Joe Girardi has never been a Tony La Russa kind of guy, putting relievers in and yanking them out, playing the matchups and all that jazz. Mariano Rivera is his closer. Joba Chamberlain is his setup guy. Everyone else comes in as needed.
So it seems like a notable thing that Joba Chamberlain didn’t get the call in the eighth inning last night in a close game. Instead, after Javier Vazquez waked Michael Brantley to lead off the inning, Girardi went with Dave Robertson to face Asdrubal Cabrera and Boone Logan to face Shin-Soo Choo. Robertson induced a double play and Logan struck out Choo.
So, did Joba lose his job as the Yankees’ setup guy? Girardi isn’t having it:
“I don’t want to start a thing, ‘who’s our eighth inning guy?’ . . . I’m not saying that I’m handing it over to Joba every time we go into the eighth. I’m going to look at things. I mean, that’s my job. I liked the matchup of Robertson against Cabrera. And I liked Boone against Choo.”
Which makes some sense. Simply giving Joba a night off after a series of shaky appearances makes sense too. But this is New York, kiddos, and nothing is ever this simple, no managers’ explanation ever taken at face value. The Yankees are cruising right now — which is kind of boring — and as soon as A-Rod hits his 600th homer, the beat guys are going to need some red meat on which to chew.
Whether he meant to or not, Joe Girardi just gave them some in the form of Joba Chamberlain.
Amid the din and clatter of the Cubs’ National League championship on Saturday night, one member of the 2016 squad found himself celebrating 1,710 miles away in Mesa, Arizona. Kyle Schwarber, whose remarkable recovery from torn ligaments in his left knee appears to be fast-tracking him toward a World Series appearance, was showered in champagne by his fellow Arizona Fall League teammates following the Cubs’ clinch.
According to FanRag Sports’ Tommy Stokke, the celebration wasn’t a total surprise: Schwarber had been following the Cubs-Dodgers action on an iPad from the dugout of Sloan Park.
Schwarber appeared in the Mesa Solar Sox’ 7-2 loss to the Salt River Rafters on Saturday, giving Cubs’ brass another look before they decide whether or not to assign him an active role on the World Series team. The 23-year-old batted second in the DH spot, going 0-for-3 with a walk and lining out sharply to Rockies’ center fielder Noel Cuevas in his third and final at-bat. While his knee did not appear to be ailing him (if anything, Stokke noted, the outfielder was dealing with a number of blisters on his hands), Schwarber took it easy on the basepaths and was not exercised in the field. He’s expected to fill the same role if he makes it into the Cubs’ lineup next week.
With their 2016 season and 11-game playoff run in the books, the Dodgers are refocusing their attention on the upcoming 2017 season. Two outstanding performers, third baseman Justin Turner and right-handed closer Kenley Jansen, are on the cusp of free agency heading into the offseason. According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, the Dodgers intend to make qualifying offers to both Turner and Jansen, but may not be prepared to go the distance to keep both of them on the 2017 roster.
Turner finished his third season in Los Angeles with a .275/.339/.493 batting line and a career-best 27 home runs, riding a hot streak that made him one of the most productive players on the Dodgers’ squad this October. He started in all 11 games of the NLDS and NLCS, engineering a .286 average and two home runs — one of which was the difference-maker in a 4-3 win during Game 1 of the NLDS. His glove has become a much-needed asset within the Dodgers’ organization as well, as he currently ranks sixth among qualified third basemen with seven Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and second with a 14.1 Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) in 2016.
While Turner’s production rate suggests that he’s made a full recovery from the microfracture procedure he underwent in 2015, the Dodgers appear to have reservations about the 31-year-old’s age. Heyman indicated that the veteran infielder prefers to stay in Los Angeles, but the chances of the Dodgers jumping into a fierce bidding war appear to be low for the time being.
Jansen, on the other hand, is expected to incur more interest from the club. The right-hander commanded a 1.83 ERA and 9.45 K/BB rate through 68 2/3 innings in the regular season and was instrumental in closing the door on five wins during the postseason. His 3.2 fWAR performance in 2016 made him the most valuable reliever in the major leagues, eclipsing fellow standouts like the Indians’ Andrew Miller and the Cubs’ Aroldis Chapman. Assuming the Dodgers are as serious about retaining Jansen as they were about pursuing Chapman during the 2015 offseason, the 29-year-old closer should stand a decent chance of returning to Los Angeles for another season.
Should the Dodgers fail to match an offer levied to either Turner or Jansen, they’ll receive compensation in the form of unprotected draft picks.