Billy Wagner dominating on verge of 400th save, but Braves are riding him awfully hard

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When the Braves signed Billy Wagner this offseason there was some thought that they’d have to be cautious with the 38-year-old’s workload in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery.
Instead he’s on pace for 70 appearances and 67 innings, which is pretty standard for a modern closer, and the Braves ramped up the workload last week by using Wagner for an inning Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Rarely do teams have a reliever work four straight days, let alone a 38-year-old reliever not that far removed from major surgery, but Wagner tossed a scoreless inning each time, allowing just two hits and a walk while striking out five.
He also notched a win and three saves in the four appearances, and as David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution notes Wagner is now one save away from joining Trevor Hoffman (596), Mariano Rivera (542), Lee Smith (478), and John Franco (424) in the 400-save club. I’d say that would increase his Hall of Fame case in the eyes of voters, but as the greatest left-handed reliever of all time his case should be obvious anyway.
Wagner has said that he plans to retire after the season, so there isn’t much long-term risk to running him out there on back-to-back-to-back-to-back days, but with the Braves sitting atop the NL East with the league’s best record there should be plenty of incentive to keep him healthy and sharp for the stretch run and playoffs.
So far so good, as Wagner is 5-0 with 14 saves and has been amazing with a 1.23 ERA, .168 opponents’ batting average, and 43/12 K/BB ratio in 29.1 innings, but it’ll be interesting to see if Bobby Cox loosens the reins a bit after leaning on him so heavily last week.

Brewers’ and Dodgers’ benches empty after Manny Machado and Jesús Aguilar get into it

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The Brewers and Dodgers haven’t had much action in Game 4 of the NLCS, bringing a 1-1 game through 10 innings and about four and a half hours. We finally got something to get the blood pumping, though, when Dodgers shortstop Manny Machado and Brewers first baseman Jesús Aguilar exchanged some words with each other, prompting both teams’ benches to spill onto the field.

With one out, Machado grounded a 3-1, 95 MPH fastball to shortstop Orlando Arcia, who made an easy throw to first base to complete the out. Machado, running the play out, dragged his left leg, slamming it into Aguilar’s leg as he crossed the bag, causing himself to stumble momentarily. Machado went back and jawed at Aguilar like it was his fault.

Machado has not had the best press in the NLCS. He failed to run out a grounder in Game 2, then made a couple of slides in Game 3 that attempted to interfere with Arcia at the second base bag. He was called for interference on the second one. Machado hasn’t earned the benefit of the doubt for his actions tonight.

It’s difficult to imagine Machado’s behavior during the NLCS will affect his windfall as a free agent this offseason, but he’s proving to be somewhat of a distraction for a team trying to get back to the World Series. And that’s not good.