Yesterday I linked a Ron Roenicke complaint — with which I agreed — about how having teams from the same division playing interleague schedules of differing strengths was unfair. And it is unfair in the plainest sense of the term in that, without questions, teams have to face challenges of varying strength while vying for the same prize.
But has it resulted in unjust results in practice? Not so much, says Wendy Thurm of Hanging Sliders who, last March, looked at the varying schedules in the interleague era and concluded thusly:
I have concluded that only two National League divisional races and only one National League wild card race between teams in the same division may have been affected by an unbalanced interleague schedule.
She then followed that up the next week and felt comfortable taking the “may” off of it, saying that “neither the unbalanced interleague schedules nor the unbalanced National League schedules tipped the scales in favor of the team that won each race.”
Check out Wendy’s work. And then let’s ask ourselves how many things we get worked up about — even if there’s a legitimate, theoretical reason to get worked up about them — actually don’t matter all that damn much.
An interesting tidbit today from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, who noted that ongoing talks between agent Scott Boras and the Padres have focused more on starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel than slugger Bryce Harper. Earlier this week, there were conflicting reports on the Padres’ level of interest in Harper — MLB Network’s Jon Heyman heard the club had not ruled out another big signing after getting Manny Machado, while Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune talked to multiple sources who believed otherwise — but any agreement between the two is looking unlikelier by the day.
As for Keuchel, Rosenthal cautions that a potential deal is still a “longshot,” especially as the team has other, cheaper options in mind. The 31-year-old southpaw turned down a qualifying offer from the Astros last year and is likely angling for something north of the five-year, $90 million contract extension he rejected from the club in 2016. He’s coming off of another solid performance in Houston, where he went 12-11 in 34 starts with a 3.74 ERA, 2.6 BB/9, 6.7 SO/9, and 3.6 fWAR through 204 2/3 innings in 2018.
While Keuchel has failed to garner substantial interest around the league this offseason, Heyman points out that the Phillies are looking to establish themselves as frontrunners for the lefty — and they’re far less likely to have hang-ups about his asking price, too.