Jesus hits cleanup for the Nationals

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That’s the actual headline from this Washington Times story about the Nats and religion:

But this year, perhaps more than in years past, religion has become a frequent topic inside the Nationals’ clubhouse. Players of differing beliefs discuss them, sometimes turning into hotly contested debates. Multiple players, regardless of whether they were actively religious or not, said they never had been on a team that talks about religion as much as this one.

“People always say, ‘When you’re with strangers you don’t talk about politics, you don’t talk about religion,’” Stammen said. “But we’ve all become good enough friends that I don’t think we judge each other too much. We can talk about it a little bit. And there’s guys who are very interested and inquisitive, because they don’t know much about it.”

Ballplayers are, on the whole, a pretty religious bunch. Demographics play into that, as there is a huge overlap between people from rural areas, the south, Latinos and religious identification.  Every clubhouse has a chapel service and a core of players one could call the religious caucus. And, for the most part, it’s never a big deal. You hear random stories about guys like Chad Curtis making waves in the clubhouse due to their zealotry, but when you look at what else defines Chad Curtis, you’d be hard-pressed to say that his problems were borne of a particularly religious disposition. He’s just a total jerk.

Beyond that stuff I’ve always been impressed at how seamlessly baseball clubhouses blend together people from different religions and cultures and attitudes. Especially given how much time these guys have to spend together in fairly close quarters. It’s amazing we don’t hear more about rifts and personality clashes than we do.

Athletics release Santiago Casilla

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Athletics have released reliever Santiago Casilla. The club had designated him for assignment on Saturday.

Casilla, 37, posted a 3.16 ERA with 22 strikeouts and 20 walks in 31 1/3 innings of relief for the A’s in the first half. The ERA is certainly not bad, but the strikeout and walk rates are subpar and point to a pitcher who won’t be successful going forward without changing. Additionally, Casilla’s fastball velocity, at 92.9 MPH on average, is the lowest of his career.

Casilla is owed the remainder of his $5.5 million salary for the 2018 season. If he should sign elsewhere, the A’s would be on the hook for the remainder minus the prorated major league minimum salary.