Stephen Strasburg has only made three major league starts, but there’s already a groundswell of people who would like to see him pitch in the All-Star Game next month. And according to Bill Ladson of MLB.com, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said that the organization wouldn’t object to him pitching in the game.
“The most a pitcher would go [in the All-Star Game] is for two, three innings,” Rizzo said. “Whatever they would need him to do, we would make sure that he does it because it’s an honor to play in it, it’s an honor to be asked. It’s a way for the National League to win the game and give the National League the extra game in the World Series.
“We would be honored that he would be an All-Star and he would certainly play in the All-Star Game. I would love it. If [Phillies manager] Charlie Manuel or MLB feels he is one of the best players in the league and he should be on the All-Star team, he would earn it and deserves it. I would embrace it.”
I’m not high on the idea that players should earn a spot on the All-Star team based on their first-half performance. I simply want to see the best players in the game. So that argument doesn’t have much merit with me. But I would be a little miffed if another deserving rookie like Jaime Garcia got snubbed in favor of Strasburg. Then again, Garcia has a 1.59 ERA over his first 13 starts this season, so barring a complete collapse over the next three weeks or so, he’s a virtual lock to make the team. That’s my only reservation, though.
Not only would the All-Star Game be an awesome national showcase for Strasburg, but I also feel that he would improve the chances of the National League winning home-field advantage in the World Series. And as a National League fan myself, that’s a pretty compelling reason to include him on the roster. We’ll see if Charlie Manuel agrees.
The Marlins are intent on adding one of the three best relievers available on the free agent market, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. Those three, of course, are Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and Mark Melancon.
As Ashley noted earlier, Melancon is reportedly fielding multiple four-year offers in excess of $60 million. The price tags for Chapman and Jansen are likely to match or exceed that. The Marlins haven’t typically been eager to whip out the checkbook for free agents but with the bullpen being the name of the game in baseball these days, GM Michael Hill may feel the need to match his rivals.
The Nationals, Giants, Yankees, Cubs, and Dodgers are the teams most often linked to the “big-three” group of relievers, so it won’t be easy for the Marlins.
A.J. Ramos handled the closer’s role for the Marlins this past season and did an admirable job, saving 40 games with a 2.81 ERA and a 73/35 K/BB ratio in 64 innings. There’s no doubt, though, that Chapman, Jansen, or Melancon would represent a significant upgrade in the ninth inning.
C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Reds manager Bryan Price is likely going to use a trio of pitchers in the closer’s role: Raisel Iglesias, Tony Cingrani, and Michael Lorenzen. At RedsFest on Saturday, Price said:
I’d say right now that we have a series of guys that I’m comfortable with in the ninth inning and that would include (Raisel) Iglesias, (Tony) Cingrani and (Michael Lorenzen). Should we stay with this format – which I intend to do – all three of those guys and maybe more could have opportunities in save situations. At this point in time, there’s no defined closer. There are multiple options and I’d like to stick with the philosophy that we’re going to have our multi-inning guys, so we’re going to need multi-closers.
This seems to be part of the new bullpen zeitgeist in which managers are shying away from strictly-defined roles for their relievers. Indians manager Terry Francona’s postseason success using Andrew Miller likely had some degree of influence on Price’s willingness to go with a three-headed giant.
Iglesias started the 2016 season in the Reds’ rotation but missed two months with an injury, then moved to the bullpen in late June. Price put him in the closer’s role down the stretch in September. The right-hander overall finished the season with a 2.53 ERA and an 83/26 K/BB ratio in 78 1/3 innings.
Cingrani battled control issues in his 63 innings of work this past season, finishing with a 4.14 ERA and a 49/37 K/BB ratio. He’s left-handed, though, and gives Price some matchup flexibility in the late innings.
Lorenzen impressed in his first full season as a reliever, ending the year with a 2.88 ERA and a 48/13 K/BB ratio in 50 innings. The right-hander uses a fastball that sits around 96 MPH on average along with a cutter and slider.