Here are our current Major League Baseball News and Notes:
Postseason Beginning To Take Shape
As we approach the final week of baseball, the playoff race is starting to take shape. In fact, in the AL West, it is all but set. More than likely, the Oakland Athletics will be facing the New York Yankees in the wild-card game, with the winner to take on the Boston Red Sox. On the other side of the AL bracket would be the Houston Astros taking on the Cleveland Indians. Technically, the Athletics mathematically can catch the Houston Astros, but at this point that might be a long shot.
In the NL, there are still a few races to watch. If the season were to end right now, it would be the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals taking on each other in the wild-card matchup, with the winner moving on to take on the Chicago Cubs. On the other side of the bracket would be the Atlanta Braves versus the Los Angeles Dodgers.
There remains more parity in the NL, though. Right now, the Rockies sit only 1.5 games back of the St. Louis Cardinals in the wild-card race and only sit a couple games back of the Dodgers in the NL West. Additionally, the Brewers only sit 1.5 games back of the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central, making it at least a realistic scenario that they may be able to catch them.
Brother’s Make History
Yuli Gurriel (Houston Astros) and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (Toronto Blue Jays) made history on Friday night. Both players had multi-home run games, making them the first brothers in history with multi-home run games on the same day. For Yuli, he had two home runs, one a grand slam, and seven runs batted in during the Astros 11-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels.
It was extra special because this win guaranteed a postseason appearance for the Astros. For Lourdes, he hit two moonshots, as both home runs were estimated at more than 400 feet. Unfortunately for the Blue Jays, despite Lourdes’ two home runs, the Blue Jays still lost 11-3 to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Texas Manager Shown The Door
Jeff Bannister has managed his last game for the Texas Rangers. Under Bannister, the Rangers won the American League West in 2015 and 2016. He was also the American League Manager of the Year in 2015. However, his last two seasons have been anything but impressive.
This year, the Rangers are currently 65-88. While the team may have been bad over the last two years, it is not entirely all Bannister’s fault. Most notably, his pitching staff was pretty weak this year. Of the opening day starting rotation, only one member still remains.
In fact, whenever you have to rely on Bartolo Colon for meaningful innings every fifth day, you know that you are not sitting on a gem of a staff. Bench coach Don Wakamatsu will take over the managerial duties for the Texas Rangers for the rest of the year.
Addison Russell on Administrative Leave
Addison Russell has been placed on paid administrative leave for the Chicago Cubs as he is being investigated under the MLB-MLBPA Joint Domestic Violence Policy. Russell, who faced allegations from a friend of his ex-wife, claimed to have both physically and emotionally abused her. Now, his ex-wife, Melisa Reidy, is bringing forth the allegations.
She has issued an account of all the things that went on that eventually led to their divorce. Once again, allegations of physical and emotional abuse run rampant and it will be interesting to see how both the Cubs and Major League Baseball handle this. From a Cub’s perspective, this is not ideal timing with the playoffs set to begin; however, from a societal perspective, it is more important that the truth be disclosed and justice be served if warranted.
Sean Manaea Likely Out All Of Next Season
Despite a remarkable season this year by the Oakland Athletics, one that looks like will include a postseason opportunity; they did get a bit of bad news. Sean Manaea, who was pitching like the ace of the staff, is not only done for the rest of this season but likely most, if not all, of next season as well.
Manaea underwent surgery on his pitching shoulder and will likely miss as much as a year. The Athletics announced it was a, “subacromial decompression, acromioplasty and posterior labral repair.” This season Manaea was 12-9 with a 3.59 ERA and 108 strikeouts in 27 starts.
Also receiving bad news this week on the pitching-injury front were the Chicago Cubs. It was announced that closer Brandon Morrow has been shut down for the year. Struggling through injuries all year, Morrow’s absence leaves the Cubs scrambling for closer options. Pedro Strop had filled in nicely, but he is also dealing with some injuries. For a team likely to be a threat in the NL Central, it will be interesting to see if the bullpen is their Achilles heel.