The suspense was killing you, I’m sure:
Good for them. Even better for Bryce Harper when, inevitably, a member of the NL squad goes down with an “injury,” requiring MLB’s most marketable young talent in decades to have to go to Kansas City for next week’s game. Purely by coincidence, I’m sure.
And once again, let me note the wonderful, over-the-top disconnect between Major League’s official position regarding the All-Star Game — it determines home field advantage for the World Series and thus, by definition counts for something truly important — and its practical approach to it: the All-Star Game is a marketing, public relations and philanthropic opportunity, and the Final Vote’s greatest utility comes from driving traffic to MLB.com and followers to its Twitter account:
To be sure, there is nothing wrong with baseball using the All-Star Game this way. Indeed, in a day and age in which fans can see any player whenever they want and the distinctions between the National League and American League are approaching non-existent, that may very well be the highest and best purpose for the Game as opposed to some actual semi-serious competition like it was decades ago.
But given this, it is high time baseball take away the one thing that doesn’t fit with all that is today’s All-Star Game: actual baseball consequences. Take the World Series home field advantage out of the equation. Let the 98% of how Major League Baseball approaches the All-Star Game — fan-friendly fun, promotional event and money maker — rule, and stop making something that matters like home field advantage in the World Series be decided by things that do not matter:
That’s fun and all, but seriously guys, it should have no bearing on the World Series.
With Game 1 of the Red Sox-Indians ALDS set to commence on Thursday, there’s no better starter for the job than Corey Kluber. The only question is whether or not the right-hander will be up to the task after sustaining a mild quadriceps strain earlier this week.
Indians’ manager Terry Francona appeared optimistic about Kluber’s chances of recovering in time for the Division Series, but admitted that he doesn’t have his rotation set in stone for the first couple of postseason games. Complicating matters is Monday’s potential make-up game between the Indians and the Tigers, which they’ll be forced to play if the outcome has bearing on playoff seeding.
Per MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian, Francona doesn’t have a starter for the make-up game, either, though he clarified that rehabbing right-hander Danny Salazar would not be eligible. Salazar is still working his way back from a forearm injury in hopes of joining the Indians for their postseason run, and needs to toss another simulated game before he can be expected to return to the mound. Kluber, meanwhile, will throw off the mound on Sunday.
With Kluber or Salazar limping out of the gate, the Indians will likely have to fall back on right-handers Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin. Bauer is slated for Saturday’s face-off against the Royals and confirmed his willingness to pitch on short rest through the playoffs. The 25-year-old also spoke to the Indians about his ability to pitch out of the bullpen, though it’s an option they appear unlikely to exercise. While Francona’s comments on Friday stressed the club’s patient approach toward their rotation, Bauer appeared revved and ready to go:
If it was up to me, […] I’d pitch and be ready to start or be available out of the ‘pen every game. In the playoffs, there’s really no reason to save anything. So, whenever I can get in there, whenever they want me to get in there, I’ll be ready.
Matt Holliday might not have a landing spot with the Cardinals in 2017, but that doesn’t mean he’s ready to hang his cleats up just yet. Prior to the Cardinals’ afternoon set against the Pirates on Saturday, the 36-year-old expressed his desire to further his career elsewhere, even if staying in St. Louis is not a possibility.
It’s been a down year for the outfielder, who batted .242/.318/.450 through 107 games before landing on the disabled list with a fractured right thumb. His 0.6 fWAR is the lowest mark of his career to date. Notwithstanding two injury-riddled seasons (he was sidelined through most of 2015 with a right quadriceps strain), he’s performed admirably for the Cardinals over the past eight years, putting up a .292/.379/.494 batting line, 156 home runs, and 26.8 fWAR with the club. With a return to full health, he might not be on the market for long.