Jose Bautista denies performance-enhancing claims

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Jose Bautista, as we mentioned earlier, launched his 39th and 40th home runs of the season on Monday night in the Blue Jays’ 3-2 defeat of the Yankees. 

Because his previous career-high home run total was 16 and because we as baseball fans have been burned in the past by many a slugger, the 29-year-old Bautista is having to answer questions about his training methods.  This from the Toronto Globe and Mail:

“Nobody’s said anything to me, and I don’t see why they should. Baseball
has a strict policy against those performance-enhancing whatever you
want to call them. 

It’s not a secret and I didn’t reinvent the wheel,” Bautista continued. “I
keep saying it because it’s the truth. It’s as simple as getting [my
swing] started earlier, and I’ve got Cito and [hitting coach] Dwayne
Murphy to thank for that.”

Is it wrong that he’s forced to deal with such inquires because of the mistakes of the home run hitters that came before him?  Sure.  But we’re not that far removed from the steroid era, and we might not even be removed at all.  Heck, Marlins catcher Ronny Paulino was busted for performance-enhancers just last week.

Let’s keep in mid, however, that baseball statistics have a tendency to spike and that every player goes through peaks and valleys.  Bautista is batting .258 with a .970 OPS, 40 home runs and 95 RBI through 438 at-bats.  He’s having a career year, and that is probably all that’s going on.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.