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NL Playoff Standings 2016: Latest Wild Card Info, Team Records and More

With the three National League division races wrapped up and the top record in the league already well in hand, the remaining drama in the dwindling days of the 2016 regular season stems from the wild-card race.

The Chicago Cubs, Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers have already clinched the NL Central, East and West, respectively, with the former pacing the majors with 101 wins and counting. 

As for the NL wild-card spots, the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants would make the playoffs if the season ended after Tuesday night’s action, but the St. Louis Cardinals are still in the hunt, just a game behind the Giants. 

The Pittsburgh Pirates and Miami Marlins are out of the chase as of Tuesday.

Here’s a look at the key NL standings heading into Wednesday. 

The three teams leading the NL wild-card chase won on Tuesday night, keeping the drama very much alive as the season winds to a close.

After losing 7-3 to the Miami Marlins on Monday in the series opener—as emotional a game as you’ll see due to it being the Marlins’ first since the tragic death of 24-year-old starting pitcher Jose Fernandez—the Mets rebounded to beat the exhausted home side 12-1 on Tuesday. 

Noah Syndergaard struck out eight in six innings of work, while Jay Bruce and Yoenis Cespedes each hit two-run homers. The Mets have one more game against Miami before a travel day to face the lowly Philadelphia Phillies to close out the season. 

The Giants remain a game ahead of the Cardinals and a half-game behind the Mets, courtesy of a 12-3 walloping of the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday. After heading into the All-Star break with the best record in the majors, the Giants have been a disaster in the latter half of the season, with an implosion-prone bullpen perhaps the biggest culprit. 

San Francisco is trying to avoid a special kind of history by clinging to a wild-card spot, as journalist Wendy Thurm noted earlier in September: 

That spectacular first-half cushion this turbulent team built up has them in the playoff hunt with five games left to play. Though all five games are at home, the last three won’t be easy. The Giants have to play the rival Dodgers, who might still be looking to secure home-field advantage in the NLDS by surpassing the Nationals in the standings.

If the Giants do get into the playoffs, they can only hope that even-year magic miraculously takes over and saves them from getting bounced immediately from the postseason competition. 

The Cardinals kept up in the chase with a 12-5 win over the Cincinnati Reds. The key moment of the game was a fourth-inning grand slam from shortstop Aledmys Diaz, playing with a heavy heart after the death of Fernandez, a close friend. 

Here’s a look at Diaz‘s first career grand slam, per the MLB

“He just had a purpose,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said, per USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale. “He was doing something with a purpose. His mind was somewhere else, but in a good place.”

According to Nightengale, Diaz grew up with Fernandez in Cuba and spent Monday visiting the pitcher’s grieving family before returning to St. Louis to help his team close out the season. 

The Cardinals, who won 100 games last season and reached the NLCS, close out the regular season with two more games against the Reds and a three-game series at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates, who were eliminated from the playoff race on Tuesday, after losing 6-4 to the Cubs and seeing the Giants prevail against the Rockies.

Though they have been prone to sparring in the postseason in recent years, the Cardinals will be hoping the Dodgers can help them out by taking a game or two from San Francisco and allowing them to reach the playoffs for the sixth year in a row.

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MLB Rumors: Latest Trade Buzz Surrounding Chris Sale, Jay Bruce and More

There are just a few days left before Major League Baseball’s August 1 non-waiver trade deadline, and the rumor mill is replete with tidbits regarding some of the best players in the league.

With their starting rotation in tatters and the NL West lead in sight, the Los Angeles Dodgers are ready to make moves and acquire a front-line starting pitcher. Should that pitcher be Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale, the Dodgers are reportedly not above parting with a top prospect, according to the New York Post‘s Joel Sherman

As of Monday, the Dodgers’ sense was the White Sox were not yet motivated to move Chris Sale or even well-regarded No. 2 starter Jose Quintana. But I have heard if that changes, the Dodgers would be more aggressive with Sale than they were with Hamels, up to including top prospect, lefty Julio Urias, to front a strong package. The Dodgers would not include Urias for Hamels last July.

This would be quite the blockbuster deal if it went down. Sale is one of the best starting pitchers in the league, and Urias is perhaps the most highly regarded prospect in the league. With that said, it would be tough to see the 19-year-old go.

Former Dodger and current Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Greinke once called Urias “the most perfect pitching prospect I’ve ever seen,” per Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.

The kid already throws four pitches well, all of them at different speeds. He has ultra-smooth mechanics, is left-handed and improved upon a rocky introduction to the majors before being sent back down to the minors on Friday. All of this as a teenager.

But the Dodgers are interested in winning right now. They’re sporting the league’s highest payroll and yet fighting against injuries and poor production in some spots to keep this from being a write-off year. Falling out of the NL West chase or missing out on a wild-card spot would be unacceptable.

Since Urias isn’t quite ready for prime time, it’s understandable that the Dodgers might be willing to part with him for a pitcher like Sale.

Sale, also a lefty, is 14-3 on the year with a 3.18 ERA and 1.008 WHIP, per He’s made the All-Star Game five years running. 

Not that it matters a whole lot to the cash-rich Dodgers, but Sale’s contract is highly favorable. He’s owed $12 million in 2017, per Spotrac, and has club options for the next two seasons. He’s not a rental, and he’s a sure thing as far as talent and production go, whereas Urias, for all the praise, is still just a potential sure thing.

Of course, Sale’s recent, bizarre jersey-cutting incident that earned him a five-game suspension isn’t going to endear him to prospective suitors—unless they’re convinced it’s nothing more than a principled manifestation of his insatiable desire to win.

If the Dodgers are indeed willing to dangle Urias, it can only be for a player of Sale’s caliber. However, Urias‘ potential is so great that it’s more likely the Dodgers either try to work a trade without him involved or simply settle for a lesser pitcher than Sale.

While Sale is enticing for teams looking for help on the mound, Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jay Bruce is catching the eye of several teams looking for more punch at the plate. Per’s Jerry Crasnick, at least four teams are interested in Bruce: 

Bruce provides some serious pop at the plate, with 24 home runs and 78 RBI on the year. One team that could be looking at Bruce is, in fact, the Dodgers.

