World Baseball Classic Rosters Released

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The rosters for all 16 teams participating in the World Baseball Classic were announced last night. Here is where to go for team-by-team breakdowns. Here are the highlights:

  • There are 25 guys who made the 2016 All-Star team, including Jose Altuve (Venezuela), Nolan Arenado (USA), Xander Bogaerts (Kingdom of the Netherlands), Francisco Lindor (Puerto Rico) and Manny Machado (Dominican Republic). There are 63 players who have, at one time or another, been All-Stars;
  • As far as past award winners go there’s two-time American League Most Valuable Player Miguel Cabrera (Venezuela), 2012 National League MVP Buster Posey (USA), 2013 NL MVP Andrew McCutchen (USA), 2006 AL MVP Justin Morneau (Canada), 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez (Venezuela), 2005 AL Cy Young Award winner Bartolo Colón (Dominican Republic) and 2003 NL Cy Young Award winner Eric Gagne (Canada);
  • The Dominican Republic is the defending WBC champ, and they look to be loaded again. Coming back from the 2013 team is Robinson Canó, Santiago Casilla, Nelson Cruz, Samuel Deduno, Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, Fernando Rodney, Carlos Santana and Edinson Volquez;
  • The Detroit Tigers are the most-represented Major League team on WBC rosters, with 15 players from their organization in the WBC. The Mets (13), Cardinals (11), Indians (11), Mariners (11), Royals (11), Blue Jays (10), Braves (10), Dodgers (10), Phillies (10), Twins (10) and Yankees (10) are next on the list. As far as players who are on their team’s 40-man roster, the Mets lead with nine, followed by the Tigers and Phillies with eight.

The World Baseball Classic gets underway with pool play in four cities around the world on March 6. The final game will be March 22nd in Los Angeles.

James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

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To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.