Twinbill, Tommy John, NASCAR

It’s hard to believe that there are on six days remaining in the regular season, but here we are in Comstock Park, Michigan. Or Walker, Michigan, if you want to be technical about where the team hotel is. Or Grand Rapids, Michigan, if you want to be one of those people who, when asked where they’re from, just says the name of the biggest city nearest to where they are actually from.

Anyway, it was at West Michigan where the TinCaps played their second series of the season, and it’s here where tonight they’ll start their second-to-last series of 2013. The TinCaps, as you know (I hope by now) are headed to the playoffs. The Whitecaps are 4.5 games back of a wild-card spot in the second half. With seven games to play (a doubleheader today) their hopes of making the postseason are slim. Last year West Michigan was elimintated by Fort Wayne right at the very end of August. This year could spell the same fate for Detroit’s Midwest League farmhands.

Tonight’s twinbill makes up for the rainout these two teams endured on July 26th at Fifth Third Ballpark. That night the TinCaps and Whitecaps waited for nearly three hours before a decision was finally made to call off the game. After that, the rest of the season trickles down to two more games here, and three at home against Great Lakes before the regular season is over. The Loons, meanwhile, are 1.5 games back of Bowling Green for the second-half championship crown, and currently hold the wild card spot. That last series of the year will prove particularly interesting for Great Lakes, as they may have a chance to beat the TinCaps, and if the Hot Rods lose, snag first place in the process.

Fort Wayne made a roster move today, as it swapped one catcher for another with the Eugene Emeralds, the Padres’ short-season affiliate in Oregon. Joining the club and replacing Miguel Del Castillo is backstop Ryan Miller, selected by the Padres in the 14th round of this year’s draft. He attended San Bernadino (CA) Valley College, and was slated to go play at Nebraska this coming year had he not been drafted. With Eugene, he hit .245 in 43 games.

I’ll have the call of both games tonight on The Fan 1380 and TheFanFortWayne.com, with coverage starting an hour earlier than normal due to tonight’s doubleheader. I hope you’ll join me.

CHUGGING ALONG

With the recent injury to the Mets’ Matt Harvey, who’s got a tear in his ulnar collateral ligament (that’s the one that forces Tommy John surgery, The Wall Street Journal, took a look at the most durable pitchers in Major League Baseball.

Here’s what they found:

“The names Mark Buehrle and Bronson Arroyo may not evoke Cy Young, but they epitomize the “take the ball every fifth day” cliché. Buehrle has gone 396 starts without a DL stint, easily the most among active pitchers; Arroyo is second at 323. Cain, Justin Verlander and James Shields also have been top-notch starters and workhorses.

Conversely, who are the least durable starters? Josh Beckett, who is out for the season following surgery for a nerve impingement—the 15th DL stint of his career—tops the list. Not far behind, with 12 appearances, are Chris Carpenter and A.J. Burnett, who is now healthy after spending a month on the DL with a calf injury earlier in the season.

A common criticism of pitchers these days is that they’re babied to the point that they can’t match the workloads carried by starters of old. That is true in terms of 300-inning seasons with double-digit complete games, which simply don’t happen anymore. But there are still starters who reliably show up every fifth day.”

The interesting thing about pitchers having Tommy John surgery, from conversations that I’ve had with athletic trainers, is that the UCL can go at any time, regardless of pitch counts or innings limits. The act of throwing a baseball and doing it with as much force as pitchers do is so unnatural that it could tear the ligament every single pitch.

Here’s a story I put together in 2011 on Tommy John surgery, talking to Tommy John himself, former Major League pitcher Tony Fossas, and Dayton Dragons medical liaison Aaron Faucett:

BASEBALL OR NASCAR?

Elliot Johnson of the Atlanta Braves decided to have some fun with the team’s in-game reporter, Tom Hart, in a recent postgame interview, turning a question about baseball into an answer about NASCAR. How? By blatantly ignoring the question and going for the comedy points. By virtue of complete absurdity, he’s achieved his goal:

MUSICAL GUEST

 Ellie Goulding…take it away!

Thanks for reading. If you’d like to get in touch, you can reach me at Couzens@TinCaps.com or on Twitter @MikeCouzens.

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