This week’s series against the Brewers is going to be as close to playoff baseball as we’ll get before October. And even though the Cubs are clearly in the better position (2.0 game lead, series at home), it sure feels like they have more to lose. And that makes me anxious as hell.
Here’s some news from around the league.
- The Red Sox and Yankees have both voiced their displeasure to the league, regarding the way the Josh Donaldson trade (to the Indians) went down. More specifically, they don’t like how the Indians and Blue Jays worked just barely within the rules to get Donaldson on the Indians before the September 1st playoff-eligible cutoff date, despite the fact that he was still injured and was immediately DL-ed upon reaching Cleveland. In short, the Donaldson deal probably wouldn’t have been allowed to go through with a stricter interpretation of the rules, but it was *technically* okay, so … what’re you gonna do?
- By the way, whenever these sort of issues pop up (like, say, holding a prospect down until an additional year of team control is secured), I have the same reaction: (1) yes, it’s obviously wrong to do that, but (2) if it’s within the rules, there’s not much to say. Change the rules, or teams will continue to exploit loopholes.
- I hate when pitchers purposefully bean players in 100% of cases. Aside from all the obvious danger for the players involved, the complete forfeiture of competitiveness always struck me as insanely selfish. Like, I have to watch my team fail, so some grown man can get over a beef he has with another grown man? Get outta here with that. Well, yesterday, that exact thing happened and it affected the Cubs a lot, albeit indirectly. With two outs in the sixth inning of the Giants/Brewers game, Ryan Braun stepped up to the plate with runners on first and second and a one-run deficit. Braun and the opposing starter, Madison Bumgarner, engaged in a stare-down that eventually led to three straight high and tight pitches, the last of which hit Braun on the shoulder. Bases loaded. Naturally, the next batter, Jonathan Schoop, hit a grand slam and the Giants went on to lose the game. So, you know, good job, Bumgarner. You really showed them.
- Speaking of Yelich, he had some choice comments for the former Marlins president, David Samson, and I’m in his corner for this one:
Looks like it worked out alright….don’t be so anti-player all the time! https://t.co/oYr1vI1K1I
— Christian Yelich (@ChristianYelich) September 10, 2018
- Yadier Molina, Eugenio Suarez, Christian Yelich, Ronald Acuna Jr., Rhys Hoskins, Carlos Santana, Whit Merrifield, and Chris Taylor have been announced as members of the MLB roster for the 2018 All-Star tour with the Noppon Professional Baseball league in Japan. This year’s tour will apparently mark the 37th time Major Leaguers have gone to Japan for exhibition games since 1908. Seven games will be played starting November 8th, and you can expect more Major Leaguers to be involved. More details at MLB.com.
- At ESPN, Buster Olney used Michael Kopech and Shohei Ohtani’s recently recommended Tommy John surgeries as real-life examples of how a fundamental shift towards higher velocities and greater spin rates has led directly to more injuries – a trend he doesn’t believe will end soon.
- At MLB.com, Andrew Simon takes a look at the NL MVP race through the lens of one particular stat, Win Probability Added (WPA), and it’s a fine argument. Obviously, you can use WPA as the foundation for a selection, but as a tie-breaker, it serves a role. Sadly, Javier Baez’s mark (2.28) doesn’t quite match the NL leader and fellow MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt (4.58), but, hey, it’s just one thing among many, right?
- Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen opened up about his heart issues, and I gotta say (1) this guy is awesome and (2) he’s courageous as heck. I sincerely hope he can put this issue behind him (as much as he medically/reasonably can) and be his usual dominant self this October. He’s one of the best pitchers in baseball, and is almost* always fun to watch.
- At the Tampa Bay Times, Marc Topkin discusses how the Rays have zigged when everyone has has zagged, with regards steering away from the launch angle/home run revolution. And while I can genuinely appreciate the massive improvements they made in a wide number of statistical areas (batting average, OBP, average with RISP, BABIP, contact, rate, etc.), I feel like it all comes back to a few simple truths: their runs per game is hardly up at all this season (4.28 verus 4.31). Then again, they had a 98 wRC+ last year and are at 104 wRC+ this season, so maybe there’s something to it.
- No one should ever bat flip again, because it’ll never be better than this:
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) September 9, 2018
* You know when it’s not fun: October.