Daily Dose: Short but sweet for Greinke

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Zack Greinke got some rare run support from the Royals’ lineup Thursday afternoon, picking up his 14th win to hopefully help Cy Young voters realize that he’s clearly the best pitcher in the league in spite of awful teammates. The bad news is that Greinke left after five shutout innings because his right elbow was swollen thanks to a Miguel Cabrera line drive.
Greinke actually pitched another 1.2 innings after Cabrera’s liner caused the Royals’ training staff and manager Trey Hillman to convene on the mound to test him with a whole bunch of warm-ups pitches. He retired five of six batters with two strikeouts to seemingly indicate that the injury isn’t significant, but that’s often tough to tell with all the adrenaline still flowing.
While the abbreviated outing gives Greinke an MLB-best 2.14 ERA in 210.1 innings, here are some other notes from around baseball …


* Gavin Floyd left Wednesday’s start after just two innings and will miss his next turn in the rotation because of a lingering hip injury, and manager Ozzie Guillen indicated that the White Sox may decide to shut him down for the year. “The main thing for us is to make sure we keep this guy healthy for the future,” Guillen said. “The way this guy has pitched for us the last two years he deserved and earned our consideration.”
Floyd got off to a poor start after going 17-8 last season, but his overall numbers are nearly identical to what he did in 2008. Last year he tossed 206 innings with a 3.84 ERA, 145/70 K/BB ratio, and 1.26 WHIP. This year he’s logged 193 innings with a 4.06 ERA, 163/59 K/BB ratio, and 1.23 WHIP. Slightly more strikeouts and slightly better control, but a much worse record at 11-11.
* Wade Davis followed up his excellent big-league debut with a rough outing against the Red Sox last week, giving up eight runs while recording eight outs. He bounced back in a huge way Thursday with a complete-game shutout of the Orioles, allowing just four hits and two walks while striking out 10. He also threw 124 pitches, which is a high for any Rays starter this season, so keep an eye on his next outing.
AL Quick Hits: Victor Martinez (personal) rejoined the lineup Thursday by extending his hitting streak to 16 games, but Kevin Youkilis (back) remained sidelined … After all the hype has died down, Matt Wieters is having a big week and a very solid rookie season … Ichiro Suzuki ended Thursday’s game in the 14th inning with his MLB-high 205th hit … Justin Morneau’s season-ending back injury came in the midst of what is now his annual stretch-run slump … John Danks got a no-decision Thursday despite allowing only a solo homer over eight innings … Fresh off a complete-game shutout, Brett Tomko (arm) has been shut down for the season … Despite struggling recently, Jim Johnson will remain the Orioles’ closer … Brandon Morrow continued to struggle with his control Thursday, handing out six walks … First-round pick Aaron Crow and the Royals finally agreed to a $4.5 million deal Thursday … If you’re not already, you really ought to start following me on Twitter.
NL Quick Hits: Jose Valverde is available to close again after missing three games with a fever … J.A. Happ (oblique) will rejoin the rotation Friday, but the Phillies won’t have Chan Ho Park (hamstring) in the bullpen for 2-3 weeks … Milton Bradley exited Thursday’s game with knee soreness, so as usual he’s day-to-day … Cole Hamels took a perfect game into the sixth inning Thursday before settling for eight innings of one-run ball … Chris Coghlan had hits in all four of his at-bats Thursday and is now batting .381 since August 1 … Derek Lowe is expected to make his next start despite leaving Wednesday’s outing with a blister … Dan Uggla indicated Wednesday that he expects to be traded this offseason … Shane Victorino was 0-for-3 before leaving Thursday’s game with “gastrointestinal illness” … Johnny Cueto was scratched with the flu Thursday, so Matt Maloney stepped in and notched his first MLB win … Ryan Garko hasn’t started since September 6, as the Giants’ midseason moves have not helped … Bobby Parnell is finished as a starter after going 1-5 with a 7.93 ERA.

Should Dave Roberts have taken Clayton Kershaw out of Sunday’s game?

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 29:  Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers a pitch in the first inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field on May 29, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will likely be second-guessed heavily during tomorrow’s news cycle. Starter Clayton Kershaw had pitched a terrific ballgame, as is his tendency, but with 114 pitches to his name, Roberts decided to pull him from the game in the eighth inning with two outs and a runner on first base.

Roberts opted not for closer Kenley Jansen, who hasn’t pitched since Wednesday, but for another lefty in Adam Liberatore. He was playing the numbers, with the left-handed-hitting Curtis Granderson coming up. Liberatore, much to Roberts’ chagrin, served up what turned out to be a game-tying triple to Granderson, hitting a rocket to right-center just out of the reach of a leaping Yasiel Puig.

