Jose Altuve to be held out of season finale with league-leading .340 batting average

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UPDATE, 12:38 p.m. ET: Scratch that. Altuve has now been added to the starting lineup for Sunday’s game.

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Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle breaks it down:

Jose Altuve is starting the day on the bench with the Astros’ first batting title riding on the line.

With 157 games played already and an 0-for-4 performance on Saturday, Altuve appears to be banking that the Detroit Tigers’ Victor Martinez won’t have the multi-hit day needed to catch him.

Altuve boasts a .340 batting average in 656 at-bats this season. Martinez sits at .337 through 558 at-bats.

V-Mart needs to go 3-for-3 (or 4-for-4) on Sunday against the Twins to catch Altuve. The Tigers would take that, as they’re trying to fend off the Royals and wrap up their fourth straight American League Central championship. A loss by Detroit and a win by Kansas City would set up a Game 163 tiebreaker.

Altuve made it known to reporters Sunday morning that this was not his decision. The call was made by Astros GM Jeff Luhnow and interim manager Tom Lawless. “I wanted to play,” Altuve said. “It wasn’t up to me.” Altuve was told he would sit in a meeting with Luhnow, Lawless, and “three other people I don’t know.”

MORE FROM HARDBALLTALK: Jose Altuve has the most hits by a second baseman in 78 years

Clayton Kershaw to make Opening Day start for Dodgers

Clayton Kershaw Opening Day
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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts confirmed it in March and he confirmed it again on Tuesday: Clayton Kershaw will start on Opening Day, Jorge Castillo of The Los Angeles Times reports.

The Dodgers are one of four teams that will open the 60-game regular season schedule on July 23; everyone else begins play on the 24th. With a 10 PM ET start, the Dodgers will host the Giants at Dodger Stadium.

Johnny Cueto will likely pitch opposite Kershaw for the Giants. Cueto was named the Giants’ Opening Day starter on March 11, before the league shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. Manager Gabe Kapler hasn’t yet officially named an Opening Day starter for the makeshift season.

Kershaw, 32, made the Opening Day start eight consecutive times for the Dodgers from 2011-18. Hyun-Jin Ryu, now a Blue Jay, pitched on Opening Day last season for the Dodgers. Last year, Kershaw logged 178 1/3 innings over 28 starts and one relief appearance, his highest innings total since 2015. He went 16-5 with a 3.03 ERA, 189 strikeouts, and 41 walks.