And so begins the greatest round of "I feel so, so, so old" we've ever seen.
The Situation: The Dodgers’ thin rotation took at least a brief hit with the announcement that, fresh off a 13-strikeout performance in his last start, Alex Wood would have his turn skipped on Friday on account of ominous “triceps tendinitis.” He’s been bumped to Monday for now, and with Ross Stripling procedurally demoted to Oklahoma City in the wake of The 17-Inning Game the Dodgers have elected to turn the ball over to a teenager for the first time since Fernando Valenzuela in 1980. Urias will make his big-league debut riding a streak of 27 innings since allowing his last earned run.
Background: Signed as part of a package deal by the Dodgers on a scouting trip through Mexico in the summer of 2012, Urias is…unique. There just isn’t much in the way of valuable precedent for what he has managed to accomplish at such tender ages in his career to date. He has rung up five and a half strikeouts for every walk this season at Triple-A while pitching eight (that’s right eight) years younger than his average league-mate. His ERA, WHIP, and batting average-against all pace the circuit.
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The Giants won yesterday, 4-3 in extra innings against the Padres, and even before they did, they had the best week of any team in baseball. By BP’s own reckoning, in the form of our Playoff Odds report, their chances of making a postseason appearance this year increased by the largest amount—17.0 percent—of any other team this week, and that’s before the system had a chance to consider Brandon Crawford’s walkoff single by the bay last night. When it does, their odds of tasting October in this, an even year, will go up further, not only because the Padres are a division rival but because, as well, the season is one day closer to its end.
What do two scouts think of the Cubs center fielder?
There have been a lot of fun stories over the six weeks of the season, and one of the best has been the rise of Cubs outfielder Albert Almora. The sixth-overall pick of the 2012 draft, Almora has seen his share of ups and downs over his three-plus years in the Chicago system, but it’s only been up in 2016, as he’s hitting .333/.352/.482 with three homers and five stolen bases over the first 41 games of the year for Triple-A Iowa while playing outstanding defense in center field.
Within an unusual and thought-provoking trend, there is an extremely unusual and extremely thought-provoking subtrend.
We, as an internet, have thoroughly discussed the player opt-out, but oversaturation and (a lack of) timeliness have never stopped us before here at Tools of Ignorance and they will not stop us now. In December, at the beginning of the height of player opt-out-mania, I wrote about why this contract structure might have increased in popularity. I hypothesized, among other things, that players might be valuing the opt-out and flexibility it brings more than teams valued it, or that players were just flat out overvaluing the opt-out, or both. It felt right; it felt like it made sense.
Then word came out that David Price did not want a player option, but rather that Dave Dombrowski insisted on including one. The future, it turns out, can be a real know-it-all.
Can baseball thrive in cities where nostalgia is suffocated?
The Texas Rangers are getting a new ballpark. We’re used to thinking about the stadium question in terms of tax dollars, and it is an obviously smart way to approach it because of all the things tax dollars turn into that aren’t baseball. Tax dollars are schools and roads and recycling bins, and their allocation is a collective expression of what is important to us, or ought to be. It’s an exceptionally boring way of declaring that most of us like this thing more than this other thing, not merely as sports fans or consumers, but as citizens and parents and people. So when the Arlington City Council voted to approve a master plan for a new stadium for the Texas Rangers, they kicked off a process by which voters will decide if they like air conditioned baseball more than whatever else you can buy with $500 million. Like recycling bins or public transit or a comical number of two-foot-long hot dogs. We’re used to thinking of this question in that way, and it is a good way to think about it.
Somewhere, a recreational Sunday softball league is about to get really, really good.
Seemingly every year or two for the past decade when David Ortiz has gone through a rough stretch—a bad April, a slow start coming back from the disabled list, or even just a hitless key series—it has become a story in Boston, with attention-grabbing headlines asking if he’s washed up. The answer has always been a resounding no. In fact, few players in baseball history have as thoroughly and convincingly avoided being washed up for as long as Ortiz.
At age 26 he was released by the Twins—as a Minnesotan, the state ban prevents me from discussing this matter any further—and from the moment Ortiz started putting up big numbers in Boston many people have been waiting for him to come crashing back down to earth. He never has, topping an .850 OPS in 13 of the past 14 seasons, with a low-water mark of .794 in 2009 that really pressed the “he’s washed up!” alarm.
Just last season Ortiz was hitting .219 in early June when a local television reporter asked him about being washed up, which led to this memorable rant a few days later:
Examining players who might pique your interest in deep leagues.
Welcome to the Deep League Report, where each week you can find out which pedestrian starting pitchers are scheduled to face the Braves, A’s, or Twins and which reserve players on bad teams have been hot enough to grab a share of a starting role, if only for a few weeks. Given the fact that we’re in the last week of May, your might be focusing more on potential trades than you are on the free agent pool. That would be a mistake—there’s still a lot of value out there. Let’s get started.