MISSING OUT

Yankees land Mariners' Paxton as Astros refuse to give up Whitley, Tucker

Kyle Tucker and pitcher Forrest Whitley are key pieces the Astros want to keep. Rich Schultz

Well that didn’t last long. When all of Houston is hoping for some pitching help for their Astros; a huge domino just fell and well, it’s not good.

The New York Yankees traded for Mariners left handed pitcher James Paxton per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports and Corey Brock of The Athletic. James Paxton sitting at a stout 6’4’’ could have mirrored Justin Verlander's resurgence due to one of the best/reteamed coaching staffs in the MLB. Paxton is 30 years old and netted an impressive 30 games pitched in 2018, which included 11 won, 6, lost, 208 strikeouts, 2.9 WAR and an ERA of 3.67. The best geek stat for Paxton... 32% strikeout rate in 2018. The possibilities could have been endless but what done is done.

The Yankees gave up a pretty good haul for the lefthander. The Yanks will send No. 1 prospect, lefthander Justus Sheffield, No. 22 prospect righthander Erik Swanson and outfielder Dom Thompson-Williams.

Astros President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Jeff Luhnow was not willing to deal his best prospects (Kyle Tucker and Forrest Whitley) gutting his minor leagues but with Paxton having two years of arbitration control left its hard not to wonder why he didn’t take the chance. Tucker has drastically disappointed and Whitley is slightly above average at best. Whitley has already proven to be immature with his 50 game suspensions in 2018. Whitley has gone 7-10 in 38 starts with a 3.14 ERA, 163 innings pitched and 239 strikeouts.

Now that Paxton is gone, Noah Syndergaard should bethe  top priority. Although he is up for arbitration in 2019 this should not have the Astros or Luhnow afraid to go for it. He is simply too strong to overlook. Syndergaard went 13-4 with an ERA of 3.03 and a WAR of 4.0. The Pirates tried and failed to trade for him but they also don’t have the farm system that the Astros have. The acquisition may not take much seeing that he will have to get paid soon but that should drive the price needed to acquire him way down. It may not even need to include Whitley. With the departure of this generation's Tom Glavine and Andy Pettitte (Dallas Keuchel) imminent, there is plenty of room for a top arm in the rotation. Do not get me wrong he will be expensive but the Astros should not hesitate to pay him over Keuchel.   

This is nothing new and to date it has worked out for Luhnow. All Astros fans can do now is hope that the plan that Luhnow has on paper can be carried out in real life. He is off to a great start by trading for Blue Jays utility man Aledmys Diaz. Luhnow better hope that Whitley is who he thinks he is.

 

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Houston drops first of three

Mariners heat up late to take series opener over Astros

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

With the playoffs just a little over a week away, the Astros started their last week of regular-season games in Seattle against the Mariners. A couple of wins against them would secure Houston's spot as the AL West's second playoff participant, with Oakland all but having locked up the first spot sitting six games in front of Houston with seven left to play. Here is a quick rundown of the opener from T-Mobile Park:

Final Score: Mariners 6, Astros 1.

Record: 27-27, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Marco Gonzalez (7-2, 3.06 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (3-3, 4.24 ERA).

Bitter end to an impressive start for McCullers Jr.

Both starting pitchers would take a scoreless deep late into Monday night's game. While the Astros were trying to figure out Marco Gonzalez, Lance McCullers Jr. was repeating the success of his last start, a seven-inning two-hit start against the Rangers.

McCullers Jr. allowed a two-out walk in the bottom of the first inning, then proceeded to retire the next fourteen batters before a one-out double in the bottom of the sixth gave the Mariners their first hit of the night. He would go on to finish the sixth before things unraveled in the seventh.

A leadoff walk would result in a run after an error by Jose Altuve left runners on first and second, setting up an RBI-double to give the Mariners the first run of the night and a 1-0 lead. McCullers Jr. looked like he was going to cap off his night by stranding the runners on second and third after back-to-back strikeouts, but before he could get the last out of the inning allowed a three-run home run to blow the game open at 4-0. His final line: 6.2 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 1 HR, 102 P.

Mariners take the opener

Despite getting several hits against him along the way, Houston could not get anything substantial going against Gonzalez, who would shutout the Astros over eight innings of work. After Enoli Paredes finished the seventh, Brandon Bielak would take over out of Houston's bullpen for the bottom of the eighth.

He struggled mightily, loading the bases with no outs, including a hit batter before allowing a two-RBI single to extend Seattle's lead to 6-0. The Astros would get on the board in the top of the ninth, getting a two-out double by Carlos Correa, who would score on an RBI-single by Josh Reddick. That would be too little, too late as the 6-1 score would go final as the Mariners took the opener, keeping the Astros' magic number at two.

Up Next: The middle game of this three-game set will be another 8:10 PM Central start on Tuesday. On the mound will be Framber Valdez (4-3, 3.82 ERA) for the Astros and Ljay Newsome (0-1, 6.35 ERA) for the Mariners.

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