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MLBits: Trading for Verlander, Thames Asked for a Break, Braves DFA Bartolo, Record HR Pace, More

MLB News and Rumors

I have a confession to make: I watched exactly 8.1 innings of Cubs baseball yesterday. That’s right.


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Frustrated by the twice-blown lead and motivated by my desire to start making dinner for me and the fiancée , I stepped away from my TV as the game played in the background and I missed the entire comeback. You’d think, by now, I’d know what can happen in this crazy sport, but hey, we all make mistakes, right?

Here’s some news from around the league.

  • First of all, Verlander is owed $56 million over the next two seasons (which is a lot). That amount of money could limit the potential buyers to a very small crowd, especially when luxury tax implications are considered (though the Tigers apparently don’t see this as a money dump, so maybe they’d eat enough salary to ask for a better prospect). Next, Verlander has a no trade clause and has shown no indication to leave Detroit. The team is struggling and could rebuild, but he reportedly likes it there. And finally, despite being AL Cy Young worthy last season, Verlander has a 4.47 ERA (4.07 FIP) this year. His strikeout rate is way down (from 2016) and his walk rate is WAY up. Matching up on value might not be too easy.
  • Dustin Fowler made his debut for the Yankees last night at Guaranteed Rate field, but crashed into the wall in the first inning and ruptured the patellar tendon in his right knee before he could make his first plate appearance. The injury required immediate season-ending surgery, which is awful for a young player who never really got a taste. This might remind Cubs’ fans of Adam Greenberg (who took a pitch to the head in the first plate appearance of his Major League debut, never to play again outside of a token at bat in 2012 with the Marlins).

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  • Hey, this is pretty cool:

  • … And it’s yet another reason MLB pitchers “strongly believe something’s not right,” with the baseballs. At USA Today, a number of pitchers suggested that the balls are somehow different this year, citing not only their bounciness on the way out, but the distinct lack of a movement they’re getting on the way in. From Red Sox pitcher David Price, to Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen, to Marlins reliever Brad Ziegler, MLB pitchers are pretty suspicious over what’s happened to their baseballs. MLB continues to deny that there’s been any change.
  • In yesterday’s MLBits, we discussed the Cardinal’s decision to demote 2016 All-Star Aledmys Diaz to Triple-A Memphis and how he might follow Randal Grichuk’s path back to the Majors. Grichuk played well in his 15 games in Triple-A and has been absolutely raking since returning to the Majors: .318/.375/.773 with 3 HRs in five games. Not bad. Maybe Kyle Schwarber can follow a similar path.

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  • Since May 11, the Brewers’ Eric Thames is hitting .162/.309/.368, because of course he is. Thames seems like a really fun, light-hearted ball player and I wish him the best, but it was probably always unrealistic to believe he was going to continue doing what he did for the first month of the season. In any case, after going 3-37 with 17 strikeouts in his last 10 games, Thames asked manager Craig Counsell for a break. Counsell is giving him a couple days off to clear his mind, recharge, and get himself going again. Again, I wish him the best, personally, but also, you know, I hope it doesn’t work because the Brewers are still in first place.
  • At FanGraphs, Jeff Sullivan writes that perhaps, technically, baseball really is getting more boring. What he means by that is not that he no longer enjoys watching the sport (the opposite is true, as a matter of fact), but rather that in a few ways, baseball is literally getting “less exciting.” For example, take a look at the league-wide leverage index from 1974 until today:

  • Year after year after year, there are fewer and fewer high-leverage moments in baseball games. In other words, forty years ago, there were more close, tense games that were decided by fewer runs than today. Fewer high-leverage moments means fewer exciting moments. Thus, baseball is getting less exciting. Technically.

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  • Separately, Sullivan points out that the Cardinals and Brewers are numbers 1 and 2 in average leverage this season. Meaning that they’ve played in the most amount of high leverage innings. That means added stress on the players and, more specifically, the pitchers. The Cubs ranked 12th.
  • OH NO! The Atlanta Braves have designated Bartolo Colon for assignment (and a single tear rolled down Brett’s face). Before hitting the DL on June 6, Colon had earned a 7.78 ERA (5.12 FIP) over 12 starts and 59.0 IP. Then, after spending a few weeks nursing a left oblique strain, he returned to the mound on Wednesday, but allowed 6 earned runs over 4.0 innings – and that was enough for the Braves to call it.
  • But hey, maybe it’s not the end of the road for Colon:

  • And finally, remember when Melky Cabrera – one of the worst defensive left fielders in baseball – robbed Kris Bryant last July? And then remember when he did it again in September? Yeah, well last night he had his THIRD home run robbery in a year, only this time, he pretended he didn’t catch the ball … Aaron Judge made it all the way to second base before he realized he was getting bamboozled:

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Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @Michael_Cerami.