As the Los Angeles Times‘ Bill Shaikin notes, the Dodgers’ outfielders haven’t provided much power this season:

Although he’s making fine contact since returning from a June injury, Yasiel Puig still hasn’t found a way to generate big hits with his bulging muscles, tallying just two home runs and 12 RBI in his last 26 games. If the Dodgers do go for Bruce, Puig could be on his way out, as has been rumored this season.

However, injuries to Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood and Hyun-Jin Ryu likely have the Dodgers focused more on bolstering the rotation, as evidenced by the Sale rumors.

Should the market not materialize to the Reds’ liking,’s Wick Terrell notes that they could hold onto Bruce awhile longer: 

It’s obvious that the Reds are trying hard to trade Bruce, and to his credit, his play of late can only be helping their cause.  However, Cincinnati does have the option of holding on to him past the August 1st non-waiver deadline, picking up his option, and attempting to trade him when there are more teams interested and the projected free agent OF market is as weak as expected. That’s a huge risk, of course – one The Enquirer’s Zach Buchanan looked at last week – as Bruce’s disastrous 2nd half sent his overall value into the toilet. As streaky as he’s been in his career, trusting Bruce to sustain what he’s shown so far is a gamble the Reds may not want to take.

Bruce is on a tear as of late, which could spur a contender into offering up a dazzling prospect or two for his services. But the 39-61 Reds aren’t dealing from a position of total weakness here, so it could be that the 29-year-old Bruce remains in Cincy until the team brass finds a deal that suits them.

While there’s a fair chance Bruce isn’t traded before the August 1 deadline, it seems all but certain that the San Diego Padres will unload starting pitcher Andrew Cashner, despite his remaining with the team through Tuesday’s start against the Toronto Blue Jays. 

According to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, there was a chance that San Diego would trade Cashner before his start on Tuesday.

There was similar chatter leading up to his start against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 21, but Cashner took the mound in both cases. Rosenthal added context once the game against the Blue Jays—which ended in an embarrassing walk-off loss for the Friars—began:

The Padres must be happy that they haven’t pulled the trigger on a deal yet, because Cashner keeps putting together quality performances. 

Cashner is well aware his time with the Padres is short, telling the San Diego Union-Tribune‘s Dennis Lin, “I’ve made some great relationships.”

While he’s unlikely to assume the mantle of a staff ace on whatever team snaps him up, Cashner is a dependable pitcher who only rarely has a meltdown start.

He’s dealt with a couple of injuries this season, but his recent form shows that he’s done well to put those troubles behind him. 

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MLB Rumors: Latest Trade Buzz on Chris Archer, Andrew Cashner and More

As the grind of the long MLB regular season takes its toll and some rosters begin to wilt in the summer sun, shoring up a pitching staff can be the key to maintaining consistency and stocking away wins before the final playoff push in the fall.

When scraping out runs seems like an exhausting challenge, it’s good to find a way to keep scores low and, therefore, within striking range.  

A couple of steady arms on the mound are two of the latest players to generate some trade buzz as the August 1 non-waiver trade deadline approaches.


Chris Archer, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays

The Los Angeles Dodgers may have all the money in the world, but it can’t buy protection from the scourge of injuries. With the starting rotation depleted, snagging a pitcher is becoming a more pressing need than getting some more offense from the outfield. 

According to ESPN’s Jayson Stark, the Dodgers could be making headway toward a deal for Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Chris Archer:

After making his first All-Star game last season and finishing the year with a 3.23 ERA, Archer’s had a fairly disappointing encore, sporting a 5-13 record with a 4.60 ERA. The 27-year-old hasn’t had too many great outings this year, but he’s also done well to avoid the really ugly showings, giving up five or more runs in a start only four times this year. 

Good for six or seven innings and a handful of strikeouts every time out, the Dodgers could really use Archer to soak up innings. Clayton Kershaw’s back may have the season in doubt, Alex Wood is out for a couple of months and Hyun-Jin Ryu is back on the disabled list after making just one start. 

The Rays are in last place in the American League East and have little reason not to sell. The Dodgers are a wild-card team right now but just four games back of the rival San Francisco Giants in the National League West.

With the Dodgers’ injuries piling up and the team essentially mandated to make the postseason due to its embarrassment of riches, the Rays might get a better return from the cash-rich team from the big city than they would anywhere else.


Andrew Cashner, RHP, San Diego Padres

Keeping things out on the West Coast, the Dodgers’ rival to the south, the San Diego Padres, could be offloading veteran hurler Andrew Cashner soon.

On Wednesday,’s Jon Morosi reported the Padres were looking to trade Cashner before his Thursday start against the St. Louis Cardinals: 

In his article Wednesday, Morosi mentioned the Miami Marlins and Baltimore Orioles as “teams that have shown interest.”

Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal later noted on Twitter that a source told him there’s a “99.9 percent [chance] nothing will happen” before Thursday. Indeed, Cashner went out on the mound and did a fine job of auditioning himself to other teams in what would turn out to be a 6-5 road loss for the Padres.

The 29-year-old righty gave up three hits and one earned run while striking out eight in 5.2 innings of work. ABC San Diego’s Ben Higgins joked he pitched well enough to earn some extra time in San Diego: 

Cashner managed that fine outing despite being well aware he’s not long for working in America’s Finest City.

“I know I’m going to be traded,” Cashner said late Thursday, per the San Diego Union-Tribune‘s Dennis Lin. “It’s just part of the game, part of where the season’s at.”

Cashner has been excellent in three of his four starts since coming back from a short stint on the DL. The injuries he’s sustained this season and his overall underwhelming performance might’ve hurt his trade value at one point, but his recent form should erase that. This benefits the Padres, who are again mired in the doldrums of the National League. 

While a trade has been rumored as imminent, San Diego could be dealing from a position of strength here.

There are plenty of possible suitors for Cashner‘s services, so the Padres might do well to try to stretch out proceedings and drive up a bidding war among teams in the playoff hunt.  


