First comes shock, then denial

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Kurt Helin, at our NBC corporate cousin in Los Angeles, thinks that the Dodgers recent swoon is a good thing in that it will cause them to be challeneged and make their stomach muscles ripple and all of that:

Coasting can lead to a flat team not ready to rise to a challenge — and a couple months back that looked like the Dodgers. But their mediocre play has closed their lead and forced them to focus.

Now they have to be sharp. That will carry over into the playoffs (which the Dodgers almost certainly will still make).

Hey, I love optimism as much as the next guy, and to be fair to Kurt, that was written before last night’s extra-innings loss to the Rockies.  But I have a hard time buying this argument. 

Coasting into the playoffs may not have worked for last year’s Angels team (Helin’s primary example), but you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone in baseball who wouldn’t rather have a rested bullpen, experienced bench players and the ability to set up their rotation just the way they want to heading into October.

And of course, there’s the small matter of a team not being able to simply step on the gas when they want too.  Personally, I’d rather have to figure out a way to motivate a team that coasts into the playoffs than to have a sharply-honed and battle tested team that finishes a game out.  Wouldn’t you?

(link via BTF)

Padres, Mariners join list of teams to extend netting

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The Reds announced earlier that they plan to extend the protective netting at Great American Ball Park in time for Opening Day next season. You can add the Padres and Mariners to what will surely be a growing list.

A young fan was struck in the face by a foul ball at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, which gave new life to the netting debate. Some fans and media types think Major League Baseball is not doing enough to protect fans. While Major League Baseball has issued guidelines for protective netting, it is ultimately up to the teams to decide just how much netting to use.

Zach Britton receives stem cell injection, likely done for the season

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Orioles closer Zach Britton is likely done for the remainder of the 2017 season after receiving a stem cell injection in his left knee, Peter Schmuck and Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun report. Britton has been battling knee problems for most of the season.

The Orioles are still technically in the AL Wild Card race, entering play Thursday 5.5 games behind the Twins for the second Wild Card slot. With only nine games remaining, however, the 73-80 Orioles are likely being realistic about their chances and not taking any unnecessary risks with Britton.

Britton, 29, put up a 2.89 ERA with 15 saves and a 29/18 K/BB ratio in 37 1/3 innings this season. He will be eligible for arbitration for the fourth and final time this offseason.