The White Sox’ clubhouse is blowing up over the Adam LaRoche situation

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“This business will get out of control. It will get out of control and we’ll be lucky to live through it.”Admiral Josh Painter, “The Hunt for Red October.” Or maybe it was Chris Sale who said it. Hard to tell at this point.

Emotions and anger boiled over at White Sox camp in Glendale today, as Chris Sale went off on Executive Vice President Ken Williams over the ongoing Adam LaRoche drama. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that Sale hung up Adam LaRoche and Drake LaRoche uniforms in his locker. A gesture often reserved for, you know, players who died. In case you were wondering how some of the Sox players feel about this whole situation.

The Drake jersey had words written on it to Sale from the young man which read “Thanks for everything. I’ll never forget you!” It’s as if he was lost at sea, not out hunting with his dad someplace at the moment.

Sale then expressed to reporters just how upset he and some of his teammates are:

Adam Eaton, the club’s union rep, was the latest voice to suggest that LaRoche’s contract had language in it which ensured Drake LaRoche’s presence in the clubhouse. As we noted before, it’s quite possible that the language did not speak to a specific amount of time Drake could be there, which may have made Ken Williams feel comfortable asking Adam to limit his son’s access. As we also noted before, however, in the context of a grievance over this, the contract language may not really matter as much as custom, habit and expectations. Either way, Eaton suggested that a grievance would be filed and that he is going to be in contact with the MLBPA.

I’m stuck on Sale’s accusation that Williams lied. That Williams blamed teammates and coaches for the new Drake LaRoche policy. Williams said before that he was acting on his own accord, not at the request of Sox players. Sale said Williams blamed others. Was that a lie or did he lie about player complaints? One of them would have to be a lie, no? Assuming he said what Sale said he said.

You know where I stand on this, of course, but that hardly matters at this point. What matters is that the Sox’ ace — and likely several other players for whom he presumably speaks — is up in arms. At the moment he’s up in arms at his front office. But if other players complained about Drake LaRoche — and it’s likely that they did — how long until Sale comes to accept that? And then what happens? If Sale is this angry in front of reporters about a team executive, how is he going to respond to White Sox players once he realizes that this wasn’t all just Ken Williams’ doing?

Nationals’ starting pitching carrying them into World Series

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In my postseason preview at the end of September, I listed the Nationals’ starting rotation as a strength and their bullpen as a weakness. Anyone who had followed the club this season could have told you that. Even the Nats are aware of it as manager Dave Martinez has leaned on his rotation to hide his sometimes unreliable ‘pen.

In Game 1 of the NLDS against the Dodgers, Martinez was burned by his bullpen as Tanner Rainey, Fernando Rodney, and Hunter Strickland combined to allow six base runners and four runs. Martinez used ace Max Scherzer in relief in Game 2, sandwiched by Sean Doolittle and Daniel Hudson. Starter Patrick Corbin pitched in relief in Game 3 and it backfired, but the bullpen after Corbin continued to allow more runs — three officially, but Wander Suero allowed two inherited runners to score on a three-run homer by Max Muncy. Martinez only had to rely on Doolittle and Hudson in Game 4 and he again went to Corbin in relief in Game 5.

The strategy was clear: use the actual bullpen as little as possible. If Martinez absolutely has to, Doolittle and Hudson get top priory by a country mile, followed by a starter, then the rest of the bullpen.

Thankfully for Martinez and the Nationals, the starting pitching has done yeoman’s work in the NLCS, jumping out to a three games to none series lead over the Cardinals. Aníbal Sánchez famously brought a no-hit bid into the eighth inning of Game 1, finally relenting a two-out single to José Martínez before his night was over. Doolittle got the final four outs in the 2-0 win. Max Scherzer flirted with a no-hitter in his Game 2 start as well, losing it when Paul Goldschmidt led off the seventh with a single. He was erased on an inning-ending double play. Doolittle, Corbin, and Hudson got the final six outs in the 3-1 victory.

It was more of the same in Game 3. While Stephen Strasburg didn’t flirt with a no-hitter, he was dominant over seven innings, yielding one unearned run on seven hits with no walks and 12 strikeouts. The Nats’ offense woke up, amassing eight runs through seven innings which allowed Martinez to give his main relief guys a night off. Rodney and Rainey each pitched a perfect inning of relief with two strikeouts in low-leverage situations, their first appearances in the NLCS.

The Nationals starting pitching has been outstanding by itself, but it has also had the secondary effect of allowing Martinez to hide his team’s biggest weakness. Now Martinez just has to hope for more of the same for one more game, then at least four more in the World Series.