Star Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper provided a ringing endorsement for embattled skipper Matt Williams, as Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports. “Truly, I love him as a manager,” said Harper. “Flat out I absolutely do. If I didn’t, everybody would know.” Player sentiment only goes so far, of course, but the comments do seem particularly meaningful with Harper set to finish off a compelling, breakout season as one of the lone bright spots on a disappointing team.
Here’s more from the eastern divisions:
- While there was a report yesterday that the Braves could have interest in Yoenis Cespedes as a free agent, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution hears (Twitter link) that the team has no such intentions. As I noted at the time, that match seemed curious on paper not because Cespedes wouldn’t be an appealing target for the team — he would — but because his price tag seems likely to move quickly into a range that the Braves would not find palatable.
- Rays closer Brad Boxberger says that his recent struggles may be the result of inconsistent usage earlier in the year, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. Another strong campaign from Boxberger, 27, has started to trend downward in recent weeks, and he said that could be due to “all of the early use in non-closing situations.” While Boxberger says he does not want to place blame on the team’s lack of a designated closer role — which he has filled, de facto, for much of the year — he obviously seemed to suggest that as a possibility. Boxberger will still be a season away from reaching arbitration eligibility after this year, though his saves tally this year will set him up for a big payday thereafter — if he can remain healthy and effective.
- Red Sox righty Joe Kelly has flipped the narrative on his season, but as Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com reports, he may have thrown his last pitch of 2015. While that decision has yet to be made, the 26-year-old exited his outing last night with shoulder tightness — obviously not an area that the team will want to take any chances at the tail end of a lost season. Kelly’s solid late-year results have surely given nsew president of baseball operations plenty to think about in planning next seasons rotation.
- Another Red Sox right-hander, reliever Junichi Tazawa, has already been declared shut down for the rest of the year, as Tim Britton of the Providence Journal reports. The move is not related to any injury, says interim manager Torey Lovullo. Instead, Boston wants to avoid too much stress on the 29-year-old’s arm after he topped sixty frames in each of the last two years. The steady Tazawa has faded down the stretch this year after a typically strong first half. He’ll enter his final year of arbitration in the offseason.