Craig Calcaterra

Roberto Clemente

Roberto Clemente Award nominees announced

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The Roberto Clemente Award goes to the Major Leaguer who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team.” Paul Konerko and Jimmy Rollins shared the award last year. This year’s nominees were just announced:

Arizona Diamondbacks – Paul Goldschmidt
Atlanta Braves – Jason Grilli
Baltimore Orioles – Brian Matusz
Boston Red Sox – Brock Holt
Chicago Cubs – Anthony Rizzo
Chicago White Sox – David Robertson
Cincinnati Reds – J.J. Hoover
Cleveland Indians – Carlos Carrasco
Colorado Rockies – Kyle Kendrick
Detroit Tigers – Miguel Cabrera
Houston Astros – George Springer
Kansas City Royals – Alex Gordon
Los Angeles Angels – Hector Santiago
Los Angeles Dodgers – Adrian Gonzalez
Miami Marlins – Dee Gordon
Milwaukee Brewers – Jonathan Lucroy
Minnesota Twins – Torii Hunter
New York Mets – Curtis Granderson
New York Yankees – Mark Teixeira
Oakland Athletics – Stephen Vogt
Philadelphia Phillies – Ryan Howard
Pittsburgh Pirates – Andrew McCutchen
St. Louis Cardinals – Adam Wainwright
San Diego Padres – Andrew Cashner
San Francisco Giants – Javier Lopez
Seattle Mariners – Charlie Furbush
Tampa Bay Rays – Chris Archer
Texas Rangers – Adrian Beltre
Toronto Blue Jays – Jose Bautista
Washington Nationals – Denard Span

There’s a fan vote component to this award, in which you go to the Clemente Award website (which is not yet active, actually, but will be later this week) and vote for one of the nominees. The winner of the fan vote basically gets a one vote head start, with that vote added in to votes cast by Rob Manfred, Vera Clemente and a number of former players and some media people.

Sort of a mismosh, I guess, but it’s named after a great guy, so we’ll let it slide.

The Rangers and Astros are poised for a BIG series

Cole Hamels
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In a year with far fewer exciting playoff races than most, we actually get a high-leverage series with playoff implications this week: the Houston Astros face the Texas Rangers in Arlington for four games starting tonight.

Scott Kazmir will take the mound against Cole Hamels in tonight’s contest. Each of these guys started someplace else this year, with the Astros picking up Kazmir as a means of shoring up the rotation with an eye on the playoffs. Perhaps internally the Rangers knew that getting Hamels from the Phillies would aid them in their push for the playoffs in 2015, but most outsiders assumed that was a play for next year. Now, Hamels stands to help pull the Rangers, who are already in playoff position, to within a half game of the division-leading Astros and Kazmir looks to fight-off a hard-charging Rangers club that was eight games back in the beginning of August before sweeping the Astros in Houston.

Since (and including) that series, the Rangers are 24-14, the Astros are 17-20. Some might say that gives the Rangers the momentum, but in baseball everyone knows that momentum is the next day’s starting pitcher.

After tonight, the next days starting pitchers are Collin McHugh vs. Martin Perez on Tuesday, Dallas Keuchel vs. Derek Holland on Wednesday and Lance McCullers vs. Colby Lewis on Thursday.

This is not the last series between these teams — they meet in Houston for a three game set starting a week from Friday — but this is, by far, the biggest series between baseball’s two Texas teams ever.

Matt Harvey to get half-outings to stay sharp

Matt Harvey
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The never-ending saga of Matt Harvey‘s Workload continues. When last we heard, Harvey was going to start against the Yankees next weekend and then be more or less shut down for most of the time between then and the playoffs. Now, Adam Rubin reports, the plan has changed:

In order to keep Matt Harvey sharp for the postseason, the New York Mets now plan to give him regular starts down the stretch. However, the starts will be half-outings, with another pitcher being used after Harvey for multiple innings.

This should combat rust, but one wonders if it’ll affect stamina. Pitchers are often “stretched out” from short roles in order to go from relief work to starting. Is there an opposite, shortening-up phenomenon?

More to the point is whether or not it matters. In the postseason outings tend to be shorter anyway as managers have quicker hooks. But it will be worth watching in the event the bullpen is taxed in a playoff series by the time Harvey’s outing comes around.