Surveying the ninth-inning situations around the league.
Clippard Traded to the Mets
In what has been inevitable for a while, Tyler Clippard has finally been traded, landing with the Mets. As I mentioned last week, the picture behind Clippard in Oakland is less than clear. I speculated that Drew Pomeranz could get some save chances, but it appears they’ll be looking at him as a starter again. I still believe Fernando Rodriguez is the best option. He’s been phenomenal this year, striking out more than 11 batters per nine innings while walking fewer than three. At 31 years old, this is a good time for the A’s to give him a spotlight and flip him in the offseason. With that being said, Edward Mujica and Eric O’Flaherty could be getting the first crack. If I had to pick someone for immediate saves, I’d choose Mujica. Rodriguez should get the most saves over the rest of the season, though.
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Weaving through weak arms to find a cornucopia of hitting gems in today's slate
Yesterday had a bounty of high-end performances that raised the profit bar, with four players having multi-homer games and 40-plus points in Draft Kings, bats that ranged in cost from the $3100 of Ben Paulsen to the $5000 of Mike Trout. The surge was helped by a day game in Colorado (note to self: stack Rox whenever they play at home on Sundays), a contest that featured 24 combined runs and two of the four lineup-defining performances. The extra padding thrown into player prices to account for the thin-air of Denver has been minimally discouraging, as players have learned that the Coors effect is strong enough to outpace the price adjustment.
All the same greats, the same mistakes. It doesn't have to be like this.
Jose Bautista’s overnight transformation from fifth outfielder to superstar stemmed from a small timing change, a modest tweak that jumpstarted his career and put a face on the potential of making an adjustment. For better or worse, his wild and unexpected success has inspired fans around the league to hope that their flawed but talented slugger is just one mechanical tweak from pulling a Bautista. Quick-fixes are rare, however. Even when a slumping hitter has unusual mechanics — a hitch, an awkward stance, etc. — the irregularity isn’t necessarily related to the player’s struggles, and might actually function as a vital part of what made him so successful in the past.
Notes on Josh Bell, Mitch Nay, and a look at a lefty who is flashing exciting stuff on the cape.
Mitch Nay, 3B, Toronto Blue Jays (High-A Dunedin)
Nay gained some prospect traction because of his prototypical size for the hot corner and some moderate success at a young age, including 34 doubles in the Midwest League as a 20-year-old last season. The overall package is underwhelming, however, without a true carrying tool. With only average bat speed, he can get beat inside with average velocity. He needs to get his hands extended in order to drive the ball with any authority. He’s strong, but his up-the-middle approach leads to more doubles than home run production. Most importantly, he struggles to recognize spin. On defense, he’s already limited by his range, with a poor first step and below-average foot speed. He’ll never be better than an average defender at third base, and even that would take some natural refinement. He’s currently below average.
The Dodgers are hoping he's ex-Zach-Lee what they need for the back end of their rotation.
The Situation: The birth of Zack Greinke’s son forced the Dodgers to shuffle their rotation this weekend. Ian Thomas filled in on Friday and was optioned Saturday afternoon to make room for another starter, Zach Lee, who will pitch today against the Mets.
All the requisite links for your leisure from this week in baseball.
On Friday, I wrote a story about a group of bowlers in the city where I currently live. Did you know bowling can be a really, really complex sport? Depending on the event, a lane is oiled in a different pattern, meaning the ball will skid in some spots where it normally hooks and hook where it normally skids. You have to know those patterns, adjust your bowling accordingly, and even change balls when one begins to pick up more oil and whatnot. Imagine if baseball's playing surface were as varied as that; maybe one stadium has gravel down the first- and third-base line, maybe one has a concrete warning track, maybe one has a grass pitching mound. It would be kind of like real-life Backyard Baseball.