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Inbox: Will Marlins make run at Cuban star?

Beat reporter Joe Frisaro answers questions from fans
MLB.com

Percentage-wise, what do you think the chances are that the Marlins will sign Victor Victor Mesa?
-- @dpHEAT3

I don't know about percentages, but I do know the Marlins have serious interest, and I wouldn't be surprised if they signed the coveted outfielder from Cuba. Financially, Miami is well positioned to make a serious offer to Mesa, 22, and his brother, Victor Mesa, 17. The two are outfielders who were declared free agents on Friday, as MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez reported. The Marlins have $4.3 million of international bonus pool money, which puts them in a strong spot to make a serious offer. Only Baltimore, with $6.7 million, has a higher international allocation.

Percentage-wise, what do you think the chances are that the Marlins will sign Victor Victor Mesa?
-- @dpHEAT3

I don't know about percentages, but I do know the Marlins have serious interest, and I wouldn't be surprised if they signed the coveted outfielder from Cuba. Financially, Miami is well positioned to make a serious offer to Mesa, 22, and his brother, Victor Mesa, 17. The two are outfielders who were declared free agents on Friday, as MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez reported. The Marlins have $4.3 million of international bonus pool money, which puts them in a strong spot to make a serious offer. Only Baltimore, with $6.7 million, has a higher international allocation.

Still, the Marlins may have an advantage, because it may come down to where Mesa feels is the best fit. Miami, of course, has a large Cuban community, and the organization is aiming to be more proactive on the international market. Without question, signing Mesa and his brother would be popular moves.

:: Submit a question to the Marlins Inbox ::

How do you feel about Lewis Brinson? I feel he has star power potential.
-- @DFPuron

Since he came off the disabled list on Sept. 1, Brinson has shown signs that he could be an impactful everyday center fielder. We're not going to completely see it reflected by his final numbers, when you consider his season slash line is .201/.241/.350 with 11 home runs and 38 RBIs. More than the overall numbers, there is optimism based on his improvement and natural abilities. In September, he's hitting .271 with eight RBIs. We're seeing adjustments to go along with a strong work ethic and tremendous makeup.

I don't think Brinson will be a perennial .300-caliber hitter, but he could realistically be in the .250-.270 range with 25 home runs and 80 RBIs while playing Gold Glove Award-caliber defense. To get there, Brinson clearly must improve against secondary pitches. According to Statcast™, he's batting .249 off all fastballs but just .139 off breaking pitches.

Is it true the Marlins' Triple-A team is moving to Wichita?
-- @jonerik0619

Nothing is official, but early in September, public officials in Wichita, Kansas, announced the Triple-A New Orleans Baby Cakes would be moving to a renovated stadium in Wichita that will open in 2020. It's also been reported that the Baby Cakes put in a request to either relocate or move in '20. So, barring something changing, it is shaping up that '19 will be the final year the Marlins' Triple-A affiliate will play in New Orleans. Another affiliation change is expected at low Class A. The Marlins appear to be breaking ties with Greensboro, and they're looking for another location in the South Atlantic League.

Will it be likely that the 2019 will be a season the Marlins' pitching shows improvements? If so, do you see Braxton Garrett and Trevor Rogers, the 2016 and '17 first-round picks, being a factor?
-- @giry_and_joe

Let's start with Garrett and Rogers, currently ranked Nos. 9 and 10, respectively, on Miami's Top 30 Prospect List according to MLB Pipeline. Garrett is rebounding from Tommy John surgery, and he currently is in the Marlins' instructional league. So he's a few years away. Rogers made 17 starts in Class A Greensboro and showed promise, and he could open at Class A Advanced Jupiter next year. He, too, is a few years away from being in the big leagues.

The 2019 rotation looks to be promising, with Jose Urena, Sandy Alcantara, Pablo Lopez and Trevor Richards expected to compete for Opening Day spots. It's up in the air if Dan Straily, who could be traded, will return. If not, left-hander Caleb Smith, who underwent surgery to repair a torn left pec muscle, is expected to be back. Whether he is ready on Opening Day remains questionable. But he should contribute at some point. Elieser Hernandez also is a rotation candidate.

The prospect Marlins fans should keep an eye on is Nick Neidert, acquired from Seattle in the Dee Gordon trade. Neidert, who turns 22 in November, is ranked as the organization's No. 3 prospect. He likely will move up to No. 2 or even No. 1 with Alcantara graduating off the list. Neidert was a standout at Double-A Jacksonville and could start off at Triple-A New Orleans before breaking into the big leagues. He profiles as a solid No. 3 starter.

Will the Marlins trade for a proven closer?
-- @Athletics89

Obviously, the struggles the Marlins have had in the ninth inning makes this a legitimate question. But pursuing a high-price free-agent closer isn't something you normally see from teams in a building process. I anticipate the team will look from within, or perhaps make a trade that could include a candidate to close. As disappointing as Kyle Barraclough has been, you can't dismiss that he was really good in the first half. Rookie Drew Steckenrider has gotten a taste of closing, and left-hander Adam Conley is adjusting to being in the bullpen. Tayron Guerrero is the one of the hardest-throwing relievers in the game, but he's also a rookie. Guerrero is going to need a secondary pitch to give hitters something else to look for, perhaps a changeup could be the answer. Also remember, the current group of relievers are either rookies or they're about to enter their first season of arbitration. So they're still young.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Miami Marlins

Inbox: Should Halos make Ohtani a closer?

Beat reporter Maria Guardado answers questions from Angels fans
MLB.com

The idea of using Shohei Ohtani as a closer has been floated a lot since the news broke of his Tommy John surgery recommendation, but it's not one the Angels are seriously considering right now. I don't think the Angels would be maximizing Ohtani's value as a pitcher by using him out of the bullpen, and there's no compelling evidence that shows that a reliever's workload puts less stress on the elbow than a starter's.

Tweet from @Vic_Issitudes: Are the Angels considering using Ohtani as a DH/Closer instead of a starter?

The idea of using Shohei Ohtani as a closer has been floated a lot since the news broke of his Tommy John surgery recommendation, but it's not one the Angels are seriously considering right now. I don't think the Angels would be maximizing Ohtani's value as a pitcher by using him out of the bullpen, and there's no compelling evidence that shows that a reliever's workload puts less stress on the elbow than a starter's.

Manager Mike Scioscia reiterated these points when asked about the possibility on Sunday.

"Nobody has a crystal ball, but I would think that would be the wrong path to take with Shohei because he's shown no issues with being able to get into that 100-110 pitch count and being able to bounce back," Scioscia said. "Once he makes a decision and everything is taken care of, he should be able to get back in the rotation and be that dynamic starter he has the potential to be. It's not as easy as you think being a closer. There are a lot of times you're warming up. You're still going to pitch in 70 games and there's times you're going to warm up and not get into a game. That would be tough to do with him in the lineup and swinging the bat also."

:: Submit a question to the Angels Inbox ::

Tweet from @fakeeddiezwickl: At what point in 2019 is Griffin Canning considered a regular rotation member?

