If the Cubs do ultimately pursue Jonathan Papelbon following his release from the Nationals, as has been speculated upon, lefty Jon Lester would endorse the move, he tells ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers. “He is crazy,” Lester joked, “but he’s no crazier than the rest of us. He just gets a bad rap for what happened in the dugout. Knowing Papelbon, I’ve always had good things to say about him as a teammate, how he respects the game and how he goes about his business. People are quick to jump to the conclusions based on one event. I think he’s a great teammate.” The event to which Lester is alluding, of course, is last year’s altercation with former teammate Bryce Harper, during which Papelbon placed his hands around Harper’s throat in a dugout argument. Rogers points out that Papelbon has been effective when afforded multiple days of rest between his appearances but has struggled otherwise — especially when pitching in consecutive games. Whether he’d be an upgrade at all for the Cubs is debatable, of course, but the loss of Pedro Strop and recent implosions by Carl Edwards and Hector Rondon have left Chicago’s setup corps appearing vulnerable.
More from the division…
- Cardinals setup man Kevin Siegrist was pulled from last night’s game due to what he terms a “deadish feeling” in his left arm, writes MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch. Manager Mike Matheny called the decision to lift his left-hander from the game precautionary, adding that he’s hopeful that the team’s three scheduled off-days over the next eight days will give Siegrist’s arm a chance to recover. Siegrist missed two weeks at the beginning of July due to mononucleosis and acknowledged after last night’s game that it’s been difficult to get his arm back into shape. As Langosch points out, he’s made 50 appearances this season after leading the Majors with 81 appearances last season (plus another three in the playoffs). The Cards picked up lefty Zach Duke prior to the non-waiver deadline, which gives Matheny a left-handed alternative, but Siegrist remains a vital component of the St. Louis relief corps.
- The Reds have yet to firmly decide whether Brandon Finnegan’s long-term future is in the rotation or in the bullpen, per Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Manager Bryan Price told Buchanan over the weekend that the final seven or eight weeks of the season will be used to continue the club’s evaluation of Finnegan, who currently has a 4.45 ERA with 6.6 K/9, 4.5 BB/9 and a 38.3 percent ground-ball rate in 129 1/3 innings. ERA estimators such as FIP, xFIP and SIERA all cast a less-favorable picture, pegging Finnegan well north of the 5.00 mark. “Based on what we have in our system, what we begin the year with next year, will we win more games with him as a starter or a reliever?” Price asked rhetorically. “I can say from my perspective that hasn’t been answered.” Buchanan points out that Anthony DeSclafani and Homer Bailey are guaranteed rotation spots in 2017, and right-hander Dan Straily has likely earned a place in the starting five as well. The Reds will also have a plethora of young arms to consider, including Robert Stephenson, Amir Garrett, Rookie Davis, John Lamb and Cody Reed. Right-handers Raisel Iglesias and Michael Lorenzen, too, could re-enter that mix, though each is pitching well out of the ’pen right now and may remain there long-term.