I mentioned in the recaps this morning that it’s hard to gauge the impact of the rainout given that the Tigers will throw better starters out there while the Twins have a better bullpen. What I didn’t think about until some readers and the Strib’s Joe Christensen reminded me of it was that two games in one day will have some fallout with respect to Joe Mauer deployment. As in, can the guy catch for eighteen innings in one day and still be expected to carry the offensive load?
While Ron Gardenhire says he hasn’t made up his mind, Christensen and my reader thinks that Mauer will catch Game 1 and be the designated hitter in Game 2. Makes sense to me. Which may not actually be a bad thing in terms of offense maximizaton, because recently Ron Gardenhire has been using Brendan Harris as a DH when Mauer catches, but putting in Jose Morales behind the plate when Mauer DHs. I don’t know how Morales’s defense measures up — it’s likely inferior to Mauer’s — but Morales > Harris with the stick, and runs may be hard to come by against Porcello and Verlander today.
Right now the weather, while iffy — it’s going to be cold and gusty, but the rain will be of the scattered, as opposed to soaking variety — looks like it will hold. It’s possible that by the time we go to bed tonight the Tigers will have all but locked up the division. It’s also possible that the Twins will have tied the damn thing. Either way, I’m excited as hell for a truly meaningful twinbill.
UPDATE, 12:07 p.m. EDT: The Royals have confirmed reports of Yordano Ventura’s death with an official statement. No further details pertaining to the accident have been divulged.
Terrible, terrible news: Christian Moreno of ESPN reports that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura has been killed in an automobile accident in the Dominican Republic. His death has been confirmed by police. He was only 25 years-old. There are as of yet no details about the accident.
Ventura was a four-year veteran, having debuted in 2013 but truly bursting onto the scene for the Royals in 2014. That year he went 14-10 with a 3.20 ERA in 183 innings, ascending to the national stage along with the entire Royals team with some key performances in that year’s ALDS and World Series. The following year Ventura won 13 games for the World Champion Royals and again appeared in the playoffs and World Series.
Ventura was often in the middle of controversy — he found himself in several controversies arising out of his habit of hitting and brushing back hitters — but he was an undeniably electric young talent who was poised to anchor the Royals rotation for years to come. His loss, like that of Jose Fernandez just this past September, is incalculable to both his team, his fans and to Major League Baseball as a whole.
Our thoughts go out to his family, his friends, his teammates and his fans.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.