Jonathan Lucroy, C, Milwaukee Brewers

We all know pitchers are hot commodities during the playoff race, but sometimes it’s the battery mates who are the subject of rumors and speculation. Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy is one such player. According to Morosi on Wednesday, the Brewers are talking to multiple teams about Lucroy:

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel‘s Tom Haudricourt added some info to the Cleveland Indians’ rumored pursuit: 

Lucroy wasn’t in the lineup Thursday for the Brewers’ 5-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, leading some to believe the Brewers had traded him or were on the verge of dealing him. However,’s Adam McCalvy reported it was a false alarm: 

Through Thursday, Lucroy boasts a .304/.361/.490 slash line with 12 home runs, 48 RBI and hey, why not, five stolen bases. He provides a rare offensive boost from behind the plate and has been doing so for several years now (when not injured). 

He’s also getting pretty good at mowing down would-be base stealers. The 30-year-old ranks seventh in the majors with 38 percent caught stealing, per

In fact, considering how valuable he is at his position and how cheap his current deal is, The Ringer’s Ben Lindbergh argues he’s the prize of this year’s trade deadline: 

Lucroy, who won’t reach free agency until 2017, is an intoxicating combination of inexpensive and skilled. PECOTA forecasts Lucroy for roughly six WARP through next season, with one-third of that coming this year. If we assume that teams are willing to pay free agents close to $9 million per projected win, Lucroy’s remaining contributions would command more than $50 million on the open market, dwarfing the $7.5 million or so he’ll actually earn over the life of this deal. That gives him essentially the same surplus value as a top-10 hitting prospect (such as Brewers top prospect Orlando Arcia). You can see why Stearns’s asking price is so high.

With Lucroy providing fantastic value at a great price, one would think every contender seeking even a slight upgrade at catcher should be thinking about him. Of course, Cleveland could be more desperate than most, as catchers Yan Gomes and Chris Gimenez have provided next to nothing in terms of offensive production this season. 

Gomes also happens to be on the DL with a shoulder injury, making the Indians’ situation behind home plate even more desperate.

However, the Indians do have the best record in the American League (56-38), so they may not be quite as motivated to sell the farm for Lucroy as, say, the middling Detroit Tigers or Seattle Mariners, two teams Lindbergh notes could use some extra value at catcher. 

Milwaukee is certainly dealing from a position of power, but Lucroy could have his own leverage in this situation and perhaps dictate where he might like to go. If he does, the powerful Indians give him the best chance to win right away. 

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Home Run Derby 2016: Format, Start Time, Live Stream, TV Schedule and More

The 2016 baseball season is headed for its All-Star break, which means it’s time for one of the great summertime traditions in the form of the Home Run Derby. 

Fans can catch the Derby at Petco Park in San Diego on Monday, July 11, at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN. A live stream is available at WatchESPN.

The Home Run Derby will continue with the format introduced in 2015. Players are seeded according to their total number of home runs to this point in the season, with the highest seeds playing the lowest in a bracket format.

It’s single elimination, with each batter getting four minutes to sock as many dingers as possible. If a player hits two home runs of 440 feet or greater in a round, they will get 30 seconds of bonus time (Giancarlo Stanton, this rule is for you).

Eight players are whittled down to four, then two, until finally a champion is crowned. MLB Communications released the bracket for the upcoming event: 

Here’s a rundown of the players and their home run totals going into Sunday’s action:

Todd Frazier is the defending champion in the event. Representing the Cincinnati Reds last season, he bested the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Joc Pederson 15-14 in a thrilling final round at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.

Frazier, now a member of the Chicago White Sox, won’t have a chance to play hometown hero this year. That task is up to San Diego’s Wil Myers, who leads his Padres with 19 home runs on the season.

The Dodgers have been well-represented in recent Home Run Derbys, with Yasiel Puig and the aforementioned Pederson taking a crack at the competition. This year, it’s another young gun in rookie shortstop Corey Seager, who is bringing up the rear with 17 home runs but has proved to be one of the league’s most promising young talents in making this year’s All-Star Game.

Seager may not be long for the competition, as he goes up against top-seeded Mark Trumbo in the first round. The Baltimore Orioles slugger leads the majors with 28 home runs, and he is third among Home Run Derby participants in average home run length at 413 feet, per’s Doug Miller (Carlos Gonzalez and Stanton are first and second, respectively).

Based on his previous run-outs in the Derby, the Baltimore Sun‘s Eduardo A. Encina likes Trumbo‘s chances:

The head-to-head format plays to Trumbo’s favor because of his consistency hitting the ball out of the park. When Trumbo competed in the 2012 derby – which was different in that hitters advanced to the finals by total homers hit over the first two rounds – Trumbo was the only player to hit six or more homers in each of the first two rounds.

While Trumbo‘s consistency might win him the competition, the player most likely to play the role of fan favorite is Stanton, who crushes long home runs with great regularity and recently hit his 200th career home run.

The 26-year-old is going through a trying season, sporting a .233 average and slugging just .487, well off his usual marks. It’s a frivolous competition to be sure, but Stanton could use some sort of a boost as he looks to put his miserable first half of the season behind him.

Should the Marlins masher find his stroke, he’ll win over the crowd—and quite possibly win the whole Derby—by blasting baseballs high into the Southern California summer night. 

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MLB Trade Rumors: Buzz Surrounding Yordano Ventura, Andrew Miller and More

With unwavering regularity, every baseball season eventually turns into an arms race. The long slog through the summer months gives front offices plenty of time to evaluate their rosters, playoff chances and payroll situations.

There is almost never enough good pitching, even for the best teams, so the player wish lists drafted well before the August 1 non-waiver trade deadline are often chock-full of hurlers, both starters and those in relief.

While June may have more rumors than actual deals, the buzz that begins in that month can end up proving accurate later on down the line as the deadline draws near and general managers are more willing to pull the trigger on deals. 

For example, take Yordano Ventura, the flame-throwing starter for the Kansas City Royals. Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan wrote on Wednesday that, according to sources, the Royals have shopped him around.

He noted Ventura‘s penchant for aiming at batters rather than catcher Salvador Perez’s open mitt, the latest sparking a high-profile dustup with Baltimore Orioles slugger Manny Machado:

And so there Machado was, perhaps the American League MVP favorite, limping toward Ventura, then summoning the strength to throw an overhand right, then DDTing the right-hander into the mound on which he wastes such natural ability. There is a reason why his catcher didn’t sprint to stop the lurching Machado, why his manager admitted after the game that the Royals have grown weary of him, why, according to executives from two teams, the Royals within the past month have offered Ventura up in trade talks: For an act this tired, the performance must validate it, and the chasm between Ventura’s performance and potential is grand.

