Is it good form for a player to publicly question his manager’s lineup? Nope. Not at all. But Bryce Harper did it and, for the most part, was criticized in a proportionate manner. And of course the Nats are winning right now, so that makes things better.
Still, I feel like we’re going to be seeing hot takes about Harper not knowing his place for a while. Jason Reid of the Washington Post has one today. A few days after the fact, of course. And, more importantly, a few days after the Harper-Williams tiff — to the extent you can call it a tiff — had been resolved. If you don’t believe me, read Adam Kilgore’s story from the same Washington Post running Reid’s hot take:
The swirl of opinion and controversy crackled and hummed Tuesday afternoon, surfacing on television screens, blaring out of radios, murmuring in clubhouses across the league. While so many were talking about them, Bryce Harper and Matt Williams — the two figures at the center of the attention— sat down at Nationals Parks and talked to each other.
Kilgore — who, unlike Reid, covers the Nats on a daily basis — is the guy to go to for what’s actually going on. And to read his story is to realize that, an ill-advised comment notwithstanding, Williams and Harper are basically good with one another and the tiff, or whatever, is over.
At least with the people who matter. If the Nats do anything other than win the NL East and make a deep playoff run I presume some tourist who doesn’t cover the Nats that often will swoop in with some “the seeds of the Nationals’ failure were sewn back in late June . . .” take. Because that’s how this stuff usually works.
The Marlins are intent on adding one of the three best relievers available on the free agent market, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. Those three, of course, are Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and Mark Melancon.
As Ashley noted earlier, Melancon is reportedly fielding multiple four-year offers in excess of $60 million. The price tags for Chapman and Jansen are likely to match or exceed that. The Marlins haven’t typically been eager to whip out the checkbook for free agents but with the bullpen being the name of the game in baseball these days, GM Michael Hill may feel the need to match his rivals.
The Nationals, Giants, Yankees, Cubs, and Dodgers are the teams most often linked to the “big-three” group of relievers, so it won’t be easy for the Marlins.
A.J. Ramos handled the closer’s role for the Marlins this past season and did an admirable job, saving 40 games with a 2.81 ERA and a 73/35 K/BB ratio in 64 innings. There’s no doubt, though, that Chapman, Jansen, or Melancon would represent a significant upgrade in the ninth inning.
C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Reds manager Bryan Price is likely going to use a trio of pitchers in the closer’s role: Raisel Iglesias, Tony Cingrani, and Michael Lorenzen. At RedsFest on Saturday, Price said:
I’d say right now that we have a series of guys that I’m comfortable with in the ninth inning and that would include (Raisel) Iglesias, (Tony) Cingrani and (Michael Lorenzen). Should we stay with this format – which I intend to do – all three of those guys and maybe more could have opportunities in save situations. At this point in time, there’s no defined closer. There are multiple options and I’d like to stick with the philosophy that we’re going to have our multi-inning guys, so we’re going to need multi-closers.
This seems to be part of the new bullpen zeitgeist in which managers are shying away from strictly-defined roles for their relievers. Indians manager Terry Francona’s postseason success using Andrew Miller likely had some degree of influence on Price’s willingness to go with a three-headed giant.
Iglesias started the 2016 season in the Reds’ rotation but missed two months with an injury, then moved to the bullpen in late June. Price put him in the closer’s role down the stretch in September. The right-hander overall finished the season with a 2.53 ERA and an 83/26 K/BB ratio in 78 1/3 innings.
Cingrani battled control issues in his 63 innings of work this past season, finishing with a 4.14 ERA and a 49/37 K/BB ratio. He’s left-handed, though, and gives Price some matchup flexibility in the late innings.
Lorenzen impressed in his first full season as a reliever, ending the year with a 2.88 ERA and a 48/13 K/BB ratio in 50 innings. The right-hander uses a fastball that sits around 96 MPH on average along with a cutter and slider.