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What’s on Tap: Previewing Monday’s action

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Almost a full slate of games on this Monday night. The only teams off are the Phillies and Nationals, who start a three-game series in the nation’s capital on Tuesday, and the Brewers and Cubs, who also open a three-game set in Chicago on Tuesday.

The Diamondbacks played a crazy 13-inning game with the Pirates on Sunday night. They lost 12-10 in 13 innings, but fought valiantly with two runs in the eighth and ninth innings to send the game to extras. Then, when the Pirates scored twice in the top of the 12th, the D-Backs responded with two runs of their own. They ended up using 10 pitchers: eight to pitch, one to pinch-hit (Zack Greinke), and one to pinch-run and play left field (Shelby Miller). Starter Robbie Ray lasted only three innings, forcing the bullpen to cover 10 innings. One wonders if the D-Backs’ bullpen will be running on empty during Monday night’s series opener at home against the Cardinals, starting at 9:40 PM EST.

A strong seven-plus-inning outing from Greinke would go a long way. He has turned things around in his last two starts after allowing 11 runs in 10 innings in his first two starts as a Diamondback after signing a six-year, $206.5 million contract in December. He pitched into the eighth inning against the Padres on April 15, then limited the Giants to a lone run in 6 2/3 innings last Wednesday.

The Cardinals will send Jaime Garcia, who is having a great season, out to the mound. He’s 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA and a 26/8 K/BB ratio over 20 innings. One of those starts included a complete game one-hit shutout, with 13 strikeouts, against the Brewers on April 14. When Garcia is healthy — which isn’t often — he’s one of the best starters in the game. Unfortunately, the 29-year-old lefty hasn’t been able to accrue more than 20 starts in a season since 2011.

The rest of Monday’s action…

Chicago White Sox (Miguel Gonzalez) @ Toronto Blue Jays (Marcus Stroman), 7:07 PM EST

Baltimore Orioles (Kevin Gausman) @ Tampa Bay Rays (Chris Archer), 7:10 PM EST

Boston Red Sox (Rick Porcello) @ Atlanta Braves (Julio Teheran), 7:10 PM EST

Cincinnati Reds (Raisel Iglesias) @ New York Mets (Noah Syndergaard), 7:10 PM EST

Oakland Athletics (Kendall Graveman) @ Detroit Tigers (Jordan Zimmermann), 7:10 PM EST

New York Yankees (Nathan Eovaldi) @ Texas Rangers (Cesar Ramos), 8:05 PM EST

Cleveland Indians (Danny Salazar) @ Minnesota Twins (Tommy Milone), 8:10 PM EST

Pittsburgh Pirates (Jeff Locke) @ Colorado Rockies (Chad Bettis), 8:40 PM EST

Kansas City Royals (Ian Kennedy) @ Los Angeles Angels (Garrett Richards), 10:05 PM EST

Houston Astros (Doug Fister) @ Seattle Mariners (Taijuan Walker), 10:10 PM EST

Miami Marlins (Wei-Yin Chen) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (Ross Stripling), 10:10 PM EST

San Diego Padres (Drew Pomeranz) @ San Francisco Giants (Madison Bumgarner), 10:15 PM EST

Tony Clark: Universal DH ‘gaining momentum’ among players

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Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark met the press late this morning and covered a wide array of topics.

One of them: free agency, which he referred to as being “under attack” based on the slow market for free agents last offseason.

“What the players saw last offseason was that their free-agent rights were under attack on what has been the bedrock of our system,” Clark said. He added that they “have some very difficult decisions to make.” Presumably in the form of grievances and, down the road, a negotiating strategy that seeks to claw back some of the many concessions the union has given owners in the past few Collective Bargaining Agreements. CBAs, it’s worth noting, that Clark negotiated. We’ve covered that territory in detail in the past.

Of more immediate interest was Clark’s comment that the idea of a universal designated hitter is, among players, “gaining momentum.” Clark says “players are talking about it more than they have in the past.” We’ve talked a lot about that as well.

Given that hating or loving the DH is the closest thing baseball has to a religion, no one’s mind is going to be changed by any of this, but I think, practically speaking, it’s inevitable that the National League will have the DH and I think it happens relatively soon. Perhaps in the next five years. The opposition to it at this point is solely subjective and based on tradition. People like pitchers batting and they like double switches and they like the leagues being different because they, well, like it. If the system were being set up today, however, they’d never have it this way and I think even the DH-haters know that well. That doesn’t mean that you can’t dislike a universal DH, but it does mean that you can’t expect the people who run the game to cater to that preference when it makes little sense for them to do it for their own purposes.

Anyway: enjoy convincing each other in the comments about how the side of that argument you dislike is wrong.