Getty Images

What’s on Tap: Previewing Saturday’s action

Leave a comment

There’s no better way to start off a Saturday than with a match-up of aces, which is exactly what the Giants and Cubs have planned for this afternoon when Madison Bumgarner and Jake Arrieta square off at 2:20 PM EDT at Wrigley Field. Bumgarner has the second-lowest ERA among qualified major league pitchers, at 2.49, but, since you asked, it’s been about two weeks since he hammered a ball out of the park:

[mlbvideo id=”1067337083″ width=”600″ height=”336″ /]

Arrieta, on the other hand, hasn’t driven a ball into the stands since June 27, but with an offense that averages 5.09 runs per game, that hasn’t really been an issue this season. By comparison, the Giants’ offense sits at league average with 4.49 runs per game, a number that rises ever so slightly to an average of 4.88 runs when Bumgarner takes the mound.

While the Cubs have all but secured a postseason berth, and the Giants currently lead the pack of National League wild card contenders, the same cannot be said for the Angels and Mariners. The Angels, who will send out lefty Tyler Skaggs for a 9:10 PM EDT nightcap at Safeco Field, are sunk 14 games out of a wild card spot and 21.5 games back of the division lead.

The Mariners look a little closer to the playoffs, with just a four-game gap to close in the wild card race, but they still have to contend with the Astros, Yankees, and Royals — all of whom, through some stroke of luck or fate, dropped their series openers on Friday. Facing the Angels on Saturday night is right-hander Taijuan Walker, who has given up four or more runs in each of his starts dating back through July 5 and is still waiting to hit his first career home run.

You can find more from Saturday’s action below.

Houston Astros (Joe Musgrove) @ Texas Rangers (Derek Holland), 4:05 PM EDT, Globe Life Park in Arlington

St. Louis Cardinals (Jaime Garcia) @ Cincinnati Reds (Dan Straily), 4:10 PM EDT, Great American Ball Park

Toronto Blue Jays (Marco Estrada) @ Tampa Bay Rays (Blake Snell), 6:10 PM EDT, Tropicana Field

New York Yankees (CC Sabathia) vs. Baltimore Orioles (Kevin Gausman), 7:05 PM EDT, Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Atlanta Braves (John Gant) @ Philadelphia Phillies (Vince Velasquez), 7:05 PM EDT, Citizens Bank Park

Milwaukee Brewers (Jimmy Nelson) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Ivan Nova), 7:05 PM EDT, PNC Park

Chicago White Sox (James Shields) @ Minnesota Twins (Hector Santiago), 7:10 PM EDT, Target Field

Miami Marlins (Jose Fernandez) @ Cleveland Indians (Trevor Bauer), 7:10 PM EDT, Progressive Field

Washington Nationals (Tanner Roark) @ New York Mets (Robert Gsellman), 7:10 PM EDT, Citi Field

Detroit Tigers (Michael Fulmer) @ Kansas City Royals (Yordano Ventura), 7:15 PM EDT, Kauffman Stadium

Arizona Diamondbacks (Braden Shipley) @ Colorado Rockies (Tyler Chatwood), 8:10 PM EDT, Coors Field

Boston Red Sox (Rick Porcello) @ Oakland Athletics (Daniel Mengden), 9:05 PM EDT, Oakland Coliseum

San Diego Padres (Luis Perdomo) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (Rich Hill), 9:10 PM EDT, Dodger Stadium

Report: Some MLB teams using outside labs for COVID-19 testing

MLB COVID-19 testing
Jason Koerner/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Zach Buchanan report that the Diamondbacks are one of several teams that have used labs other than the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory in Utah to process COVID-19 testing. MLB has encountered delays with its testing, despite promising 24-hour turnaround time, so teams have tried other avenues — with the league’s endorsement — in order to get faster results.

The SMRTL had processed performance-enhancing drug screenings for MLB. The league converted it to process COVID-19 tests amid concerns that having a season and all of the testing that would be required throughout would take away testing resources from the general public. That some teams are utilizing labs other than the SMRTL suggests the league, indeed, is usurping those resources.

In prospect Seth Beer’s case, he tested positive for COVID-19. He needed to test negative twice consecutively to be cleared to return to play. Beer went to a third-party site in the Phoenix area. He received his second negative test and was cleared to return on July 9.

The Diamondbacks said that the labs they have used have assured them that they are not taking away tests from the public. That seems like a claim MLB and the D-Backs should demonstrably prove. Per Rosenthal and Buchahan, the D-Backs have gone to an outside lab about 20 times, which accounts for less than one percent of COVID-19 tests taken by players and staff. Still, those are 20 tests that could have been used by the general public. And if the D-Backs and a handful of other teams already are using outside labs, then the rest of the league likely already is or soon will be doing the same. In the end, there will be a lot more than 20 tests taken at outside labs by MLB players and staff. Considering that “Tier 1” players will be tested every other day throughout the season, the total of third-party tests taken — if things continue the way they are now — could easily reach into the thousands by the end of October.

We all want baseball back, but the players, coaches, and all other staff are no more important than cashiers, teachers, and delivery drivers, so they shouldn’t have more access to COVID-19 testing simply by virtue of being associated with Major League Baseball and all of its influence and financial muscle. It would be unethical for MLB to be cutting in line ahead of other people who need testing just as much as if not more than the players.