Sean Doolittle
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Sean Doolittle headed to injured list with knee tendinitis

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The Nationals placed closer Sean Doolittle on the 10-day injured list with a case of right knee tendinitis, according to an official report on Sunday. In a corresponding move, right-handed reliever Kyle McGowin has been recalled from Double-A Harrisburg to give the club some added depth in the bullpen.

The IL assignment comes on the heels of a particularly brutal loss to the Brewers, one in which the Nationals battled through 14 innings and eventually lost, 15-14, on an Eric Thames go-ahead home run. Five innings earlier, Doolittle had blown the save after kicking off the ninth inning with a home run to Christian Yelich, a double to Keston Hiura, and two more back-to-back homers to Mike Moustakas and Ryan Braun. It marked Doolittle’s sixth blown save of the year and the second outing in which he’s given up four runs this month, bringing his totals to an unsightly 12.86 ERA, 2.5 BB/9, and 6.4 SO/9 in August.

Following Saturday’s disappointing performance, Doolittle expressed his frustration with his inability to replicate the results that made him such a consistent force for the Nationals over the past several months. Per MLB.com’s Jamal Collier:

We keep trying to go back to the drawing board,” Doolittle said. “We’re watching film. We’re looking at the metrics. I’m doing extra dry work before games. We’ve changed up a lot of my routine in the weight room and my maintenance programs and stuff. I don’t know, it just wasn’t coming out tonight. And that part of the order, that team, there’s really nowhere to hide.

While the severity of Doolittle’s injury, if that is indeed the root of his problems, has yet to be disclosed, it’s clear the 32-year-old lefty will benefit from some time on the bench. When he returns, he’ll do so in hopes of improving a 4.33 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 10.2 SO/9, and 0.6 fWAR across 52 innings.

Until then, McGowin will provide some temporary relief for the Nationals’ recently-taxed bullpen. As for the closer spot, manager Dave Martinez doesn’t appear to have named any one successor just yet, and it’s not certain that he will at any point, either. For now, Daniel Hudson seems like a logical choice in any save situation, though there’s some speculation that veteran reliever Greg Holland could step into that role as well.

Justin Verlander laughed at after saying Astros were “technologically and analytically advanced”

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Justin Verlander was at the annual Baseball Writers Association of America banquet last night, on hand to accept the 2019 Cy Young Award. Normally such things are pretty routine events, but nothing is routine with the Houston Astros these days.

During his acceptance speech, Verlander made some comments about the Astros’ “technological and analytical advancements.” The comments were greeted by some laughter in the room as well as some groans. At least one person on hand claimed that other players present were visibly angry.

It’s hard to tell the context of it all without a full video — maybe Verlander meant it as a joke, maybe the reactions were more varied than is being described — but here’s how reporters on hand for it last night are describing it:

If it was a joke it was ill-timed, as not many around the game think the sign-stealing stuff is funny at the moment. Especially in light of the fact that, despite having several opportunities to do so, Astros players have failed to show any accountability for their cheating.

And yes, that includes former Astros Dallas Keuchel, who was praised for “apologizing” at a White Sox fan event on Friday, but whose “apology” was couched in a lot of deflection and excuse-making about how it was just something that was done at the time and about how technology was to blame. Keuchel also tried to minimize it, saying that the Astros didn’t do it all the time. Which is rich given that the most prominent video evidence of their trash can-banging scheme came from a blowout Astros win in a meaningless August game against a losing team. If they were doing it in that situation, please, do not tell me they weren’t doing it when games really mattered.

Anyway, I’d like to think Verlander was just trying to take a stab at a joke here, because Verlander is the wrong guy to be sending to be sending any kind of messages diminishing the cheating given that he has a pretty solid track record of holding other players’ feet to the fire when they get busted.

For example, here he was in 2018 after Robinson Canó got busted for PEDs:

Of course, consistency can be a problem for Verlander when his teammates are on the ones who are on the hook. Here was his response to Tigers infielder Jhonny Peralta being suspended in the wake of the Biogenesis scandal:

“Everybody makes mistakes. He’s my brother. We fight and bleed and sweat together on the baseball field. If my brother makes a mistake, especially if he owns up to it and serves his time, I don’t see how you can hold a grudge or anything like that. “It’s one thing to step up and be a man and own up to his mistake.”

Verlander, it should also be noted, was very outspoken about teams engaging in advanced sign-stealing schemes once upon a time. here he was in 2017, while still with the Tigers, talking about such things in a June 2017 interview with MLive.com.

“We don’t have somebody, but I’m sure teams have a person that can break down signals and codes and they’ll have the signs before you even get out there on the mound.  It’s not about gamesmanship anymore. It used to be, ‘Hey, if you can get my signs, good for you.’ In the past, if a guy on second (base) was able to decipher it on a few pitches, I guess that was kind of part of the game. I think it’s a different level now. It’s not good.”

Which makes me wonder how he felt when he landed on the Astros two months later and realized they had a sophisticated cheating operation underway. If the feelings were mixed, he was able to bury the part of them which had a problem with it, because he’s said jack about it since this all blew up in November. And, of course, has happily accepted the accolades and the hardware he he has received since joining Houston, some of which was no doubt acquired by virtue of a little extra, ill-gotten run support.

Anyway, wake me up when someone — anyone — associated with the Astros shows some genuine accountability about this.