And so on Monday night, the Royals played one of those games in which an entire season of hope flashed before their eyes. They began the day having lost five of seven to slip to 1 1/2 games behind the Tigers in the American League Central. With the Tigers having won six of seven at the beginning of the day, the Royals understood what’s at stake.
The Washington Nationals are within one well-placed victory of a division title. Their triumph in this matter is, by all that is logical, a question of when, not if. The real question about the Nats’ short-term future would seem to be whether they can finish with the National League’s best record, thus qualifying for home-field advantage in two rounds of the postseason.
Pablo Sandoval is playing out his age-27 season as one of the game’s better third basemen. Barring a last-minute run at an extension, he will enter the open market as one of the most desirable position players available. Though he doesn’t provide as much value at the plate as he did in the earlier part of his career, and is a below-average baserunner, Sandoval has produced consistently at a well-above-average rate with the bat and the glove. (And did I mention that he just turned 28 a little over a month ago?) Of course, he comes with questions of conditioning, though Sandoval reported in good shape this spring and has seemingly carried that positive vibe through the season. He should have a number of suitors awaiting him if he tests the market. With a seller’s market awaiting him, it is hard to see Sandoval taking any sort of discount to re-up with San Francisco. But the club kept Hunter Pence and Tim Lincecum off the market with late-breaking extensions last year, and GM Brian Sabean has recently given expression to the club’s oft-noted penchant for retaining its own players. (Of course, he also noted that difficult decisions will need to be made, and added that payroll will be an issue.) Sandoval is a highly marketable player for a large-market team that lacks an obvious replacement. He has spent his entire career with the Giants, and there are plenty of reasons to think that the Giants will look to make a run at him (whether through an extension or via free agency). So, the question is simple: will Sandoval be back in San Francisco next year, or will he find a new home
Innings stacking up and season running out, the Padres said Monday they will delay ace Tyson Ross’ next start. Comeback left-hander Robbie Erlin instead will face the Phillies in Thursday night’s series finale here.
Royals lefty Danny Duffy, who was aiming to pitch on Tuesday against the White Sox, will instead throw a four-inning simulated game, while Liam Hendriks makes a second straight spot start. Assuming the simulated game goes well, Duffy will pitch next Monday at Cleveland.
Yankees reliever Dellin Betances recorded two strikeouts in Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the Orioles, giving him 130 in 86 2/3 innings. That ties Rivera’s franchise record for a reliever, though Rivera — then the setup man for closer John Wetteland — needed 107 2/3 innings to reach that total. “For me, to just be mentioned in any sentence, any breath with Mariano Rivera — I’m just honored,” Betances said.
MLBTR has been keeping track of all the rumors and candidates tied to the Diamondbacks‘ GM search, and it appears as if Dave Stewart is now “the favorite” to be the team’s next general manager, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. Stewart will formally interview for the job this week. Here’s some more news from around baseball… Aaron Hill tells FOX Sports’ Jack Magruder that he wants to remain with the Diamondbacks next season. Hill has lost September playing time to some of the D’Backs’ young infielders and was shopped before the July trade deadline. It’s no surprise that Arizona might be looking to the future given that Hill has struggled this season, he’ll be 33 next Opening Day and the second baseman is still owed $24MM through the 2016 season. While the Braves are still on the fringes of the NL wild card race, it looks like this could be a lost season for Atlanta. MLB.com’s Mark Bowman looks at how the team was hurt by some front office and player (namely, Tim Hudson) losses and Bowman wonders if the Braves could shake up the coaching staff or even consider replacing GM Frank Wren. The Rangers have used 27 different position players this season, and MLB.com’s T.R.
For the first time in over a year, Matt Harvey climbed atop Citi Field’s main pitching mound on Monday afternoon, toed the rubber and began firing. It was the final throwing session of the season for Harvey.
In his latest Insider-only piece for ESPN, Buster Olney expressed doubt that the Orioles would re-sign Nelson Cruz this winter. The O’s are more likely to let Cruz go and pick up an extra draft pick (via the qualifying offer) since Cruz’s big season may have made him too expensive for Baltimore. If the team looks for a right-handed bat to replace Cruz, Olney opines that the Braves’ Evan Gattis, rumored to be a trade candidate, would be a perfect fit as the Orioles’ new designated hitter. Here’s some more from around the AL East… Also from Olney, Yankees GM Brian Cashman originally passed on the idea of signing Chris Young when the team’s statistical analysts recommended that the Yankees pick up the recently-released Met. Cashman’s change of heart paid off, as Young has a whopping 1.266 OPS in his short stint (29 PA) as a Yankee and three homers, including a walkoff to beat the Rays last Thursday. Rookie right-hander Shane Greene‘s emergence has been a boon for the Yankees‘ injury-riddled rotation, and Kevin Kernan of the New York Post details the unlikely story of how Greene originally caught the eyes of team scouts. Greene, a 15th-round draft pick in 2009, has a 3.56 ERA, 9.2 K/9 and 2.92 K/BB rate over 68 1/3 IP this season. Dustin Pedroia‘s contract extension was considered to be very team-friendly when it was signed last year, but ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes wonders if the Red Sox were too quick to extend Pedroia given how recurring injuries caused his performance to drop off in 2014
The Mets are expected to bring back both general manager Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins for the 2015 season, sources tell Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Contract details haven’t been finalized with either man, though since Collins is already signed through 2015, Alderson’s status is the only one that needs to be immediately addressed. The GM’s previous deal will expire at the end of the season, and though the Mets hold a team option on his services for 2015, Martino reports that it’s more likely the Mets will work out an extension with Alderson rather than just exercise the one-year option. Alderson and Collins both joined the team prior to the 2011 season, and the rebuilding Mets have a 297-339 record under both men. It had been assumed that Alderson would return in 2015, and though Collins’ status was perhaps in question earlier in the season, recent signs pointed towards his return as well.