It's hard to say, but Canning, the Angels' No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, will definitely be on the Angels' rotation depth chart heading into next season. His development, along with the health and effectiveness of the rest of the pitching staff, will ultimately determine how quickly he reaches the big leagues. The Angels probably didn't expect Jaime Barria to be pitching in the Majors on April 11, but they were forced to turn to the 22-year-old rookie after JC Ramirez and Matt Shoemaker went down within the first 10 days of the season.

Tweet from @WebDart: Who are your three top "guesses" for Angels new manager in 2019?

Assuming the reports that Scioscia intends to step down at the end of the season are accurate, I think the Angels have three internal candidates who will be in the mix to potentially succeed him: bench coach Josh Paul and special assistants Brad Ausmus and Eric Chavez. Ausmus, who skippered the Tigers from 2014-17, is the only one of that group with previous managerial experience in the Majors. Paul has not managed above Class A, and Chavez just completed a month-long stint as the interim manager of Triple-A Salt Lake.

Who will be the Angels catcher in 2019? Will it be Arcia or Briceno, or will they try to get someone like Realmuto?
-- Caleb H., Anaheim

I think the Angels will look externally to find a starting catcher for 2019, but Francisco Arcia or Jose Briceno could wind up sticking as the backup. J.T. Realmuto is a potential trade target, but he will command a big haul since he's a 27-year-old All-Star catcher who isn't eligible for free agency until 2021. If the Angels aren't willing to dig into their rebuilt farm system to land someone like Realmuto, they could explore some free-agent options, including Yasmani Grandal, Jonathan Lucroy and Wilson Ramos.

Tweet from @jonathandarromo: Who are some realistic options at pitcher during FA for the Angels?

Patrick Corbin, Dallas Keuchel, J.A. Happ and Charlie Morton will likely headline the class of free-agent pitchers this winter, so the Angels could choose to pursue one of them. Gio Gonzalez, Lance Lynn and Nathan Eovaldi will also be available.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Los Angeles Angels

Inbox: Who will make Tribe's postseason staff?

Beat reporter Jordan Bastian answers questions from Indians fans
MLB.com

What do you think the Indians' pitching staff will look like in the playoffs?
-- @tmtribefan

Manager Terry Francona made it known last week that his preference will be to go with a four-man rotation. I think that will remain the case whether Trevor Bauer is deemed ready to return as a starter or winds up in a multi-inning relief role for the American League Division Series.

What do you think the Indians' pitching staff will look like in the playoffs?
-- @tmtribefan

Manager Terry Francona made it known last week that his preference will be to go with a four-man rotation. I think that will remain the case whether Trevor Bauer is deemed ready to return as a starter or winds up in a multi-inning relief role for the American League Division Series.

Corey Kluber is having his schedule worked out to align him for a Game 1 start in the ALDS, which begins on Oct. 5. Barring anything unexpected, Carlos Carrasco and Mike Clevinger would assume two more starting roles. That leaves the fourth spot to either Bauer or rookie Shane Bieber.

As things stand, I think both Bauer and Bieber will be on the ALDS roster in some capacity. Bauer logged 40 pitches in a mound session on Sunday, so there's a chance he can build up in time to rejoin the rotation. At the very least, he would be an intriguing weapon out of the bullpen given his durability. If Bieber gets the fourth spot, Cleveland could turn to Bauer at the first sign of trouble.

:: Submit a question to the Indians Inbox ::

If it turns out that Bauer is ready for a regular rotation role, then Bieber would probably figure into the bullpen mix. He throws strikes and can handle multiple innings. That is valuable, especially given the uncertainty hanging over Bauer's situation at the moment.

Last October, Francona went with a seven-man bullpen, and I have a hunch that will remain the case this year. Bauer or Bieber will take one spot. Then there are four virtual locks in Andrew Miller, Brad Hand, Cody Allen and Oliver Perez. That leaves two spots up for grabs, and there are a number of ways Cleveland could go with those vacancies.

The way I see it, right-handers Adam Cimber and Dan Otero lead the pack, given their ability to handle righty hitters (.610 OPS for Cimber and .698 OPS for Otero this year) and generate grounders. Behind them on the bubble are righty Neil Ramirez and lefty Tyler Olson. The other candidate would be veteran righty Josh Tomlin, who -- like Bieber -- throws strikes and can handle multiple innings, though he doesn't throw as hard and is prone to home runs.

Tweet from @DreamingBasebll: Do you think Greg Allen has performed well enough to guarantee himself a playoff roster spot over Rajai Davis? #IndiansInbox

This will be an interesting decision for the Indians, who would have five bench spots up for grabs under the 11-man pitching staff scenario detailed in the previous question. Backup catcher Roberto Perez gets one spot and Brandon Guyer (a versus-lefty corner outfielder who can play center if needed) is a safe bet for one of the other available jobs.

That leaves utility man Erik Gonzalez, corner infielder Yandy Diaz and center fielders Greg Allen and Rajai Davis battling for three spots. Diaz offers a good right-handed complement to Yonder Alonso at first base. Gonzalez offers depth and plus defense at all four infield spots. Allen and Davis offer similar skill sets: An ability to play all three outfield spots and plus speed on the bases.

If the Indians decide that they want to carry both Gonzalez and Diaz, then I do think Allen has performed well enough to get the last spot over Davis. With Jason Kipnis playing center, Cleveland will probably look to upgrade the defense in the later innings. Both Davis and Allen can do that, but I'd give Allen the edge. That said, both could make the roster if the Indians prioritize speed and defense, meaning one of Gonzalez or Diaz would be left off.

Tweet from @ryanhempel7: Should Cleveland trade Kipnis at the end of the year and try to keep Donaldson? @MLBastian

The Indians acquired Josh Donaldson with this stretch run and the postseason in mind. It seems highly improbable that Cleveland will be a player for him in free agency this offseason unless the market plays out similarly to when Edwin Encarnacion slipped into the Tribe's operating range. It's more likely that Diaz will get his shot as the third baseman next year.

That said, I do think the Indians will explore the market for Kipnis, who was nearly traded last winter. That probably won't be an easy task, though. Kipnis' future position is now uncertain (will teams view him as a second baseman or an outfielder?) and he's hit .229 with a .697 OPS and 84 OPS+ (16 percent below league average) over the past two seasons combined. Kipnis is also set to earn $14.7 million in 2019, with a $16.5 million salary (or $2.5 million buyout) in '20.

Tweet from @colon_soler: What���s the ERA of Cimber, Oliver Perez, Hand, Allen and Miller since August? I asked these because these is the bullpen I visualized on October and I have seen them improving lately. Please correct me if I���m wrong #IndiansInbox

Dating back to the start of August, those five relievers have combined for a 2.96 ERA (25 earned runs in 76 innings). Overall in that time period, the Indians' bullpen has turned in a 3.61 ERA, which ranks fifth in the AL and seventh in the Majors in that span. That's a dramatic improvement over the first four months, in which Cleveland had a 5.00 ERA from its relievers.

