The Braves to release Dan Uggla

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Joel Sherman of the New York Post and Ken Rosenthal of Fox more or less simultaneously reported that the Braves are expected to release Dan Uggla.

There was speculation about this over the weekend when the Braves had a roster crunch. That was alleviated by Uggla being suspended for one day due to showing up late to the ballpark (and possibly more; everyone was kinda cagey about it). But really, this was a long time coming. Uggla has lost his starting job and he has been utterly ineffective as a pinch-hitter. His inability to play elsewhere on defense means that, effectively, the Braves have been playing with a 24-man roster for weeks.

Uggla has hit just .175/.295/.332 since the beginning of last season. He’s owed around¬†$19 million through the end of next season, so no one is going to claim him on waivers (if, in fact, he is designated for assignment instead of just given his outright release). It’s possible that someone may look at his power and his past and take a chance on him for the major league minimum — the Reds and Giants could both use help at second base — but after watching him every night for several years now, I’m gonna say that, nope, this dude has nothing to offer.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, me and all of the Braves fans are going to be having an Ewok-style Yub Nub party in which we play drums on all of Dan Uggla’s old batting helmets.

A.J. Hinch: “We’ll use every pitcher in Game 7 if we have to”

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It’s not entirely clear why the Astros threw Ken Giles into the ninth inning of Game 6 of the ALCS. With a six-run advantage and the bottom half of the Yankees’ lineup due up, pushing the series to its seven-game capacity looked like a sure bet. Giles may be one of Houston’s better bullpen arms, but he’s not their only option, and it would have made more sense to keep him fresh for a do-or-die Game 7 on Saturday night.

Of course, there’s no such thing as a sure bet when it comes to postseason baseball. That’s more or less what Astros’ manager A.J. Hinch had to say after the game, telling reporters that he had envisioned a quick three outs from his closer as they tried to pull back from the brink of elimination. “We didn’t have the luxury of limping into that inning,” Hinch said. “We’ve seen how these guys can explode in these innings.”

It’s not difficult to recall the Yankees’ explosive drive in the eighth inning of Game 4, when they exploited the holes in Houston’s ‘pen and evened the series with Gary Sanchez‘s go-ahead double off of Giles. Back home in Minute Maid Park, however, there was a slightly different feel to the eighth and ninth innings of Game 6. Jose Altuve led off the eighth with a solo home run, followed by Alex Bregman‘s two-run double and Evan Gattis‘ sac fly. In the ninth, Giles labored through a 23-pitch outing to lock down the win, handing out a base hit and a seven-pitch walk before eventually whiffing Chase Headley on three straight pitches for the last out.

So, while Hinch’s decision to lean on Giles in Game 6 may have felt wasteful, his concerns were not entirely unfounded. He’s prepared to roll with the same strategy during Saturday’s series finale, too, leaving nothing on the table as the Astros battle for their first World Series showdown since 2005. According to Dallas Keuchel, that means all hands on deck — except for Justin Verlander, whose four wins, 24 strikeouts and 1.46 postseason ERA have gotten the Astros as far as he could possibly be expected to take them. “No pitcher is going to be in the dugout,” said Keuchel. “They’re all going to be in the bullpen, myself included. Any way we can help out, we’re trying to get to the World Series, the same way the Yankees are, and that’s a nice feeling to have.”

Does that mean Giles will be available for a Game 7 appearance? Stranger things have happened. Joe Sheehan notes that the right-hander has pitched in back-to-back days 13 times this year, though he’s never thrown as many as 23 pitches on Day 1. Granted, he likely doesn’t have enough left in the tank for another 20+ pitch run on Saturday, but with the World Series on the line, any help he can offer will be invaluable.