The Rays have struggled lately, but they’ve done surprisingly well overall this season despite numerous pitching injuries. One key reason is that they’ve pulled starting pitchers early in games, as Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan explains. The Rays have frequently removed starters after just five or six innings, even when they’ve been very effective, because batters tend to do much better against a pitcher the third time through the order. Rays pitcher Nate Karns says the team explained the strategy to its pitchers before the season. “They didn’t hand us a big spreadsheet or anything,” he says. “But they gave us what we needed to know. That’s something they’ve run a lot of numbers on, crunched a lot of data, and for me to have no numbers myself to refute it, I just trust them and believe what they’re doing is right. And it’s working.” The Rays’ rotation ERA of 3.29 ranks second in the American League despite injuries to a number of key pitchers. Here’s more from around the big leagues.
- Injuries to regulars like Jayson Werth, Anthony Rendon, Ryan Zimmerman and Denard Span raise questions about whether the Nationals should acquire another hitter at the trade deadline, Nats Insider’s Mark Zuckerman writes. As Zuckerman notes, the Nationals are currently three games up in the NL East, and they’ve been one of the NL’s better offensive teams overall. (A season like the one Bryce Harper is having makes a big difference in that regard.) The Nationals have also gotten nice contributions from players who didn’t project to be starters, including Danny Espinosa, Michael Taylor and Clint Robinson. But the Nationals simply have too many injured players for whom to cover. Zuckerman argues that a versatile regular like Ben Zobrist would be tremendously helpful in patching the Nats’ lineup.
- Alex Guerrero‘s contract with the Dodgers contains a clause that allows him to opt out after 2015 if he’s traded, but Guerrero might consider waiving that clause if he were paid extra, Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles writes. Guerrero (who can’t be optioned to the minors without his permission, either) has played sparingly lately, with Justin Turner handling third most of the time. Guerrero is currently owed about $12MM through 2017. He’s just 28 and has hit 10 homers in 159 plate appearances this year (albeit with a .277 OBP), so he could be a more appealing addition to the trade market if he’s willing to dispense with his opt-out clause.