Here’s something interesting.
According to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times, Evan Longoria will bat leadoff for the first time in his career this afternoon against the Indians.
Longoria missed the entire month of April with an oblique injury and is batting just .209/.317/.372 over his first 101 plate appearances this season, so Rays manager Joe Maddon is trying to shake him out of his slump. The 25-year-old third baseman has primarily batted third or fourth during his career.
It’s difficult to criticize Maddon for this one. Longoria is having some issues with pitch recognition right now, but he’s also making contact at a career-high rate of 87.6 percent. It’s a super small sample size, of course, but we have a larger body of evidence telling us that pretty soon those outs will turn into hits. When you consider that the Rays are batting just .211/.268/.319 out of the leadoff spot this season, it’s a worthwhile short-term experiment.
The Cubs soundly defeated the Cardinals on Monday night, 10-2, sending their magic number down to one. They will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday with another win against the Cardinals. Alternatively, if they lose, they can still clinch if the Brewers also lose on Tuesday.
The Cubs, of course, won the Central last year en route to winning their first World Series since 1908. It wasn’t nearly as easy this year as the club was below .500 entering June and was exactly at .500 entering July. A 16-8 July, 17-12 August, and 15-8 September have helped put the Cubs back in position to return to the postseason.
Not to be forgotten, the Cardinals were eliminated from NL Central contention with Monday’s loss. Now they have their sights set on the second NL Wild Card slot and currently trail the Rockies in that race.
The matchups for Tuesday’s action:
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune reports that Padres pitcher Carter Capps will undergo surgery this offseason to address thoracic outlet syndrome, which doctors believe caused the right-hander’s blood clots. The Padres hope to have him ready by spring training next year.
Capps, 27, underwent Tommy John surgery last year and didn’t debut this season until August 7. He made 11 relief appearances, yielding nine runs on 12 hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings. He went back on the DL on September 12 due to the blood clot issue.
The Padres acquired Capps from the Marlins last July in the Andrew Cashner trade which ended up having a lot of moving parts. Capps will enter his third and final year of arbitration eligibility this offseason. It’s quite possible the Padres choose to non-tender him.