Ventura‘s been a more than serviceable pitcher for Kansas City the past two seasons, but his performance has dropped off in 2016. 

The Royals are coming off a World Series-winning season, but they are playing .500 ball (30-29, to be precise). Still, it’s good enough for second place in the AL Central, just 2.5 games back of the Cleveland Indians.

Ventura isn’t exactly helping their efforts to return to the postseason, and it’s quite possible the team is ready to get rid of the headache and hope the rest of the rotation can hold up.’s Jeffrey Flanagan reported on Wednesday that a source has told him Passan‘s report is “complete and utter nonsense,” but Passan has stood by his assertions:

Ventura‘s overall performance is certainly trending in the wrong direction, but he’s still 25 years old with an upper-90s fastball and plenty of time to turn things around. 

His reputation as a bean-ball thrower might scare off some teams, but Passan believes that his contract is favorable enough that “$21 million for three years of top-notch relief is a bargain in a bullpen market two GMs said they expect to explode in price this offseason.”

Teams desperate for relief now rather than later might have their sights set on guys actually working in those roles right now.

One such player is New York Yankees reliever Andrew Miller, who sports a blistering 1.05 ERA but is more valuable to the Yanks as a potential trade piece, considering the team is fourth in the AL East and also has the likes of Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman in the bullpen. 

Last Sunday, Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported the NL West-leading San Francisco Giants might be interested in him:’s Bill Ladson also says the Washington Nationals could be salivating over him or Chapman: 

The Nationals are not close to acquiring a reliever, but they are hoping Yankees relievers Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman are available before the Deadline. As of now, the Yankees are not in sell mode, but it’s not hard to imagine they could part with one of the two pitchers if they are struggling in late July. Chapman in particular could be a candidate to move because he is eligible for free agency after this season.

Teams looking to swoop in for the Yankees relievers will likely have to exercise patience, however, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman

The Yankees are just a game below .500 as of Wednesday evening, and could yet turn things around. The rotation is mostly a mess, but the bounce-back performance of CC Sabathia (3-4, 2.58 ERA) is just one sign of hope. There is time for the likes of Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira or any other of a number of well-compensated players suffering through down seasons at the plate to improve.

If the Yankees can’t improve, Miller and/or Chapman could fetch huge returns on the open market. Both are enjoying excellent seasons, and their value is compounded by virtue of being left-handed. New York can restock its farm system with a trade.

The Giants and Nationals will likely keep lines of communication open, as could the Chicago Cubs, who CBS Chicago’s Bruce Levine writes “will try to add a stud left-handed setup man or closer before the non-waiver trade deadline expires.”

The Los Angeles Dodgers could be considered candidates for the Yankees relievers—or possibly even Ventura. They have needs both in the rotation and bullpen, a stockpile of talented minor leaguers, some fine young talent already on the MLB roster and the deep pockets necessary and willing to absorb large contracts.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Buzz Surrounding Freddie Freeman, Jorge Soler and More

It’s not even officially winter yet and the MLB hot stove is already up and cooking, with a couple of big trades going down in mid-November.

Atlanta shipped slick-fielding shortstop Andrelton Simmons to the Los Angeles Angels Thursday, while the Boston Red Sox bolstered their bullpen by swapping several prospects for San Diego closer Craig Kimbrel. The Padres also traded Joaquin Benoit to Seattle, among other moves, making them one of the busiest teams thus far.

Now that a few big moves are on the ledger, the trade talks are ramping up and the rumors aren’t far behind. Let’s take a look at some of the buzz emanating from offseason discussions and see if we can’t figure out which way the trade winds are blowing.

Freddie Freeman

The Braves appear ready and willing to make the painful moves necessary to improve the long-term prospects of a club that won just 67 games in 2015. Moving the popular Simmons was a bold step. It will be interesting to see how fans react if the club trades away its heaviest hitter from this season, Freddie Freeman.

Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal has some of the details on this trade rumor: “Officials from three different clubs told me that the Braves have indeed shopped first baseman Freddie Freeman, with one saying such a possibility was “the talk of the (Arizona) Fall League” among scouts about 10 days ago.”

Freeman bashed 18 home runs and 66 RBI in 2015, leading the light-hitting Braves in both categories. Although some of his numbers came down from the past two years as he battled injuries, Freeman is still likely to command excellent value with a light market for hard-hitting first baseman.

Bleacher Report’s Jacob Shafer thinks the Red Sox might be a good trade partner for Atlanta: 

The Boston Red Sox, who are loaded with minor league talent, might be the best fit, especially if they can somehow dump Hanley Ramirez. New President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski has a history of aggressive wheeling and dealing and has already moved to bring in Kimbrel from the San Diego Padres.

If the Red Sox were willing to send back a top prospect like infielder Yoan Moncada and/or one of their young, MLB-ready studs such as shortstop Xander Bogaerts or catcher Blake Swihart, Atlanta should pounce.

Rosenthal reports that an MLB official says the Braves are shopping “everyone owed money.” This would certainly include the star first baseman. Freeman is owed approximately $120 million in base salary through 2021, per Spotrac.

If Freeman goes, it will be a huge blow for fans. He’s a known commodity, and the Braves are going to be looking for prospects to rebuild the farm system; in other words, unknown commodities. Still, it’s short-term pain that could provide a path to long-term gain if Atlanta can finagle the right deal. 


Jorge Soler, Javier Baez

Since 2016 really could be the Chicago Cubs’ year—they’re supremely young, supremely talented, have a great manager and got some vital postseason experience in 2015 after a 97-win regular season—fans must be wondering what the team might do to make good on all its promise. 

Trading some of the scrappy young players in exchange for veteran pitching would be one way, assuming they can’t get the necessary talent in the free-agent market. The Cubs just don’t want to trade away the wrong people.

Rosenthal has more on which players they might be interested in trading: “The Cubs do not intend to move third baseman Kris Bryant, shortstop Addison Russell or left fielder Kyle Schwarber, but will at least explore the trade interest they are getting in right fielder Jorge Soler and infielder Javier Baez, sources say.”

