MLBits: Sizing Up the Free-Agent Pitchers, Travel Restrictions, Harper Activated, Insane Shifts, More

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MLBits: Sizing Up the Free-Agent Pitchers, Travel Restrictions, Harper Activated, Insane Shifts, More

MLB News and Rumors

The Chicago Cubs are on the brink of becoming the fifth team to clinch their division tonight (just the AL East is left up for grabs), but there’s plenty of news to discuss.

So let’s take a quick trip around the league …

  • … Starting with what happens after this season. At MLB Trade Rumors, Steve Adams tries to sort out the upcoming free agent starting pitching class, but not with power rankings or expected free agent contracts/destinations. Instead, Adams sorts the arms by categories like hardest throwers, top strikeout arms, fewest walks, best ground-ball rates, and the like. It’s an interesting way to look at the upcoming class and could even reveal an unexpected target or two.
  • Well, it sounds like the Marlins-related drama will not be leaving with owner Jeffery Loria. According to the Miami Herald, Derek Jeter, who is simply a part of the group who will soon own the Marlins, has ordered the firings of four special assistants: Hall of Famers Andre Dawson and Tony Perez, the Marlins World Series Manager from 2003, Jack McKeon, and the former player known as Mr. Marlin, Jeff Conine. And get this, Jeter asked current Marlins president, David Samson, who will NOT be retained in his role once the new ownership takes over, to do the firing for him. Change is understandable and firings will obviously (and justifiably) happen, but if I were Jeter I’d either do it myself or wait until a new president is hired and let him make the decisions/do the dirty work. This just isn’t a great look.
  • FiveThirtyEight isn’t giving up on the juiced ball theory. In fact, they’re doubling down with their latest: Baseballs Are More Consistently Juiced Than Ever. Indeed, it appears as though the “less-air-resistant” baseballs comprise a larger share of the overall stockpiles of active MLB balls today than they did even earlier this season. Obviously that makes some sense, given that if there was a change, the older balls will slowly be phased out, but it’s going to keep affecting the game. Read more at FiveThirtyEight on how this will affect the game, how we can measure it, and how it could actually help pitchers (in a roundabout way) as well as hitters.
  • Perhaps expected, but still very interesting:

  • The Cubs, of course, have six players with 20+ home runs (Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Javier Baez, Ian Happ, Willson Contreras), and probably three who’ll end up with 30+ (Rizzo, Bryant, Schwarber).
  • On the other side of the game, fastball velocity continues to rise and Travis Sawchik wonders how long hitters will be able to keep up? In other words, what will happen to the game if most pitchers are throwing 100+ MPH all the time (in the future). Can hitters adapt?
  • Well, well, well. Welcome back (grumble, grumble):

  • For the tenth time here’s your reminder that the Cubs will, in all likelihood, face the Washington Nationals in the first round of the NLDS.
  • The President recently announced a new batch of restrictions of people traveling from foreign countries, but this round includes one that could touch baseball: Venezuela. According to NBC Sports, the restrictions on Venezuela probably won’t affect ballplayers, as it seems focused on blocking visas for government officials on business and tourist travel, but the possibility remains. So, MLB has issued a statement this afternoon (which you can read here), simply stating that the league is aware of the travel ban and has contacted the government to ensure it won’t affect any players.
  • More international from NBC Sports: The Pirates have been granted an exemption from each of MLB and the player’s union which will allow infielder Jung Ho Kang to participate in the Dominican Winter League without being removed from the restricted list (which he earned because of three DUIs in Korea and denied visa). He’s apparently already in the Dominican Republic and plans to start working out/playing in October.
  • Yesterday, Yadier Molina was forced out of the Cubs/Cardinals matchup after taking consecutive foul balls to the face mask. He was taken into MLBs concussion protocol after that, and the results of those tests will decide whether or not he can play the rest of the season. For what it’s worth, Yadier’s brother, Bengie, tweeted that Yadi said he was in a little pain, but was otherwise fine. We’ll see what happens soon, I’m sure. Here’s to a very quick and healthy recovery.
  • Rangers slugger Joey Gallo was shifted last night like nothing I’ve ever seen before.

  • The Astros had only one player on the left side of second base (and that was the left fielder shading closer to center than left) and six guys standing on the outfield grass. The only players on the infield were the pitcher, catcher, and first baseman (who was just a few steps away from the outfield anyway). Jeff Sulivan talks all about it at FanGraphs. Oh, and Gallo went 2-4 with a homer, his 39th of the season.
  • I, uh, well, I guess I’ll just spit it out: Sports Illustrated ranked the top ten dinosaurs by their ability to play baseball. That’s pretty fun, to be honest.
  • Today is a special anniversary for Mariano Rivera:

  • And finally, is this not the smoothest bat flip you’ve ever seen?


Author: Michael Cerami

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