Tampa Bay Rays v Philadelphia Phillies

Rays send Jake McGee to minors, call up Alex Cobb for spot start Sunday

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Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times reports that the Rays have sent Jake McGee to Triple-A Durham and called up Alex Cobb to start Sunday’s series finale against the Angels.

The Rays need a spot starter for Sunday because of Thursday’s doubleheader against the Twins.

McGee, 24, made the Rays out of spring training, but posted a 5.84 ERA and 2/3 K/BB ratio over his first seven innings. While he’s still considered the closer of the future in many circles, Rays manager Joe Maddon told J.B. Long of Bright House Sports Network that he wants the young left-hander to get more work in the minor leagues.

Cobb, a 23-year-old right-hander, has a 3.10 ERA over parts of six seasons in the minors, averaging 7.8 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9. The former 2006 fourth-round pick has a 2.05 ERA and 29/6 K/BB ratio over his first four starts with Triple-A Durham this season. He was ranked as the organization’s No. 16 prospect by Baseball America over the winter.

His first taste of the big leagues is expected to be a brief one, as Cobb will be sent back to the minors following Sunday’s outing. Topkin writes that right-hander Brandon Gomes, who was acquired from the Padres in the Jason Bartlett trade, is a “strong candidate” to join the Rays’ bullpen.

Nationals fire reigning Manager of the Year Matt Williams

Washington Nationals' manager Matt Williams looks on from the dugout during a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Friday, May 2, 2014, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)

Matt Williams was voted the National League Manager of the Year on November 11, 2014, receiving 18 of 30 first-place votes from Baseball Writers Association of America members.

Today the Nationals fired him following a season full of disappointment, reports of clubhouse discontent, and Jonathan Papelbon choking Bryce Harper in the dugout.

Williams went 179-145 (.552) in two seasons in Washington, which is an excellent winning percentage, but when you take over a stacked team the expectations are extremely high and there was seemingly nothing anyone could point to about his actual managing that suggested he was doing a good job.

His in-game tactics and particularly his rigid bullpen usage patterns infuriated fans. His dealings with the local media became increasingly antagonistic. And even setting aside two players literally fighting in the dugout there’s ample evidence that Williams lost the clubhouse a long time ago.

Williams was far from the only thing wrong with the Nationals this season and he’s hardly the primary person to blame for their disappointing record, but it’s also hard to make a strong case for his sticking around–meaningless, beat writer-voted award or not–and general manager Mike Rizzo predictably acted quickly to move on.

Now we’ll see who gets to take the next crack at managing the Nationals to play up to expectations.

Dan Haren plans to retire after the playoffs are over

Dan Haren
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Dan Haren, who said two months ago that he was leaning toward retiring after the season, reiterated those plans following the Cubs’ regular season finale Sunday.

At age 34 he started 32 games for the Marlins and Cubs with a 3.60 ERA and 132/38 K/BB ratio in 187 innings, so Haren would have no problem finding work and a solid paycheck for 2016.

However, he’s not expected to part of the Cubs’ playoff roster and told Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago:

That was it for me. If I have to pitch in the postseason, I’ll be ready for sure. Happy the way the last few starts have gone. Being able to contribute to this amazing team. I’m just thankful to be a part of it. If I don’t pitch in the postseason, that’s it. It’s been fun. Hopefully there’s a lot more games to go. … If my name is called, I’ll be ready.

Injuries has lessened Haren’s overall effectiveness in recent years, but he’s remained a solid mid-rotation starter and has pitched 13 seasons in the big leagues with a 3.75 ERA in 2,419 innings. He made three All-Star teams and earned more than $80 million.