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Report: Dexter Fowler, Mike Matheny ‘barely talk’

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Last week, Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak put his foot in his mouth when he called into question outfielder Dexter Fowler‘s effort and energy. He said, “I’ve also had a lot of people come up to me and question his effort and his energy level. You know, those are things that I can’t defend.” Mozeliak later tried to walk back his comments. This all happened, by the way, after Fowler left the team to be with his wife Aliya, who was giving birth to their second child.

Fowler, 32, has struggled in the second year of a five-year, $82.5 million contract signed with the Cardinals in December 2016. This season, he has hit a measly .168/.271/.273 with five home runs and 21 RBI in 255 plate appearances. Manager Mike Matheny has been giving Harrison Bader more and more playing time in right field, lessening Fowler’s opportunities.

According to a report from The Athletic’s Mark Saxon over the weekend, Fowler and Matheny “barely talk and haven’t for months.” Matheny was recently asked about Fowler specifically, but he deflected to discuss the team as a whole.

Saxon suggests that a trade by the end of the month isn’t as likely as an offseason trade. Fowler still thinks he can turn things around with his current team. He said, “Yeah, that’s what I signed up for. At the end of the day, it’s what I signed up for and I’m going to give it my all all the time.”

Pirates shut down Chris Archer

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The Pirates are officially shutting down Chris Archer for the season, GM Neal Huntington revealed Sunday. It’s more of a formality than anything else, but, as the Pirates are currently out of postseason contention, there seems to be no point in forcing the right-hander to accelerate his recovery from right shoulder inflammation.

Archer, 30, sustained the injury in late August and was initially projected to return sometime during September. He’s been throwing from flat ground over the last several weeks, but there had been no indication that he was ready to resume starting duties for the club. He’ll end his 2019 run with a 3-9 record in 23 starts and a 5.19 ERA, 4.1 BB/9, 10.8 SO/9, and 0.7 fWAR across 119 2/3 innings pitched; not his worst performance to date, but a considerable step down from the sub-5.00 ERA and 2.6 fWAR he posted with the Rays and Pirates in 2018.

With two weeks left in the regular season, the Pirates will soon wrap up their fourth consecutive non-contending campaign. Following Saturday’s brutal 14-1 loss to the Cubs, they were mathematically eliminated from postseason qualification. They last reached the playoffs in 2015, though it’s been six years since they advanced past the wild card tiebreaker and 27 years since they advanced past the Division Series.