Do the Yankees need to win the division?

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It’s not easy to find sane Yankees commentary. Between the bitter tabloids, bombastic talk radio, perspective-free national outlets and a fanbase with an unhealthy number of people who assume that anything short of 162-0 is a big freakin’ problem, thoughtful analysis can be hard to come by.

Thank goodness for places like TYU. There are a handful of good Yankees-centric blogs (like these guys and these guys), but I’m not sure that anyone thinks more deeply about the Bombers than they do.  They all have day jobs or are students. And I actually worry about them a bit, because I can totally see them losing track of their day-to-day while contemplating Joe Girardi’s strategic options in last night’s game or the precise lineup spot that optimizes Derek Jeter talents.

But that’s their problem. We all get to enjoy their thoughtful and reasoned Yankees analysis. Like today’s post about whether it matters if the Yankees win the division or the wild card, and whether it matters if they face Texas or Minnesota in the first round.  Lots of people have had takes on this in the last 48 hours or so, but I think TYU’s is the best I’ve seen. One reason: unlike so many commentators, TYU doesn’t assume Joe Girardi is an idiot, which is an increasingly common characterization of the guy that simply baffles me.

Overall I agree with TYU: Playing at home would be ideal, but sacrificing the division title in the name of team health is a fair tradeoff at this point.

Julio Urias to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery

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The news has gone from bad to worse for Dodgers’ left-hander Julio Urias, who is scheduled for anterior capsule surgery on his left shoulder next Tuesday and expected to be sidelined through the middle of the 2018 season. His MRI came back negative on Wednesday, giving the Dodgers some hope that the 20-year-old’s bout of shoulder inflammation wasn’t masking any structural damage, but the pain lingered several days later and prompted further concern from the club. The procedure will be performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

Urias was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City in late May and placed on the disabled list with left shoulder discomfort several weeks into his assignment. At the major league level, he owned a 5.40 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 4.2 SO/9 through 23 1/3 innings, going 0-2 in five starts with Los Angeles. He made a brief rebound in Triple-A, posting three wins and striking out 17 of 67 batters in 17 1/3 innings before landing on the DL.

It’s a tough blow for the southpaw, who had yet to hit his stride in the majors before getting sidelined with shoulder issues. The Dodgers were especially mindful of this outcome for Urias, and had taken preventative measures to protect his arm by establishing a strict innings limit last season. According to club president Andrew Friedman, there’s a small silver lining here: while Urias’ injury will keep him out of work for at least 12 months, he doesn’t appear to have sustained any damage to his labrum or rotator cuff, and could be facing a much more streamlined recovery process as a result. Whether he’ll be able to rebound once he takes the mound again remains to be seen.

Tigers release Francisco Rodriguez

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Tigers’ right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez was released on Friday, per a team announcement. The club recalled fellow right-hander Bruce Rondon from Triple-A Toledo in a corresponding move.

The former closer got the boot after losing his closing role in early May, giving left-hander Justin Wilson a chance to impress at the back end of the bullpen. It’s been a rough year for Rodriguez, who manufactured six blown saves and a 7.82 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 25 1/3 innings for the Tigers. The final straw, it seemed, came with Robinson Cano‘s grand slam in the seventh inning of the Tigers’ 6-9 loss to the Mariners on Thursday.

While the demotion to a clean-up role and an apparent lack of communication caused Rodriguez considerable frustration, he’s two years removed from his last dominant performance as a major league closer and has shown few signs of returning to form. His recent slump doesn’t diminish the impressive totals he’s racked up over his 16-year career — 437 saves and six All-Star nominations among them — but if he can’t break out of it soon, he may not receive the kind of high leverage role he’s seeking with another big league team, either.