The Diamondbacks enter Saturday night’s game with the Padres at 10-22, the worst record in baseball. Their -60 run differential is also the worst in baseball, even worse than the lowly Astros at -53.
There are plenty of explanations for the slow start, but chief among them is that the club has been ravaged by injuries. Four pitchers have undergone Tommy John surgery, including Patrick Corbin and Daniel Hudson, and slugger Mark Trumbo — the prize acquisition of the off-season for the D-Backs — is dealing with a stress fracture in his left foot.
GM Kevin Towers thinks his team will turn things around, but he isn’t sure if he’ll still have a job by then. Via MLB.com’s Barry M. Bloom:
Right now, he still feels he and manager Kirk Gibson are on the same page with managing partner Ken Kendrick and club president Derrick Hall.
“But they’re both very, very disappointed, and rightfully so,” Towers said before the D-backs played his former team, the Padres, at Petco Park on Friday night. “When you spend $110 million and you’re 9-22 at the end of April, I wouldn’t be happy, either. I’m also disappointed, but I still believe in the core group. I think they will get better. Will I be around to see it? I don’t know.”
Towers’ tenure in Arizona has been controversial to say the least. He traded franchise superstar Justin Upton to the Braves last year and has come out on the losing end of the swap. Towers also made headlines when he fired pitching coach Charles Nagy for refusing to instruct his pitchers to throw at opposing players.
In the end, the Mets’ march into the playoffs played out just how they imagined: three innings of a Bartolo Colon perfecto, four combined innings of one-run ball from five different relievers, a James Loney home run. Well, maybe it looked a little different when they drew it up.
Colon guided the Mets through five innings for his 15th win of the year, striking out six and giving up a two-run homer in the fifth. Behind him, the Mets combined for five runs off of RBI base hits from T.J. Rivera and Jose Reyes, finding an edge with Loney’s go-ahead homer in the sixth and a bonus RBI single from Asdrubal Cabrera in the ninth inning. Despite a pair of well-placed home runs by Ryan Howard and Darin Ruf, the Phillies found themselves in scoring position just twice and were unable to close the two-run gap to tie the game.
The Mets’ 5-3 win over the Phillies clinched their spot in the postseason, sans tiebreaker. They also secured home-field advantage for Wednesday’s wild card game, during which they’ll face either the Cardinals or the Giants. On Friday, the wild card winner will advance to the Division Series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
As MLB.com’s Jeff Passan and Joe Trezza simultaneously pointed out, it will be an unconventional playoff run for the Mets, who approach October without Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, Neil Walker, David Wright, Zack Wheeler, or Ben Zobrist. Now, if ever, seems like an appropriate time for some champagne.
With Game 1 of the Red Sox-Indians ALDS set to commence on Thursday, there’s no better starter for the job than Corey Kluber. The only question is whether or not the right-hander will be up to the task after sustaining a mild quadriceps strain earlier this week.
Indians’ manager Terry Francona appeared optimistic about Kluber’s chances of recovering in time for the Division Series, but admitted that he doesn’t have his rotation set in stone for the first couple of postseason games. Complicating matters is Monday’s potential make-up game between the Indians and the Tigers, which they’ll be forced to play if the outcome has bearing on playoff seeding.
Per MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian, Francona doesn’t have a starter for the make-up game, either, though he clarified that rehabbing right-hander Danny Salazar would not be eligible. Salazar is still working his way back from a forearm injury in hopes of joining the Indians for their postseason run, and needs to toss another simulated game before he can be expected to return to the mound. Kluber, meanwhile, will throw off the mound on Sunday.
With Kluber or Salazar limping out of the gate, the Indians will likely have to fall back on right-handers Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin. Bauer is slated for Saturday’s face-off against the Royals and confirmed his willingness to pitch on short rest through the playoffs. The 25-year-old also spoke to the Indians about his ability to pitch out of the bullpen, though it’s an option they appear unlikely to exercise. While Francona’s comments on Friday stressed the club’s patient approach toward their rotation, Bauer appeared revved and ready to go:
If it was up to me, […] I’d pitch and be ready to start or be available out of the ‘pen every game. In the playoffs, there’s really no reason to save anything. So, whenever I can get in there, whenever they want me to get in there, I’ll be ready.