Braves demote Schafer, go back to Blanco

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How often do you see a team send down a player who has started 98
percent of its games? Jordan Schafer was Atlanta’s starting center
fielder 49 times in 50 games this season. He even played 5 ½ innings in
the one game he didn’t start. He had received 195 of the 200 plate
appearances to go to Braves center fielders this season.

Of course, Schafer had struggled mightily since homering in his
first major league at-bat. Since starting off 8-for-19 with both of his
homers, he had hit .176/.289/.216 with 59 strikeouts in 148 at-bats. He
had walked 24 times, so he was at least occasionally helping to turn
the order around as a No. 8 hitter. However, he had knocked in just
five runs.

If Gregor Blanco had been hitting at all in the minors, this switch
likely would have been made three weeks ago. However, it took a recent
six-game surge just to get him up to .242/.335/.300 for the season.
That Schafer is the better center fielder of the two only made the move
more difficult. Still, the Braves likely are doing the right thing for
Schafer in sending him down. They were going to have baseball’s worst
offensive outfielder with or without him.

Rougned Odor didn’t technically steal home, but he basically did

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Just saw this from last night’s Tigers-Rangers game. It was pretty wild.

Rougned Odor walked in the seventh inning. He broke for second on a steal and was safe due to the throw going wild, allowing him to reach third base. The Tigers called on reliever Daniel Stumpf and he was effective in retiring the next two batters, leaving Odor on third with two out.

Stumpf, a lefty, was paying no attention whatsoever to Odor, so Odor just took off for home, attempting a straight steal. Stumpf was so surprised that he tried to throw home to nail Odor, and in so doing, he balked. That technically means that Odor scored on the balk, but I think it’s safe to say he would’ve scored on the strait steal regardless. Watch:

 

He definitely gets points for style.

 

Aroldis Chapman is pitching himself out of a job

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Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman looked shaky again last night, coming in to the game with a three-run lead before allowing a two-run homer to the Mets’ Amed Rosario. He would nail down the save eventually, giving Sonny Gray his first win as a Yankee, but Chapman’s struggles were the talk of the game afterward.

It was the third appearance in a row in which Chapman has given up at least one run, allowing five runs on three hits — two of them homers — and walking four in his last three and a third innings pitched. He’s also hit a batter. That’s just the most acute portion of a long slide, however. He posted a 0.79 ERA in his first 12 appearances this year, before getting shelled twice and then going on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation, missing over a month. Since returning he’s allowed 12 runs — ten earned — in 23 appearances, breaking out to a 4.09 ERA. He’s also walked ten batters in that time. At present, his strikeout rate is the worst he’s featured since 2010. His walk rate is up and he’s allowing more hits per nine innings than he ever has.

It’s possible that he’s still suffering from shoulder problems. Whether or not that’s an issue, he looks to have a new health concern as he appeared to tweak his hamstring on the game’s final play last night when he ran over to cover first base. Chapman told reporters after the game that “it’s nothing to worry about,” and Joe Girardi said that Chapman would not undergo an MRI or anything, but he was clearly grimacing as he came off the mound and it’s something worth watching.

Also worth watching: Dellin Betances and David Robertson, Chapman’s setup men who have each shined as Yankees closers in the past and who may very soon find themselves closing once again if Chapman can’t figure it out. And Chapman seems to know it. He was asked if he still deserves to be the closer after the game. His answer:

“My job is to be ready to pitch everyday. As far as where I pitch, that’s not up to me. If at some point they need to remove me from the closer’s position, I’m always going to be ready to pitch.”

That’s a team-first answer, and for that Chapman should be lauded. But it’s also one that suggests Chapman himself knows he’s going to be out of a closer’s job soon if he doesn’t turn things around.