Soler‘s ceiling is quite high, and Cubs fans might be sad to see his name in the rumor mill after he showed improvement in the second half of the season and fared quite well in the playoffs (.474 average, three home runs and five RBI in seven games).

Baseball Prospectus’ Isaac Bennett noted the future is still bright for the 23-year-old despite being something of a liability on defense:

Soler remains a tantalizing subject; monstrous power, exceptional arm strength, hints of effective plate-discipline. But it is those same tools that may mask a painful truth thus far in his young career: He has yet to harness his abilities into being a productive major-league contributor. Serious defensive deficiencies and an exploitable offensive hole must be improved upon if he hopes to maintain his current status as a core piece of this dynamic young team.

Plus, the Cubs are facing a potential shakeup with Dexter Fowler declining a qualifying offer. Kyle Schwarber is at least a lock to play, while Chris Coghlan is arbitration eligible. The Cubs might want to keep Soler planted in right field unless some team comes in with a killer offer that includes a No. 3 starter plus extras.

As for Baez, his departure would seem to be a bit less agonizing. The 22-year-old played in just 28 regular-season games last season, posting a solid .289/.325/.408 slash line. He boasts decent power but is a strikeout machine.

As a second baseman, he faces a road block to a starting spot at The Show with Addison Russell and Starlin Castro manning the middle infield. Castro had a down year in 2015, so it’s possible the Cubs might try to ship him instead, even though Baez might garner a better return.

“Baez would definitely bring more of a haul, and they have enough overall depth to gamble that he doesn’t turn into Gary Sheffield,” an AL scout said, per’s Jerry Crasnick.

Either Baez or Castro would seem more likely to go than Soler, if only to remove the logjam in middle infield. Whomever is traded, the Cubs need to bring back a quality arm they can count on in the postseason. 


Rays Relievers

So it appears power infielders and talented outfielders are on the market, while starting pitching is in high demand. What about teams looking for some help in the bullpen? Not every team can find a Kimbrel, even those that need help at more than just closer. According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Timesthe Tampa Bay Rays might be the team to talk to for good relief pitching, although it could take a very sweet offer:

Interest in back-end relievers RHP Brad Boxberger and LHP Jake McGee was predictably high, as it was at the July deadline, with the Astros and Tigers among the teams expressing interest.

The Rays don’t seem motivated to move one, seeing the benefits of the tandem that, at least for 2016, is still relatively inexpensive, with McGee due around $5 million via arbitration and Boxberger a pre-arb bargain of $530,000 or so. But that changes in 2017, when Boxberger becomes arb eligible and McGee gets a hefty raise in his last year before free agency.

Realistically, it will come down to the offer, and it’s an interesting conversation on which would bring more back. If the Rays are blown away, they could deal one now. If not, barring injury of course, the interest will be there in July, and again after this season.

Both Boxberger and McGee are in their athletic primes and coming off strong seasons. Boxberger saved 41 games, posted a 3.71 ERA and struck out 10.6 batters per nine innings. The southpaw McGee appeared in just 39 games, but posted a 2.41 ERA and .938 WHIP, the latter two numbers better than his career averages in those categories.

Topkin suggests the Rays don’t want to move one without finding a way to deal the other and hit restart, so it could be tough for teams looking to pry either pitcher away.

Of the two teams mentioned as expressing interest, Detroit might be the more desperate team and willing to pull off a deal. The Tigers bullpen ranked 27th in the league with a 4.38 ERA. Houston’s relievers managed a collective 3.27 ERA, good for sixth in the majors.

The Tigers also face the prospect of losing key reliever Joakim Soria—23 saves and a 2.85 ERA in 2015—to free agency, although Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press noted Wednesday that the Tigers met with Soria‘s agent and “both sides share a mutual interest in signing.”

If Soria walks, Detroit might be willing to make a big offer to the Rays, but it’s unclear if they have the right mix of prospects and/or position players. The Rays can dangle Boxberger and McGee all winter long, whetting the appetite for next season when teams might become more desperate to make something happen.


Stats courtesy of unless otherwise noted.

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Royals vs. Mets: Game 3 Live Stream, TV Schedule and Latest Comments

The Kansas City Royals are just two wins away from capturing the 2015 World Series title, but to pad their lead, they must now leave the comforting confines of Kauffman Stadium for the hostile stronghold that is the New York Mets’ Citi Field. 

Game 3 is essentially a must-win for the Mets. No team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win the World Series. The Mets lost Game 1 5-4 in 14 innings on Tuesday, then completely lost the plot against Royals pitcher Johnny Cueto, who threw a complete-game two-hitter in a 7-1 Royals victory on Wednesday. 

Kansas City has a rested bullpen thanks to Cueto‘s brilliant start, while the Mets have to contend with a tired staff and the prospect of waking up some dormant bats. 

It should be known that only 11 teams have come back from down 0-2 to win a World Series. The 1986 Mets were one of them, the MLB reminded: 

Here is the live stream and TV info for Game 3, followed by a roundup of what both sides are saying heading into Friday’s pivotal contest.  


2015 World Series Game 3 Viewing Info

When: Friday, October 30 at 8 p.m. ET

Where: Citi Field in New York City

TV: Fox

Live Stream: FoxSportsGo


Latest Comments

Kansas City’s Yordano Ventura (0-1, 5.09 ERA in 2015 postseason) and New York’s Noah Syndergaard (1-1, 2.77 ERA) are the probable starters on Friday. It’s yet another matchup between two hard-throwing pitchers. The Mets are hoping that the home crowd can rattle Ventura, who’s had a lackluster postseason thus far. 

“Our fans are pretty tough,” manager Terry Collins said Thursday, per USA Today‘s Gabe Lacques. “They’re tough. They’re strong and they’re tough. I’ve been on the other side of the field, not in the World Series, but on the other side of the field in New York City in a big series and it’s hard. It’s tough.”

Ventura‘s been a bit wild in four playoff starts this year. He’s allowed 20 hits and walked eight in 17.2 innings pitched, to the tune of 10 earned runs. Still, the Royals have won three of the games he’s started, and in his last outing, Ventura gave up just one run in 5.1 innings pitched.

