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.
So much for Clayton Kershaw posing a threat tonight. The Cubs got their knocks in early and often against the Dodgers’ ace during Game 6 of the NLCS, racking up three runs in the first three innings before rookie catcher Willson Contreras unleashed his first postseason home run in the bottom of the fourth inning.
According to MLB.com’s Phil Rogers, Contreras became the 10th Cub to homer in the 2016 playoffs, following big hits by Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo, Dexter Fowler, Miguel Montero, David Ross, Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant, Travis Wood, and Javier Baez. Of the ten home run hitters, Contreras joins catchers David Ross and Miguel Montero as yet another backstop capable of driving the long ball (and, less importantly, as another player capable of a sweet, sweet bat flip).
Rizzo, whose last homer was a deep drive to right field off of Los Angeles right-hander Pedro Baez in Game 4 of the NLCS, piled on Kershaw’s five-run outing with another home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kershaw called it a night after five frames, and the Cubs currently lead the Dodgers 5-0 in the sixth inning.
Former first base and infield coach Nick Leyva was promoted to senior advisor of baseball operations on Saturday, per a report by Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Pirates also fired third base coach Rick Sofield, with no named successor as of yet.
Leyva joined the Pirates’ organization in the 2011 offseason as a third base coach under manager Clint Hurdle. He shifted to his role as the first base coach and infield coach in 2014, when first base coach Rick Sofield was reassigned to third base prior to the 2015 season. According to Biertempfel, the swap was made in order to optimize the team’s baserunning strategies, all of which appeared to fall flat during the 2015 and 2016 seasons:
The results this season were awful. The Pirates ranked 13th in the National League with a minus-7.0 BsR — a FanGraphs.com metric that measures how many runs above or below league average a team gets via its baserunning.
In 2013 and 2014, the Pirates had one of the top five BsR ratings in the NL. In 2015, they were seventh with a 2.8 BsR.
This season, the Pirates made the second-most outs at third base in the league and were last in taking extra bases on singles and doubles. Their baserunners went from first to third base on hits a league-low 63 times.
Sofield, in particular, highlighted the Pirates’ poor baserunning choices in games like this one, when he sent Sean Rodriguez home too early during the last vestige of a ninth inning rally against the Phillies.
Following the announcement, Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington issued a statement elaborating on Leyva’s role within the organization:
We have great respect and appreciation for both men. We thank them for their time and effort as part of our Major League team and the Pirates organization. It was a difficult decision, but we felt it was the right time to make this change on our Major League staff. We look forward to Nick’s continued impact in his future role with the Pirates. Nick has held nearly every coaching position at the major league level and at the minor league level, including Major League manager, in his extensive career and will be a quality mentor for our minor league managers, coaches and players.