Tweet from @bookelly73: Any chance we get Chiz or Naquin back in time to get meaningful postseason playing time?#IndiansInbox

At this point, it's really hard to envision a scenario in which either Lonnie Chisenhall (rehabbing a calf injury) or Tyler Naquin (rehabbing from hip surgery) could work their way back into the postseason mix this year. The Minor League season is over, making it difficult to get at-bats, and there has been no indication that either outfielder is near being set for that step anyway. It looks like both players are probably prepping for 2019.

Tweet from @berkeyeric: How will Oscar Mercado figure into the OF mix next year? #IndiansInbox

I don't see Oscar Mercado working into the Opening Day mix next year, but the 23-year-old center field prospect -- acquired from the Cardinals prior to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline and ranked No. 14 on the Indians' Top 30 list -- will definitely be on the radar. Looking ahead, though, Leonys Martin will be under team control and both Allen and Naquin will be back. Kipnis could also be in the outfield mix, and Bradley Zimmer (shoulder surgery) might be back by midseason.

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.

Cleveland Indians

Inbox: Can Giants move large contracts?

Beat reporter Chris Haft answers San Francisco fans' questions
MLB.com

What would it take to unload a heavy contract such as Jeff Samardzija's, Mark Melancon's or even Brandon Belt's? Will the Giants have to attach a decent prospect to get teams to bite like they did with the Cory Gearrin/Austin Jackson trade to the Rangers?
-- Mo L., Sunnyvale, Calif.

Even a lukewarm prospect tends to sweeten any deal. Every team values "controllable" assets -- that is, players who are years away from becoming eligible for free agency.

What would it take to unload a heavy contract such as Jeff Samardzija's, Mark Melancon's or even Brandon Belt's? Will the Giants have to attach a decent prospect to get teams to bite like they did with the Cory Gearrin/Austin Jackson trade to the Rangers?
-- Mo L., Sunnyvale, Calif.

Even a lukewarm prospect tends to sweeten any deal. Every team values "controllable" assets -- that is, players who are years away from becoming eligible for free agency.

But the bigger issue you're asking about involves trading a player with a perceived "bad" contract, in which the value of the deal exceeds the player's value to the ballclub. It can be done, though extreme measures must be taken. The club must either agree to pay a significant portion of the player's salary, or it must accept a player with a similarly overpriced contract in return. In the Giants' case, they might be willing to acquire an overpaid hitter to part with an overpaid pitcher.

:: Submit a question to the Giants Inbox ::

Would the Giants field this lineup for the majority of next season: Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Alen Hanson, Brandon Crawford, Ryder Jones, Mac Williamson, Steven Duggar, Austin Slater and a startinng rotation led by Madison Bumgarner, Derek Holland and Dereck Rodriguez? I could sit through another season of disappointment knowing we're changing into prospects. I wouldn't even call it "disappointment" if they developed a solid team again, and if more prospects can fill the roles. But the Giants have seemed to let familiar faces repeat the same mediocre performance for the last three seasons.
-- Keith B., Adelaide, Calif.

Though your proposed lineup might be subject to debate, you're articulating a basic feeling that I suspect many Giants fans share -- give them a team that's at least hustling and entertaining and can generate hope.

I'm not implying that the Giants' effort is lacking. But I do believe that fans will refuse to accept a 2019 team that features many of the same faces, even if Posey and Duggar are at full health. Expect the Giants to enter the Bryce Harper free-agency sweepstakes (not out of the question since they made bids for Giancarlo Stanton and Shohei Ohtani last offseason). And even if they don't trade Bumgarner, the Giants must explore the possibility by discovering what other clubs would be willing to give up for him.

Who's to blame for the club's offensive woes -- the hitting coaches or the players? How does it get fixed?
-- Rod B., Maple Grove, Minn.

Regardless of the sport, team success always comes down to the players. Giants hitting coach Alonzo Powell and his assistant, Rick Schu, have been part of highly productive offenses. Through playing and coaching, they've learned what to look for when they analyze a swing and everything that leads up to it.

There's only so much that a hitting coach can do, anyway. As a hitting coach with a National League club told me, "My job is to make sure that when each guy leaves the batting cage, he feels like he's hot stuff." He used a phrase that was saltier than "hot stuff," but you get the point. Hitting coaches prepare. Hitters perform.

Are there any possible shakeups coming in the front office or dugout due to four years of mediocre baseball?
-- Jason W., Trafford, England

Anything's possible, which I realize tells you nothing. I will say that the Giants pride themselves on the continuity of their personnel from top to bottom. My gut feeling is that the current management team will remain in place through at least the start of the 2019 season. If the team is still struggling by next year's All-Star break, expect changes.

Is it just my imagination or have the Giants given up a lot more unearned runs this year than in their championship years?
-- Wally H., Vista, Calif.

We'll be happy to do the math for you. The numbers demonstrate that your imagination is a tad overactive.

The Giants have allowed 55 unearned runs this year. During their 2010 World Series-winning season, they permitted just 37. But they surrendered 56 unearned runs in '12 and 50 in '14 -- their other two World Series campaigns this decade. The difference between now and then, at least in this category, is negligible.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

San Francisco Giants

Inbox: Will Cruz be back with Mariners in '19?

Beat reporter Greg Johns answers questions from Mariners fans
MLB.com

Is there any talk about a Nelson Cruz extension with the Mariners?
Jacob S., Ephrata, Wash.

The Mariners would love to bring their big designated hitter back on a new deal now that his four-year, $56 million contract is expiring, but that issue won't likely be settled until the season ends. It always needs to be remembered that players have a choice in these situations -- it's not simply a matter of their team wanting to keep them.

Is there any talk about a Nelson Cruz extension with the Mariners?
Jacob S., Ephrata, Wash.

The Mariners would love to bring their big designated hitter back on a new deal now that his four-year, $56 million contract is expiring, but that issue won't likely be settled until the season ends. It always needs to be remembered that players have a choice in these situations -- it's not simply a matter of their team wanting to keep them.

Though Cruz hasn't talked publicly about his future plans, it's fair to assume he'll want to see what options are available. Cruz likes Seattle, but that doesn't mean he won't want to see if other teams are interested. At 38, he has to know this next contract likely will be his last and he'll want both the most years and money, but also the best chance to win a World Series title.

:: Submit a question to the Mariners Inbox ::

The market for DHs has proven to be limited, but if Houston, for example, says it'll match any offer the Mariners make, Cruz would have to consider the potential of hitting in Minute Maid Park and playing for a team that is well positioned for the next few seasons. So it could behoove Cruz to test the waters, though the Mariners will have the initial shot to negotiate before pending free agents hit the open market five days after the final game of the World Series.

