Rays promote Desmond Jennings from Triple-A Durham

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12:00 a.m. EDT update: Upton is staying put for now.  The Rays announced after the game that Jennings was being called up, but that he’d be taking shortstop Reid Brignac’s spot.  Brignac, whose demotion was long overdue, hit just .193/.234/.219 in 187 at-bats and was losing playing time at shortstop to Sean Rodriguez and Elliot Johnson.  Jennings will get starts in left while the Rays figure out what they’re doing with Upton.  Sam Fuld will lose some playing time, and Ben Zobrist figures to be used pretty strictly as a second baseman.

11:30 p.m. EDT update: Durham Bulls writer Adam Sobsey confirms that Jennings has been recalled by the Rays.  That doesn’t necessarily mean Upton is a goner — the Rays could use Jennings in left field — but the trade possibility remains very much alive.

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It sounds like the Rays have made a move, as they just pulled B.J. Upton from the game against the Royals and they scratched Desmond Jennings from Triple-A Durham’s lineup.

Washington has been the most common landing spot for Upton in trade rumors.

Upton was 1-for-4 tonight before being removed.  He’s been playing well of late, having hit .270/.333/.429 with three homers and 10 RBI in 16 games this month.  The Nationals have long coveted him to fill their hole in center field, and the 26-year-old is under control through 2012.

His replacement in center field with the Rays would be Jennings, who recently returned from a finger injury.  He’s hit .286/.426/.510 in 13 games this month and .275/.374/.456 overall for Durham.

Update: For what it’s worth, it’s possible we’re overreacting here.  The Rays were down by six runs and had already removed Matt Joyce from the contest.  Upton also could have been due a little rest, considering he had started every game since the break.  Still, there is a little evidence that something is going on.  Draysbay.com reports that Jennings was seen signing something in the managers office at Triple-A Durham before tonight’s game.

Astros vs. Dodgers is a match made in heaven

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A lot of people who work at the league office or who take paychecks from the Fox network probably wanted to see the Yankees and the Cubs in the World Series. They won’t admit it, of course, but I suspect that many did, as the ratings for a Cubs-Yankees Series might’ve broken modern records. If they are at all disappointed by the Astros and Dodgers winning the pennant, however, they should let that go because they’ve been gifted by a wonderful matchup from a purely baseball perspective. Indeed, it’s one of the best on-paper matchups we’ve had in the Fall Classic in many years.

Before the Dodgers went on their late-August, early-September swoon, this was the potential World Series pairing most folks who know a thing or two wanted to see. At least I did, and I don’t think I was alone. It was certainly the matchup which represented the teams with the two best regular season records and storylines at the time. While Cleveland ended up winning more games than Houston did, for the first time since 1970 we have a World Series pitting two 100-win teams against each other.

Like that Orioles-Reds series in 1970, which featured Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Tony Perez, Jim Palmer, Brooks Robinson and a host of other All-Stars, the Dodgers-Astros provide us with an embarrassment of big names and future Hall of Famers. Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw and Astros DH/OF Carlos Beltran are destined for induction already. Astros ace Justin Verlander may very well join them, especially if his late 2017 surge is evidence of a second career peak. Houston second baseman Jose Altuve‘s first seven years and Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen‘s first eight are the stuff upon which Cooperstown resumes are made as well. People will be arguing Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley‘s Hall of Fame case for years once he retires.

Youth is served as well in this matchup, with each club featuring a handful of the game’s best young players to accompany their big name veteran stars.

The Dodgers will bat their no-doubt N.L. Rookie of the Year first baseman Cody Bellinger second or third in the lineup every game. 2016 Rookie of the Year Corey Seager, who sat out the NLCS with a bad back, is expected to be activated for the Series where he’ll be the Dodgers shortstop. The Astros are actually an old team on paper — Verlander, catcher Brian McCann, starter Charlie Morton, first baseman Yuli Gurriel, outfielder Josh Reddick and DH Evan Gattis are all over 30 while Beltran is 40 — but young players are essential to their attack as well. Shortstop Carlos Correa just turned 23 and he’s one of the game’s brightest stars. Third baseman Alex Bregman, also 23, made the play that may very well have broken the Yankees’ back during Saturday night’s pennant clincher. Age aside, the Astros are the product of a major, multi-year rebuild and many of their players are making their first national splash this postseason.

Beyond just the names and resumes, though, the Dodgers and Astros represent a fantastic strategic matchup. The Dodgers attack this postseason has featured admirable plate discipline, with third baseman Justin Turner, right fielder Yasiel Puig and center fielder Chris Taylor all letting balls out of the zone pass them by while abusing pitches left out over the plate. Astros pitchers not named Justin Verlander, however, have lived by getting the opposition to chase bad balls. Game one starter Dallas Keuchel did this by relying on his very fast sinker. Lance McCullers pitched well starting Game 4 of the ALCS and pitched spectacularly closing out the final four innings of Game 7 mostly by virtue of his curveball, which Yankees pitchers could simply not lay off. Indeed, his final 24 pitches of Game 7 were all curves, many of them low and away. Who will give in first in this series?

On the side of things, Dodgers relievers have made a living by pumping in strikes. Particularly strikes high in the zone from Jansen and Brandon Morrow. There may be no better fastball hitter in all of baseball than Jose Altuve, however, and the team as a whole was one of the best in the bigs in dealing with gas in the zone. This was a big reason why the Astros struck out less than any team in baseball this year while simultaneously boasting the best offense in the game. The Dodgers throw strikes. The Astros make you pay when you throw them strikes. Again, something’s gotta give.

Maybe the suits in New York wanted the Yankees and Cubs. But everyone else is getting exactly what we want: a matchup of the two best teams in the game. A matchup of strength against strength. What is, from a purely baseball perspective, the best World Series we could’ve possibly hoped for.