While Kansas City hopes Ventura doesn’t get too riled up on Friday, the Mets legions would be happy to see Syndergaard, aka “Thor,” hammer the Royals with his own nasty heater. 

Syndergaard has to be who he is. You cannot go out there and reinvent yourself in Game 3 of the World Series,’’ said Bobby Ojeda, who pitched for the Mets in the ’86 World Series, per the New York Post‘s Kevin Kernan.

For a pitching staff predicated on blow-your-house-down stuff, Ojeda was disappointed to see Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom seemingly shy away from what they do best in the first two games.

“I’m being analytical, not critical,’’ said Ojeda, via Kernan. “What I’ve seen in Harvey and in deGrom is they are going to plan B before they even attempt plan A. In other words they are pitching to KC’s weakness rather than pitching to their strength.”

Harvey and deGrom combined for just four strikeouts in Games 1 and 2. While that suggests they weren’t attacking the Royals bats enough, it could be that in this instance, good hitting is beating good pitching. Per’s Jayson Stark, the Royals swing at fast pitches, but they do not miss: 

On Tuesday, Harvey threw 30 fastballs. The Royals swung at and missed two of them. On Wednesday, deGrom threw 54 fastballs. The Royals swung at and missed none of them.

But wait. There’s more. On Tuesday, Harvey threw 18 pitches with two strikes. The Royals swung at and missed one of them. On Wednesday, deGrom threw 28 pitches with two strikes. The Royals didn’t swing at and miss a single one of them.

“Me? Personally? I saw deGrom real well, windup and stretch,” Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain said, via Michael Powell of the New York Times. “Guys just lock in, you know?”

When a lineup has laser-like precision against one of the faster pitchers in the league, it certainly seems like an insurmountable obstacle. Syndergaard is undeterred, citing the Citi Field faithful and his team’s character as reasons to believe the Mets can make a comeback, per’s Adam Rubin:

Obviously we didn’t plan this to happen to be down 0-2. Coming back home is a big thing for us — having the Mets faithful behind us and the greatest fans in baseball. Part of the reason our team has had so much success this year is being to handle the resiliency and come together as a team, overcome and win some ballgames.

The Royals will look to stymie any sort of a Mets fightback on Friday. They came within one game of winning the 2014 World Series. To suffer the same fate this year would likely be too great to bear for many of these players. Plus, as a smaller-market team with a mostly sad history, there’s little guarantee the Royals will make it back to such lofty heights again. Belief in what they can do now is key.

“Our confidence level hasn’t changed since the first day of spring training to today,” Royals manager Ned Yost said, via’s Alan Eskew. “Our confidence has been high all year long. We expected to be here. We expected to compete for a world championship against a tough team.”

Kansas City is in control in this series. All it has to do is stay the course, keep swinging early and often in counts and play the same tight defense that’s been a boon to the squad all year. Syndergaard is just a rookie after all. The Royals have the experience to not let the moment overwhelm them. 

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Mets vs. Royals: Game 1 Live Stream Schedule and Pre-Series Comments

The Kansas City Royals host the New York Mets in Game 1 of the 2015 World Series on Tuesday. 

For the Royals, this is a rare chance to get it right in the Fall Classic after losing in seven games to the San Francisco Giants last season. For a long-suffering franchise that is just one year removed from a 28-year postseason drought—which began right after the Royals won their lone World Series title in 1985—Kansas City is cherishing the opportunity while trying to seize all the glory it missed out on last year. 

The Mets are looking to end a championship drought that dates back to 1986. They last won the pennant in 2000 and have long been the misfit outfit in New York, playing in the shadow of baseball’s greatest franchise, the Yankees. Strong pitching and an otherworldly display at the plate from Daniel Murphy propelled them past the ultra-rich Los Angeles Dodgers and the tortured Chicago Cubs this postseason. 

Both squads have a right to claim underdog status in the grand scheme of things. Kansas City is looking to win one for the smaller markets, while the Amazin’ Mets are looking to make sure that nickname is no longer said in jest (at least, you know, temporarily).

Here is the schedule and streaming info for Game 1.

2015 World Series Game 1 Viewing Info

When: Tuesday, October 27 at 8:07 p.m. ET

Where: Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri

TV: Fox

Live Stream: FoxSportsGo



Pre-Series Comments

Naturally, the Royals have found plenty of motivation this year from coming within one game of a championship in 2014. Dismissed by some before the season as lacking power and a true staff ace, the Royals went on to win an American League-best 95 games.

They’ve again captured the pennant, but it’s not likely they find much satisfaction in that feat. Last year’s pennant symbolizes what could have been.

“You’re proud of the American League pennant ring,” said hitting coach Dale Sveum, via the Kansas City Star‘s Vahe Gregorian, “but I have a hard time wearing it because it just reminds me that we lost.”

Pain aversion indeed might be part of what’s fueling the team. 

“I mean, the world’s watching,” said pitcher Luke Hochevar, via Gregorian. “This is the big stage that everybody dreams of. … I don’t think you ever get over that. I don’t think you do.”

While the Royals come into this game with a wealth of experience from last year, the Mets might still be getting used to the idea of playing on baseball’s biggest stage.

“For all of us, we’re kind of sitting around the locker room all talking to each other, and I don’t think anything has really set in for us yet,” Matt Harvey said Monday, according to Newsday‘s Marc Craig. “Which in our minds I think is a positive.”

“If you would have told me I’d be here in April,” lefty starter Steven Matz said, via Craig, “I would have probably laughed at you.”

Public enemy No. 1 for Kansas City in this series is Murphy, who is having a playoffs for the ages. He has an absurd .421/.436/1.026 slash line, with seven home runs and 11 RBI in nine games. He’s drawing comparisons to Yankees’ playoff hero Paul O’Neill. 

“Mostly it’s the fire with which he plays that reminded me of O’Neill more than anything else,” said baseball scout Bryan Lambe, according to the New York Post‘s Ken Davidoff. The Mets will hope Murphy can be the difference-maker in a series that is likely to feature plenty of fanned hitters.

Power pitching will be a key reason to tune into this World Series. The Royals have the trio of Edinson Volquez, Johnny Cueto and Yordano Ventura, while the Mets can trot out Jacob DeGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Harvey.