Under the old rules, the Mariners could have made a qualifying offer for a one-year deal for Cruz and either had him accept the on-going rate (last year was $17.4 million) or get Draft pick compensation. But last year's new Collective Bargaining Agreement stipulates that players who've already been given a qualifying offer during their careers aren't eligible for another such offer, and Cruz received -- and rejected -- offers from the Rangers in 2013 and the Orioles in '14.

With Ryon Healy showing progress at the end of the season, Dee Gordon and Jean Segura still doing well and an anticipated bounce back for Kyle Seager, how do you see next year's infield looking?
C.J., Arlington, Wash.

That decision will lean largely on what happens with Cruz. If the Mariners re-sign Cruz to be the DH, then they have to decide where Robinson Cano fits in. Cano hasn't looked great at first base in his limited time there, but if he moves back to second, that pushes Gordon into center field again -- and he seems better suited for the infield.

If Cruz leaves, then Cano and Healy could handle the first base and DH roles, Gordon remain at second and the club would simply need to solve the center-field issue. But that plan also means replacing Cruz's bat in the lineup, which seems problematic. Personally, I'd prefer the first option, keeping Cruz and having Gordon continue working in center field, which seemed to be working out early in the year.

They'll also need to figure out what's going on with Seager, who finished 12th in the American League MVP Award voting in 2016 when he hit .278 with a .359 on-base percentage, but has fallen to .215 with a .265 OBP this year.

Should we be encouraged or discouraged by Erasmo Ramirez's season, pitching very well on occasion but injury riddled?
Allen B., Seattle, Wash.

Ramirez is 2-1 with a 3.68 ERA in six starts since returning from the arm issues that wiped out his first half and has allowed two earned runs or less in five of those six outings. Last year, he was 1-2 with a 3.35 ERA in his last nine starts after getting stretched out following his acquisition from the Rays.

So that provides a pretty good snapshot of what to expect from the 28-year-old right-hander when he's healthy, which he's been for most of his career. While he seems a frequent target of fan criticism, I think Ramirez is certainly a guy worth having in the mix as a fourth or fifth starting candidate at a reasonable price ($4.2 million this year with one more year of arbitration eligibility).

How long should we be patient with Mike Zunino? This year he's hit below .200, though he sometimes hits clutch home runs. Isn't it about time we went for an offensive catcher?
Nobu Y., Tsuchiura, Japan

That's a fair question, given Zunino has fallen back to a .191/.247/.406 line after hitting .251/.331/.509 last season. He does rank third among AL catchers with 19 home runs, despite spending 29 games on the DL. The Mariners should pursue another veteran catcher to team with Zunino next year, but it's also worth noting that quality catchers who also hit well don't grow on trees. The average line for AL catchers this year is .226/.291/.367.

Why isn't anyone talking about how this team went in the tank as soon as Cano returned?
Frank Y., Yakima, Wash.

Because that is a faulty narrative. The Mariners' slide began well before Cano's return. They were 13-19 in the last 32 games of his 80-game suspension and are 10-13 since he's been back. Similarly, they were 23-17 before Cano got hurt and then suspended in mid-May, and 46-34 (exactly the same win percentage) in the 80 games he was out. Cano certainly hasn't been able to save the season, but he hardly can be blamed for the second-half swoon.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.

Seattle Mariners, Nelson Cruz

Inbox: Wright best suited for playoff setup role?

Beat reporter Ian Browne answers questions from Red Sox fans
MLB.com

Why don't the Red Sox just go with Steven Wright as the setup man now and test it for the postseason?
-- @erics_redsox

I do believe Wright will be an important piece to the bullpen in the playoffs, but I'm not sure having him as the setup man is the answer. Wright can be a guy you can go to for two to three innings, and he might be able to screw up the swings of the opponent at a time of year when teams are geared up to hit 95-mph fastballs. Also, remember that knuckleballers are prone to inconsistency, so manager Alex Cora will have to make quick evaluations if Wright has his good knuckleball on a given night.

Why don't the Red Sox just go with Steven Wright as the setup man now and test it for the postseason?
-- @erics_redsox

I do believe Wright will be an important piece to the bullpen in the playoffs, but I'm not sure having him as the setup man is the answer. Wright can be a guy you can go to for two to three innings, and he might be able to screw up the swings of the opponent at a time of year when teams are geared up to hit 95-mph fastballs. Also, remember that knuckleballers are prone to inconsistency, so manager Alex Cora will have to make quick evaluations if Wright has his good knuckleball on a given night.

:: Submit a question to the Red Sox Inbox ::

Who's their eighth-inning guy in the postseason?
-- @ bostoncrp09

Still up for grabs. Ryan Brasier, Matt Barnes, Joe Kelly and Tyler Thornburg are all in the mix. Nathan Eovaldi might also get a shot depending on how he looks in the bullpen. The last three weeks of the regular season are going to be fascinating to see if a reliever can establish himself.

Will the Red Sox's bullpen be better in October than we think? (Please say yes.)
-- @billcolrus

I have a fairly recent example that might make you feel better. Remember how everyone was freaking out about the bullpen late in the 2003 season? That bullpen actually wound up being a strength once the playoffs started. So much so that fans were justifiably outraged that those relievers were left sitting in the bullpen by manager Grady Little while Pedro Martinez got fatigued in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series.

Do you think the Red Sox are going to regret not adding another reliever or two? They really regretted not adding another power hitter after Ortiz retired and that showed in the postseason against the Astros last year as the Red Sox struggled to get runs instantly
-- @redsoxarebeas

You can say that a lot of people first-guessed it when no relievers were added prior to July 31 or Aug. 31. Obviously, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski didn't see a deal worth making, otherwise he would have made it. But sure, he is open to being criticized if the team loses in the AL Division Series or even the ALCS because the bullpen isn't strong enough.

Do you think Drew Pomeranz will make the postseason roster?
-- Coleman C., San Diego

At this point, it's hard to picture Pomeranz being a fit on the roster. He hasn't pitched well as a starter or as a reliever this season and his velocity has been consistently lower than it was last year. Unless they see a noticeable uptick in performance down the stretch, I don't see Pomeranz pitching in the playoffs.

Will Rick Porcello or E-Rod start Game 3 of the ALDS?
-- @CraigMacCormack

I think that Cora will go with Porcello. For one thing, it breaks up the lefties because Chris Sale and David Price are all but certain to go Games 1 and 2. The other thing is that Porcello has more experience and is less likely to become unnerved at that time of year.

Does the throwing error by Brandon Phillips and him being pinch-hit for late in the game Sunday cool off the idea that he's making the postseason roster? Seemed like he was being penciled in ahead of Rafael Devers, Blake Swihart and Brock Holt until Sunday night.
-- @Reegs568

The Red Sox would never be shortsighted enough to make a decision based on one game. This would be like saying Phillips made the postseason roster just because he hit a game-winning homer in Atlanta. All of these evaluations will take place over the next three weeks. The roster is due on the morning of Game 1 of the ALDS. Nobody had been penciling Phillips in for anything. There will be a legitimate battle going on for lineup spots, bullpen spots and roster spots over the final three weeks of the season.

