People said the Dodgers tried to buy a roster and that you “can’t buy chemistry.” They also wrung their hands that the Dodgers “peaked too soon.” That first bit of hokey conventional wisdom has been demonstrated as ridiculous and the second bit is pending, but seems like a stretch too given how resilient this team has been.
What’s next on the baseball conventional wisdom checklist? How about home field advantage in the playoffs? Because Don Mattingly is not too concerned about that, either, reports Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times. He’s way more concerned with player health than pressing them too hard after everything is clinched and reminds us that “we’ve seen wild card teams win the whole thing.”
Now, I don’t put home field advantage into the same category as “peaking too soon” as there is some empirical evidence to suggest that, yah, home field is better than being on the road. But I still think it’s better to have a healthy team than a home team if a choice must be made and I like how Mattingly isn’t too caught up in the things the sportswriters get caught up with.
I know he was under fire earlier this season and I never really considered Mattingly to be one of the game’s top managers (or bottom for that matter). But he has definitely impressed me as this season has gone on. He’s dealt with bad play, great play, controversies and big personalities. He’s mixed kids and veterans and high dollar contracts with journeymen and nothing seems to have taken him off his game.
Here’s to seeing him do more to undermine the conventional wisdom too.
Starter Jeremy Hellickson has become the Phillies’ most enticing trade chip as he’s put together a solid month of July. After shutting out the Marlins on one hit and one walk over six innings on Monday, the right-hander lowered his July ERA to 1.97 and his overall ERA to 3.65. As a result, the Phillies are telling teams they want a top-five prospect to part with Hellickson, per ESPN’s Jayson Stark.
Obviously, a top-five prospect means something different if you’re the Marlins as opposed to the Rangers. And the Phillies’ price point for Hellickson isn’t likely to stay that high, but GM Matt Klentak is setting a lofty starting point so that the return might end up being higher than market value.
ESPN’s Buster Olney speculates that the Phillies could end up holding onto Hellickson and giving him a qualifying offer after the season. He notes that the Phillies have only $25 million tied up for the 2017 season, so they could afford to pay Hellickson in excess of $16 million if he were to accept.
Madison Bumgarner isn’t the only Giants pitcher who can rake. Matt Cain crushed a three-run home run during Tuesday’s game against the Giants.
Cain stepped to the plate with runners on the corner and one out against Reds starter Cody Reed in the bottom of the second inning. Reed threw a 1-1 fastball down the middle and Cain hit it about 20 rows back in the left field seats.
It’s Cain’s first homer of the season, his first since 2012, and the seventh of his 12-year career. He still has some work to catch up to Bumgarner, who has two homers this year and 13 in his career.
On the pitching side of things, Cain got the win against the Reds on Tuesday night, giving up four runs on six hits and a walk with four strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings. He currently holds an ugly 5.95 ERA.