Something I had not realized was going on until I read Derrick Goold’s column this morning: Albert Pujols has now gone 22 games without a home run.
I’m not going to panic about it because of any current slumping star, I figure Pujols is the most likely to rebound and the most likely to do so quickly. But this does make me wonder a bit about the free agency thing.
I don’t think his performance this year changes the actual value calculus too much. I mean sure, if he ends the season with a sub-.800 OPS it might, but at the end of the year I figure he’ll be back to outstanding, even if he’s a bit below his peak. But I do wonder if a couple of teams who may have considered making life difficult for the Cardinals will be scared off and that, as a result, the giant fiasco of Pujols-the-free-agent many have anticipated isn’t largely averted.
Put differently: I wonder if a quiet year from Pujols manages to thread the needle just perfectly in that it (a) won’t depress his value too much; but (b) will make his ultimate re-signing by St. Louis a relative non-event as everyone in baseball realizes that there isn’t any other team hot for the guy.
Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.
Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.
Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.