Playoff schedule condensed; seven-game division series next?

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Selig 4.jpgBud Selig announced yesterday that, based on the recommendation of his special committee, the schedules for the 2010 League Championship Serieseseses have been shortened by
eliminating an off-day between Games 4 and 5.  Inasmuch as it was a totally superfluous off-day, this is a good thing. Next up, in all likelihood, will be expanding the division series from a best of five to a best of seven affair.  That, however, will have to wait until at least the 2012 season, as it has to be the subject of collective bargaining. The players want it, however, so it shouldn’t be a big problem making it happen.

I’m for a longer LDS partially because more baseball is an absolute good, but also because the longer a playoff series is, the more likely that the stronger overall team will advance. As it is now, a team with great depth, especially in the rotation, has a distinct advantage in the regular season. Yet in a short, drawn-out playoff series, they are at a disadvantage as compared to a Spahn-and-Sain-and-three-days-of-rain kind of team, and that kind of bugs me.

Obviously the key to all of this working is the whole schedule, not just one random off-day, being condensed and optimized. The easiest way to do that is to tell FOX or whoever has the broadcast rights that they don’t get to dictate when a playoff series starts. I know TV will cry and moan about this, but we’re all grownups. We can handle it.

Nathan Eovaldi to make 2018 debut for Rays soon

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Rays manager Kevin Cash said that pitcher Nathan Eovaldi will join the starting rotation on Monday or Tuesday to face the Athletics, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Eovaldi’s rehab outing with Triple-A Durham went well, even though he gave up eight runs in four innings.

Eovaldi, 28, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He had arthroscopic surgery in March to remove loose bodies in his elbow. It’s been a long road back. Knowing Eovaldi needed to recover from surgery, the Rays signed him to a one-year, $2 million contract in 2017 that included a $2 million club option for 2018 that they exercised last November.

When Eovaldi last pitched, he ranked among baseball’s hardest throwers, particularly among starters. He averaged 97.1 MPH on his fastball in 2016. Among starters who racked up at least 100 innings that season, only the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard had a higher average velocity (97.9 MPH). It remains to be seen if he still has that velocity after undergoing two procedures on his elbow.

The Rays will be glad to have Eovaldi back. The club has sustained injuries to Jake Faria, Yonny Chirinos, and Jose De Leon.