Game 1 will see Volquez square off against Harvey, but pitching velocity will definitely be a factor through Game 3, per USA Today‘s Joe Lemire and Jorge L. Ortiz: 

Three of the four starters who most regularly threw 95-plus gas will take the hill in the Fall Classic. In Game 3, each league’s most consistently hard throwers will oppose each other: Syndergaard and Ventura. Syndergaard hit 95 on 59.7% of pitches — the sport’s only hurler to throw a majority at that speed — and Ventura’s rate was 45.7%, which barely edges out the Mets’ Harvey at 45%.

The Mets will be looking to blow down a balanced lineup featuring the likes of crafty center fielder Lorenzo Cain and sluggers Salvador Perez and Mike Moustakas. Cain believes his team can keep doing what it’s done better than most this seasonclobber the fastball, per Sam McDowell of the Kansas City Star:

I feel like we hit hard throwers well. It’s not that it’s easier to hit. We just hit fastballs well. But what we did during the season, it doesn’t matter. Right now, it’s go out there and hit these guys. They’re a very solid staff. We understand that. We know what we’re getting ourselves into. We know what they feature. Once we get between the lines, it’s about applying what you’ve seen.

Playing catcher day in and day out, Perez has drawn plenty of attention for his lasting presence behind the plate.

“He takes such a beating,” said Cain, per Dave Skretta of the Associated Press (h/t the Register-Guard). “Man, I know I couldn’t do it.” 

Per Skretta, Game 1 will see Perez behind the plate for the 312th time in the past two years. It’s a remarkable feat of endurance, and the Royals pitching staff surely welcomes the consistency. If Perez can get his tired legs to crank out a few more home runshe already has four this postseasoneven better.

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Blue Jays vs. Royals: ALCS Game 1 TV Schedule, Ticket Info and Odds

Two long-suffering franchises enjoying a period of strong talent and good fortune will meet in the 2015 American League Championship Series, making this best-of-four series a particularly exciting, acutely anticipated matchup.

The Toronto Blue Jays are in the ALCS after defeating the Texas Rangers in a thrilling five-game series. The deciding contest on Wednesday was one of the strangest, craziest games you’ll ever see in baseball, turning on errors, a little-known rule and a three-run Jose Bautista dinger accompanied by a bat flip better and cooler than any finishing gimmick you’ll find in pro wrestling. 

Their opponent is the Kansas City Royals, who also needed the full five games to top the upstart Houston Astros in their AL Division Series matchup. The Royals won Game 5 by a score of 7-2, decidedly less dramatic than the Blue Jays’ clincher. 

It’s a fitting pairing, as the Royals and Blue Jays finished No. 1 and No. 2 in the American League final standings, and they didn’t find separation until the very end of the season.

Here is the Game 1 viewing guide, ticket info and odds. Spread and betting lines courtesy of Odds Shark and updated as of October 16 at 7 a.m. ET.

Blue Jays vs. Royals Game 1 Guide

Where: Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri

When: Friday, October 16 at 7:30 p.m. ET



Odds: Toronto (-1.5) at 27-20, Kansas City 20-31


The Blue Jays are looking for their first World Series berth since they won it all in 1993, which also happens to be the last time they made the playoffs, long on the outside looking in, playing third (or fourth, or fifth) fiddle to the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees in the AL East. For Kansas City, it’s looking for a second consecutive trip to the World Series. The franchise’s lone championship came in 1985 during the George Brett era.

Toronto will trot out Marco Estrada to start Game 1. The 32-year-old righty won Game 3, his only appearance of this postseason. Estrada went 6.1 innings, scattering five hits for one earned run while chalking up four strikeouts.

A dependable member of the Blue Jays rotation this year, the veteran Estrada went 1-1 against the Royals this year, allowing 12 hits and four earned runs in 12.1 innings pitched.

His opposition on the mound is another righty in Edinson Volquez. The hard-throwing right-hander lost to Houston in Game 3 and was only moderately effective in two starts against Toronto this season. 

Despite the two teams involved in a couple of dust-ups this year, Volquez said he will “of course” pitch inside against Toronto, per the Associated Press (h/t Manager Ned Yost is backing his Game 1 starter up on that assurance.

“I’m not a mind reader. I’m not a fortune teller. I don’t know if it’s going to be an issue,” Yost said, via the AP. “But we’ll pitch inside aggressively. That’s a power-laden club over there. We’re going to formulate a really good game plan and try to go out and execute.”

Backing Toronto off the plate is a necessary strategy. The Blue Jays racked up 26 runs and eight home runs in the ALDS, despite a team .228/.294/.418 slash line, per The offense was powered by the usual suspects, with Bautista and Josh Donaldson combining to hit four home runs and drive in nine runs.

Toronto will be looking for more from shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who, despite driving in four runs in Game 3, managed just two hits in 21 at-bats.

Kansas City had one less run and the same number of dingers in its five ALDS games but did a better job of getting on base with a team .321 OBP. The Royals enjoy a decent speed advantage over Toronto.

Lorenzo Cain can cover plenty of ground on the basepath and in center field, while Jarrod Dyson and Terrance Gore are dangerous pinch runners. Kendrys Morales was the main source of power in the ALDS. The veteran hit three home runs and notched six RBI against Houston.  

ESPN Stats & Info pointed out he’s been a clutch hitter in 2015: 

As far as defense goes, center field is where would-be line drives are likely to die in this series, per Tyler Kepner of the New York Times

According to FanGraphs’ Ultimate Zone Rating, Kevin Kiermaier of the Tampa Bay Rays was by far the best center fielder in the majors this season. But the second- and third-best A.L. center fielders are on display in this series: the Royals’ Lorenzo Cain and the Blue Jays’ Kevin Pillar. Both cover lots of ground and overcame long odds: Cain did not play baseball until he was a sophomore in high school, and Pillar was not drafted until the 32nd round in 2011.

These two squads have been jockeying for supremacy all season long, and this series definitely has the potential to go seven games. Toronto looks to have the early pitching advantage, with Volquez shaky against the Blue Jays and David Price ready to start Game 2 against Yordano Ventura (13-8, 4.08 ERA in regular season).

