Some things to talk about while the bullpen ruins what could have been a weekend sweep...
1) George Springer logic
If you haven't gotten a chance yet, definitely check out this FanPost on Reid Ryan's visit to the Houston chapter of SABR. Ryan covered a variety of topics, including the TV deal and George Springer.
That's what I'm going to dwell on for a minute, as Springer seems poised to join the 40-40 club. Yet, he won't be up and part of the outfield until next year. Why?
It's all about the Rule 5 draft. Houston has a glut of players about to hit eligibility for the Rule 5 draft this winter and protecting them has been a priority for the team this year. In fact, I'd wager that much of their player strategy on callup and demotions has been tied into that Rule 5 draft this winter for much of this season.
Springer may have made the decision to wait on his callup more difficult by his play this year, but I bet there was never a chance that he'd get called up, just because those Rule 5 spots are so valuable. That's also why Houston started hoarding 40-man spots and not filling them in with waiver claims and other players.
The Astros front office is nothing if not focused on the long term. We sort of knew that already, especially how important those 40-man spots are, but it's nice to hear that the entire organization embraces that notion.
2) More rotation turmoil
What a difference a few weeks will make. At the trade deadline, Erik Bedard was pitching well and looked like a possible trade target. Last weekend, though, Bedard had struggled enough to be bounced from the rotation once again.
"He will be in the bullpen effective Monday," Astros manager Bo Porter said of Bedard. "Unless we have any unforeseen changes, he'll probably stay in the bullpen the rest of the year. We're still going to go with a six-man rotation."
It's unclear who will take his spot, but it sounds like David Martinez is a very likely possibility. The Chronicle article goes on to talk about Bedard's surprise at what happened. He also said that the Astros brought up his innings the past few years and that he's reaching that limit.
Not surprisingly, his performance is also blowing up around the same time it did last season with the Pirates. Bedard posted a much higher ERA in August than he did in the other months of the season, but his FIP and xFIP weren't noticeably different.
At this point, Houston has a very young rotation. Bedard was a valuable part of that this year, but will he have a spot next year? Will he want a spot on this team after they shut him down like this?
3) Castro ties homer record
Kudos to Jason Castro, who tied John Bateman's nearly 50-year old record for most home runs in a season by an Astros catcher. Castro hit two bombs on Saturday to set the mark of 17 and now has about 30 games left in the season to hit one more and take over the top spot.
If Castro hits three more home runs this season, he'll become the 230th backstop to top 20 homers in a season in MLB history. He'd also be the 20th catcher since 2010 to reach the plateau. Last season, nine catchers hit the mark, including Buster Posey, Russell Martin, Matt Wieters, Mike Napoli, Brian McCann, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Yadier Molina, A.J. Pierzynski and Wilin Rosario.
This season, two catchers have already hit the mark in Rosario and J.P. Arencibia. The record for most homers in a season by a catcher is 45 by Johnny Bench in 1970.
Castro, by the way, is now on pace to hit 19 homers per ZiPS and 20 per Steamer. He's also going to comfortably clear 4.0 fWAR by both projection systems. No Astros catcher has topped 3.0 fWAR since 2000 and only one catcher in team history topped 4.0 fWAR previously (Joe Ferguson, 4.6 fWAR in 1977).