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Even one little injury can sway a race for a postseason berth. A star player missing a few games can mean the difference between a chance to play in October or going home and starting to get ready for the next season. The Los Angeles Dodgers are reeling from that point of view. While the Dodgers have a big enough lead in the National League West to withstand their troubles, what does it mean for the postseason?
Betts To Sit Out Weekend Series
One of the top National League MVP candidates seems to have avoided a more serious injury. Los Angeles Dodgers infielder-outfielder Mookie Betts was off crutches and scheduled to undergo further testing. On Thursday, Betts fouled a ball off the inside of his left foot in his first plate appearance, yet stayed in the game until the eighth inning. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters that Betts won’t be back until Monday at the earliest, meaning he won’t face the Washington Nationals this weekend. Betts had an X-ray Thursday that came back negative.
Buehler Won’t Be Back In 2023
After building himself up physically while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery in hopes of returning for the stretch drive and the postseason, right-hander Walker Buehler will not pitch for the Los Angeles Dodgers this season, the team announced. Instead, Buehler will focus on getting ready for the 2024 season. The decision was announced just before he was scheduled to make his second rehab start at Triple-A. A source told Jack Harris of the Los Angeles Times that Buehler did not have any sort of setback. Buehler’s return this season was not a given. It is the latest blow to a Dodgers starting rotation that has lost Julio Urías following a domestic violence arrest, Clayton Kershaw’s velocity notably decreasing following a left shoulder injury, and trade-deadline pickup Lance Lynn not performing well.
About That Retirement Plan …
What started out as a sad yet feel-good story has turned into utter chaos. A reported retirement announcement by Washington Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg that would coincide with his number being retired was scrapped the other day. The deal allegedly had the Nats fully paying out Strasburg the final three years of his contract, worth $97.5 million. Now everything besides the retirement ceremony appears up in the air, especially after Nationals owner Mark Lerner issued a statement regarding the situation.
“Until then, we look forward to seeing Stephen when we report to Spring Training”
— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) September 8, 2023
A Gallen Of Zeroes
Before Friday, Arizona Diamondbacks ace Zac Gallen had never thrown a pitch in the ninth inning of an MLB game. Facing the Chicago Cubs in a key battle for a National League wild-card spot and leading 1-0 going to the ninth, the odds were against Gallen going out for the ninth. But he did and he finished what he started, blanking the Cubs on just three hits, walking one and striking out nine. It was the third straight victory for the D’backs, who hold the third NL wild-card berth and pulled within two games of the Cubs for the No. 2 spot.
— MLB (@MLB) September 8, 2023
Doubles, Doubles And More Doubles
Freddie Freeman broke the Dodgers’ franchise record for doubles in a season with his 53rd. His third hit of the game against the Nationals snapped a tie with Johnny Frederick, who set the mark as a 27-year-old rookie in 1929. The MLB record is 67, set by Earl Webb of the Boston Red Sox in 1931.
Doubles King, Freddie Freeman. pic.twitter.com/mJrtQB4Bhj
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) September 9, 2023
Acuna Stays Hot
If it seems like only last week that Ronald Acuña Jr. reached 30 homers, that is because it was. The Atlanta superstar and leading NL MVP candidate smashed his 35th of the season and third in two games, a massive 455-foot shot. Acuna hit three homers in a four-game series last weekend against the Dodgers to become the first 30-homer, 60-steal player in MLB history and is surging toward a 40-60 season.
— MLB (@MLB) September 9, 2023
Bichette Returns To Jays
With three weeks left in the season, shortstop Bo Bichette is back in the Toronto Blue Jays‘ lineup just in time. Bichette was activated from the 10-day injured list following a strained right quadriceps. Bichette was slashing .314/.344/.488 with 18 homers and 62 RBI when he went down. The Blue Jays entered Friday’s action holding down the third and final AL wild-card spot, just half a game ahead of the Texas Rangers. Catcher Danny Jansen, already on the IL with a broken right middle finger, had surgery on the digit and will miss the rest of the season, although there is a slight possibility of coming back sometime in the postseason if the Jays get there.
