Tony Clark

The MLBPA is looking into the Ben Wetzler case

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Last week it was revealed that the Phillies reported Oregon State pitcher Ben Wetzler to the NCAA for using an agent in negotiations with the Phillies after being drafted last summer. Wetzler was suspended for 20 percent of his senior year as a result. The Phillies have received considerable backlash from the report, as reporting the use of agents by amateurs is highly irregular among major league teams.

Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports that the MLBPA is looking into the matter. Quotes from union president Tony Clark:

“The interest is the same we would have in the draft in general,” Clark said. “These guys are connected to our institution. We have some input to the rules and the dynamics (of the draft) and that’s why anything related to it we have a concern about it or a commitment to pay attention to it.

“To that extent, we are gathering information as we speak. Yes, we are concerned. Based on what we find out will determine what, if anything, lends itself to further discussion, but we are concerned enough to be inquiring.”

I’m glad someone is inquiring, though it remains to be seen what if anything the union could do about it. Yes, they have input on the draft. But they have also routinely sold out players subject to the draft in exchange for furthering the interests of major leaguers. That’s why there’s slotting now. If the MLBPA truly advocated for draftees, they would have never agreed to that.

The real danger here is teams using threats of reporting players to the NCAA in order to coerce them to sign on unfavorable terms. That’s something Major League Baseball should be looking into, not just the MLBPA.

Red Sox set a new major league record with 11 strikeouts in a row

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 20: Starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez #52 of the Boston Red Sox works the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 20, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images
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Lost in the nifty base running by Dustin Pedroia that won Sunday’s game against the Rays, the Red Sox set a new major league record by striking out 11 batters in a row, per Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. Starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out the final six Rays he faced and reliever Heath Hembree struck out five Rays in a row after that. Tom Seaver had the previous consecutive strikeout streak of 10, set on April 22, 1970 against the Padres.

The Red Sox also set a team record with 23 strikeouts in total: 13 by Rodriguez, five by Hembree, one by Matt Barnes, and four by Joe Kelly. Per Abraham, that’s the most strikeouts in a 10-inning game since at least 1913 and the most in a game of any length since 2004.

For Rodriguez, Sunday marked the first double-digit strikeout game of his career. He has pitched quite well since returning to the rotation at the start of the second half. Over 13 starts, the lefty has a 3.10 ERA with a 70/23 K/BB ratio in 72 2/3 innings.

Dodgers clinch NL West on Charlie Culberson’s walk-off home run

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 20: Charlie Culberson #6 of the Los Angeles Dodgers runs to first base after hitting a single RBI in the second inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on July 20, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
Matt Hazlett/Getty Images
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Dodgers second baseman Charlie Culberson delivered a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, clinching the NL West for the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon. What a way to celebrate Vin Scully’s final home game behind the microphone.

The Dodgers were trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning, but shortstop Corey Seager tripled in a run to tie the game. Rockies outfielder David Dahl untied the game in the top of the ninth with a two-out solo home run off of Kenley Jansen. But Seager once again rose to the occasion, blasting a game-tying solo shot in the bottom half of the ninth against Adam Ottavino. That would set the stage for Culberson in the next frame.

Culberson, a former Rockie, came into the afternoon with a .591 OPS and zero home runs in 53 plate appearances. He finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with the homer.

It’s the fourth consecutive season in which the Dodgers have won the NL West. The Cubs have clinched the best record, which means they’ll play the winner of the Wild Card game. The Dodgers will play the Nationals in the NLDS. The Nationals have a 1.5-game lead over the Dodgers for home-field advantage, so both teams are still playing for something of importance in the regular season’s final week.