The Dodgers are “setting a high bar” on potential reliever acquisitions this month, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal says (video link). In the end, though, Rosenthal doesn’t expect the Dodgers to make any trades for outside bullpen aid, noting that closer Kenley Jansen (on the DL since Aug. 9 with an irregular heartbeat) is among their soon-to-return reinforcements. Further, August deals are generally difficult to make, with Rosenthal reporting that “most relievers are getting claimed on revocable trade waivers, then pulled back” by their teams. By Connor Byrne
Clay Buchholz didn’t want to sign a minor league contract last offseason, though the righty tells Fangraphs’ David Laurila that the experience ended up being “a restart” for him, leading to his eventual revival with the D’Backs. “I swallowed my pride and did that [pitch in the minors] for a little bit. It was for the best, because it helped me get to where I’m at now,” Buchholz said. “It feels good to be able to go out there and throw without anything going on, mentally or physically.” Buchholz initially signed a minors deal with the Royals but was released before pitching for the big league team, only to sign another minor league contract with Arizona and emerge as a big piece of the Diamondbacks’ rotation. In 73 innings for the D’Backs this season, Buchholz has a 2.47 ERA, 3.81 K/BB rate, and a 7.5 K/9. By Mark Polishuk
Manny Machado had to exit Sunday’s game against the Seattle Mariners after he was hit in the left wrist by a pitch thrown by Andrew Romine.
Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said that Machado is having an X-ray taken of his wrist, per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.
The pitch that hit Machado was an 86-mile-per-hour fastball that just came in on him a bit too much and hit him just above the wrist.
Since joining the Dodgers in a trade from Baltimore, Machado has hit .268 with four home runs and 10 RBI in 28 games. By Jesse Reed
Starting pitcher victories don’t have the same allure as they once did, but 150 wins are still a bunch and Clayton Kershaw hit that milestone on Sunday when the Dodgers routed the Mariners in the rubber game of their series, 12-1.
Justin Turner turned it into a blowout with a three-run homer off position player Andrew Romine in the ninth inning, giving Turner a fourth hit and five RBIs. Enrique Hernandez also homered and had three RBIs, and reliever Zac Rosscup sealed the win with an immaculate inning. The Dodgers beat the Mariners Friday night, 11-1, then suffered a distressing and controversial balk-off loss Saturday night, 5-4. By Ken Gurnick
Al Avila has had a busy day. A bad day. Not the worst day, he concedes, but just before he was about to jump onto the elliptical for a much-needed workout, he received word that another one of his starting pitchers was headed to the disabled list. Now, they need two spot starters for this weekend’s series and not much 40-man roster space to work with. Luckily, for logistical reasons, Triple-A Toledo is playing at home.
Avila, the third-year Detroit Tigers general manager, has many things on his plate these days. Even in the dog days of summer, while the team is slogging through a season that has been, at times — like Thursday night’s blowout loss — as ugly as expected, but at other times — like the first 2 ½ months of the season — better than expected. Among his duties on this day is a sit-down interview with a beat reporter, who wants an August update on how the first full year of the rebuilding process is going.
There is one problem, though: First pitch is a little over 20 minutes away and Avila has one rule about such interviews; he will not do them during the game.
For all of his wide-ranging duties, game time is among his most sacred time. It’s where he can do what he made his name in baseball doing: Watching the game and evaluating the play, not only on the field in front of him, but also around the minor leagues, on an iPad, which he regularly tunes into the team’s eight minor league affiliates.
“This is very difficult to stomach this,” he says. “This is why people try to avoid rebuilds. Because the rebuilds are very, very tough on everybody’s mentality and psyche and they drive you crazy. I know it’s driven me crazy. A lot of days, especially days when the pitching doesn’t hold up and there’s no hitting, it’s a hard thing to deal with, there isn’t a doubt.”
“We were in a situation where, if we didn’t do the rebuild, then we would really be in a bad situation, believe me,” he says. “Believe me.”
For fans who are accustomed to the Tigers putting out a $200 million-plus payroll and competing for the postseason, it’s hard to believe in the team’s 51-73 record, the sixth-worst in the majors. They are young, inexperienced, lacking in offense and pitching and still learning the game. Many nights, like Thursday night’s 15-7 loss, it is ugly.
But during that game, Avila flipped through his farm system — even the Athletics farm system, watching a pitcher named Nolan Blackwood, who would be announced as one of the team’s two players to be named later in the Mike Fiers trade a couple days later — and was afforded glimpses at the goal, which won’t be realized until many years from now and perhaps, not ever.
“The positive developments are the guys that are performing well in the minor leagues,” he says. “Those are the bright spots. Not everybody is going to have a great year, not everybody is going to stay healthy, so the guys that stay healthy and perform, those are the bright spots and we’ve had more than a few.”
Earlier in the day, the team promoted center fielder Daz Cameron to Triple-A Toledo. Cameron was one of three players acquired from the Astros for right-hander Justin Verlander last season. Another, catcher Jake Rogers, is fighting back from an early-season slump and remains viewed as the team’s catcher of the future. Two of the team’s recent draftees, Kody Clemens and Brock Deatherage, performed well enough to reach Class A Lakeland this season. And though their bushel of top pitching prospects has turned in a mixed bag of performances this season, the words Avila keeps receiving from his top scouts are that the influx of younger players in the system over the past year have serious potential. “Stay the course,” is what one texted him after a recent trip to Double-A Erie, watching infielders Isaac Paredes, Sergio Alcantara and Willi Castro.
But Casey Mize’s strong minor league debut in Lakeland and up-and-comer Wenceel Perez’s 4-for-4 day in his first Class A start at West Michigan only provide brief reprieves from the reality of losing.
And though Thursday night’s loss was tough, he looks down at the field the next night and sees the impact that manager Ron Gardenhire and his coaching staff has made in a short period of time.
“One of the things I feel very good about, because we’re going through hell, nobody likes it and it’s very frustrating,” Avila says, “But the one thing that we do feel very good about is the way that our guys put effort on the field and even though we’re losing, sometimes we come back late in the game and they battle to the last out and I think it’s attributed to, No. 1, our manager and coach staff, but also that our players our hungry.”
“You don’t want to lose and I know Gardy doesn’t want to lose,” Avila says. “When I go out there down after a game, whether it’s on the road or at home, everybody is pissed off and generally so.”
First pitch is near, the starters walking in from the bullpen, and Avila is beginning to get antsy. He puts his glasses on and powers up his iPad.
Tonight, the process of identifying the few players on this team that will stick around long enough to win in Detroit continues. Matthew Boyd has matured this season. Niko Goodrum has been a surprise. Nicholas Castellanos, the team leader, has spoken about his desire to stay with the Tigers, however improbable it may seem.
The next great team — whenever that may be — is playing on minor league fields mostly in Erie and Lakeland. And when he watches those players, in the midst of all this losing, Avila can’t help but dream of a better time, in which he doesn’t have to squint and put his glasses on to see the vision the organization has.
“Some days, when we’re not playing that good here and you’re 0-for-9 in the minor leagues,” he says, smacking a fist against an open hand. “It hits you in the face.”
Before it does, as the starting pitcher is making his warm-up pitches, he is asked a final question: What is your message to the fanatics who are just has frustrated as him?
“We’re going to get this done,” Avila says. “It’s going to take some time and it’s not going to be easy, but it will be worth it.”
It is game time.
“Alright, you gotta go,” he says, pulling his chair up for another night in the painful first season of the Tigers’ rebuilding process.
He has more work to do. By Anthony Fenech, Detroit Free Press