Daily Dose: One Last Dose

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After six months and 130 columns, this is the final “Daily Dose” of the 2009 season, although Rotoworld’s baseball coverage is far from over. Our player news page has constant updates 365 days per year, so whether you want to keep up to speed on all the playoff action this month or get the latest rumors and transaction analysis during the offseason Rotoworld will have everything you need.
We’ll also be churning out all kinds of good content here at Circling the Bases, where Matthew Pouliot, Craig Calcaterra, Bob Harkins, D.J. Short, and Yours Truly blog all day every day. And if for some crazy reason Rotoworld and CTB aren’t enough to satiate the daily Gleeman fix that you’ve developed over the past six months, check out my personal blog at AaronGleeman.com and my Twitter updates.
Annoying plugs aside, I’d like to thank everyone who read this column throughout the season and offer a special thank you to those of you who sent e-mails and notes via Twitter. Writing a daily column for six months is a grind, so feedback is always nice, positive or negative. Hopefully the Daily Dose has aided your fantasy teams in some small way. And if your leagues are going down to the wire, good luck this weekend!
While writing 100,000 words in this space since April seems like a lot when you put it that way, here are some notes from around baseball …


* Picking up a win with shutout ball is nothing out of the ordinary for Chris Carpenter, but Thursday’s victory was unique for what he did at the plate. Carpenter came into the game as a lifetime .105 hitter with zero homers in 326 plate appearances, which was good for a .252 OPS that ranked fifth-worst among all active players with more than 300 trips to the plate. So naturally he hit a grand slam and a two-run double.
“I think the only other home run I hit had to be in high school,” Carpenter said. “I was a really good hitter, I guess, but I grew up in New Hampshire and we didn’t see many 90-mph fastballs.” In other words, at this point in his career Reds starter Kip Wells is more or less equivalent to a New England teenager. On the mound Carpenter threw five shutout innings, improving to 17-4 while capturing the ERA title with a 2.24 mark.
* Not to be totally outdone, Tim Lincecum completed his Cy Young case with seven innings of two-run ball, improving to 15-7 with a 2.48 ERA and league-leading 261 strikeouts. While he trails Carpenter by two wins and 0.24 points of ERA, Lincecum logged 32.2 more innings. Carpenter’s rotation-mate Adam Wainwright is one of just two pitchers with more innings than Lincecum, and he’s also 19-8 with a 2.58 ERA.
* Mike Scioscia announced Thursday that Ervin Santana will not be part of the ALDS rotation, as the Angels will instead go with Joe Saunders in Game 4 at Fenway Park. Santana is 5-2 with a 3.18 ERA in 11 starts since August 1, but his overall numbers certainly don’t warrant a playoff start and Saunders is 4-1 with a 3.24 ERA over eight career outings against Boston. Either way, the Angels’ rotation depth is remarkable.
AL Quick Hits: Scott Baker picked up his 15th win Thursday as the Twins staved off elimination … Jon Lester showed that his knee was healthy with 6.1 shutout innings Thursday and will be ready for Game 1 of the ALDS … John Lackey was limited to two innings Thursday in a tune-up for Game 1 matchup with Lester … J.D. Drew sat out Thursday’s game with a shoulder injury that’s not considered serious, but may be benched until the playoffs just to be safe … Kevin Millwood tied his season-high with 10 strikeouts in a complete-game victory Thursday … Impending free agent Russell Branyan returned from the disabled list Thursday … Chris Davis went 3-for-5 with a homer Thursday after hitting .306 with five long balls in September … Matt Garza got another tough-luck loss Thursday in a Quality Start, dropping to 8-12 despite a 3.95 ERA and .233 opponents’ batting average … Carlos Carrasco left Thursday’s start after taking a Jacoby Ellsbury liner off his leg and then fell to 0-4 with an 8.87 ERA.
NL Quick Hits: Tommy Hanson tossed seven innings of one-run ball in a no-decision Thursday, finishing his impressive rookie campaign at 11-4 with a 2.89 ERA … Jose Reyes will require surgery after tearing his hamstring earlier this week, but should be ready for spring training … Dan Haren struggled in his final outing Thursday, but still leads the majors with a 1.00 WHIP … Randy Johnson indicated Thursday that he’s uncertain about pitching in 2010 … Aaron Cook tossed eight innings of one-run ball Thursday as the Rockies clinched a playoff spot … Derrek Lee was scratched from Thursday’s lineup for personal reason … Chan Ho Park will likely be unavailable for the playoffs after aggravating his hamstring injury Thursday … Manny Parra gave up five runs over 2.2 innings Thursday, finishing with a 6.36 ERA … Cliff Lee took a loss Thursday, falling to 7-4 with a 3.39 ERA for the Phillies … San Francisco reportedly will bring back general manager Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy in 2010.

Video: Nelson Cruz hits second-longest home run of 2016

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 14:  Nelson Cruz #23 of the Seattle Mariners celebrates his solo homerun with Daniel Vogelbach #20 of the Seattle Mariners to take a 2-1 lead over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the seventh inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 14, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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There’s certainly never a bad time to hit a home run, but when you get the opportunity to crush a triple-deck, 493-foot shot off of Tyler Duffey, you should take it. With the Mariners down 2-0 to the Twins in the fourth inning, Cruz hammered a fastball to deep left field for his 39th long ball of the season — and the second-longest home run hit in 2016, to boot.

It doesn’t hurt that the Mariners are 1.5 games back of a playoff spot, although they’ll have to oust the Blue Jays, Orioles, or Tigers to get a wild card. They’ve gone 3-3 in the last week, dropping two consecutive series to the Astros and Blue Jays and taking their series opener against Minnesota 10-1 on Friday night.

Cruz, for his part, entered Saturday’s game with a .299/.337/.610 batting line and six home runs in September. According to ESPN.com’s Home Run Tracker, Cruz sits behind Edwin Encarnacion and Mike Napoli with 13 “no-doubt” home runs in 2016, third-most among major league sluggers. It’s safe to say he can add Saturday’s moonshot to that list.

Marlins’ outfielder and undisputed home run king Giancarlo Stanton remains untouched at the top of the Statcast leaderboard with a 504-ft. home run, and it’s difficult to envision any slugger reaching beyond that before the end of the season. Even so, Cruz won’t need to clear 500 feet to extend an impressive hitting record. One more home run will put the 36-year-old at 40 on the year, making 2016 his third consecutive season with at least 40 homers, and his second such season doing so in Seattle.

Report: John Farrell won’t rule out a postseason return for Pablo Sandoval

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 11:  Pablo Sandoval #48 of the Boston Red Sox looks on from the dugout before the Red Sox home opener against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on April 11, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Orioles defeat the Red Sox 9-7.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.

On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.

At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.

If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.

Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.

Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.