The first thing you do at a Houston ballgame these days is purchase a scorecard. The anonymous Astros are clearly in experiment mode; that's life when you're 38-75 for the year and trying to rebuild the foundation. This isn't an organization loaded with buzzy prospects ready to take over; it's going to take a while for Houston's long-term plan to take root.
In the meantime, perhaps we can interest you in outfielder Robbie Grossman. You won't find him on any hot prospect lists, but he's doing some fun things at Minute Maid Park.
The 23-year-old Grossman showed interesting potential at Triple-A Oklahoma City this year, slashing .281/.396/.364 with 15 steals over 70 games. Not much pop to speak of (only two homers), though Grossman did have a couple of double-digit homer seasons in the lower minors. He's been surprisingly productive in his second go-round with the Astros, on a 15-for-32 binge with two homers, four walks and four steals in the second half. He's batted leadoff for three straight games; maybe he can take this opportunity and run with it.
“He’s been having good at-bats,” manager Bo Porter said of Grossman last weekend, explaining the lineup switch. “When I made the decision, it was more about Robbie than it was about anything else. He continues to swing the bat well. I love the way he’s going about his business each and every day.”
Porter is letting his kids run, there's no doubt on that. The Astros have been the most aggressive base running team in the second half, tops in steals (28) and attempts (35). Have some fun, Grossman. Take off if you feel like it, Jonathan Villar (thumb permitting). Grossman is ready to go in 95 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
• Dillon Gee looks like the most interesting streaming pick for Thursday, at home against a Rockies club that might be without Carlos Gonzalez. Gee's 10 home starts have been tidy for our purposes: 2.34 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, just three homers allowed. An average fastball in the high-80s doesn't scare anyone, but Gee is making good use of three other quality pitches (slider, curve, change). Whistle as the wind blows, and consider the add in 82 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
• The streaming game isn't limited to pitchers - maybe we can sell you on a Jonny Gomes rental. The Red Sox added Gomes in the offseason primarily because of his ability to crush left-handed pitching, but he was an out-making machine over the opening 10 weeks. Gomes has picked his game up since the beginning of June, slashing .299/.345/.551 with six homers over 35 games (24 starts). His four-RBI night at Houston on Tuesday, with a homer, sparked Boston's mad comeback and eventual 15-10 victory.
Gomes figures to start Thursday against KC left-hander Bruce Chen, and while Gomes doesn't have a pretty split line against anything right now, we can't ignore the career .878 OPS he holds against southpaws. And obviously the undertow of the Boston lineup comes into play; the Red Sox lead the majors in runs and on-base percentage. This temporary platoon grab is available in 99 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
• Bobby Parnell is one of the few Mets who's earned his money in 2013, but it's possible his season could be over. Parnell has a herniated disk in his neck, and although an epidural might enable Parnell to return this year, there's a reasonable chance his season is over. Given where the Mets are in the standings, there's no reason to take chances with a future asset.
The Mets aren't brimming with hot closer-in-waiting candidates: retreads David Aardsma and LaTroy Hawkins are the two primary contenders. Aardsma has been knocked around in three of his last four appearances (including a blown save last Friday) while Hawkins worked around two hits and recorded Tuesday's handshake. How desperate did you say you were for saves again? The 40-year-old Hawkins has the better seasonal resume and is still around in 94 percent of the Y.