Elvis Andrus yanked from game for lack of effort

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Rangers manager Ron Washington pulled shortstop Elvis Andrus from Sunday’s loss to the Twins after the youngster made what looked like a lazy throw on a grounder in the bottom of the eighth.

“I didn’t like his attitude,” Washington told the Dallas Morning News. “The inning before there were a couple of plays he didn’t make, but he gave the effort. There are going to be plays that you can’t make. On that play, there wasn’t energy. Elvis is better than that. I didn’t chew him out, but I let him know that.”

The errant throw resulted in Andrus’ second error of the game.  The previous error in the seventh contributed to five unearned runs, and Andrus had a second ball that he failed to get to as part of that big inning for the Twins.

“I was still a little upset, I think about the inning before,” Andrus said. “I got upset with myself and I think that was still bothering me because I didn’t help the pitcher out. But things happen. There is no excuse. There’s nothing really that I can say about it.”

It doesn’t sound like the incident will put Andrus back on the bench Tuesday against the Yankees.  He has been awfully error prone this season, with 13 miscues already, but he’s also made a lot of great plays and the Rangers are pretty happy with how he’s contributing offensively. Hopefully this will end up being just a one-time thing.

James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

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To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.