TMZ: A-Rod says he’ll sue if MLB doesn’t drop his suspension. Good luck with that, Alex

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TMZ has a report that Alex Rodriguez is threatening to sue Major League Baseball if his suspension isn’t overturned:

Sources directly connected to A-Rod tell us he’s prepared to march into Federal court next month … unless the 211-game suspension the MLB slapped him with last week isn’t entirely lifted … According to our sources, Alex will sue for various things, including a violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the players’ union and the league.

Well, good luck with that, A-Rod, but you’re part of an arbitration process you agreed to when you signed your contract and to which you are further bound by the collective bargaining agreement between you and your union. If you attempt to circumvent that, a court is highly likely to tell you to take a hike and go have your arbitration. Courts favor arbitration agreements — highly favor them — when they are entered into freely and willingly between two sophisticated parties and they are loathe to intervene.

After your arbitration? Fine, appeal to a court. Then they are only about 99.9% likely to tell you to go away as opposed to the 99.999% likelihood of that happening now, but I suppose it’s not nothing.

This would be a totally different situation if Major League Baseball had first attempted to circumvent the Joint Drug Agreement by suspending A-Rod and not allowing him to play during his appeal. Everything the league is doing now, however, appears to be in compliance with the JDA and the CBA. They may have suspended him for too many games — that’s my view anyway — but that’s a dispute to be handled within the system, not by circumventing it with litigation.

The “Clayton Kershaw can’t pitch in the postseason” narrative should be dead

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For years, a bulk of the postseason coverage surrounding Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw focused on his poor results once the regular season ended. The three-time Cy Young Award winner carried a career 5.68 postseason ERA following his NLDS Game 1 start against the Diamondbacks last year, a sample size spanning 15 starts and four relief appearances totaling 95 1/3 innings.

Kershaw had a subpar start against the Astros in Game 5 of the World Series last year and the narrative hit a fever pitch. I dug into the numbers at that point and found that a not-insignificant portion of Kershaw’s playoff ERA could be attributed to relievers coming in after him and failing to strand their inherited runners. At the time of that writing (October 30, 2017), Dodger relievers allowed 10 of 16 runners inherited from Kershaw in the playoffs to score, a strand rate of 37.5 percent. That’s roughly half of the league average (around 75 percent).

Kershaw finished out the World Series last year by pitching four scoreless innings of relief in Game 7. He returned to the postseason, starting Game 2 of the NLDS against the Braves this year and tossed eight shutout frames on just two hits with no walks. The narrative should have died there, too. It, of course did not. As the Dodgers advanced to the NLCS, Kershaw got the Game 1 nod against the Brewers and struggled. The Brewers got him for five runs (four earned) across three-plus innings. One of those runs included a home run hit by the opposing pitcher (Brandon Woodruff). Kershaw was also hurt by a passed ball and catcher’s interference on the part of Yasmani Grandal in the third inning. Not a great outing, but not as bad as the line score read, either.

In Game 5 of the NLCS on Wednesday evening, Kershaw once again redeemed himself. He limited the Brewers this time around to a lone run on three hits and two walks with nine strikeouts over seven innings of work. The only run came around in the third inning when Lorenzo Cain hit an RBI double to center field. Kershaw’s career postseason ERA is now 4.11 and it would be much lower if his bullpen had, in the past, done its job more effectively.

According to Katie Sharp of The Athletic, tonight’s postseason start was Kershaw’s eighth in which he allowed one run or fewer and three hits or fewer. No other pitcher in baseball history has made more than five such starts. That’s partially a function of opportunity, as the Dodgers have been in the postseason every year dating back to 2013 as well as in 2008 and ’09. But Kershaw still has to go out there and make the pitches, and he largely has. The “Kershaw can’t pitch in the postseason” narrative is dead. It never should have lived.