Julio Teheran to make his major league debut on Saturday

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I mentioned earlier that the Eric Hosmer callup is going to interfere with my Friday night plans with the wife. Well, might as well cancel the entire weekend, Mrs. Calcaterra, because on Saturday it’s even better: the Braves have called up top prospect Julio Teheran and will give him the start against the Phillies.

Teheran is not just considered the Braves’ top prospect. According to Keith Law he is the best pitching prospect in all of baseball.  Just 20 years-old, he’s listed as 6’2″, but he is described as having a long and easy delivery with a plus fastball and a great changeup.  So far at AAA Gwinnett the righthander has had five starts. In those five starts he’s 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 30 innings while walking eight. He had a 2.59 ERA and 159/40 K/BB ratio in 142 innings across three levels last year.

Whether this is a permanent callup is an open question. The Braves needed to do something thanks to a rainout and a doubleheader earlier this week. They had penciled in Tommy Hanson on short rest for Sunday, but Atlanta tends not to like giving him short rest.  Another option was Mike Minor, who has at least pitched in the bigs before and would seem like a more likely stopgap starter than Teheran, but he just pitched last night. Given that the Braves’ rotation is otherwise just fine, it’s entirely possible that this is just a one-off for Teheran.

But one-off or not, it’s a formidable opponent in the debut. Going against the Phillies is a tall order, but the fact that he won’t be facing one of the four aces is a plus for him, and hopefully will take some of the pressure off. That is, as long as me and thousands of fellow Braves fanboys squealing like girls at a Beatles concert doesn’t cause any pressure.

Giants closer Mark Melancon is heading to the disabled list once again

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The Giants have placed closer Mark Melancon on the 10-day disabled list with a right pronator strain.

This is the same injury that sent him to the disabled list last month. He came back from that quickly, but it can’t be great that this is happening again. You have to assume he’ll miss more time given the recurrence of trouble. He’s going to get an MRI too. Sam Dyson is expected to serve as the Giants’ closer while Melancon is sidelined.

Melancon has a 4.35 ERA and 11 saves in 22 appearances this year. He signed a four-year, $62 million deal with San Francisco last December.

The Cubs visited the White House. Again.

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Last January, the World Champion Chicago Cubs visited the White House. It was a bit unorthodox, as World Series winners typically wait until the following summer and make the trip during a road series in Washington or Baltimore.

They did it, however, because when the Cubs won the Series, then-President Obama asked the Cubs to visit before he left office. He’s a White Sox fan but a Chicago guy and said he was rooting for the Cubs. So the Cubs visited.

Today they’re back again. It’s been characterized as an “informal” visit. No suits and ties or big official photo-ops in front of the White House. It was even unclear until this afternoon if they’d even meet with President Trump. The visit was inspired in part by Maddon’s longtime friend, U.S. Congressman Lou Barletta, and partially by the Ricketts family’s ties to the Trump administration. The Ricketts are significant Republican donors and one of the Cubs’ co-owners, Todd Ricketts, is Trump’s deputy commerce secretary.

So to the White House the Cubs went. At least some of them. Many decided not to go for a number of reasons, ranging from “no-comment” to game preparation considerations (the visit just happened, much later in the day than usual White House visits). At least one vocal Trump supporter, Jake Arrieta, did not go. Another, John Lackey, did go, but declined to give any comment on it, expressing concern that his quote would be used for political purposes. I’ve yet to see anyone say they weren’t going specifically because they do not support Trump, though I presume some felt that way. The man isn’t exactly popular at the moment.

Nevertheless, the political overtones of all of this are hard to ignore. The Cubs already had their official White House visit, so a second one has to mean something, right? Teams don’t just get invited to the White House whenever they happen to be passing through town. Some of this is probably about the Trump administration smarting a bit over Obama swooping in for that visit in January. Some of it is probably about the Ricketts family either wanting to send the team for a non-Obama visit, to do a favor for Trump or some combination of those things.

Joe Maddon was defensive about it all yesterday, saying it wasn’t political. Trump obviously didn’t hear him as he used the time when the Cubs were standing next to him for photos to take questions about the health care legislation and slag on Obamacare:

Maybe Maddon and the Cubs wanted to keep out of politics, but politics makes no such agreement with anyone.