Denny McLain is the best. Yes he won 31 games in 1968 and back-to-back Cy Youngs in ’68 and ’69, but according to a 1970 Sports Illustrated story he also cost the Tigers a pennant in 1967 when, in late September, he suffered broken toes at the hands of bookies to whom he owed $46,000. He was slated to pitch on the final day of the season, pitched ineffectively and the Tigers missed their shot at the Red Sox in a one-game playoff for the ’67 pennant.
That was a tough break for Denny. And maybe his side of that story puts his broken toes in a totally different context. But I do know this much: when you have had that story floating around you unchallenged for 40 years, you are not in the position to be calling out someone for letting their team down during the home stretch. Almost anyone else can, but not you.
But hey, Denny is nothing if not shameless. Here he is talking to the Free Press about Jhonny Peralta:
“I would love to see him hang in there for the ballclub’s sake,” McLain said in a telephone interview with the Free Press. “He is more concerned with next year, starting clean, rather than helping the club this year. Everything’s about him. It’s not about the team. It’s not about the playoffs. It’s not about the World Series. It’s pure selfishness.”
I’ll give McLain credit for later saying that Peralta might be a good kid who took a wrong turn — McLain knows an awful lot about that — but man, I can’t think of anyone in less of a position to call out Peralta for not putting his team first.
Kurt Suzuki will wear a Braves’ uniform through the 2018 season after signing a one-year, $3.5 million extension with the club on Saturday, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal adds that the two had been in talks for weeks and Suzuki made it clear that he wanted to remain in Atlanta for the foreseeable future. The team has yet to announce the extension.
Suzuki, 33, initially signed a one-year contract with the Braves back in January. The veteran backstop stepped into a backup role behind starting catcher Tyler Flowers, but still found a way to impress at the plate with a .271/.343/.525 batting line, career-best 18 home runs and an .868 OPS through 287 PA. According to FanGraphs, Suzuki’s 2.2 fWAR makes 2017 his most valuable season since his run with the 2009 Athletics.
It’s a prudent move for the Braves, who would have lost one of their most dynamic second-half hitters to the free agent market this offseason. Entering Saturday, Suzuki is second only to Freddie Freeman with 11 homers and 1.4 fWAR since the All-Star break. His stunning comeback also confirmed the team’s decision to look outside the organization for a backup catcher, rather than turning to fellow veteran Anthony Recker behind the plate.
“On a personal level, this season exceeded my expectations,” Suzuki told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s just one of those things I can’t explain. I put a lot of work in and really didn’t have a job until late January. I got an opportunity here and took advantage of it. It was definitely a good fit.”
Tigers’ outfielder Mikie Mahtook is unlikely to play again this season, club manager Brad Ausmus announced Saturday. Mahtook was diagnosed with a Grade 2 left groin strain following Friday’s series opener against the Twins, when he appeared to injure himself after chasing down Byron Buxton‘s two-RBI double in the fourth.
This is the second time Mahtook has sustained a groin injury over the past month. The 27-year-old exited Friday’s game with a .276/.330/.457 batting line, 12 home runs and a .787 OPS through 379 plate appearances with the team.
With the Tigers out of contention, there’s no reason to trot out Mahtook for the remaining eight games of the regular season. The club has yet to specify a timetable for his return, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t be in fine shape to compete for a starting role next spring.