Astros director of research and development Mike Fast has left the organization, as MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart was among those to cover (via Twitter). The former Baseball Prospectus scribe joined the organization well in advance of its rise to prominence, forming a key part of the front office team assembled by GM Jeff Luhnow. Fast tells Jake Kaplan of The Athletic (subscription link) that he’s hoping “to latch on with another team” in some capacity, though he did not otherwise offer any clues as to the reason for his departure or his expectations in pursuing a new opportunity.
It’ll be interesting to see both where Fast lands and how he’s replaced. Here’s more from Houston and some division rivals …
- The postseason-bound Astros are getting ready for the ALDS, which means a focus on health. As Kaplan reports (Twitter links), star shortstop Carlos Correa will get some time off to rest his back before ramping back up next week. Meanwhile, Lance McCullers Jr. will throw from the pen upon returning to action early next week. Ensuring that Correa is at full strength is obviously of critical importance to the organization’s hopes of repeating as World Series champs. Though he hasn’t hit to his typical standards this year, Correa undeniably possesses the talent to be a force in October. Likewise, getting back McCullers, who has been sidelined with a forearm strain, would also be notable. Though it may not be likely that he’ll shoulder anything approaching a starter’s workload in the playoffs, McCullers would represent another high-quality arm on a staff that’s already loaded with them.
- Astros southpaw Tony Sipp is flipping the script in 2018, as Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle writes. The veteran reliever discusses his tough moments over the last two seasons with candor. It came as a wake-up call, he suggests, when he found himself “having to answer questions about making a team when your contract is guaranteed,” as occurred this spring. As it turns out, the 35-yer-old has bounced back from a pair of homer-plagued seasons, posting a 2.06 ERA with 10.0 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 over 35 frames in 2018. He’ll return to the open market this winter, but first will play an important role in the ’Stros postseason pitching mix.
- The Angels have faced their share of disappointments this year, but have also watched as shortstop Andrelton Simmons has cemented himself as a premium all-around performer alongside the peerless Mike Trout. Indeed, the 29-year-old Simmons has again topped 5 fWAR with a blend of solid, contact-oriented hitting and otherworldly defense. That doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have designs on improvement, however. As Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register explores, the game’s premier defender is hoping some added strength will lead to a power boost going forward.
- While the Rangers have only just begun looking for a new skipper, after firing Jeff Banister today, that doesn’t mean it’s too soon to begin thinking of the possibilities. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News runs through some of the names he believes could be considered for the job, including interim skipper Don Wakamatsu. There are plenty of notable names contemplated in the post, so Texas fans will want to give it a full read and reach their own conclusions on the right path for the organization to take.