Clayton Kershaw won’t start the series finale against the Giants on Sunday night. He’s been scratched because of hip discomfort, and Joe Blanton will pitch in his place tonight.
It’s certainly good news for the Giants as they throw Barry Zito to go for the series win after splitting the first two games in San Francisco. Kershaw had a 1.73 ERA in four starts against the Giants this season, though that had only gotten him a 1-3 record. As you might have guessed, he wasn’t matched up against Zito in any of those starts.
Blanton last pitched Monday, so tonight’s start will be on five days’ rest for him. He’s 0-2 with a 5.30 ERA in three starts against the Giants this season.
Kershaw is expected to come back and pitch Tuesday. He got a cortisone shot for the hip on Saturday and he wanted to pitch tonight, but the Dodgers declined to give him the go-ahead.
In an age in which even baseball’s richest teams talk about tight budgets and keeping payroll low, it’s pretty rare to hear anyone connected with a front office talking about freely spending money. Phillies owner John Middleton, however, offered up something rare about the team’s approach to free agency.
“We’re going into this expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it,” he told Bob Nightengale or USA Today. He then added, “we just prefer not to be completely stupid.” That save aside, it was a pretty unusual sentiment these days.
“Stupid” could certainly mean Bryce Harper, who the Phillies have long been expected to pursue. It could even mean Harper and Manny Machado. Why not? At the moment the Phillies’ payroll for 2019 is looking to be just a shade above $100 million, so even adding, say, $70 million to that would not put them in an unreasonable position compared to other competitors. And that’s before you figure in any sort of back-loading or deferred money that Harper and/or Machado might agree to.
Or, even if they didn’t get one or both of those guys, they could spend that same kind of money on multiple free agents. Patrick Corbin? Marwin Gonzalez? A handful of others? We counted down the top 100 free agents last week and any number of them could be acquired given the sort of payroll flexibility a large market team like the Phillies appear to have. It merely requires the will to do it. A will which, it seems, John Middleton possesses.