Francisco Cervelli

The State of the Races



The spread: Both the Yankees and Red Sox win, the New York stays ahead of Boston by two and a half.

The skinny: All of the rain + the lack of remaining days off + the financial imperative to play all 162 games despite the fact that most of them are fairly meaningless now = a lot of tired Yankees players.


The spread: The Tigers pound Cleveland, the White Sox win. The Tigers are eight ahead of Chicago, eight and a half ahead of Cleveland.

The skinny: Quite the destruction of the Indians.  My favorite take on their season so far comes from the Twitter feed of “Tripping Olney,” which is exactly what it sounds like: “I REPEAT: THE 2011 INDIANS SEASON IS BASICALLY “MAJOR LEAGUE” IN REVERSE.”  In just a couple of weeks Manny Acta can go back to selling that guy some whitewalls.


The spread: Rangers win, Halos lose, Texas’ lead is back to three and a half.

The skinny: Nelson Cruz is starting to ramp up from his hamstring injury and could be back soon.


The spread: The Phillies beat the Braves and are now nine and a half up on the Braves.

The skinny: The Braves bats are sleeping and two of the starters who led them to where they are over the first half of the season — Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson are hurt and/or ineffective.  Momentum from months past will carry them into the playoffs, but what will carry them through?


The spread: Cards beat the Brewers and reduce the deficit to nine games.

The skinny: Too bad the Cardinals didn’t realize that Kyle Lohse on eight days rest was so deadly. They could have done that all year!


The spread: Diamondbacks lose, Giants win, and now six games separate them.

The skinny: The playoff probability column on the standings shows the Dbacks having the second worst odds of any division leader to actually make the playoffs. Their probability: 97.2%  That’s 2011 for ya, folks.

Pirates’ Nick Leyva selected as senior advisor of baseball ops

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 17:  Coach Nick Leyva #16 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photo during photo day at Pirate City on February 17, 2013 in Bradenton, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
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Former first base and infield coach Nick Leyva was promoted to senior advisor of baseball operations on Saturday, per a report by Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Pirates also fired third base coach Rick Sofield, with no named successor as of yet.

Leyva joined the Pirates’ organization in the 2011 offseason as a third base coach under manager Clint Hurdle. He shifted to his role as the first base coach and infield coach in 2014, when first base coach Rick Sofield was reassigned to third base prior to the 2015 season. According to Biertempfel, the swap was made in order to optimize the team’s baserunning strategies, all of which appeared to fall flat during the 2015 and 2016 seasons:

The results this season were awful. The Pirates ranked 13th in the National League with a minus-7.0 BsR — a metric that measures how many runs above or below league average a team gets via its baserunning.

In 2013 and 2014, the Pirates had one of the top five BsR ratings in the NL. In 2015, they were seventh with a 2.8 BsR.

This season, the Pirates made the second-most outs at third base in the league and were last in taking extra bases on singles and doubles. Their baserunners went from first to third base on hits a league-low 63 times.

Sofield, in particular, highlighted the Pirates’ poor baserunning choices in games like this one, when he sent Sean Rodriguez home too early during the last vestige of a ninth inning rally against the Phillies.

Following the announcement, Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington issued a statement elaborating on Leyva’s role within the organization:

We have great respect and appreciation for both men. We thank them for their time and effort as part of our Major League team and the Pirates organization. It was a difficult decision, but we felt it was the right time to make this change on our Major League staff. We look forward to Nick’s continued impact in his future role with the Pirates. Nick has held nearly every coaching position at the major league level and at the minor league level, including Major League manager, in his extensive career and will be a quality mentor for our minor league managers, coaches and players.

Lineups for Dodgers-Cubs NLCS Game 6

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 16:  Kyle Hendricks #28 of the Chicago Cubs throws a pitch in the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game two of the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field on October 16, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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With Game 6 of the NLCS just hours away, the Dodgers will opt for a lefty-heavy lineup against right-hander Kyle Hendricks. Batting leadoff is rookie outfielder Andrew Toles, who made one appearance at the top of the lineup during the 2016 season. The Cubs, meanwhile, will bench Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.. This will be Almora’s first start of the playoffs, and while he has yet to face Kershaw in October, his right-handed bat could play well against the lefty at the bottom of the lineup.

Game time is scheduled for 8 PM EDT; lineups are below.


1. Andrew Toles (L) LF
2. Corey Seager (L) SS
3. Justin Turner (R) 3B
4. Adrian Gonzalez (L) 1B
5. Josh Reddick (L) RF
6. Joc Pederson (L) CF
7. Yasmani Grandal (S) C
8. Chase Utley (L) 2B
9. Clayton Kershaw (L) LHP
1. Dexter Fowler (S) CF
2. Kris Bryant (R) 3B
3. Anthony Rizzo (L) 1B
4. Ben Zobrist (R) LF
5. Javier Baez (S) 2B
6. Wilson Contreras (R) C
7. Addison Russell (R) RF
8. Albert Almora Jr. (R) RF
9. Kyle Hendricks (R) RHP