The Braves defeated the Dodgers 4-3 last night to even things up at 1-1 in the NLDS, but the win wasn’t without some controversy, as Dee Gordon was called out on a bang-bang play while trying to steal second base in the ninth inning.
Gordon entered the ballgame as a pinch-runner after A.J. Ellis drew a walk against Braves closer Craig Kimbrel. Included on the Dodgers’ NLDS roster for his speed, Gordon quickly took off for second base with pinch-hitter Andre Ethier at the plate. However, he ruled out by second base umpire Bill Miller after Andrelton Simmons was able to catch a throw from Gerald Laird on the short hop and apply the tag in one motion. Ethier would go on to draw a walk, but Carl Crawford struck out swinging to end the ballgame.
Much of the focus after the game was naturally on Gordon being thrown out at second base. Watching the play in real time, it certainly appeared that he was safe. However, if you slow it down, it appears that Simmons may have tagged Gordon on his backside before he was able to reach the base. Granted, Miller wasn’t in the best position to judge where Gordon’s hand may have been. The picture (captured by Scott Cunningham of Getty Images) in this post indicates the same thing, though it’s unclear whether the ball is in Gordon’s glove at this time. Check out the play below:
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly undoubtedly would have used one of his replay challenges if this was 2014, but I’m not sure there would have been enough evidence here to help him. MLB will likely have more angles available than TBS did on this particular play, but I don’t see anything definitive here that would have overturned the call.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.
The Nationals announced on Saturday afternoon that the club acquired closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates in exchange for reliever Felipe Rivero and minor league pitcher Taylor Hearn.
Melancon, 31, put together another solid season for the Pirates, leaving the club with 30 saves, a 1.51 ERA, and a 38/9 K/BB ratio in 41 2/3 innings. He led the majors last season with 51 saves and has a 1.80 ERA since joining the Pirates in 2013. Melancon is earning $9.65 million this season and can become eligible for free agency after the season.
With Melancon out of the picture, the Pirates intend to have Tony Watson take over the closer’s role.
Rivero, 25, has handled the seventh and eighth innings for the Nationals this season, compiling a 4.53 ERA and a 53/15 K/BB ratio in 49 2/3 innings. He’s just shy of one year of service time, so the Pirates will have control of him for a long time.
Hearn, 21, was rated the Nationals’ 27th-best prospect by MLB Pipeline. He was originally drafted by the Pirates in the 22nd round of the 2012 draft but he didn’t sign and ended up going back to college. The Nationals took him in the fifth round of last year’s draft. This season, between rookie ball and Single-A Hagerstown, Hearn put up a 2.79 ERA and a 39/13 K/BB ratio in 29 innings. He’s a long way away from the majors, so he’s essentially a lottery ticket for the Pirates.
The Nationals needed an upgrade at closer as Jonathan Papelbon has struggled this season. The right-hander has allowed runs in each of his last three appearances, ballooning his ERA up to 4.41 with a 30/13 K/BB ratio in 32 2/3 innings. It will be interesting to see how Papelbon, who has never made a habit of letting his feelings go unspoken, handles a demotion to the eighth inning.