Jansen has, for six years, been one of the game’s elite relievers. Kershaw, though at a high pitch count, doesn’t seem to suffer from the times through the order penalty like most pitchers. Kershaw’s opponents’ OPS facing him for the first time was .525 coming into Sunday. Twice, .597. Three times, .587. Four times, .526 (but this suffers from survivorship bias so it’s not exactly representative).

Furthermore, Kershaw held lefties to a .546 OPS over his career. Liberatore, in 99 plate appearances against lefty hitters, gave up a .575 OPS. Jansen? .560. It seems that, faced with three decisions, Roberts arguably made the worst one. Playing conservative with Kershaw at 114 pitches is defensible, but only if Jansen comes in. If Roberts wanted the platoon advantage, Kershaw should have stayed in.

Luckily for the Dodgers, Mets closer Jeurys Familia didn’t have his best stuff. He loaded the bases with one out in the top of the ninth on a single and two walks, then gave up a two-run single to Adrian Gonzalez, giving the Dodgers a 4-2 lead. Jansen came on in the bottom half of the ninth and retired the side in order to pick up his 15th save of the season.

Royals sweep White Sox over the weekend on three late rallies

KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 28:  Brett Eibner #12 of the Kansas City Royals celebrates his game-winning RBI single with teammates in the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium on May 28, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals won 8-7. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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The Royals had themselves a pretty good weekend. The quickly fading White Sox, not so much.

On Friday, the Royals fell behind 5-1 after the top of the sixth. They would score once in the bottom of the sixth, four times in the seventh, and once in the eighth to steal a 7-5 win facing pitchers Miguel Gonzalez Dan Jennings, Matt Albers, Zach Duke and Nate Jones.

On Saturday, the Royals entered the bottom of the ninth down 7-1. They scored seven runs on closer David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to win 8-7.

On Sunday, the Royals were down 4-2 after the top of the eighth. They plated three runs in the bottom half of the eighth against Jones and Albers, going on to win 5-4.

Coming into the weekend, the Royals were 24-22 in third place. The White Sox were 27-21, a half-game up in first place. Now the Royals are in first place by a game and a half, and the White Sox are in third place, two games out of first.

Here’s video of the Royals’ comeback on Saturday, since it was so unlikely:

Report: Ryan Braun is “the hot name out there”

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 24: Ryan Braun #8 of the Milwaukee Brewers waits to hit during the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on May 24, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
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In Saturday’s column for The Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo notes that, according to a scout, Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun is “the hot name out there.” Braun has been bothered by neck and back issues this year, missing on Sunday his eighth start out of the Brewers’ last 14 games, but he has still put up a quality .351/.424/.583 triple-slash line in 170 plate appearances this year.

More importantly for an acquiring team, Braun is in the first year of a five-year, $105 million contract. He’s earning $19 million this season and in the ensuing two seasons, and then his salary decreases slightly to $18 million in 2019, $16 million in 2020, and $15 million if both sides pick up his mutual option (else a $4 million buyout would be exercised).

Per Cafardo, the Astros, Cardinals, Red Sox, Phillies, Mets, Giants, and White Sox are potential landing spots for Braun.

Mets unhappy with Dodgers’ request to make outfield markings to position fielders

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 28:  The 1986 New York Mets are honored before the game between the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citi Field on May 28, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.The New York Mets are honoring the 30th anniversary of the 1986 championship season.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Mets have asked MLB for clarification on the Dodgers’ use of a laser rangefinder for defensive positioning over this weekend’s series at Citi Field. The Dodgers notified the Mets’ ground crew that they wanted to mark certain positions in the outfield grass after determining positions with the rangefinder. The grounds crew said they could leave two marks in center field and one in left field.

However, the grounds crew then went to their superiors and told them that the Dodgers threatened to dig holes in the outfield grass with their cleats, so the grounds crew was then instructed to “erase or obliterate” any of the Dodgers’ markings.

According to Rosenthal, Major League Baseball reinforced a few weeks ago that teams aren’t allowed to use markers to aid defensive positioning. The Dodgers haven’t been accused of doing anything nefarious during a game. Howie Kendrick was seen pulling something out of his pocket in the outfield, but Brett Anderson clarified on Twitter that it was just a piece of paper with notes for defensive positioning.

The series between the Mets and Dodgers has been heated, as Noah Syndergaard was ejected for throwing at Chase Utley on Saturday. Utley then responded by hitting two home runs, one of which was a grand slam. The Mets may have a legitimate concern, or it may just be gamesmanship.