The NL All-Star starting lineup will outshine the AL’s

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OK, so there hasn’t been any actual All-Star ballot results released yet. That doesn’t mean I can’t do my fun little exercise here. What follows is my best guess at the All-Star Game starting lineups.

National League

CF Andrew McCutchen
2B Brandon Phillips
1B Joey Votto
LF Justin Upton
RF Bryce Harper
3B David Wright
DH Carlos Gonzalez
C Buster Posey
SS Troy Tulowitzki

Ryan Braun and Paul Goldschmidt would have great cases as the designated hitter, too, but since the lineup is already righty heavy, Gonzalez makes more sense, I think. Shin-Soo Choo will also be a possibility if he keeps this up.

American League

LF Mike Trout
2B Robinson Cano
3B Miguel Cabrera
1B Prince Fielder
RF Jose Bautista
DH David Ortiz
CF Adam Jones
C Joe Mauer
SS Jhonny Peralta

The top of the American League’s lineup matches up fine with the NL’s, probably even bettering it. But the bottom doesn’t compare. Of course, I’m just guessing at Jones. Trout would seem to be a lock as a starting outfielder, but Bautista and Jones aren’t. Among those who could factor in are Nelson Cruz, Alex Gordon, Yoenis Cespedes, Torii Hunter and Alex Rios.

The NL also has an unfair advantage here in that it gets to pick its DH, while the AL has to live with whoever is voted on. That’s not a problem if Ortiz stays healthy, but it means Chris Davis, who ranks second in the AL in OPS and RBI and first in homers, gets ripped off. There’s also no place for Evan Longoria.

Shortstop is the real problem. With Jose Reyes and Derek Jeter hurt, Peralta has been the best of the rest, though maybe Elvis Andrus will get voted in over him.

Julio Urias to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery

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The news has gone from bad to worse for Dodgers’ left-hander Julio Urias, who is scheduled for anterior capsule surgery on his left shoulder next Tuesday and expected to be sidelined through the middle of the 2018 season. His MRI came back negative on Wednesday, giving the Dodgers some hope that the 20-year-old’s bout of shoulder inflammation wasn’t masking any structural damage, but the pain lingered several days later and prompted further concern from the club. The procedure will be performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

Urias was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City in late May and placed on the disabled list with left shoulder discomfort several weeks into his assignment. At the major league level, he owned a 5.40 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 4.2 SO/9 through 23 1/3 innings, going 0-2 in five starts with Los Angeles. He made a brief rebound in Triple-A, posting three wins and striking out 17 of 67 batters in 17 1/3 innings before landing on the DL.

It’s a tough blow for the southpaw, who had yet to hit his stride in the majors before getting sidelined with shoulder issues. The Dodgers were especially mindful of this outcome for Urias, and had taken preventative measures to protect his arm by establishing a strict innings limit last season. According to club president Andrew Friedman, there’s a small silver lining here: while Urias’ injury will keep him out of work for at least 12 months, he doesn’t appear to have sustained any damage to his labrum or rotator cuff, and could be facing a much more streamlined recovery process as a result. Whether he’ll be able to rebound once he takes the mound again remains to be seen.

Tigers release Francisco Rodriguez

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Tigers’ right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez was released on Friday, per a team announcement. The club recalled fellow right-hander Bruce Rondon from Triple-A Toledo in a corresponding move.

The former closer got the boot after losing his closing role in early May, giving left-hander Justin Wilson a chance to impress at the back end of the bullpen. It’s been a rough year for Rodriguez, who manufactured six blown saves and a 7.82 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 25 1/3 innings for the Tigers. The final straw, it seemed, came with Robinson Cano‘s grand slam in the seventh inning of the Tigers’ 6-9 loss to the Mariners on Thursday.

While the demotion to a clean-up role and an apparent lack of communication caused Rodriguez considerable frustration, he’s two years removed from his last dominant performance as a major league closer and has shown few signs of returning to form. His recent slump doesn’t diminish the impressive totals he’s racked up over his 16-year career — 437 saves and six All-Star nominations among them — but if he can’t break out of it soon, he may not receive the kind of high leverage role he’s seeking with another big league team, either.