Four Biogenesis minor leaguers to remain suspended into 2014

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Part of the rush to get the Biogenesis suspensions announced now was to allow major leaguers could finish their bans this year (and thus not appeal said bans). Things won’t go so smoothly for minor leaguers, though. Of the 13 players about to be suspended by Major League Baseball, four are not on 40-man rosters and will have to continue serving out their suspensions next year, a source familiar with the investigation told NBCSports.com’s Craig Calcaterra . Those four are:

Astros reliever Sergio Escalona
Yankees outfielder Fernando Martinez
Padres reliever Fautino De Los Santos
Free agent reliever Jordan Norberto

Jesus Montero of the Mariners and Cesar Puello and Jordany Valdespin of the Mets are also currently in the minors, but since they’re on 40-man rosters, they’re treated as major leaguers, meaning all three will be allowed to finish out their suspensions this year.

There are currently about 28-29 minor league games remaining in the season. Any playoff games will also likely count towards the 50, but Escalona, Martinez and De Los Santos will be prevented from playing for the first weeks of 2014.

All four players have major league experience. Escalona, who has been hurt this year, had allowed 11 runs in 15 innings for Double-A Corpus Christi. Martinez, who is always hurt, was at .325/.394/.554 with four homers in 83 at-bats for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after signing on with the Yankees in June. De Los Santos did his best work for the A’s in 2011. He’s pitched just 2 1/3 innings in the Padres system this year.

It remains to be seen whether the league will give any special consideration to Norberto, who can’t actually serve his suspension while unemployed and who isn’t likely to receive much interest with the suspension hanging over his head. Norberto had a 2.77 ERA in 52 innings for the A’s last year before falling apart this spring and getting hurt. He was released earlier this year.

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Update: Puello was incorrectly listed as being in with the group of minor leaguers. He’s a member of the Mets’ 40-man roster and will be allowed to complete his suspension this year.

De Los Santos’ status as a Padres minor leaguer has been corrected. He was released by the team earlier this season (and mistakenly listed as a free agent here), but he was re-signed to a minor league contract.

Game 6: This is why the Astros traded for Justin Verlander

Associated Press
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Houston’s pitching has not been their biggest problem as they’ve watched their 2-0 series lead turn in to a 3-2 series deficit. It has not been good, mind you — Charlie Morton got rocked in Game 3, the bullpen collapsed on Game 4 and Dallas Keuchel was suddenly mortal in Game 5 — but even then it’s not been the biggest concern. The real problem has been the lack of offense.

The Astros led the majors in runs (896), batting average (.282), on-base percentage (.346) and slugging (.478) during the regular season and were second to the Yankees in homers. Despite that, they have scored just nine runs and have hit only one homer. The team’s ALCS batting line, those two wins included, is .147/.234/.213. As such, facing off against Luis Severino and a rested Yankees bullpen tonight can’t give them a ton of confidence.

They do have one thing going for them, however: Justin Verlander. The same Justin Verlander who received only two runs of support in Game 2 of the series but made it hold up thanks to his 124-pitch, 13-strikeout complete game victory. You can’t really expect a starter to do that sort of thing two times in a row, but that’s what the Astros acquired him for at the end of August. In a league where there are vanishingly few horses a team can ride to victory, Verlander stands as one of the few remaining old school aces. Expect A.J. Hinch to keep the bit in Verlander’s mouth for as long as this game is close and, even then, maybe an inning longer.

Is there any reason for optimism regarding the Astros’ lineup? Sure, of course. They didn’t suddenly all forget how to hit. Every team goes through a stretch of 3-5 games where the hits don’t seem to fall. There may, possibly, be some reason for hope in the man they’re facing too. Severino lasted only four innings in Game 2, having been removed early after taking a ground ball off his left wrist. Severino said he was fine and wished that Joe Girardi hadn’t taken him out, but (a) he was acting a little odd, shaking his arm out like he was trying to shake off some pain; and (b) starting pitchers almost always lie and say they’re better than they are. I’m certain Severino is healthy enough to go, but there’s at least a small chance that he’s vulnerable, somehow. At the very least Astros hitters can walk to the plate convincing themselves of it. Any edge you can either get or imagine, right?

Game 6 seems like it will have to be a matter of a small edge one way or another for both teams, really. The Yankees are rolling, but their assignment tonight is a tough one as they try to chase a guy who fancies himself — and has often shown himself — to be a rare throwback to those 1960s and 1970s aces who only seem to get better as the ballgame goes on. The Astros, meanwhile, are tasked with solving a young, fireballing stuff monster who has something to prove after his early exit in Game 2 and, even if he can’t prove it, a corps of relief aces who are among the most formidable in baseball. Add to that the notion that Major League Baseball, Fox and most commentators and casual fans outside of Houston want to see the 12th Yankees-Dodgers World Series matchup and the Astros have to be thinking everything’s against them.

Which is OK, though, right? Ballplayers love it when no one believes in them. That’s not better than six or seven runs of support, but the Astros will take anything they can get at the moment.