No surprise, but James Wagner of the Washington Post reports that the Nationals are expected to decline their $14 million option on right-hander Rafael Soriano.
Soriano has been one of the best relievers in baseball for years and was fantastic in the first half with 22 saves and a 0.97 ERA, but then he posted a 6.48 ERA in the second half while being stripped of closing duties and nearly being left off the Nationals’ playoff roster.
Drew Storen, who had a 1.12 ERA this season and has a 2.94 ERA for his career, will take over as the full-time closer with Tyler Clippard as his primary setup man.
At age 34 it’s tough to imagine Soriano cashing in big on the open market, but even with the rough second half he finished with a 3.19 ERA and 59/19 K/BB ratio in 62 innings overall this season. And during the past three seasons combined he has a 2.84 ERA with 179 strikeouts in 196 innings.
In introducing former Pirates bench coach Jeff Banister as their new manager the Rangers announced that he got a three-year contract with a team option for 2018.
By comparison, the Diamondbacks just signed their new manager, former A’s bench coach Chip Hale, to a two-year contract. Ron Washington, whom Banister replaces as manager, spent his Rangers tenure working under a series of two-year contracts.
Banister beat out interim manager and presumed favorite Tim Bogar for the job and leaves the Pirates after spending most of the past 30 years in their organization as a player and coach.
Royals beat reporter Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star has been providing great coverage of the team throughout the playoffs, and I particularly enjoyed this tidbit about what manager Ned Yost is doing while waiting for the World Series to start:
Ned Yost piloted his family toward the Capitol Grille on the Country Club Plaza. Awaiting him was a reception he had neither expected nor ever before experienced. Before Yost could dine on steak, lobster mac and cheese and French fries, he feasted on a wave of adulation. The reaction was immediate, intense and emblematic of the good feeling inspired by the team’s berth in the World Series. Once upon a time, Yost used a fake name at Starbucks to avoid recognition. Now he cannot dodge it.
“I walked in, and the whole place went nuts,” Yost said. “I mean, everybody came out of the bar, everybody came out of their seat in the dining area. We just couldn’t get past that desk there. We were high-fiving, hugging, taking pictures. It was a tremendous experience.”
But wait, there’s more: “The next morning he was on the phone with his close friend Jeff Foxworthy.”
What a world.
It’s not even time for the first pitch in San Francisco yet and already there’s NLCS drama!
Let that be a lesson to the kids out there: Beware of those titanium-wrapped sticks of gum.
Here are the lineups for Game 5 of the Cardinals-Giants series in San Francisco:
3B Matt Carpenter
CF Jon Jay
LF Matt Holliday
SS Jhonny Peralta
1B Matt Adams
RF Randal Grichuk
2B Kolten Wong
C Tony Cruz
SP Adam Wainwright
With a left-hander on the mound Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has made some changes. Jhonny Peralta and Matt Adams flip-flop in the 4-5 spots, Randal Grichuk bats sixth while Jon Jay stays second, and Tony Cruz is behind the plate instead of A.J. Pierzynski.
CF Gregor Blanco
2B Joe Panik
C Buster Posey
3B Pablo Sandoval
RF Hunter Pence
1B Brandon Belt
LF Travis Ishikawa
SS Brandon Crawford
SP Madison Bumgarner
Standard lineup for Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who sticks with Travis Ishikawa in left field over Michael Morse and keeps shortstop Brandon Crawford in the eighth spot. Madison Bumgarner, who shut out the Cardinals for 7.2 innings in Game 1, has a 2.58 ERA in 59 career postseason innings.