Swipe Right x 3,000
For the first time since the 2012 season, MLB players have stolen 3,000 bases. That became official when Bryson Stott of the Philadelphia Phillies swiped second base in the fourth inning against the Miami Marlins. In 2012, Mike Trout led MLB with 49 steals and six players had 40 or more. This year, Acuna has 63 to lead MLB and four players have hit the 40 mark, with three more within four.
?? Bryson Stott swipes the 3,000th stolen base in the Majors this season! ??
— MLB (@MLB) September 9, 2023
Banana Pudding FTW
A story in The Athletic about the playing time and weight of Houston Astros outfielder Chas McCormick caused a bit of a stir in the clubhouse. Astros manager Dusty Baker wasn’t having any of it — regarding the playing time and the weight.
— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) September 8, 2023
Clemente Award Finalists Named
A tradition of every final month of the season is a rather prestigious award, the Roberto Clemente Award. Named after the former Pittsburgh Pirates star right fielder who died Dec. 31, 1972, in a plane crash while on a humanitarian mission to get supplies to Nicaragua following an earthquake, Clemente was 38 and had played 18 years in MLB, recording his 3,000th hit for the final hit of his career. MLB created the award to honor current players and their work off the field with charities and other entities. On Friday, the 30 nominees, one from each club, were announced and the fan portion of the voting opened up. See the list and vote here.
Presenting the 30 club nominees for MLB’s most prestigious individual honor, the Roberto Clemente Award presented by @CapitalOne.
This year’s nominees include ten 2023 All-Stars, five former MVPs, and two @MLBDevelops Alumni.
— MLB (@MLB) September 8, 2023
Best Moments From Yesterday
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Many MLB players and umpires wear yellow sweatbands in support of the kids battling this evil disease. Sometimes, teams take it to another level. The San Francisco Giants are one of those. Kids draw sketches of Giants players and they are flashed on the scoreboard when that player comes to bat or takes the mound. Here is one example from the team, followed by some captured by San Francisco Chronicle beat writer Susan Slusser:
Tonight’s lineup graphic, written and illustrated by children undergoing treatment for pediatric cancer ?
— SFGiants (@SFGiants) September 8, 2023
This is one of my favorite nights of the year, the Giants scoreboard pictures are drawn by pediatric cancer patients. I love them SO MUCH: pic.twitter.com/DOGcFTrWmR
— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) September 9, 2023
Don’t Fraternize With The Enemy
Down goes Raymond! Down goes Raymond! pic.twitter.com/g1nYZ6K8Mk
— Cut4 (@Cut4) September 8, 2023
At least this positive can be taken from the Colorado Rockies‘ season: They might have the two best outfield arms in MLB. Nolan Jones fired a 100.7 mph strike from center field on the fly to catcher Elias Díaz and nailed the Giants’ Luis Matos at home. Note where Jones ranks along with Rockies teammate Brenton Doyle.
fastest-tracked OF assists, 2023:
9/2 Brenton Doyle: 100.9 mph
7/23 Oscar Colás 100.9 mph
Today Nolan Jones: 100.7 mph
8/29 Brenton Doyle: 100.4 mph
8/1 Matt Wallner: 100.4 mph https://t.co/ZnHo8LgKHg
— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) September 9, 2023
So if you can’t score by hitting it to the outfielders, how about trying to hit the ball over them? In the sixth inning down 4-0, the Giants’ Wilmer Flores (two-run shot), Mitch Haniger and J.D. Davis hit consecutive homers to tie the game.
— MLB (@MLB) September 9, 2023
Injuries and Other Moves
Outfielder Evan Carter, the No. 8 prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline, was called up by the Rangers to make his MLB debut.
Cubs right-handed reliever Brad Boxberger (strained right forearm) was activated from the 60-day injured list.
Right-handed starter Germán Márquez, expected to be out until at least mid-2024 following Tommy John surgery, signed a two-year, $20 million with the Colorado Rockies, according to multiple reports. He had a $16.5 million club option with a $2.4 million buyout for 2024 before the new deal.
Rockies left-hander Austin Gomber (back discomfort) was placed on the 15-day IL.
Articles You Should Read
What do MLB execs think about Ohtani’s impending free agency? — Jim Bowden, The Athletic
25 years later, McGwire still emotional about breaking single-season HR record — Bob Nightengale, USA Today
Padres’ Kim inspiring next wave of Korean baseball players — Dennis Lin, The Athletic
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