Royals (finally) designate Jonathan Sanchez for assignment

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UPDATE: Mercifully, the Royals have designated Sanchez for assignment.

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As if watching Melky Cabrera win All-Star game MVP while hitting .350 for the Giants wasn’t bad enough for Royals fans, now they’re being forced to watch Jonathan Sanchez implode every fifth game.

Sanchez, who was acquired from the Giants for Cabrera this offseason, has been the worst starting pitcher in baseball this year. Or at least the worst among starters who haven’t already been demoted from the rotation.

Sanchez’s latest clunker came last night, as he failed to make it out of the second inning against the weak-hitting Mariners while allowing seven runs. He’s now 1-6 with a 7.76 ERA in 12 starts, with more walks (44) than strikeouts (36) and 109 total baserunners in 53 innings.

That includes 23 runs in 17 innings over his last four starts, during which time opponents have hit .355 with a .462 on-base percentage and .658 slugging percentage off Sanchez. And yet as Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star writes, dumping Sanchez from the rotation still isn’t a sure thing for the Royals.

Brandon Morrow shut down for the rest of the season

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Cubs closer Brandon Morrow has been out since the All-Star break with a bone bruise and biceps inflammation. In recent days there had been hope that he would be activated in the season’s final two weeks in order to be ready for the playoffs, but that’s not happening: Theo Epstein just said that Morrow is done for the season.

It’s not the first time good expectations for Morrow’s recovery were not met. When he was placed on the DL back in July manager Joe Maddon said he didn’t anticipate Morrow being on the DL for much more than the minimum 10 days. Two months later and here we are.

Morrow, 34, had an excellent season until the arm trouble started, saving 22 games with a 1.47 ERA and a 31/9 K/BB ratio in 30.2 innings. Once he went out the closer’s duties fell to Pedro Strop. Now Strop too is out for at least the rest of the regular season and likely more due to a hamstring strain he suffered last week while running the bases.

Bullpens become a lot more important in the postseason. The Cubs’ bullpen is becoming thinner.