What to do with Devers? Will he be on the playoff roster?
-- @brianssportssh1

I believe one of the keys for the Red Sox in these last three weeks is to find a way to get Devers going at the plate. You can talk all you want about Eduardo Nunez and Phillips, but Devers has the most upside of the three offensively. If you can get his bat going, you can have a big threat at the plate for the first six or seven innings and replace him on defense late in the game.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox

Inbox: Tellez Toronto's future first baseman?

Beat reporter Gregor Chisholm answers questions from Blue Jays fans
MLB.com

Rowdy Tellez has given me a reason to be excited about the Blue Jays again. Is he going to be the first baseman next year?
-- Francis K., Sudbury, Ontario

Manager John Gibbons put it best on Sunday when he said that Tellez might be the first baseman of the future, but Justin Smoak is the first baseman of the present, and that's unlikely to change before the start of next season. Smoak is all but officially guaranteed to have his $8 million option picked up for 2019, and there's every reason to believe he will be at first base on Opening Day.

Rowdy Tellez has given me a reason to be excited about the Blue Jays again. Is he going to be the first baseman next year?
-- Francis K., Sudbury, Ontario

Manager John Gibbons put it best on Sunday when he said that Tellez might be the first baseman of the future, but Justin Smoak is the first baseman of the present, and that's unlikely to change before the start of next season. Smoak is all but officially guaranteed to have his $8 million option picked up for 2019, and there's every reason to believe he will be at first base on Opening Day.

Could that change? Sure. The Blue Jays are in asset-building mode, and if another team makes a competitive offer this winter, it's something Toronto obviously would consider. But the club is not going to force a deal just to make room for Tellez. A more realistic scenario would see Smoak start the year in Toronto and then become a trade candidate midway through the season.

Let's also not forget that Tellez, the Blue Jays' No. 29 prospect, is just 23 years old. There's room for improvement with the .765 OPS he posted in 112 games for Triple-A Buffalo, and repeating that level for another couple of months is not a bad idea. Tellez provides protection if Smoak or Kendrys Morales gets hurt, and he would be in position to take over later in the year if the numbers justify it.

:: Submit a question to the Blue Jays Inbox ::

What do you think the starting rotation is going to look like next season?
-- Pierre C., Gatineau, Quebec

Spring Training is shaping up to be a good old fashioned competition for the back end of Toronto's rotation. Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, and in all likelihood, Ryan Borucki will enter camp with guaranteed jobs, and it's realistic to expect that the Blue Jays will add another starter through trade or free agency this offseason. That would leave one job up for grabs and there will be a whole slew of arms in the mix.

Sean Reid-Foley, Sam Gaviglio, Jacob Waguespack, Thomas Pannone and the soon-to-arrive Julian Merryweather should all get a look in camp. David Paulino seems destined for the bullpen, but he could receive some consideration as well, while other top prospects such as T.J. Zeuch and Jordan Romano should start the year in the Minors and could become options later in the season.

Considering the rebuild, doesn't it make sense to trade Sanchez and Stroman this offseason? Toronto waited too long to trade Josh Donaldson, I hope they don't repeat the same mistake.
-- Will L., Mississauga, Ontario

It seems almost inevitable that Stroman and Sanchez will eventually be dealt. Both starters have two years of control remaining and the front office is on record talking about a three-year pathway to getting back into contention. The timelines don't match up, and unless there is an unexpected extension in the coming months, this situation should eventually result in a trade.

The odds of a deal this winter, though, still aren't great because the Blue Jays have to believe Sanchez and Stroman are worth a lot more than what their current market values might suggest. Stroman and Sanchez have been limited to 19 and 18 starts, respectively, this season because of various injuries and both have ERAs over 5.00. Trading them now would be selling low on a pair of high-ceiling arms, and their stocks could easily rise with a strong first half.

Do you think Jays will keep Yangervis Solarte next season or will they trade him?
-- @Takito09

The Blue Jays project to have a really crowded infield next season, and it's hard to envision a role for Solarte. Let's assume for a minute that Troy Tulowitzki makes it back next season and begins the year as Toronto's starting shortstop. That would leave Brandon Drury as the Opening Day starter at third, while Aledmys Diaz, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Devon Travis are all candidates for second.

Complicating matters further, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. should take over third by the end of April, which would then move Drury into a super utility role. Even if Tulowitzki isn't healthy, with Diaz, Gurriel and Richard Urena all options at shortstop, there's more than enough depth to go around. The Blue Jays have a $5.5 million club option on Solarte's contract for next year, and if that gets picked up it's likely to facilitate a trade. He's probably not the only player from this group who gets shopped, either.

There's a lot of young talent on this roster. Am I crazy to think the Blue Jays might clear .500 next year?
-- @MatthewElmslie

Finishing at .500 seems a little bit optimistic, but I can understand why you would think that. The Rays weren't supposed to do much of anything this season, but they've battled with a young core and entered play on Monday 14 games above .500. Tampa Bay is known for being a scrappy team that often exceeds expectations, and that's something the Blue Jays could strive to become in 2019.

That's the upside, but more growing pains should be expected. Young talent is exciting to watch, but it also comes with a lot of uncertainty, so next year should be a lot of trial and error. General manager Ross Atkins previously said expectations will rise by 2020 with the hopes of becoming a legitimate contender in '21. Next year is all about development and more veteran players could be dealt midway through the season, so while .500 is possible, it's also a little bit aggressive.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays, Rowdy Tellez

Inbox: Who will be SD's primary catcher in '19?

Beat reporter AJ Cassavell answers questions from San Diego fans
MLB.com

SAN DIEGO -- Hedges vs. Mejia.

Since the Padres landed Francisco Mejia -- MLB Pipeline's top-ranked catching prospect -- at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, that's been the burning debate on the mind of nearly every Padres fan.

SAN DIEGO -- Hedges vs. Mejia.

Since the Padres landed Francisco Mejia -- MLB Pipeline's top-ranked catching prospect -- at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, that's been the burning debate on the mind of nearly every Padres fan.

In Mejia and Austin Hedges, San Diego boasts two of the game's best young catchers. And this week's Padres Inbox reflects your interest in the positional battle.

:: Submit a question to the Padres Inbox ::

Mejia is off to a red-hot start, and Hedges has made serious strides at the plate while remaining rock-solid defensively. It's hard to find quality catchers in the Major Leagues, but the Padres might now have two of them.

When will we get clarity on the Mejia/Hedges situation?
-- Ryan C.

Depends what you mean by clarity. In all likelihood, we'll have a good idea how the Padres plan to rotate the two early next season. This month, it's an even split. But I wouldn't read too much into the final three weeks -- especially given that Hedges started at catcher in 34 of 41 games during the second half before Mejia's callup.

Video: SD@CIN: Mejia crushes 3-run jack for his second homer

Next season should be more indicative of the long-term plan. I imagine we'll learn a few things during Spring Training -- namely, whether the Padres plan to use Mejia in the outfield to find a way to get both bats in the lineup. Then, the first month of the 2019 regular season should tell us who gets the bulk of the time behind the plate -- and whether the split's going to be somewhat even.

