Giants probably not a playoff team without Melky Cabrera

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With Melky Cabrera done for at least the rest of the regular season after testing positive for enhanced testosterone levels, the Giants may well fall short of the playoffs this year. Though perhaps that’s for the best, given that the cheater is a big reason they’re tied for the NL West lead at the moment.

Cabrera has hit .346/.390/.516 with 11 homers, 60 RBI and 13 steals this season. That .906 OPS was good for eighth place in the National League. It was also 97 points higher than his 2011 mark with the Royals and 177 points higher than his career mark of .729 entering the season.

Baseball-reference WAR places Cabrera as the NL’s fourth-best position player this season. Fangraphs WAR rates him the 11th best.

Needless to say, the team’s fallbacks don’t compare. Nate Schierholtz will be missed, since he was included in the Hunter Pence trade. Gregor Blanco, whose role was reduced when Pence arrived, figures to see a lot more action now. He’s hitting just .232/.329/.343 for the season, and he’s at .137/.297/.196 in 51 at-bats since the All-Star break. Justin Christian figures to return to the majors to replace Cabrera on the roster.

Perhaps the Giants will go get Alfonso Soriano from a Cubs team perfectly willing to cover a big portion of his salary. He’d replace Melky’s power, though not his on-base ability. Aubrey Huff, on the DL with a strained knee, could factor into the mix in left next month, but it’s nothing the Giants can count on.

The Giants simply can’t afford any drop-off and still expect to reach the playoffs. They’re tied with the Dodgers for the NL West lead, but the Dodgers are playing better baseball at the moment. Their 64-53 record is tied for fifth-best in the NL. As things stand now, both the Braves and Pirates have better records in the wild card spots, with the Cardinals just a half-game behind.

Cabrera will be eligible to play beginning with the Giants’ fifth game of the postseason if the team does advance, but that would turn into a farce if it happens. It’d be another black mark for baseball if Cabrera could get a PED suspension and still be a postseason hero in the same year.

Maddon: Shohei Ohtani won’t pitch again for Angels this year

Shohei Ohtani
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Shohei Ohtani won’t pitch again this season for the Los Angeles Angels after straining his right forearm in his second start, manager Joe Maddon says.

Ohtani likely will return to the Angels’ lineup as their designated hitter this week, Maddon said Tuesday night before the club opened a road series against the Seattle Mariners.

The Angels’ stance on Ohtani is unsurprising after the club announced he had strained the flexor pronator mass near the elbow of his pitching arm. The two-way star’s recovery from the strain requires him to abstain from throwing for four to six weeks, which covers most of the shortened 2020 season.

“I’m not anticipating him pitching at all this year,” Maddon said. “Any kind of throwing program is going to be very conservative.”

Ohtani was injured Sunday in the second inning of his second start since returning to the mound following Tommy John surgery in late 2018. Ohtani issued five walks during the 42-pitch inning against the Houston Astros, with his velocity dropping later in the frame.

The arm injury is another obstacle in Ohtani’s path to becoming the majors’ first true two-way player in decades. He made 10 mound starts as a rookie in 2018 before injuring his elbow, but he served as the Angels’ regular designated hitter last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Ohtani has pitched in only three games since June 2018, but the Angels still believe in Ohtani’s ability to be a two-way player, Maddon said.

“I’m seeing that he can,” Maddon said. “We’ve just got to get past the arm maladies and figure that out. But I’ve seen it. He’s just such a high-end arm, and we’ve seen what he can do in the batter’s box. Now maybe it might get to the point where he may choose to do one thing over the other and express that to us. I know he likes to hit. In my mind’s eye, he’s still going to be able to do this.”

The veteran manager believes Ohtani will benefit from a full spring training and a normal season. Ohtani wasn’t throwing at full strength for a starter when the coronavirus pandemic shut down spring training in March because he wasn’t expected to pitch until May as he returned from surgery.

“Going into a regular season with a normal number of starts and all the things that permit guys to be ready for a year, that’s what we need to see is some normalcy before you make that kind of determination,” Maddon said.

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