Madison Bumgarner “almost surely will start Game 4”

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Bruce Bochy hasn’t announced anything official about his Game 4 starter choice, leaving room to change his mind depending on how the Giants fare through three games, but Chris Haft of MLB.com writes that rookie Madison Bumgarner “almost surely will start Game 4.”

Turning to Tim Lincecum on short rest is the other option for Bochy, but Haft seems certain that won’t happen regardless of how the reigning back-to-back Cy Young winner fares in the series opener tomorrow night. Bochy has said only that he’s “penciled” in Bumgarner for the start but may still “call an audible.”

Bumgarner looked terrible while competing for a rotation spot during spring training and then continued to struggle after beginning the season in the minors, but eventually rediscovered the velocity and raw stuff that made him one of baseball’s best pitching prospects coming into the season and posted a 3.00 ERA in 18 starts after joining the Giants in late June.

He had a 1.18 ERA and 34/7 K/BB ratio in his final six regular season starts and tossed six innings of two-run ball in a win over the Braves in Game 4 of the NLDS, so the 21-year-old southpaw is definitely up for the challenge. He’ll likely be matched up against Joe Blanton, although manager Charlie Manuel also left open the possibility that he could turn to Roy Halladay on short rest if the Phillies are trailing in the series.

Dallas Keuchel is unlikely to return before the All-Star break

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Astros’ left-hander Dallas Keuchel might not return to the rotation before the All-Star break, Houston manager A.J. Hinch told reporters prior to Sunday’s game. The club placed their star southpaw on the 10-day disabled list on June 8, retroactive to June 5, after a nerve issue was revealed in his neck.

Keuchel has taken a conservative approach to his recovery over the last several weeks, and while he appears to have made some progress, still has yet to throw off the mound. The injury interrupted the start of an outstanding run with the Astros, during which the 29-year-old lefty furnished a 9-0 record with a 1.67 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 through his first 75 2/3 innings of 2017.

According to Hinch, it’s certainly possible that Keuchel could return to the team sometime within the next two weeks, but it’s clear that the team would prefer to play it extra safe with their ace. Even assuming that he feels ready to reclaim his spot on the Astros’ pitching staff, he still needs to complete a few key activities before competing in another game — like throwing off a mound, for example. In the meantime, Lance McCullers Jr. will continue to head Houston’s rotation as they try to build on their 12.5-game lead in the AL West.

 

Hinch’s full comments are below:

The Mets are promoting Tim Tebow to Single-A St. Lucie

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Mets GM Sandy Alderson told the media on Sunday that the organization is promoting outfielder Tim Tebow from Single-A Columbia to advanced Single-A St. Lucie, MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo reports.

Tebow, 29, wasn’t hitting particularly well to merit the promotion. Across 241 plate appearances with Columbia, he hit .222/.311/.340 with three home runs and 22 RBI. He had just seven extra-base hits (all doubles) in his most recent 20 games. Alderson, however, defended the decision by citing Tebow’s exit velocity and other metrics.

I think we can all agree that the real reason is that promoting Tebow creates another opportunity for the Mets to sell merchandise with his name on it.

One has to feel for the outfielder Tebow will displace. St. Lucie’s regular outfielders have comparable stats to Tebow’s, so they aren’t exactly being replaced on merit. That outfielder will see less playing time, hurting his future prospects. Adding Tebow to St. Lucie’s roster will push someone off of the roster, which will also harm that player’s future prospects. And, remember, these players don’t make much money to begin with.