However, the Royals can draw on their experiences from last year, with many of the same key players in line to push this team to the mountaintop once again.

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Mets vs. Dodgers: Game 2 Score and Twitter Reaction from 2015 MLB Playoffs

A controversial four-run rally in the seventh inning propelled the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 5-2 home win over the New York Mets in Game 2 of their National League Division Series on Saturday night, tying the series at one game apiece.

The Mets came into the seventh inning ahead 2-1, courtesy of second-inning solo home runs from Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto off of Cy Young candidate Zack Greinke. Rookie Noah Syndergaard was dealing for the away side for much of the game but couldn’t finish what would turn out to be a wild seventh inning.

With one out, Enrique Hernandez on third, Chase Utley on first and Bartolo Colon in for Syndergaard, Dodgers second baseman Howie Kendrick knocked a hard grounder up the middle.

Daniel Murphy flipped the ball to Ruben Tejada to seemingly get Utley out at second and perhaps start a double play, but the 36-year-old veteran upended the shortstop with a hard takeout slide. Kendrick reached first safely without a throw, and Hernandez scored from third.’s Adam Rubin noted it echoed a play from 2010:

With the United States men’s national soccer team playing Mexico a few miles away at the Rose Bowl, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times trotted out a cross-sport analogy:

Former Mets shortstop Jose Reyes was not a fan of Utley’s slide, as it didn’t appear that he intended to touch the base:

A challenge from Dodgers manager Don Mattingly showed Tejada never touched second base, bringing Utley back into play. The replay also showed Utley failed to touch the bag before jogging to the dugout, but he was still allowed to stay on the field. The umpires did not grant Tejada the neighborhood play, allowing Mattingly to challenge.

ESPN’s Dan Szymborski felt Utley’s slide was legal within the boundaries of the game but suggested those boundaries haven’t kept up with the evolving sport: 

Tejada left the game on a cart and suffered a fractured right fibula on the play, per Sports Illustrated‘s Ben Reiter. Wilmer Flores replaced him at short.

After the game, Mets manager Terry Collins commented on the play, per the Wall Street Journal‘s Jared Diamond and Los Angeles Times‘ Bill Shaikin:

After striking out three times against Syndergaard, Adrian Gonzalez delivered against reliever Addison Reed, smacking a two-out double to score both Utley and Kendrick. Turner followed that up with a double of his own, earning the Dodgers a 5-2 lead they would not relinquish. Both Gonzalez’ and Turner’s hits came after a Corey Seager flyball out which, had Utley been ruled out on a neighborhood play, would’ve ended the inning.

The Dodgers’ shaky bullpen came through in relief of Greinke. Chris Hatcher struck out two in a 1-2-3 eighth inning, and Kenley Jansen took over to record the three-out save in the ninth. Greinke picked up the victory, allowing five hits and two earned runs and striking out eight.

Syndergaard took the loss, as the first two runs of the seventh were charged to him. He finished with three earned runs and nine strikeouts in 6.1 innings.

After watching Syndergaard’s fastball reach triple digits several times in the first inning, ESPN’s Buster Olney pointed out the Dodgers might be in for another tough night at the plate: 

For some time, it looked like Syndergaard would be able to replicate the performance of Jacob deGrom, who outdueled Clayton Kershaw in Game 1, especially with Greinke spotting the Mets an early two-run lead.

Cespedes’ and Conforto’s solo blasts in the second frame were remarkable, considering the pitcher they victimized, per the Wall Street Journal‘s Jared Diamond: 

Conforto’s solo shot was particularly notable. It came in the 22-year-old’s first postseason at-bat—not bad for a player who started the year in Single-A—and the homer was a low screamer down the right field line that left the park in a blink.

Journalist Anthony De Rosa had a biting quip for the unusual homer:

Greinke settled down after the second inning, scattering two hits and five strikeouts over the next five frames and deftly working the edges of the strike zone. His slider was effective, keeping the Mets hitters off-balance all night. 

The Dodgers got their first run of the game in the fourth inning. Turner led off the inning with a ground-rule double, and he came around to score on Andre Ethier’s double to right field in the next at-bat. 

Los Angeles did a fine job of working the count against Syndergaard despite the rookie throwing plenty of first-pitch strikes. Nevertheless, the Dodgers struggled against his sizzling heater, which stayed right around the 99 mph mark throughout his start. 

Curtis Granderson was a bright spot leading off for the Mets, going 2-for-3 with a walk and matching his line from Game 1. For the Dodgers, Gonzalez has struck out seven times in the series but still came through with RBI in both games. Getting the start for Joc Pederson, Hernandez scored the tying run and reached base three times. Mattingly’s instincts turned out to be correct, per Bleacher Report’s Scott Miller: 

After two games in Chavez Ravine, the series heads to Citi Field for Game 3 on Monday. On paper, the Mets have a huge pitching advantage for the contest, with Matt Harvey (13-8, 2.71 ERA) lined up to take on middling Dodgers starter Brett Anderson (10-9, 3.69 ERA). Harvey has done his best work this year in New York, sporting an 8-3 record with a 2.23 ERA in 17 starts at home.

This game could lead to rule changes in MLB. Utley’s slide was legal, but the unfortunate end result for Tejada, overall questionable intent of the play and ensuing replay controversy may be catalysts for restrictions on baserunners and alterations to the review system.

Postgame Reaction

As one might expect, much of the postgame reaction focused on the Utley play. MLB official—and former Dodgers manager—Joe Torre weighed in on the play, via Pedro Moura of the Orange County Register

Utley himself explained his thought process, per’s Arash Markazi: 

Asked at length about the incident, Collins said he felt the officials handled things correctly in unclear circumstances in taking an out off the board and letting Utley come back to second, per

No, they never explain why. They just said he didn’t touch the bag. But certainly my argument is, you know, the road block. You go to all your available arguments. The road block, is it a neighborhood play? He didn’t touch the bag. All the things that — the umpires handled it great. They said we reviewed the whole thing, and obviously we didn’t think it was a good throw. So the neighborhood play was out. They thought that it’s pretty hard to rule that he didn’t touch the bag when he hit the shortstop and nobody was tagged, so they have no other call. So they handled it right.

No matter your take on the controversy, one thing is for certain: this conversation is far from over.

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