Halladay, Downs added to crowded Jays' DL

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On the same day that their trainer was awarded a trip to the All-Star
Game, the Jays placed three more pitchers on the disabled list: Roy
Halladay (groin), Casey Janssen (shoulder) and Scott Downs (toe).

Those three join fellow pitchers Jesse Litsch, Shaun Marcum, Dustin
McGowan and Robert Ray on the shelf for Toronto. The offense has
actually stayed remarkably healthy, with only backup catcher Michael
Barrett missing significant time due to injury. The Jays, though, are
missing four legitimate major league starters, two more guys who have
spent time in their rotation this year and a reliever who appeared in
line for an All-Star appearance.

Fortunately, Halladay is expected to miss the minimum two starts.
Janssen, who missed last year following shoulder surgery, may have been
bounced from the rotation if the Jays didn’t have reason to put him
back on the DL. Brad Mills is coming up to replace him and will make
his major league debut Thursday.

Mills, a 2007 fourth-round pick, gets his promotion despite starting
off 1-8 in Triple-A. He had a 4.48 ERA, which is actually quite good
for a Las Vegas pitcher. Still, as a modest flyball pitcher without a
true strikeout pitch, he could have a rough adjustment period ahead of
him. I think Brett Cecil would have been the better choice to step in,
but Cecil might follow him as the starting in Halladay’s place on
Saturday.

Downs was hurt Tuesday, when he stumbled out of the box while
grounding out in his first at-bat since 2004. He only hit because the
Jays scored five runs in the top of the 10th. He was the ninth and
final batter of that inning, and the plan was to send him back out for
the 10th, though the injury forced his removal.

The Jays now have a tough decision on whether to go back to B.J.
Ryan in the closer’s role. Ryan hasn’t allowed a run in any of his last
eight appearances, though he’s been pitching mostly in losing causes.
His stuff still isn’t nearly what it was last year. However, he does
have the experience, and as bad as he pitched in April, he never
actually cost the Jays a game. Both of his blown saves came in games
the Jays went on to win.

If performance to date this year is all that matters, then Jason
Frasor becomes the immediate favorite for saves in Toronto. Still, it
would make sense for Cito Gaston to pick his spots and give Ryan the
occasional chance in the ninth. The Jays need to figure out whether
Ryan is going to be a valuable piece in the pen going forward.

Magic Johnson says the Dodgers will win the World Series

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Baseball, as we so often note around here, is unpredictable. Especially when it comes to the playoffs. You can be the best team in the land for six months but a few bad days can end your season once October hits.

In 2001 the Seattle Mariners won 116 games in the regular season but lost the ALCS to the Yankees, four games to one. In 1906 the Cubs won 116 games in a 152-game season and lost the World Series. In 1954 the Indians won 111 games in a 154-game season and lost the World Series. In 1931 the Philadelphia A’s won 107 games and lost the World Series.

More recently, with the advent of expanded playoffs, the chances for the team with the best record to win the World Series have been pretty dang terrible. Since the beginning of the wild card era, only five times has the team with the game’s best record gone on to win the World Series: The 1998 and 2009 Yankees, the 2007 and 2013 Red Sox and the 2016 Cubs. That’s it.

At the moment, the Los Angeles Dodgers have baseball’s best record. They’re 71-31 and sit 12 games up in their division. Their playoff chances are almost 100%. The above examples notwithstanding, if you had to make a prediction as to who might win the World Series, it would not be unreasonable to pick the Dodgers. Sure, you’d want to make sure they got Clayton Kershaw back by early September or thereabouts to make it a safer prediction, but it’d be a totally defensible pick. Maybe even the one most people make.

But it’d be the utmost in magical thinking to presume that one could make such a prediction with any degree of certainty, right? The Los Angeles Times, however, passes along some Magical thinking:

Magic Johnson called his shot Thursday night, and he wasn’t shy about it. The Dodgers’ co-owner did not hesitate when he predicted how the team would finish this year.

“The Dodgers are going to win the World Series this year,” Johnson said. “This is our year.”

The headline calls it a “guarantee.” I don’t know if I’d call it that — I think it’s more of a confident prediction — but it is a bold statement whatever you call it.

If I had to pick one team at the moment — and we could assume a healthy Clayton Kershaw — I suppose I would make them my World Series favorites too. And, yes, if I had an ownership interest in the Dodgers, I’d probably say what Johnson said.

But given the example of history, I think “field” would be a much safer bet.

Mariners trade Steve Cishek to the Rays for swingman Erasmo Ramirez.

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The Tampa Bay Rays have acquired reliever Steve Cishek from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for reliever Erasmo Ramirez.

Cishek had appeared in 23 games this season for Seattle after recovering from major offseason hip surgery. He’s 1-1 with a 3.15 ERA, with a 15/7 K/BB ratio in 20 innings. He’s a setup man right now, but he has experience as a closer, saving 25 games for Seattle last year and as many as 39 back when he pitched for the Marlins in 2014.

Ramirez has appeared in 26 games for the Rays and has started eight games. He’s 4-3 with a 4.80 ERA and a 55/16 K/BB ratio in 69.1 innings. This will be his second stint with the Mariners, having played for them from 2012-14.

Sort of a surprising deal given that both Tampa Bay and Seattle are competing for a wild card spot, but needs are needs.