Tom Verducci thinks Clay Buchholz is cheating

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In his latest, SI’s Tom Verducci looks at the video evidence — and uses his own observations over the past couple of years — and concludes that Clay Buchholz is doctoring the baseball with some sort of substance that is not permitted under the rules:

Buchholz’s left forearm glistens this year with some kind of substance that is not rosin or perspiration. As the righthander admitted, he does keep water on his uniform and in his hair and does pat the rosin bag on his left forearm — all apparently legal. But rosin is white and has a matte finish. Something wet and mostly clear glistens from Buchholz’s left wrist to his elbow, the moisture of which darkens the edge of his left undershirt sleeve.

I wonder if Eck will now play the “Verducci never played the game” card. Seems like he would.

Anyway, here’s one of baseball’s most respected voices with Hayhurst’s back. He quotes extensively from Dirk’s book about how pitchers use goop to improve their grip and gives the strong impression that he feels Buchholz is doing just that.

Weirdest thing: he doesn’t seem to think it’s a big deal. He doesn’t come down on it with any form of judgment, really, but just notes that it’s common for pitchers to do it. Indeed, the column almost seems dissonent. Like it needed one more paragraph in which Verducci actually says what he thinks about Buchholz cheating. But it never comes. Verducci just leaves it hanging.

Which is kind of surprising for a guy who is completely against the “well, everyone was doing it” mentality when it comes to PEDs.

Braves clinch NL East title

Ender Inciarte
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So much for a last-minute, nail-biting finish to this division race. The Braves cemented their division title with a dominant 5-3 finish over the Phillies on Saturday, laying claim to the NL East title for the first time since 2013.

The Braves asserted themselves right off the bat after amassing a four-run lead from Johan Camargo and Freddie Freeman, both of whom cleared the bases with two-run singles in the first two innings. Ronald Acuna Jr., meanwhile, found another way to make his presence known after swiping his 15th stolen base of the year and joining Alex Rodriguez, Orlando Cepeda, and Mike Trout as one of the youngest players to collect at least 25 home runs and 15 stolen bags in major league history.

Not to be outdone, Atlanta right-hander Mike Foltynewicz delivered one of the strongest starts of his season to date. The righty set down six innings of no-hit ball against the Phillies, and, with just 62 pitches under his belt, looked ready to go the distance before he lost his bid on Odubel Herrera‘s leadoff single in the seventh.

Unfortunately for the Braves, the Phillies not only upended Foltynewicz’s no-hit attempt, but the shutout as well. In the eighth inning, Cesar Hernandez and Rhys Hoskins wrestled two RBI singles from Atlanta’s bullpen and brought Philadelphia within one run of tying the game. Hoskins was the last Phillies batter to reach base, however, as Jonny Venters and Arodys Vizcaino tossed a combined 1 2/3 scoreless innings (backed by a final RBI hit from Kurt Suzuki in the bottom of the eighth) to cap the Braves’ win — and the NL East title.

With the loss, the Phillies sit seven games back of a wild card spot in the National League. They’ll need to outpace the Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Cardinals in order to make 2018 their first postseason-qualifying year since 2011.