9/9/19 – Weekend in Review: Suspensions, Smashed-up Shortstops, and Sobs

Don’t Dilute Your Pee, Kids.

Did you hear that loud wailing noise echoing through the northern part of the United States on Saturday? It was the collective sobs, moans, swears, curses, yelling, and other general grumblings of Minnesota and the surrounding states as their best pitcher over the last few months, Michael Pineda, was suspended for 60 games for being a complete dumbass testing positive for a banned diuretic substance.

This 60-day suspension was lowered from an initial 80 game suspension, but he appealed saying he wasn’t trying to mask any PED use, he was trying to control his weight. The 30-year-old is 6’7” and 285 lbs, so it’s entirely believable that he’d been trying to trim down rather than mask any sort of banned substance. Then again.. he’d already been suspended for 10 games in 2014 for putting some pine-tar on his neck for better grip on the ball during a cold night in April, so you’d think he’d be a little smarter than to take something given to him by a friend without clearing it with trainers? Granted, he’s taking full responsibility for his actions, but pleading ignorance/stupidity for a second time wasn’t going to get him out of this mess.

Pineda signed a $10 million, 2-year contract with the Twins in early 2018, and was unable to pitch at all that season – coming back from Tommy John surgery, and then later a torn meniscus. He had a slow start to 2019, but has been absolute fire since the All-Star break. Since mid-July, he’s gone 5-1 with a 3.06 ERA. During his last start on Friday, he struck out 10 batters across 6 solid innings – the first time he’d reached double digit strikeouts since he was with the Yankees. There’d been talk that he’d be the game 1 starter for the ALDS – as All-Stars Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi have been somewhat unreliable since July.

With this suspension, Pineda forfeits nearly $1 million of the $8 million he was supposed to receive this season. He’s eligible for free-agency for next year, and his suspension will carry over for about a month into the 2020 season. Whether he’ll be re-signing with the Twins or not remains unclear – as is what the Twins plan to do for the remainder of the season and the post-season. They’ve been toying with the opening pitcher model a bit, but with questions looming around starters Berrios, Odorizzi and Gibson, they’ll likely be hesitant to wear down their bullpen like that every 5th game for the next couple of weeks. With their magic number down to 13, they need to figure it out soon, because the post-season is just around the corner.

Ouch.

The Cubs just cannot catch a break.

Things were finally starting to look up for Chicago as they finally got the gang back together – Ben Zobrist, Wilson Contreras, Kris Bryant were all back in the lineup. They’re square in the middle of an extremely tight Wild Card race with Arizona, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia nipping at their heels for the 2nd spot. But noooo! They were then down their star shortstop Javy Baez, who has a hairline fracture in his thumb after a hard slide stealing a base. They had no choice but to use Addison Russell to step in and try to fill the big gaping hole at short.

Addison Russell.. the guy that was at one time an All Star. The guy who missed the end of 2018 and the first month of the 2019 season after MLB suspended him for 40 games for being a piece of shit wife-beater violating their domestic abuse policy. The guy who sucked when he came back and had to spend a bit of time back in AAA to remember how to play baseball. The guy that stepped in for Baez and has committed error after error now at shortstop, seemingly unable to get his footing in his new role. Yes, that Addison Russell.

As if his game-blowing 9th-inning error on Saturday wasn’t enough of a blow to Russell, he took a fastball to the face on Sunday. He shook it off and made it to first, went on to steal second, and eventually scored on a wild throw, but came out of the game after that.

David Bote moved from third to short, and Ian Happ came in to play at third. It was announced after the game that Russell just has a bruised nose, and will travel with the team to San Diego. Whether or not he’ll be in the lineup tonight remains to be seen.

Who’s Chopping All These Onions????

There’s no crying in baseball! Except sometimes there is and that is 100% ok. Sometimes we forget just how hard baseball players work to get to the majors. They practice their game for years to become the best of the best. They spend their entire lives, from tee-ball age on up, learning the ins and outs of the game, how to throw a curveball, how to perfect their swing, how to field, run the bases, and all of the crazy details that go into what we sometimes just think of as a child’s game. And sometimes, injuries devastate these dreams in an instant.

Such was the case for Nationals pitcher Aaron Barrett. Barrett had not pitched in the majors since 2015 – first undergoing Tommy John, and then snapping his humerus in half during the beginning of his rehab. Not only did doctors question whether he’d be able to pitch again (not even at the major league level, but at all), but he had to completely re-learn how to use his arm in day to day life. His arm has two plates and a ton of screws holding it together – and he’s lucky to be able to toss a pitch or two at all. Check out an interview he gave in January, hoping to get back onto the mound for his team:

Despite missing two entire years of baseball, and then spending two more years in the minors, hoping to get back to the bigs, the extremely determined Barrett worked his ass off and made it back onto the National’s 40 man roster once September hit. On Saturday, he took the mound in a major league game for the first time in four years and it brought out ALL the feels. Just try to watch this without getting choked up:

And can I just say, LOOK AT THOSE PITCHES! Not only did he come in and retire three batters in a row, but he did so with some seriously beautiful pitches. He went from barely able to use his arm to being able to throw some seriously glorious stuff. Congratulations, Aaron! We’ll be rooting for you in October. Unless you make it to the World Series and you’re facing the Twins, in which case, I really hope to not see you and your bionic arm.

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