It’s quiet today, but baseball’s second half begins in earnest tomorrow. Over the break, a roster of American League All-Stars defeated an assortment of National Leaguers by a score of 4 to 2. Owing to one of the most confounding rules in all of sport, this means that the A.L. entrant in the World Series will own home-field advantage for the Fall Classic.
As the A.L. post-season hopefuls celebrate their victory, here’s the latest from the N.L.:
- Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com writes that a breakout first half from Cameron Rupp has made him a potential trade chip for the Phillies. While the 27-year-old comes with another four years of club control beyond the 2016 season, he represents a rare, controllable option for teams in need of offense behind the dish. A number of contenders meet that criteria, Seidman notes, listing the Indians and White Sox as a pair of clubs that have received well below-average production from their backstops this season. While the Phils needn’t feel compelled to move Rupp, GM Matt Klentak showed with the offseason Ken Giles trade that he’s willing to move assets with considerably more club control than the typical trade candidate if the right offer presents itself.
- Brewers righty Junior Guerra has been one of the game’s most remarkable stories in the first half, turning from a waiver claimee (in GM David Stearns’s first transaction) into a quality starter. As Gary D’Amato of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writes, it was his discovery — and mastery — of the splitter that made him a Rookie of the Year candidate at 31 years of age. Harnessing that key offering “was a long process,” he says, explaining that he didn’t feel comfortable with it until about two years ago. Because of his age, Guerra is in a rather unique position with regard to contract rights; he also could be a more likely trade candidate than might otherwise be anticipated given his meager service time (though I didn’t feel compelled to include him in our list of potentially available starters). “Right now I’m not thinking about money,” he tells D’Amato. “I’m just thinking about working hard and providing for my family. I want to keep working hard in order to keep getting chances.” Field questions about his trade status is probably quite an unexpected luxury, but Guerra says he hopes to continue pitching in Milwaukee.
- MLB commissioner Rob Manfred says that the league won’t take any action with regard to Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang until the Chicago police have advanced their investigation into allegations of sexual assault, Stephen Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. “We are aware of the situation and are working with law enforcement,” said Manfred. “We will make a decision when we have sufficient facts as to whether application of, for example, the administrative leave provisions in the new policy are applicable.” The league had moved more swiftly to place Hector Olivera on administrative leave earlier this season, but he was arrested and charged in the immediate aftermath of the incident in question. In many ways, Kang’s situation will represent a new challenge for the commissioner’s office, who has already dealt with several cases under a still-new policy addressing domestic violence and sexual assault. This is the first case falling under the latter rubric, and also the first involving an important player whose team is involved in a post-season race.