Of course, that's provided that neither is traded during the offseason.

How long can Mejia and Hedges reasonably coexist on the roster without one of them pushing the other out?
-- @PadresOnABagel

Probably longer than you'd think, even though both are young catchers with high ceilings, and there are only so many at-bats to go around. More than anything, it'll come down to the Padres' plans for Mejia. I get the sense he's going to be used as a corner outfielder, too.

Video: SD@CIN: Hedges cranks a 2-run homer to left in 3rd

Hedges is on record as saying he wants to play 130-140 games per season -- and that's probably what you'd want your catcher saying in this situation. But it probably won't happen next year. The likelier scenario might be 100-110 games for Hedges, with Mejia playing 50-60 behind the plate and another 50-60 in the outfield.

If that split can be managed, it might be best for everyone involved. Catching in the big leagues is a difficult job, and a little extra rest wouldn't hurt either of them.

What are the odds that Fernando Tatis Jr. starts next year on Opening Day?
-- Keith, San Diego

Slim, for a number of reasons -- the most notable being service time. If the Padres wait until mid-April to promote Tatis to the Majors, they'll have control of him through the 2025 season instead of through '24.

But Tatis' case isn't the same as some higher profile service-time debates like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Eloy Jimenez. San Diego has good reason to hold Tatis back. He's still never played a game above Double-A, and he's coming off an injury (broken left thumb) that forced him to miss the final two months of the season. There's an argument to be made that he'd benefit from a little more time in the Minors.

The Padres don't have a ready-made option to start at short next year. But it's likelier they use rookie Javy Guerra and/or sign a veteran stopgap.

When do Chris Paddack, Logan Allen, Tatis and Josh Naylor arrive?
-- Michael J., Escondido, Calif.

Short answer: 2019.

If I had to guess the order, I'd go with Allen, Tatis, Paddack, Naylor.

Don't be shocked if Allen makes some noise for a rotation spot out of camp. It's doubtful he's one of the Opening Day starting five, but he'll probably be one of the first options up from Triple-A.

Paddack might be eased in a bit more slowly. Naylor, meanwhile, plays first base and left field, and there simply isn't a big league opportunity readily available at those spots.

Video: SD@CIN: Renfroe makes a diving grab with bases loaded

The Padres' outfield defense is horrendous. Will we see change?
-- Michael J., Escondido, Calif.

The Padres' outfield defense ranks fourth in the Majors in defensive runs saved. It boasts two borderline elite defenders in Travis Jankowski and Manuel Margot. Hunter Renfroe has made serious strides as a left fielder (and he has an absolute cannon for an arm). Franmil Reyes has a long way to go, but Franchy Cordero will return next season with all the tools to be very good defensively.

It is assuredly not "horrendous." It's actually been quite good.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

San Diego Padres, Austin Hedges, Francisco Mejia

Inbox: What's the biggest issue with Bundy?

Beat reporter Brittany Ghiroli answers questions from Baltimore fans
MLB.com

With fewer than 20 games to go, let's delve into your latest Orioles questions …

What is the biggest issue with Dylan Bundy?
-- Jeff, East Petersburg, Pa.

With fewer than 20 games to go, let's delve into your latest Orioles questions …

What is the biggest issue with Dylan Bundy?
-- Jeff, East Petersburg, Pa.

The issue is command, though there's obviously concern -- with good reason -- about his health. Bundy -- who will start Thursday -- has insisted he's fine, and the Orioles will continue to weigh whether to shut him down for the season.

Bundy seemed particularly frustrated after his last outing against the Rays -- calling it a level "10 out of 10," and admitting he has little idea where the ball is going right now. The O's Opening Day starter, Bundy is within his innings limit for the year. But you have to wonder how much good it's doing to keep running him out there every fifth day.

How long does the front office expect this rebuild to take?
-- Ellie F., Baltimore

Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette has referenced a three-year plan several times, but with an expiring contract, there's no guarantee Duquette may oversee the rebuild. It depends on how you view a rebuild: Could they be competitive in three years? Sure. Will they be a true division contender by then? It remains to be seen.

:: Submit a question to the Orioles Inbox ::

As with all rebuilds, it's going to hinge on whether the trades the Orioles made of their veteran players actually pan out. The O's farm system has improved in recent years, but they still aren't in a position where there's an heir apparent for guys like Manny Machado or Jonathan Schoop in the infield. The bullpen -- without Darren O'Day, Zach Britton and Brad Brach -- also remains in flux, as does the catching situation in the future. There are a lot of question marks and I think in the next year or two you'll have a much better idea of how this rebuild is shaping up.

Do you think Adam Jones has a role with the 2019 Orioles and do you think he wants to be part of that team?
-- Todd, Earleville, Md.

I think there was a time he wanted to stay and finish his career in Baltimore. I'm not so sure that will be an option, though.

Jones was already moved off of center field and now his playing time has dwindled in right. The 33-year-old wants to win and this could be his last chance to do so. I would hope the front office realizes what an important role he's played in the winning years in Baltimore and what kind of impact he's had on the community. But unless the Orioles can get him on a good deal, it's tough to see how signing him as a free agent fits in with their plans to rebuild and reduce the big league payroll.

What's the clubhouse morale like?
-- Richard F., Glen Burnie, Md.

About as good as it can be given that the Orioles have cleared the 100-loss mark. Manager Buck Showalter talked at length on Sunday about checking in with the younger guys to make sure this experience isn't something that sticks with them negatively.

"It's something you look for," Showalter said. "Everybody's morale is challenged. Your whole life you've lived in an arena where you're competing and trying to win the game … there's a lot of, I call it a negative feeding frenzy and a positive feeding frenzy. You've got to be careful about drinking too much of that Kool-Aid on either side."

Is there talk of Duquette and Showalter coming back?
-- Daniel B., Baltimore

Both have said, on the record, that they'd like to stay and continue with this rebuild. But there's obviously going to be some changes within the organization as the O's march toward becoming the worst team by record in franchise history. There's no way to handicap what ownership is thinking right now, and I'd hate to speculate on people's futures in print. Still, I'd be surprised if everything remained status quo. Keep in mind, there are a lot of reasons why things went wrong this season and pinning it on just those two wouldn't be fair.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

Baltimore Orioles

Inbox: Should Hirano be the high-leverage guy?

Beat reporter Steve Gilbert answers questions from D-backs fans
MLB.com

Should Yoshihisa Hirano be the high-leverage guy?
-- Antoine, Montreal

D-backs manager Torey Lovullo has said repeatedly since Sunday that Brad Boxberger will remain the team's closer. Over the past 10 days or so, the only changes that Lovullo has made with regards to the ninth inning is that if a lefty leads off that frame, he has used left-hander Andrew Chafin to face him and then gone to Boxberger for the next two hitters. This late in the season, Lovullo said he doesn't want to change things up too much at the back end of the bullpen. Hirano, though, will continue to pitch in leverage situations in the seventh and eighth innings as he has done since Opening Day.

