And That Happened: Monday's Scores and Highlights

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Phillies 8, Nationals 0: Fitting. Fitting that it was Halladay on the mound, throwing bullets and likely clinching the Cy Young Award (CG, SHO 2 H, 6K). Fitting that it came in Nats Park in front of thousands of friendly fans, just as the season began. This one also clinches the best record in the NL, giving them home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Braves 2, Marlins 1: They’re still not scoring runs, but a win is a win. Omar Infante singled in the winner in the 11th. Trouble, though: Martin Prado left the game with a “hip pointer,” whatever that is, and is likely going to be out for some time. Time the Braves — clinging to a half-game lead in the wild card — don’t have much of.

Cubs 1, Padres 0: Carlos Zambrano blanked the Padres (7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER), dropping them a half game back of Atlanta. They’re still tied in the loss column, though.  Allow me to observe at this point that virtually no one who is not a Braves fan wants Atlanta to beat the Padres for the wild card. Like, I think there’s hostility to the idea.  I can live with that.

Blue Jays 7, Yankees 5: Another A.J. Burnett disaster start (2.1 IP, 7 H, 7 ER). Open question right now if he’s in the playoff rotation. Playoffs which, thanks to this loss and the Red Sox’ win, the Yankees will have to wait at least one more day to clinch. Oh, and no home runs for Jose Bautista. I guess he’s off those ‘roids which, none of us would dare accuse him of taking, but about which “questions remain.” Jackass.

Cardinals 6, Pirates 4: If Pittsburgh had won, the Reds would have clinched the division from the comfort of their own living rooms. Now they have to go out and clinch on the field against the Astros. A two-run homer and three RBI for Matt Holliday.

Dodgers 3, Rockies 1: Colorado digs itself into a deeper hole. Ubaldo Jimenez remains stuck on 19 wins. Remember when people were asking if he could win 30 this year? Yeah, spring was fun.

Indians 6, Tigers 3: Miguel Cabrera sprained his ankle while coming back to first base on a pickoff attempt. Jim Leyland thought it looked bad. Two of the top MVP candidates — Cabrera and Hamilton — may end the season on the shelf.

Orioles 4, Rays 0: Brian Matusz shut down the Rays for seven innings, striking out eight. Nick Markakis had a nice night: 2 for 5, 3B, 2 RBI. He was involved in every scoring play, either knocking in the run, scoring the run of running around the bases while his teammates did those things.

Mariners 7, Rangers 5: Justin Smoak went three for four and hit a three-run homer against his old team. The Mariners started five rookies. 2011 spring training begins now. It actually began back in June or so, really.

Red Sox 6, White Sox 1: Boston pushes off elimination for one more day thanks to eight strong innings from Clay Buchholz. David Ortiz hit the 100 RBI mark. Mark Buehrle hit the 200 inning mark. Round numbers are fun.

Royals 10, Twins 8: Jarrod Dyson had one home run in 1245 minor league plate appearances, and none since his September callup to Kansas City. He knocked a two-run job last night, though, to go with ten putouts in centerfield, which tied a Royals record. Who knows what may happen, but I dare say he just had the best night playing baseball he will ever have in his life.

Angels 6, Athletics 5: Justin James plunked in a run with the bases loaded in the seventh and then walked in a run immediately thereafter. That’s no fun. Both Oakland and LAA are trying hard to finish at .500 or above. There’s a good chance neither do.

Brewers vs. Mets: Postponed:  See the sky about to rain, broken clouds and rain. This washout has led to a rarity: a single-admission doubleheader at Citi Field tonight. Here’s hoping the rain holds off and some die hards get eighteen innings of baseball for the price of nine.

Mets closer Jeurys Familia receives a 15-game suspension for domestic violence

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Mets closer Jeurys Familia has received a 15-game suspension for domestic violence.

Familia was arrested in October following an incident at his home. Criminal charges were dropped in December. As we know, however, MLB’s domestic violence policy does not require criminal proceedings to be commenced, let alone completed, before the leveling of league punishment. MLB has been investigating the incident for the past several months.

Familia saved 51 games for the Mets last year while posting a 2.55 ERA. The Mets are expecting Addison Reed to fill in at closer until he returns.

Familia has released a statement:

Today, I accepted a 15-game suspension from Major League Baseball resulting from my inappropriate behavior on October 31, 2016. With all that has been written and discussed regarding this matter, it is important that it be known that I never physically touched, harmed or threatened my wife that evening. I did,however, act in an unacceptable manner and am terribly disappointed in myself. I am alone to blame for the problems of that evening.

My wife and I cooperated fully with Major League Baseball’s investigation, and I’ve taken meaningful steps to assure that nothing like this will ever happen again. I have learned from this experience, and have grown as a husband, a father, and a man.

I apologize to the Mets’ organization, my teammates, and all my fans. I look forward to rejoining the Mets and being part of another World Series run. Out of respect for my teammates and my family, I will have no further comment.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has a statement as well:

My office has completed its investigation into the events leading up to Jeurys Familia’s arrest on October 31, 2016.  Mr. Familia and his wife cooperated fully throughout the investigation, including submitting to in-person interviews with MLB’s Department of Investigations.  My office also received cooperation from the Fort Lee Municipal Prosecutor.  The evidence reviewed by my office does not support a determination that Mr. Familia physically assaulted his wife, or threatened her or others with physical force or harm, on October 31, 2016.  Nevertheless, I have concluded that Mr. Familia’s overall conduct that night was inappropriate, violated the Policy, and warrants discipline.

