Mike Scioscia sticks with Bobby Abreu as No. 3 hitter despite .199 average since July 1

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Bobby Abreu struck out four times Wednesday and came into last night hitting just .199 with four homers in 59 games since July 1, but as usual he was in the Angels’ lineup as the No. 3 hitter.

It was the 94th time this season that manager Mike Scioscia has had Abreu in the third spot, which is remarkable for a 37-year-old who’s been awful for going on three months and is hitting just .252 with a .360 slugging percentage overall this season.

Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register asked Scioscia about the decision to stick with Abreu in the lineup and leave him in the middle of the batting order, and the manager replied that “he’s still giving us good at-bats.”

Abreu has long been one of the most patient hitters in the league and his .397 career on-base percentage ranks 10th among active players, but along with the .199 batting average since July 1 he’s also gotten on base at a putrid .281 clip.

If the Angels end up missing the playoffs by a couple games–and right now it looks like they will–the manager’s faith in Abreu will be one of the reasons. And he’ll be back next season after his $9 million option vested.

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.