Should Yoshihisa Hirano be the high-leverage guy?
-- Antoine, Montreal

D-backs manager Torey Lovullo has said repeatedly since Sunday that Brad Boxberger will remain the team's closer. Over the past 10 days or so, the only changes that Lovullo has made with regards to the ninth inning is that if a lefty leads off that frame, he has used left-hander Andrew Chafin to face him and then gone to Boxberger for the next two hitters. This late in the season, Lovullo said he doesn't want to change things up too much at the back end of the bullpen. Hirano, though, will continue to pitch in leverage situations in the seventh and eighth innings as he has done since Opening Day.

:: Submit a question to the D-backs Inbox ::

Give us D-backs fans a reason to be optimistic after what happened in L.A. over the weekend.
-- Devon, Phoenix

No question that the final three games against the Dodgers were tough to take for fans, so I understand some of the frustration that I've been hearing from them this week. Still, there's plenty of reason to be optimistic because there's still 23 games to play and the D-backs have seven games left against the Rockies and three against the Dodgers. Keep in mind the Dodgers and Rockies play each other six more times, starting this weekend, so at least one of them will be losing on those days, which also gives the D-backs an opportunity to make up ground. The D-backs do have a tough schedule starting Thursday against the Braves, but if they take care of their own business and start putting together wins, then making up the 1 1/2 games in the standings is not that big of a challenge.

Is the best chance for the D-backs to make the playoffs as a Wild Card or division winner?
-- Adam, Santa Fe, N.M.

I think at this point their best chance is to win the division. The Cardinals and Brewers are battling hard with the Cubs at the moment, and I'm not sure any of those three are going to fall off the pace.

Who are you most looking forward to watching as a September callup?
-- Brenda, Atlanta

I'm really interested to see right-hander Yoan Lopez (No. 18 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline) pitch. Signed before the 2015 season out of Cuba, he initially had some maturity issues on and off the field, but has really worked hard over the last few years and, by all accounts, has overcome them. He still has an electric fastball and slider and I think it would be a neat story to see him have success after what he's been through. Sometimes it's easy to lose sight of the fact that international signings or players taken in the Draft are, for the most part, very young and inexperienced. We expect them to suddenly become mature, experienced players when that's not always realistic right away.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Inbox: Will Giants try to re-sign Holland?

Beat reporter Chris Haft answers Giants fans' questions
MLB.com

Will the Giants attempt to re-sign Derek Holland? With the consistency he has shown as of late, he could provide some stability at the back end of the starting rotation.
-- Joaquin M., Clovis, Calif.

Nobody within the Giants' hierarchy has said much publicly about Holland's immediate future. But the "fit" between player and team certainly exists in this case, making it likely that Holland will indeed return to the Giants in 2019. As Joaquin pointed out, Holland has remained a prototypical fifth starter, working at least six innings in 11 of his 25 starts. Moreover, San Francisco owns a 14-11 record in his starts (see below for more on this topic).

Will the Giants attempt to re-sign Derek Holland? With the consistency he has shown as of late, he could provide some stability at the back end of the starting rotation.
-- Joaquin M., Clovis, Calif.

Nobody within the Giants' hierarchy has said much publicly about Holland's immediate future. But the "fit" between player and team certainly exists in this case, making it likely that Holland will indeed return to the Giants in 2019. As Joaquin pointed out, Holland has remained a prototypical fifth starter, working at least six innings in 11 of his 25 starts. Moreover, San Francisco owns a 14-11 record in his starts (see below for more on this topic).

Other factors point to San Francisco signing the 31-year-old Holland. He genuinely enjoys being a Giant, for one thing. Also, though he'll enter free agency, he played for $1.75 million this year and thus should be relatively affordable.

:: Submit a question to the Giants Inbox ::

Madison Bumgarner said that Jacob deGrom of the Mets should be considered for the Cy Young Award even with a poor win-loss record because wins don't count as much as they used to. Why isn't a team's record behind each starter used as an official stat? To me, that would be the most important stat for a starter.
-- David F., Asheville, N.C.

Traditionally, baseball has been slow to select items from the statistical menu. For instance, people who followed the game understood the importance of the save for years before it became an official stat in 1969. And though a team's W-L mark behind a starter partially reflects his quality, it doesn't tell the entire story. If a ballclub loses a game in which the bullpen blows a lead, that would be an undeserved "L" for a starter if his statistical fate is tied to the ultimate decision.

Why doesn't Alen Hanson get more playing time and recognition for the spark he brings to the team? Nobody on this team runs the bases like he does. He appears to be one of the few guys who can make things happen.
-- Mikeul M., Boise, Idaho 

Every team needs a performer or two like Hanson who can thrive off the bench. Here are some intriguing figures: In 55 starts, his slash line is .252/.266/.398. In 33 games as a substitute, his corresponding numbers rise to .361/.425/.694. Consider also that Hanson has played second base, shortstop, third base and left field for the Giants. To become a regular infielder with the Giants this year, he would have had to unseat Joe Panik, Brandon Crawford or Evan Longoria. And left field has remained a season-long tryout camp.

Video: STL@SF: Hanson goes first to third on groundout

I am amazed at how many Giants fans want Buster Posey out from behind the dish. Can you remind them that pitching and defense win championships? Pulling Posey would greatly hurt the Giants. As far as Joey Bart goes, when he is ready, he could be a huge trade chip for a prime-time power hitter. Otherwise, he would be wasted as a backup for the next several years. Thoughts?
-- C. Kelley, Hesperia, Calif. 

We must wait and see how the first few months of next season unfold. How thoroughly will Posey recover from hip surgery? Might he switch to first base, which requires more movement than most people realize? How quickly will Bart progress? If he's half as good as everybody says he is, using him as a "trade chip" would be foolish. What if Bart needs the entire 2019 season to gain maturity? Then the overlap between him and Posey, who's signed through '21 with a team option for '22, would be less pronounced. Such issues seem like a potential problem now, but in reality they almost solve themselves more often than not.

Do you think that Bruce Bochy, with likely a sub-.500 win-loss record at the end of his managing career, will wind up in the Hall of Fame?
-- Mike V., Tucson, Ariz.

Yes. Bochy is mentioned so frequently as a Hall of Fame candidate that his ascent to Cooperstown appears inevitable. His lifetime regular-season record is only three games under .500, so anticipating that he'll finish his career with a losing mark is premature. Finally, nine managers besides Bochy won at least three World Series; all are in the Hall.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

San Francisco Giants, Alen Hanson, Derek Holland, Buster Posey

Inbox: Who's in line for a callup to Milwaukee?

