Series titles over the next few years. Verlander is signed for another two years, so is recently acquired Zack Greinke (15-5, 2.99 ERA, 167 strikeouts). This starting rotation is scary. Most great teams have had two high end starters. The 1990s Braves at one point had four. This could be the closest thing we've seen since those Braves teams. Did I mention the lineup they have? Guys like Yordan Alvarez, Alex Bregman, and Jose Altuve are locked up for several more seasons as well. Other teams may be able to offer winning as a carrot to dangle, but can they offer it long term?

Money

Here's where the rubber meets the road with most contract negotiations. Most guys are looking tot cash in and get paid. Top of the line pitchers command anywhere from $25-35 million a year on contracts these days. With the way Cole has pitched (and his age), he's looking at a monster deal in terms of annual average value and length. The Astros can compete by structuring his deal with a lower salary the first two years and jacking it up starting in year three. This will offset the two years in which they're paying Verlander and Greinke, as well as others on the team who have big deals.

Location

Cole and his wife are both Southern California natives. The Dodgers, Angels and Padres are all in SoCal. All three teams can afford to back up a Brinks truck in order to pay him and could use a pitcher of his caliber. However, California also has some of the most outrageous taxes in this country, whereas Texas has no state income tax. Factor in the cost of living difference, and he could make more money by choosing to stay with the Astros even if they pay him less annually. Besides, I'll take hurricanes over earthquakes every time in the natural disaster debate.

Brent Strom

Strom is the Astros pitching coach. He's also apparently a pitcher whisperer. Strom has been able to get the most out of guys regardless of their natural talent. He's made guys like Charlie Morton and Wade Miley seem like those Picaso paintings people buy dirt cheap and later realize what they truly have. Strom is the reason Cole has pitched the way he has the last couple years. Who's to say he's going to continue pitching this way without Strom's tutelage?

If the Astros win another World Series and Cole left for the biggest offer he could get, I wouldn't blame him. Still wouldn't blame him if he took such an offer if they don't win it all because it's ultimately his decision. Fans have to realize they'd all do the same thing if the shoe were on the othwer foot. However, if he factors in the reasons I've listed here, someone should cue the Al Green and we should all get ready for a few more years of title runs.

Houston's magic number is down to 1

Astros daily report presented by APG&E: 3 hits from the 6-4 win

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

After the mini-sweep of the Rangers concluding with win number 100 on the season which secured a playoff spot, the Astros turned their sights to clinching the division. With their magic number at 2, they could clinch on Friday with a win in the series opener against Los Angeles and an Oakland loss. Here is a recap of the first game of the weekend against the Angels:

Final Score: Astros 6, Angels 4.

Record: 101-53, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Zack Greinke (17-5, 3.05 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Jaime Barria (4-10, 6.43 ERA).

1) Starting with a bang

With a chance to clinch their division and continue to lead the battle for playoff home-field advantage, Houston came out swinging on Friday night. In the first inning, the Astros blasted three home runs with solo shots from Jose Altuve which led off the inning, and Alex Bregman as he tries to catch the sidelined Mike Trout for a possible MVP award.

Later in the inning, Carlos Correa took advantage of a runner on base with a home run of his own, a two-run bomb to extend the lead before Josh Reddick tacked on one more with an RBI-single to make it 5-0 after one.

2) Greinke struggles in the fourth but finishes five innings

Zack Greinke allowed just two hits through the first three innings: a single and a solo home run which at the time cut the lead to 5-1. Carlos Correa pushed the lead back to five runs with his second home run of the night in the bottom of the third.

Greinke would struggle in the top of the fourth, however, allowing five straight hits which would score three runs to cut Houston's lead to 6-4. He would recover and toss a 1-2-3 fifth, but that would be it for him in a five-inning start, as Houston passed the ball to their bullpen to throw the last four frames. His final line: 5 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 HR.

3) Houston's bullpen dominant the rest of the way

Josh James was the first reliever out of Houston's bullpen to take over for Greinke in the top of the sixth and erased a two-out walk to complete a scoreless inning. Ryan Pressly, making his first appearance in a month after having surgery on his knee, returned dominantly with a 1-2-3 inning.

Will Harris did the same in the top of the eighth, holding the two-run lead going to the ninth. Roberto Osuna had the chance for another save in the top of the ninth and converted it to finish off the 6-4 win. That reduced the magic number to one, meaning the Astros are now a win or Oakland loss away from clinching the American League West. They are also just two wins away from matching last year's franchise number of 103.

Up Next: Game two of this three-game set with the Angles will be on Saturday at 6:10 PM. Wade Miley (14-5, 3.71 ERA) will get the start for Houston while Patrick Sandoval (0-3, 4.91 ERA) is expected to be on the mound for Los Angeles.

The Astros daily report is presented by APG&E.

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