And That Happened: Division Series Edition

14 Comments

Phillies 2, Reds 0
As advertised. Ugly games like Friday’s happen from time to time, but a
no-hitter and a two-hit shutout in the other two pretty much mean that
the “no one can stop the Phillies dominant pitching” narrative is a
sound one.  The Phillies used relievers for only four innings this
series. Brandon Phillips was the only Reds hitter who had a clue. Philly now waits to see which offensively-challenged team
from the other series emerges as the lamb for what is almost certain to
be an NLCS slaughter.

Giants 3, Braves 2:  I can’t even revisit this. My recap, of sorts, is here. My take on who’s to blame here. The question for Braves fans is whether this one is harder to take than the Leyrtiz game from the 1996 World series. My personal take is the Leyritz game was worse because (a) that Braves team was much, much better; (b) a win there meant that the World Series win was almost assured; and (c) I was a hell of a lot younger then and took the results of sporting events harder than I do now.  That last one is highly subjective, of course, so I will allow for the possibility that last night was the Braves’ version of the Buckner game and it will stick with a wide swath of Braves fans forever or something close to it.

Rays 5, Rangers 2: While no game in this series has been particularly
interesting, the overall dynamic of the Rays getting up off the mat to
even things up certainly is.  David Price vs. Cliff Lee in Game 5 on
Tuesday? Yes, please.

Phil Bickford suspended 50 games for drug of abuse

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 10:  Phil Bickford of the U.S. Team pitches during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at PETCO Park on July 10, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Getty Images
1 Comment

Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.

Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.

Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.

Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):

We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.

Diamondbacks sign Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million deal

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 21:  Fernando Rodney #56 of the Miami Marlins pitches during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 21, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.

Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.

Hazen issued a statement following the signing:

With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.