It is clear that Mr. Familia regrets what transpired that night and takes full responsibility for his actions.  Mr. Familia already has undergone 12 ninety-minute counseling sessions with an approved counselor specializing in the area of domestic violence, and received a favorable evaluation from the counselor regarding his willingness to take concrete steps to ensure that he is not involved in another incident of this type.  Further, he has agreed to speak to other players about what he has learned through this process, and to donate time and money to local organizations aimed at the prevention of, and the treatment of victims of, domestic violence.

2017 Preview: Milwaukee Brewers

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Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Milwaukee Brewers.

Every year, Major League Baseball plays host to two casts of characters: the contenders and the rebuilders. You might find slight variations — the rebuilders who stand a chance of contending, the contenders on the verge of rebuilding, or those stuck somewhere in between — but by and large, the lines are clearly drawn.

The 2017 Brewers, for better or worse, are rebuilders. Sure, you won’t find them at the bottom of the NL Central come October (that place is unequivocally reserved for the Reds), but neither will you see them snag a Wild Card berth or run away with the division title. This is the year of cultivating a fertile farm system, giving their big league prospects room to stretch and grow and figuring out whether Ryan Braun has a future in Milwaukee beyond 2017.

If the Brewers did anything right this winter, it was deepening their reserves at nearly every position. Behind the plate, Andrew Susac, Manny Pina and newly-acquired Jett Bandy bandied for the spot. Susac injured his back during camp, and while the MRI results didn’t reveal any significant damage, it doesn’t look like he’ll be healthy in time for Opening Day. Milwaukee skipper Craig Counsell has yet to identify a full-time catcher and could start the year with Pina and Bandy in a hybrid role after both backstops impressed during spring training.

Eric Thames replaced Chris Carter at first base, and while he’s expected to split duties with Jesus Aguilar, appears to be an unconventional acquisition for the Brewers. On paper, the two look miles apart. Carter slashed .222/.321/.499 with 41 home runs and an .821 OPS for the club in 2016, pairing his league-leading homers with a league-leading 206 strikeouts. Thames, meanwhile, flamed out in the majors in 2012 and has not returned to the major league stage since. Never mind that he has only ever played the outfield or that he’s technically made only 181 big league appearances in the last five years, though. Over the past three seasons, he mashed an incredible .349/.457/.721 with 124 home runs and a 1.178 OPS for the NC Dinos of the Korean Baseball Organization, and the three-year, $16 million contract he signed with Milwaukee will look like a steal if he can replicate those numbers in the United States.

The outfield posed another set of questions for the team, who was looking to fill right and center field with a combination of Keon Broxton, Hernan Perez, Domingo Santana, Lewis Brinson, Ryan Cordell, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Kyle Wren. Broxton and Santana claimed spots in center and right, respectively, with Nieuwenhuis beating out the rest of the backup candidates to secure his position as the team’s fourth outfielder. Braun will resume his station in left field after a quiet spring training, during which he declined to participate in the World Baseball Classic or most of the Cactus League competition in order to stay healthy for the upcoming season. (At least, that’s one plausible reason. He also told the Milwaukee Sentinel-Journal’s Todd Rosiak, “I just don’t feel like I need at-bats to feel ready for games.”)

Of course, every team in the throes of rebuilding has at least one weak spot, and the Brewers are no exception. The starting rotation lacks clarity and talent outside of Junior Guerra and Zach Davies, both of whom flourished in their sophomore campaigns with Milwaukee in 2016. The club acquired left-hander Tommy Milone on the cheap, adding him to a lengthy list of candidates that included right-handers Chase Anderson, Wily Peralta, Matt Garza and Jimmy Nelson. Spring training did little to illuminate a clear path for the rotation: Garza imploded, Peralta shone, and Nelson and Anderson proved inconsistent at best.

The bullpen doesn’t look much better beyond newly-minted closer Neftali Feliz, who signed a one-year, $5.35 million deal with the Brewers after polishing off a healthy, productive season with the Pirates in 2016. While his bounce-back season looked like a good omen for Milwaukee, Feliz struggled through a rough spring, working 10 hits, six runs, three walks and seven strikeouts through nine innings in camp. He appears to be fully recovered from the “biceps fatigue” that curtailed his last season in Pittsburgh, and Counsell believes that he’ll improve with more reps this spring.

Elsewhere in the bullpen, the club is hurting for left-handed relief after optioning their only lefty candidate, Brent Suter, to Triple-A Colorado Springs last week. A suitable replacement for Suter has yet to be named, but there’s some chatter that Milone could assume a position in the bullpen if necessary.

Overall, the Brewers didn’t improve their major league roster as much as they stabilized it, opting for low-cost stopgaps while they condition younger, less-seasoned players waiting to break through to the bigs. A plethora of high-caliber prospects crowd the upper rungs of their farm system, so much so that the club has had difficulty trying to find enough room for all of them to develop at the appropriate level. Just take Triple-A Colorado Springs, which boasts a talented outfield of Lewis Brinson, Ryan Cordell and Brett Phillips and rotation battles among Hiram Burgos, Josh Hader, Paolo Espino, Wilkerson, Taylor Jungmann, Wei-Chung Wang and the aforementioned Brent Suter, among others.

Milwaukee is looking at a bright future, to be sure, but that future won’t be fully realized right now. The Brewers’ 2017 season will undoubtedly be more satisfying for its front office than its fans, unless those fans also have a ticket to Security Service Field. Given a few more years to develop their prospects and build out their farm system, however, these rebuilders could begin to look something like contenders.

Prediction: 4th place in NL Central.