I want the record to reflect that I have not trolled Philly fans all day. As a 1990s Braves fan I learned the hard way that awesome rotations aren’t always enough and that six months of brilliance can be erased pretty damn quickly once your depth advantage is reduced due to the nature of playoff baseball. It stinks, but it’s baseball life.
Now, don’t mistake my lack of trolling Philly fans for me rooting for them or something. I mean, I’m not rooting against them either, but it would certainly make life more interesting around here if Philly lost. After being informed by so many that the season should have just been suspended and the Phillies named World Series champs the day after the Cliff Lee signing I would certainly look forward to the post-NLDS loss spin should it occur.
That may be academic though. Why? Because for all of the issues with the offense recently and the anything can happen nature of an elimination game, I keep coming back to one thing. Or one man, really: Roy Halladay. He pitches tonight. And he’s pretty much God when he gets five days of rest, which is what he has now. Here’s Corey Seidman over at Phillies Nation:
Halladay has made 84 career starts on five days rest. He has a .714 winning percentage in those games and an ERA (2.59) almost one full run better than on normal rest (3.42). An extra-rested Halladay has held opponents to a batting average 22 points lower than usual and a slugging percentage 44 points lower. In such games, his opponents’ OPS is 15 percent worse.
You can’t predict baseball. Especially not playoff baseball. But for the Cardinals to overcome that tonight, they’re going to have to play out of their minds.
MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.
Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.
The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.
Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.
The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.
He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.