The latest on a few National League teams…
- 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.
- The Cardinals have decided to shift right-hander Luke Weaver from the rotation to the bullpen, manager Mike Shildt told Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com and other reporters on Sunday. It’s not clear whether Weaver will return to the team’s starting staff in 2018, but for now, his vacated spot will go to fellow righty Daniel Poncedeleon. The 24-year-old Weaver has been subpar at preventing runs over 125 1/3 innings, as his 4.67 ERA shows, though FIP (4.14), xFIP (4.26) and SIERA (4.37) indicate he has deserved somewhat better results to this point. Poncedeleon, meanwhile, has held his own as a starter in the minors since the Cardinals drafted him in 2014. The 26-year-old made his first and only big league start July 23, when he stunningly held the Reds without a hit in a seven-inning, 116-pitch performance, and has appeared in five other games as a reliever this season. While Poncedeleon has managed to log an appealing 2.04 ERA through his first 17 2/3 major league innings, his K/9 (5.09), BB/9 (4.58), strand rate (91.6 percent), batting average on balls in play against (.133) and groundball percentage (31.9) suggest negative regression is around the corner.
- Pirates shortstop prospect Kevin Newman earned a promotion to the majors earlier this week, but they’ve been reluctant to use him thus far in the midst of a playoff race, and he’s not a lock to start in 2019. Even though fellow Pirates shortstops Adeiny Hechavarria and Jordy Mercer are set to become free agents in the offseason, that doesn’t mean the team won’t re-sign one of them or bring in another veteran at the position. The club would like to have a vet mentor the 25-year-old Newman for “at least some of next season,” according to Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic (subscription required), who wonders if Pittsburgh will wind up signing a pending free agent such as Asdrubal Cabrera, Freddy Galvis, Jose Iglesias or Jose Reyes over the winter. While general manager Neal Huntington admitted the Pirates are indeed “open to” the idea of a veteran-Newman tandem at short next year, he added that finding a more experienced option is “not necessarily” a must.