King Felix may be shut down early

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Felix Hernandez would have three starts left if he stays on regular rest. Kirby Arnold of the Everett Herald reports, however, that he may start only two more games because the team is concerned about his workload. Hernandez’s workload, that is. Not Arnold’s. I’m sure he’ll be able to report for the rest of the season without risking injury or fatigue.

On the one hand I’m a big fan of not pushing your valuable franchise pitchers unnecessarily, and there’s absolutely nothing necessary about the rest of the Mariners season. On the other hand, even if he were to throw three more complete games, he’d still only have 22 more innings this year than last year. And he’s currently 109 pitches behind the number he threw last year. So yes, going all three starts will take him into unprecedented territory, but it won’t take him into crazy land. If they want to truly preserve him, why not just shut him down now?

But hey, if Hernandez is shut down, the writers who support CC Sabathia and David Price for the Cy Young Award* will have another fact they will believe to be in their favor. No, not durability or anything. Probably something about guts and bravery or something equally as compelling as the wins argument tends to be.

*I recently spoke with a couple of writers who had a reasonable request of me: stop referring to “the writers” as if they were some giant groupthinking blob. I try not to do that, but I’ll admit that I’ve done it a bit recently, most notably in connection with the AL Cy Young award and the Jeter phantom HBP thing. And that’s not fair, as there are a lot of them who think sharply about issues, and that’s the case even if they ultimately come out differently than I do. A lot of writers do support Hernandez. A lot of the ones who don’t, don’t do so simply on the “wins = everything” basis I’ve been criticizing. There are a lot of writers who, like me, thought the Jeter thing was much ado about nothing.

Anyway, as a guy who bristles whenever he hears the term “the bloggers” thrown around to describe everything from some mental defect with a LiveJournal account to yours truly, I think it’s more than fair that I avoid similar imprecision when referring to newspaper guys. Going forward, I’ll be careful to make it clear that when I’m talking about a dumb opinion, I’m limiting it to those who actually subscribe to the dumb opinion as opposed to everyone in that guy’s field.

Yankees sign top two draft picks

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The Yankees signed first-round draft pick Clarke Schmidt and second-round pick Matt Sauer on Saturday, per a team announcement. Schmidt, a right-hander from the University of South Carolina, is set to earn a signing bonus of $2,184,300. According to MLB.com’s Oliver Macklin, that’s much lower than the typical $3+ million allocated for a No. 16 overall pick. The opposite is true for Sauer, whose projected $2.5 million signing bonus tops the suggested $1.2 million reserved for a No. 54 pick.

Schmidt, 21, boasts an impressive four-pitch repertoire and profiles as a front-end or mid-rotation starter, according to reports from Yankees’ VP of Domestic Amateur Scouting Damon Oppenheimer and ESPN’s Keith Law, among others. He carried a 4-2 record through nine starts in 2017 and turned in a 1.34 ERA before undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery last month to repair a torn UCL in his right elbow. While the Yankees won’t see him pitch at any level until late 2018, they seem confident in his makeup and ability to rebound over the next couple of years.

Fellow right-hander and Righetti High School senior Matt Sauer is a different story altogether. The 18-year-old hurler appears destined for the bullpen with a polished fastball-slider combo and a promising curveball and changeup. He dazzled on the mound this year, going 9-1 with an 0.98 ERA and two shutouts over 78 1/3 innings. While the Yankees seem most interested in his pitching skills, Sauer showed some pop at the plate as well, touting a .427 average with 24 RBI through 135 plate appearances.

Three A’s rookies hit their first big league home runs on Saturday

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The Athletics followed Friday’s 3-0 shutout with a rookie-led home run derby on Saturday afternoon, watching not one, not two, but three rookies belt their first major league home runs off of the White Sox’ James Shields.

Right fielder Matt Olson was the first to strike, taking Shields deep on a first-pitch, two-run blast in the first inning for his first home run in 49 major league plate appearances:

Fellow outfielder Jaycob Brugman duplicated his teammate’s results in the second inning with a solo home run, his first extra-base hit of any kind since he made his debut on June 9:

In the third, with a comfortable 4-0 lead backing two scoreless frames from Oakland right-hander Daniel Gossett, Franklin Barreto took his shot at Shields. After getting the call several hours prior to Saturday’s game, he became the fastest of the three rookies to record his first big league homer, going yard on a 2-2 changeup and driving in Bruce Maxwell to give the A’s a six-run advantage.

The Athletics currently lead the White Sox 8-2 in the top of the sixth inning.