Coors Field has become somewhat less of a hitter’s paradise since the Rockies began storing baseballs in a humidor and Dave Krieger of the Denver Post reports that they hope to deflate the ridiculous offensive numbers being posted at Triple-A by doing the same in Colorado Springs.
In general the Pacific Coast League is very hitter-friendly, but Colorado Springs takes that to an extreme. Security Service Field is 6,531 feet above sea level, which is the highest elevation of any ballpark in professional baseball, and this season the pitching staff there had a combined 6.41 ERA.
It’s nearly impossible to develop pitching prospects in that environment and even getting an accurate sense of hitting prospects’ abilities is difficult. Former first-round pick Greg Reynolds, who spent most of the season at Triple-A, told Krieger that “the ball doesn’t really do what it’s supposed to do there” and “without even knowing it, you’re trying to do something a little different just to make the ball do what it’s supposed to do.”
In some sense there’s an advantage to be gained in preparing Triple-A prospects to play in the majors’ most hitter-friendly ballpark, but Colorado Springs is still going to be very hitter-friendly with a humidor or not and deflating the numbers a bit should help the pitchers focus more on development rather than simply not getting their brains bashed in.
At the trade deadline, relief pitching is the name of the game and one of the names clearly available is Pat Neshek. Today Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports that the Nationals, Dodgers, and Red Sox are among the clubs who are closely scouting the Phillies reliever. Last week Ken Rosenthal reported that the Brewers and Rays were involved as well.
Neshek is an impending free agent, so he may come cheaper than Justin Wilson or some of the other bullpen arms available right now. The All-Star is 36 and is posting a fantastic season, featuring a 1.12 ERA and 45/5 K/BB ratio over 40.1 innings this season.
Some seriously bad news for the Dodgers: Ken Rosenthal reports that the initial prognosis on Clayton Kershaw is that he will miss 4-6 weeks with his bad back. A final determination will be made after he gets a second medical consultation.
Kershaw exited Sunday’s start against the Braves with back tightness after just two innings of work. He was seen talking with trainers in the dugout after completing the top of the second inning and did not return to the mound for the third. Kershaw has a history of back problems. Last year he missed over two months with a herniated disc in his back.
Assuming the preliminary schedule holds, Kershaw would be on the shelf until late August at the earliest, but more likely early-to-mid September. The Dodgers currently hold a 10.5 game lead in the NL West so they can withstand his absence. But if they have any hopes of advancing in the playoffs, they’ll need a fully armed and operational Clayton Kershaw to do it.