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Astros right-hander Lance McCullers
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Astros right-hander Lance McCullers Před 6 měsíce, 3 týdnů  
HOUSTON — threw a simulated game on Tuesday in West Palm Beach , Fla., the next step in his return from an injury that has sidelined him for six weeks.McCullers (10-6, 3.93 ERA) was lost to a right forearm strain on Aug. 4 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He has logged career highs in innings (126), wins (10), and strikeouts (138) for the Astros (95-56). Whenever he returns it will be in a bullpen capacity. McCullers has yet to appear in relief during the regular season, but he did work out of the bullpen twice last postseason, allowing two runs on four hits and three walks with 10 strikeouts over seven combined innings in Game 3 of the American League Division Series and Game 7 of the AL Championship Series.McCullers threw 30 pitches against three different batters. He is scheduled to throw another simulated game this weekend, at which point a decision regarding his availability will be made.Article continues below ...“He’s still a little erratic getting back on the mound but the fastball seems to be hovering in the low 90s, the breaking ball is there, the changeup,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “It was another good step forward.“I don’t want to promise too much too soon, but the hope is that he needs another outing and then we’ll reevaluate once we get on the road what’s next for him. We’re running out of schedule, so we need to push him a little bit but it will all depend on how things go this weekend.”Left-hander Dallas Keuchel (11-10, 3.57 ERA) will start on Wednesday for the Astros in what amounts to be the rubber match of the three-game and season series with the Mariners. Keuchel is 8-2 with a 3.16 ERA over his last 18 starts and is 1-2 with a 4.08 ERA over four starts against the Mariners this season. For his career against Seattle, Keuchel is 9-7 with a 3.02 ERA over 19 appearances (18 starts).Mariners manager Scott Servais did not name a starter for the series finale Trevor Hoffman Jersey , indicating that he could elect to tab left-hander Roenis Elias (2-1, 3.18 ERA) or opt for the “opener” approach and utilize his bullpen with right-hander Casey Lawrence a candidate on the mound for Seattle.Mariners right fielder Mitch Haniger represents one guarantee. Haniger has been a second-half stalwart for Seattle (83-68), starting every game since July 7 while missing only three games this season. Haniger, who earned his first All-Star Game nod this season, paces the Mariners in bWAR (5.7) and has taken off since being elevated from the third spot in the order to leadoff.Entering play on Tuesday, Haniger was slashing .329/.388/.597 over the 35 games since his move up the lineup on Aug. 9. He finished 1-for-4 in the Mariners’ 7-0 loss against the Astros, participating in his 148th game while increasing his plate appearances this season to 643. His previous career highs for games played (96) and plate appearances (410) were recorded last season, his first in Seattle. His productivity and reliability this season have not gone unnoticed.“He’s grinding through, he’s really tired,” Servais said of Haniger, who’s hit a career-best 25 homers and is tied for the club lead with 89 RBIs. “He’s had an unbelievable season and he ain’t backing off the gas until it’s over, and I certainly appreciate that. Nobody appreciates that stuff more than the manager and the coaching staff. He’ll continue to grind; that’s what he does.” The Washington reaction to Harper’s return makes perfect sense, even though the reason is perfectly ignored."This is less about news than it is about personal observation. The Bryce Harper return to Washington story has been pretty big and all over MLB news this week. A common thread among the Harper supporters has been a myriad of strung together words that all sum up to the same thing: “if somebody offered you more money to work elsewhere, you wouldn’t turn it down, either!”. Now Evan Longoria Jersey , of course that is totally true. But I think it fails to address an important point, one that underlines the motives of those fans left behind.Professional baseball is professional because it is presented as entertainment, from which all revenues are derived via the engagement between the factors and principals of a sport and the fans of that sport. That is totally unlike your job and mine. I work hard at my job, and I have to be highly skilled and deliver quality execution. I need to master my job, and compete to hold onto it at the highest levels. The only part of those attributes which is unlike the careers of pro athletes is the degree of distillation. Millions of IT people versus thousands of pro ballplayers. But beyond that, there is nothing about my work process that also involves engaging some third party so that both me AND my customers can procure our revenue.This is an incredibly important distinction, one that drives all sorts of dialog about franchise relocation, league expansion, player movement, public investment on behalf of franchise owners, and that whole ‘civic trust’ thing. Unlike you and me, an important part of the role of any professional athlete is that they are somehow connected to the fans of the sport, who are that third party factor. That engagement - the entertainment level - is what prompts fans to part with money on behalf of the entire sport, and that money pays all bills. Sports leagues AND the participants of any such league require a huge level of engagement from some fan base in order to survive. If the league AND the players fail to engage a fan base, they will fail to reap sufficient money and they will fold. See AAF Andrew McCutchen Jersey , 2019.Thus, teams AND players exist by delivering their content in public as entertainment, and creating a connection with a fan base in order to draw revenue from those fans. Fans invest emotionally well before they invest financially. For their side, fans can be committed 100% emotionally even if they cannot commit 100% financially. (Most fans choose to vest their emotional interest in only one team of any sport, but that doesn’t mean that they give all of their income to that team.) As with any time humans engage emotionally, fans do so with some level of trust that their engagement will not be abused. And fans make that connection not just with the symbolic franchise, but with the personalities of that franchise: owners, broadcasters, known administrators, coaches, and, yes, athletes.So here we are back to athletes. When any athlete changes teams it might be because they are leaving behind 10% or 20% or 50% less money, but they are also leaving behind 100% of the non-monetary engagement the fans had built with them. That’s why Nationals fans mock the money factor behind Harper’s decision (“100% of my emotional commitment is greater than 20% of your money”). It’s why sports fans anywhere are upset at the loss of some player or team to some other place. If the player retired or the franchise closed doors, it’s not such a big deal. But taking the production elsewhere so that the ‘not us’ tribe can benefit and the ‘not us’ tribe can enjoy that engagement reveals that the player/franchise did not value that previous dependency as much as the fans did (or still do) , and it suggests that there is little reason to justify any faith that said player/franchise will value any future dependency, either (which opens the door to derision).This is the suckiest part of being a fan. At the end of the day the sporting enterprise values us almost exclusively for our money, while we care about the sporting enterprise because of the personal level of engagement derived out of the entertainment value. Owners chase the money, and players chase the money, and nobody chases the emotional connection that comes from engaging the enterprise as highly as do we the fans.So forgive the Nationals fans for feeling burned. Ignore the pre-series posturing by Harper in his thank yous to the Nationals fan base, for the same reason you can ignore all those Harper Instagrams about how much he adores Philadelphia and the Phillies fans. Bryce Harper is a competitor, a great competitor, and competition is where his heart lies. Right there with his bat flip towards the Nationals dugout. Harper has earned the right to pursue all the compensation he can gain from his highly unique skills and even more unique situation and opportunity. But Nationals fans have earned the right to feel abused based on their years of attention, commitment, support and adoration. It ain’t much, and only Nats fan cares. That’s why it is the suckiest to be a fan.
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