Projecting the NL All-Star roster

Leave a comment

The current NL All-Star balloting totals are out,
and it looks like shortstop and the third outfielder may be the only
spots still up for grabs. So, with still six weeks left to go before
the Midsummer Classic, let’s try to guess the NL roster.

Catchers

Starter: Yadier Molina
Backups: Brian McCann, Bengie Molina

Yadier has a 157,000-vote lead over Jason Kendall and is more than
200,000 votes up on McCann, so it certainly seems as though he’ll be
the choice. At least he’s a strong enough defender that it’s not such
an embarrassing pick. McCann will surely be picked as a backup. Jesus
Flores and Carlos Ruiz have been the next most productive catchers, but
they’ve both logged DL time, as has Chris Iannetta. Bengie Molina’s big
RBI total will make him a strong candidate, though with Matt Cain and
Tim Lincecum around, it’s doubtful that he’d have to make the team as
the Giants’ lone rep.

First basemen

Starter: Albert Pujols
Backups: Adrian Gonzalez

Pujols had to settle for a backup role behind Lance Berkman last
year, but he’s easily the NL’s leading vote-getter so far this year and
he’s a full 700,000 votes up on Prince Fielder at first base. With 20
homers already, Gonzalez is practically assured of a bench spot. Joey
Votto seemed like the best choice for a third first baseman, but since
he’s on the shelf, Ryan Howard and Fielder are in the mix if another is
taken. Also, Jorge Cantu is a possibility if the Marlins need a rep and
neither Hanley Ramirez nor Josh Johnson is taken.

Second basemen

Starter: Chase Utley
Backups: Orlando Hudson, Freddy Sanchez

It should work out that there is room for five middle infielders.
I’m going with three second basemen and two shortstops, though it could
easily work out the other way. Utley, who is second to Pujols in the
overall voting, is a lock to start, and Hudson would seem to have the
obvious edge on the backup job. I’m picking Sanchez over Brandon
Phillips here, making him the lone Pirate on the squad.

Third basemen

Starter: David Wright
Backups: Ryan Zimmerman, Chipper Jones

Wright leads Zimmerman in the balloting by 200,000 votes, with
Chipper in fourth. Casey Blake is also playing very well, but that
doesn’t figure to last. Mark Reynolds has a chance of going if no other
Diamondbacks make the team. Arizona does have Justin Upton and Dan
Haren as alternatives, though.

Shortstops

Starter: Jimmy Rollins
Backup: Hanley Ramirez

Ramirez currently has a 17,000-vote lead over Rollins in the
balloting, but I’m guessing that won’t hold up, even with Ramirez
possessing 350 points of OPS on Rollins. If Ramirez does win the vote,
then Rollins won’t make the team and Miguel Tejada would seem to be the
clear favorite to act as the backup. Tejada could potentially be the
lone Astro unless Wandy Rodriguez or Carlos Lee is selected.

Outfielders

Starters: Ryan Braun, Raul Ibanez, Alfonso Soriano
Backups: Carlos Beltran, Justin Upton, Adam Dunn, Brad Hawpe

Soriano is currently 33,000 votes up on Beltran for the last starting
spot. Cubs tend to do extremely well in the voting, so I’m guessing
he’ll increase that lead, even though Beltran is the more deserving
player. If Beltran does get it, then Soriano wouldn’t seem to have a
very good chance of making the club as a reserve, potentially opening
up a spot for Mike Cameron or Nate McLouth.

The other reserves seem like clear choices. The top six outfielders
in OPS are all represented here (Ibanez, Hawpe, Upton, Beltran, Dunn
and Braun), and Hawpe would probably be the only Rockie. If Dunn gets
ripped off again, that could open up a spot for Cameron. Cameron has
been to just one All-Star Game, that coming in 2001, and this would
seem to be his last good chance to go to a second.

Pitchers

Starters: Johan Santana, Chad Billingsley, Tim Lincecum, Yovani Gallardo, Wandy Rodriguez, Josh Johnson, Johnny Cueto
Relievers: Francisco Rodriguez, Jonathan Broxton, Heath Bell, Trevor Hoffman, Francisco Cordero

Obviously, when it comes to pitchers, a great deal will depend on
who is scheduled to work the Sunday before the All-Star Game and who
isn’t. Odds are that either Lincecum or Cain will go from the Giants,
but not both. Other starting pitchers shaping up as options are Dan
Haren, Jair Jurrjens, Zach Duke, Jake Peavy, Adam Wainwright, Derek
Lowe and Ted Lilly.

Alex Wilson broke his leg on a 103-MPH comebacker

Getty Images
Leave a comment

This one is brutal. Tigers’ right-handed reliever Alex Wilson was diagnosed with a broken leg after taking a blistering 103.8-MPH line drive off of his right leg during Saturday’s game against the Twins. According to the Detroit News’ Chris McCosky, it’s a non-displaced fibular fracture, but will still warrant an extended recovery period and signal the end of Wilson’s season.

Wilson replaced Drew VerHagen to start the eighth inning and worked a full count against Joe Mauer. Mauer roped an 93.3-MPH fastball back up the middle, where it struck the pitcher on his right calf. While Mauer took first base, Wilson got to his feet and tried to toss a warm-up pitch, but was in too much pain to continue and had to be helped off the field.

Even in a season that isn’t going anywhere in particular, this isn’t how you want it to end. The Tigers have yet to announce a recovery timetable for the 30-year-old reliever, but he won’t return to the mound until 2018. He exited Saturday’s outing with a 4.35 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 6.3 SO/9 over 60 innings.

The Tigers currently trail the Twins 10-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Yankees defeat Blue Jays to clinch postseason spot

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Yankees guaranteed their place in the postseason with a 5-1 win over the Blue Jays on Saturday. Sonny Gray led the charge against their division rivals, clinching his 10th win of the season with six innings of four-hit, one-run, four-strikeout ball.

Gray worked into a little trouble in the first inning, putting runners in scoring position after Josh Donaldson drew a four-pitch walk and Justin Smoak advanced him with a single. The Yankees’ ace induced two quick outs to end the threat, but was overpowered by a Teoscar Hernandez home run in the third inning, the rookie’s fourth blast of the season:

Thankfully for the Yankees, that was the only run that slipped through the cracks. Gray finished the remainder of his outing with two hits and two walks and was backed by another three scoreless innings from the bullpen. Greg Bird supplied the go-ahead run with a three-RBI shot in the fifth inning, plating Chase Headley and Starlin Castro to give the Yankees their first lead of the night.

Todd Frazier tacked on another solo homer in the eighth, while Starlin Castro returned in the ninth to cap the win with an RBI single. Aroldis Chapman did the rest, wielding just 10 pitches to get three straight outs from Kendrys Morales, Kevin Pillar and Rob Refsnyder.

Following Saturday’s win, the Yankees have at least secured one wild card berth, though they’re not out of the division race just yet. They still sit a full four games back of first place in the AL East, with eight games left to play.