UPDATE: So much for that. The Dodgers had to scratch Hiroki Kuroda for Sunday’s start, which means Kershaw is going back in the rotation for Friday’s start, with Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly picking up Saturday and Sunday.
In other news, I am 100% certain that hundreds of players will be shut down for the season by late Sunday afternoon. Bank on it.
11:29 A.M.: Clayton Kershaw was scheduled to start today, but the Dodgers have decided that 32 starts and 204 and a third innings are enough for the year and have shut him down.
Of course the timing of the announcement — The Dodgers just told Kershaw that he wouldn’t be starting today’s game as scheduled until after last night’s game — suggests that the innings and starts count, in and of themselves, weren’t enough to warrant him being shut down for the year. Rather, it would seem that the Rockies being eliminated, rendering today’s Dodgers-Rockies contest meaningless, was the key factor.
There’s something I like about the Dodgers caring about the integrity of the competition faced by would-be playoff contenders, so much so that they’d run out their 22 year-old ace for another start when they otherwise wouldn’t due to innings limits. There’s something a bit troubling about it too in that, if they were worried at all about his workload, they probably should have been prepared to sit him anyway.
It’s just another thing — like having the individual player awards enter into player usage and possibly even strategy — that has always made this last week of the season so darn awkward.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa declined to attend the team’s annual Winterfest because of his dissatisfaction with management following their trade for outfielder Adam Eaton.
A source told Castillo that Espinosa’s unhappiness stemmed from a belief that the acquisition would jeopardize his starting role in 2017. With Eaton in center field, Trea Turner will likely return to his post at shortstop, leaving Espinosa out in the cold — or, as the case may be, on the bench. The move shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Espinosa, however, as Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo spoke to the possibility of trading the infielder or reassigning him to a utility role back in early November.
Offensively, the 29-year-old had a down year in 2016, slashing just .209/.306/.378 with 24 home runs in 601 PA. Defensively, he still profiles among the top shortstops in the National League, with eight DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and 8.3 Def (Defensive Runs Above Average) in his seventh year with the club.
Espinosa will reach free agency after the 2017 season.
The Red Sox might be trying to move the wrong pitcher, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Cafardo revealed that while the Sox have been trying to market right-hander Clay Buchholz, more teams would be interested in trades involving southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
The club appears reluctant to deal Pomeranz, especially because his price tag comes in at a cool $4.7 million to Buchholz’s $13.5 million in 2017. Those who have already expressed interest in the veteran hurlers, including the Twins, Mariners and Royals, also seem put off by Buchholz’s salary requirements as he enters his 32nd year.
Health could be another factor preventing teams from jumping to make trade offers, as Cafardo quotes an AL executive who believes the “medicals on both Pomeranz and Buchholz probably aren’t that great.” Neither pitcher suffered any major injuries during the 2016 season, though Pomeranz missed just over a week of play due to forearm soreness.
Pomeranz outperformed his fellow starter in 2016, pitching to a 3.32 ERA and career-best 9.8 K/9 through 170 2/3 innings with the Padres and Red Sox. He got off to an exceptionally strong start in San Diego, where his ERA dropped to 2.47 through the first half of the year before the Padres dealt him to Boston for minor league right-hander Anderson Espinoza. Buchholz, on the other hand, struggled with a 4.78 ERA and saw a decline in both his BB/9 and K/9 rates as he worked out a career-low 1.69 K/BB through 139 1/3 innings with the Sox.