What happened to the playoff races?

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rockies_090907.jpgAre the playoff races all but over? From the Washington Post

Baseball’s playoff race died suddenly this weekend of natural causes. It was five months old. Survivors include the St. Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers.

Indeed this weekend was rough on some of the contenders.

(See standings here, and an analysis of the races here)

The Texas Rangers went 1-2 against the lowly Orioles to lose ground on the Angels and miss a chance to gain on the Red Sox. The Tampa Bay Rays, after Monday’s disastrous double-header sweep against the Yankees — and six straight losses — are toast. The Twins dropped two of three to the Indians to fall 6 1/2 behind the Tigers.

In the NL, the Marlins and Braves don’t appear capable of making a run at the Phillies. The Rockies and Giants are hanging close to the Dodgers, but one gets the feeling that L.A. can hold their divisional lessers at arm’s length the rest of the way. And the Cubs? Well, at least they won’t have to blame the curse on a playoff collapse.

Only the wild card races are tight, with the Rangers standings 2 1/2 behind the Red Sox, and the Giants two behind the Rockies. But even those two races aren’t as up-for-grabs as they may seem.

Over at http://www.coolstandings.com, the math goes like this: The eight projected playoff teams (the six division leaders plus the two wild card leaders) have between a 70.5 percent chance (the Rockies) and a 99.9 percent chance (the AL East-leading Yankees) of going to the postseason, while among the pursuers, only the Giants (at 27.4 percent) have a better than one-in-four chance.

It doesn’t bode well for an exciting September, but I guess you never know. Someone might have a run in them yet. Let’s hope so.

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If you Twitter, and think lacrosse can be interesting after all, feel free to follow me at @Bharks.

Nationals will add Mat Latos to the roster on Thursday

ARLINGTON, TX - MAY 11:  Mat Latos #38 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Texas Rangers in the bottom of the first inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on May 11, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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Thursday is September 1, which means rosters expand. As a result, the Nationals plan to promote pitcher Mat Latos to the major league roster, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. Latos had an opt-out clause for Monday, but after discussing the matter with the team, he agreed to stay at Triple-A Syracuse until Thursday.

Latos, 28, put up a 4.62 ERA over 11 starts with the White Sox before being released in mid-June. Nearly two weeks later, he signed a minor league contract with the Nationals.

In the Nationals’ minor league system, Latos has made three starts for the club’s Gulf Coast League team as well as three for Syracuse. In aggregate, the right-hander has yielded six runs (four earned) on 20 hits and 10 walks with 28 strikeouts in 28 innings.

Latos will likely pitch out of a long relief role for the Nationals and can be used as starting rotation insurance as well.

John Gibbons texts Mark Buehrle, “You know, rosters expand in September.”

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - OCTOBER 2:  Mark Buehrle #56 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the second inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on October 2, 2015 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Mark Buehrle hasn’t officially retired, but he hasn’t thrown a pitch in professional baseball since last October. Still, the Blue Jays wouldn’t mind having some insurance, so manager John Gibbons recently texted Buehrle, “You know, rosters expand in September,” Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports.

Buehrle’s response? He texted back a picture of a lake. Sounds like he’s not interested in making a return, at least this year.

Last year, at the age of 36, Buehrle went 15-8 with a 3.81 ERA with a 91/33 K/BB ratio in 198 2/3 innings while leading the league with four complete games. He fell 1 1/3 innings shy of a 15th consecutive 200-inning season. There are many worse ways to end a career.