Jaime Garcia snaps Cards' losing streak, bolsters case for NL ROY

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Hard to figure those Cardinals out. They continued their dominance over the first-place Reds with a 3-2 win last night, putting an end to their five-game losing streak. They are now 11-5 against Cincinnati this season, however they have just five wins against teams not named the Reds since August 6. Alas, they are currently seven games back in the NL Central and 5 1/2 games behind the Phillies for the Wild Card.

The odds of the Cardinals making the postseason are still a meager 12.4 percent, according to Baseball Prospectus, but Jamie Garcia is cementing his place for the National League Rookie of the Year award. He allowed two runs over 6 2/3 innings last night, improving to 13-6 on the year. The 24-year-old left-hander currently ranks eighth in the league in wins and sixth with a 2.35 ERA through 26 starts.

Just with my cursory research, I’ve found that Garcia is currently on pace for the lowest ERA by a rookie starting pitcher (at least among those who qualify for the ERA title) since Mark Fidrych led the American League with a 2.34 ERA in 1976. That’s something pretty special.

The National League has a host of outstanding rookies this season, including Buster Posey, Jason Heyward, Starlin Castro, Gaby Sanchez, Jonny Venters and Jon Niese, just to name a few. If they were in the American League, each of them would have a legitimate case to win the hardware. But unless Garcia really stumbles over his last few starts here, he should have this thing locked up.

Nationals do not activate Bryce Harper for Monday’s game

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The Nationals were expected to activate outfielder Bryce Harper from the 10-day disabled list in advance of Monday’s series opener in Philadelphia, but they did not because Harper woke up with flulike symptoms, Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post reports. It doesn’t have anything to do with the knee injury which sent him to the DL last month or the ensuing rehab, he adds.

Rain had fallen in Washington, D.C. on August 12 ahead of the Nationals’ game against the Giants. Harper attempted to beat out a ground out to first base but slipped on the wet first base bag and was later diagnosed with a bone bruise in his left knee.

Harper was in the midst of a great season prior to the injury, perhaps one that would have led to an NL MVP Award. When he comes back, he’ll do what he can to pad his .326/.419/.614 slash line along with 29 home runs, 87 RBI, and 92 runs scored in 472 plate appearances. The Nationals are just concerned with getting him back in the flow of things in time for the playoffs. They have seven games remaining in the regular season.

Chris Archer on joining Bruce Maxwell’s protest: “I don’t think it would be the best thing to do for me at this time.”

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Rays pitcher Chris Archer doesn’t see himself joining Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell‘s protest any time soon, Gabe Lacques of USA TODAY Sports reports. Archer said, “From the feedback that I’ve gotten from my teammates, I don’t think it would be the best thing to do for me, at this time. I agree with the message. I believe in equality.”

Archer continued, “I don’t want to offend anybody. No matter how you explain it or justify it, some people just can’t get past the military element of it and it’s not something I want to do, is ruffle my teammates’ feathers on my personal views that have nothing to do with baseball.”

Archer did express admiration for the way Maxwell handled his situation. The right-hander said, “The way he went about it was totally, I think, as respectful as possible, just letting everybody know that this doesn’t have anything to do with the military, first and foremost, noting that he has family members that are in the military. It’s a little bit tougher for baseball players to make that leap, but I think he was the right person to do it.”

Maxwell recently became the first baseball player to kneel as the national anthem was sung, a method of protest popularized by quarterback Colin Kaepernick. As Craig explained yesterday, baseball’s hierarchical culture has proven to be a strong deterrent for players to express their unpopular opinions. We can certainly see that in Archer’s justification. Archer was one of 62 African Americans on the Opening Day roster across 30 major league clubs (750 total players, 8.3%).