Enjoy the win Angels fans, because you're about to be down 3-1

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Why?  Because this is CC Sabathia’s career line on three days rest, which is what he’ll be on as he takes the mound tonight:

Starts:  4

Record: 3-1

Innings: 26.2

Strikeouts: 26

Walks: 6

ERA: 1.01

Small sample size? Oh, absolutely. Fluky? Hard to say. Anything can happen in four starts, but over the course of his career, he has done much better with less rest than he has with extra rest. I’m no pitching expert, but the guy is a horse who gets so much of his power from his extremely ample lower body that his arm seems way less affected by a heavy workload than a lot of other guys. And given how badly Girardi has toasted his bullpen over the past two games, the Yankees are going to need CC to carry that weight.

Of course, even if Sabathia doesn’t come through tonight, he is set to go in a theoretical Game 7 on normal rest.  Which, despite last night’s game, is the reason why I seriously doubted Anaheim’s chances in this series.  To win it, they gotta beat CC Sabathia at least once.  From where I’m sitting, I’m having a hard time seeing it happening.

 

UPDATE:  Reader Mike Z correctly notes that I missed a short rest start for Sabathia.  He started Game 2 of the 2008 NLDS on short rest. He got beat up pretty bad. 

For what it’s worth, the reason I missed it is because Baseball-Reference.com — which lists days rest and on which I based this post — for some reason counts the playoffs and regular season games completely seperately and did not show Game 2 of the 2008 NLDS as a being in short rest. My bad. I should have cross-references his last regular season start and included the bombing he received at the hands of the Phillies.

That said, I stand by the prediction: I think CC will do well today, even if the underlying data is not quite as compelling as I mistakenly made it out to be.

Gabe Kapler chooses not to bench Jean Segura for lack of effort

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The Phillies are in a tailspin. The club lost its perch atop the NL East, losing 12 of its last 18 games dating back to May 30. They enter Thursday night’s action four games behind the now-first-place Braves. The reasons for the slide are myriad, including a rash of injuries, but the players have also simply not played well. Understandably, fans are upset.

It didn’t help when, for the second time in three weeks, shortstop Jean Segura didn’t run hard on a batted ball. On June 3, Segura didn’t run on an infield pop-up that eventually resulted in a season-ending injury to Andrew McCutchen. On Wednesday during the second game of a doubleheader, Segura weakly hit a Max Scherzer pitch to shallow left-center that wasn’t caught. Because he was watching the ball rather than running hard, he had to hold up after a wide turn around first base.

To the surprise of many, Segura wasn’t pulled from the game despite the lack of effort. To the even further surprise of many, manager Gabe Kapler included Segura in Thursday’s lineup against the Nationals, which has otherwise been thoroughly reshuffled. Per Scott Lauber of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Kapler said, “Jean is one of our eight best players. I don’t think taking one of our eight best players and our shortstop out of our lineup is what’s best for the Philadelphia Phillies.”

Kapler said he had a long talk with Segura. “I told him that we’re going to address not just him but other players in the clubhouse and we’re going to talk about the highest level of effort and talk about how we can’t win every night but we can win the game of give-a-[hoot] and be undefeated in that category. Then we can protect the Phillies by putting the best lineup together on a nightly basis and not think about making ourselves feel better by sending a message.”

Kapler hit the nail on the head with that last line. Benching Segura only makes fans and pundits feel better by punishing someone for a perceived transgression. But does it actually teach anything, and is it actually beneficial to the team? Maybe to the former, and no to the latter. Matt Winkelman of Baseball Prospectus brought up a great point on Twitter, writing, “The idea that punishment is the only way to solve a problem or change behavior is such a narrow minded idea.” People learn best in different ways. Some might respond well to punishment. Others may just need a good talking-to. It’s a case-by-case thing. Kapler is right to apply nuance to the situation.

So many of baseball’s long-held beliefs have fallen to the wayside in recent years. The idea that a player must always be punished for a lack of effort will hopefully be the next one to be taken out to the dumpster.

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Update: Appropriately, Segura hit a game-tying solo homer. Good thing he wasn’t benched.