As expected the Braves have left second baseman Dan Uggla off their NLDS roster, meaning they’d rather face the Dodgers without their highest-paid player. Uggla hit .179 this season and was completely helpless since returning from eye surgery, going 8-for-60 (.133) with 25 strikeouts.
Along with Uggla the Braves also left off Paul Maholm, who started 26 games during the regular season, and Scott Downs, who was acquired from the Angels to provide a left-handed bullpen option in the late innings.
Instead of relying on Maholm for a potential Game 4 start the Braves will apparently turn to Freddy Garcia, who was bouncing around between Triple-A teams a month ago and then tossed 27 innings with a 1.65 ERA down the stretch. Garcia is also 36 years old with a 4.84 ERA in 188 total innings since the beginning of last season, but Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez is a big believer in recent performances being meaningful.
Which is why Downs likely missed the cut. He’s been one of the best left-handed relievers in baseball for almost a decade, posting a combined 2.33 ERA in 447 appearances since 2007, but Downs had a 3.86 ERA and 15/8 K/BB ratio in 14 innings for the Braves.
It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.
On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.
At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.
If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.
Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.
Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.
The Rangers got a bit of a breather on Saturday after clinching the division lead during Friday night’s win. Naturally, it was also a prime opportunity for another of Adrian Beltre‘s well-documented antics, as he spent his off day directing the Rangers’ infield defense with a series of signs. Even with Carlos Beltran‘s help, no one, least of all those playing the infield, appeared to have any idea what Beltre’s gestures were intended to convey.
You can add this to the list of in-game oddities Beltre has become so well-known for over the years, running the gamut from the way he kicked a ball over the foul line to his histrionics every time someone comes close to touching his head. If nothing else, it’s a convincing audition reel for the third baseman’s future in major league coaching — a career path that, I’d imagine, would end up looking something like this: