Alexi Ogando replaces CC Sabathia replaces James Shields

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By the time the day ends, you and I might be All-Stars.

See, a few years back, MLB, in response to complaints about the All-Star managers favoring their own players, gave the players a chance to vote on All-Star picks.

And that wasn’t a bad idea.  The problem was that MLB now keeps turning back to those players ballots each time a players pick for the All-Star Game withdraws.

So, we get fame (Scott Rolen) over production (Aramis Ramirez), saves (Jordan Walden) over performance (David Robertson) and, somehow, Kevin Correia.

We also have a rule about how every pitcher starting the Sunday before the All-Star Game had to be replaced on the roster.

And, now, we have CC Sabathia replacing James Shields, only to be immediately declared ineligible and get replaced by Alexi Ogando.

Thanks to MLB’s decison to create a set of rules about how replacements have to be chosen Sabathia, who was probably deserving anyway, gets his All-Star appearance and any applicable bonus, all without having to travel to Phoenix.

And Ogando, who is 9-3 with a 2.92 ERA for the Rangers, will go in his place and perhaps pitch in the game.

The league also announced today that rookie Michael Pineda would replace Justin Verlander, another Sunday starter.  Later, another pitcher is expected to be named in Felix Hernandez’s place.  We’re planning to have a full update on all of the All-Star roster changes after that.

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.