Beat reporter Adam McCalvy answers questions from Brewers fans
MLB.com

Who do you think gets called up for September roster expansion? Any new arms possible?
-- Deb M. (via Twitter)

The short answer is yes, the Brewers will get an influx of arms on Saturday -- and Sunday, when Zach Davies and Corey Knebel are eligible to return after being optioned last week. Many of the names will be familiar: Brandon Woodruff, Jacob Barnes, Adrian Houser and Aaron Wilkerson all have been part of the Triple-A Colorado Springs and Double-A Biloxi shuttle this season, and all are in the mix for a callup with Davies and Knebel.

Who do you think gets called up for September roster expansion? Any new arms possible?
-- Deb M. (via Twitter)

The short answer is yes, the Brewers will get an influx of arms on Saturday -- and Sunday, when Zach Davies and Corey Knebel are eligible to return after being optioned last week. Many of the names will be familiar: Brandon Woodruff, Jacob Barnes, Adrian Houser and Aaron Wilkerson all have been part of the Triple-A Colorado Springs and Double-A Biloxi shuttle this season, and all are in the mix for a callup with Davies and Knebel.

On the position-player front, it's the same story. Infielders Nate Orf and Tyler Saladino and outfielders Keon Broxton and Domingo Santana are all familiar to Brewers fans and are on the 40-man roster. It's easy to make a case for any of them.

:: Submit a question to the Brewers Inbox ::

Catcher will be interesting. Teams always call up an extra backstop in September, but the only other healthy catcher on Milwaukee's 40-man roster is Jacob Nottingham, who hasn't played since suffering a chip fracture in his right wrist in late July. Brewers farm director Tom Flanagan said Nottingham has been rehabbing in Phoenix and will join Colorado Springs in the coming days to go through a hitting progression. He should be game-ready within a week or so, putting a September callup in play. There are two other good options at Triple-A in Jett Bandy (.896 OPS since being demoted) and Christian Bethancourt (19 home runs, .822 OPS). The problem is that neither is on Milwaukee's full 40-man roster.

And speaking of that, another good candidate for a callup is left-handed pitching prospect Quintin Torres-Costa, who has a 1.41 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP between the Double-A and Triple-A levels this season. He could help the Brewers corral left-handed hitters if incumbent Dan Jennings continues to struggle. Torres-Costa needs to be added to the 40-man roster this November, anyway, to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft.

I just named a dozen players if you count one catcher. I doubt very much that the Brewers will call up that many bodies in September, and I also am sure there's a surprise in store, a la Taylor Williams last year.

Tweet from @WordOfThe_Weiss: I don't know if I have missed something, but is there a reason why we haven't seen much of Brandon Woodruff in all of the bullpen/starting mixing as of late?

Woodruff was optioned to Colorado Springs on July 24 and essentially removed from the carousel so he could focus on making consistent starts in case the Brewers had a need in their rotation. With Davies on the disabled list, Woodruff has been Milwaukee's No. 6 starter. I assume he's a bullpen guy again for September, barring need.

Tweet from @FanBrewer: 2 questions:1. How many more wins do you believe brewers need to get in playoffs?2. Waiver period ends soon-if there was 1 guy you���d want the brewers to pick up who would it be and why

1. The last time we met, I said I thought 90 victories was on the high side if we're talking just about getting into the postseason -- meaning the National League Wild Card Game. Now, with the standings as crowded as they are, that doesn't sound low at all. To get to 90, the Brewers would have to go 17-13 in their remaining games.

2. Carlos Gomez. I don't think the Brewers will trade for him, but that wasn't the question. He was fun to cover.

Tweet from @J_Myrechuck: After discussing with others over the pros/cons of the DH being League Wide, I feel the logical compromise is both teams start with a DH but when the Starting Pitcher is pulled you lose the DH as well & from there out its pinch hitters & relief Pitchers - NL style. Thoughts?

I respect the thought you put into this, and I'm sure you'll find some takers. But I'm in the shrinking group that thinks the pitcher should hit. Nine players in the field, nine batters. If you don't want the pitcher to hit, why even mess around with the ninth batter? Just have the eight position players hit.

Again, I realize I'm in the minority there.

Tweet from @UeckBoxHero: What's the bare minimum of bullpen arms the Brewers need? Can they subsist on Soria, Hader, Jeffress, and Burnes? Seems like Jennings/Williams/Knebel/Albers aren't gonna get the job done.

No way you navigate 30 remaining games with four relievers. When the Brewers were at their best this year, manager Craig Counsell had five, six and seven bullpen arms he could trust to get outs, and they know they need to get back to that if they are going to play past September. I would argue that means not getting emotional and punting, say, Jennings, after a bad homestand. Or giving up on Williams and Corbin Burnes.

I know you'll say, "But it's a pennant race." I say players are not robots, and if a team panics and gives up on any player who has a bad week, you run out of players.

Tweet from @Ryan_Dachel: What do you think are the chances that Moustakas comes back next year? Also, if that does happen do you think the Brewers current infield alignment aka "the goal line package" is sustainable? Or would trades need to happen? (Like Schoop?)

Mike Moustakas has a $15 million mutual option with a $1 million buyout. I think he genuinely has enjoyed his first month in Milwaukee, but I would be surprised if he's back. After his frustrating free-agent winter last year, I expect he'll want to take another shot at a big multiyear deal, and you can't blame him for that.

Tweet from @PaulOlmsted: If the season ended today, what do you think would be some of the things we learned about the team and what do you think looks different heading into next year?

I love this question and have some ideas, but I would be curious to hear what you all have to say about it, first. Give me a shout in the comments with your thoughts, and we will revisit this in the offseason. Paul, don't let me forget.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers

Inbox: How will Braves handle Sept. callups?

Beat reporter Mark Bowman answers questions from fans
MLB.com

How will the Braves handle the impending 40-man roster crunch? Are there players they'll try to trade or outright to the Minors?
-- @BravesAmerica

Right-handers Brandon McCarthy and Kyle Wright, infielder Ryan Flaherty, third baseman Austin Riley and an internal catcher (Chris Stewart or Alex Jackson) would need to be added to the 40-man roster if the Braves choose to carry any of them after rosters expand on Saturday.

How will the Braves handle the impending 40-man roster crunch? Are there players they'll try to trade or outright to the Minors?
-- @BravesAmerica

Right-handers Brandon McCarthy and Kyle Wright, infielder Ryan Flaherty, third baseman Austin Riley and an internal catcher (Chris Stewart or Alex Jackson) would need to be added to the 40-man roster if the Braves choose to carry any of them after rosters expand on Saturday.

Atlanta has two vacancies on the 40-man roster, but I think it's safe to assume at least three of these aforementioned players will be among the roster additions. Time will tell whether McCarthy can adapt to his modified delivery and capably handle a relief role. But it seems Atlanta is planning to go through the stretch run with him and Flaherty, who has gained the benefit of regular at-bats since being outrighted to Triple-A Gwinnett last week.

• Submit a question to the Braves' Inbox

Over the past couple weeks, there has been chatter about possibly of bringing Wright, who is ranked the Braves' No. 2 prospect by MLB Pipeline, to the Majors as a reliever. The 22-year-old right-hander got a taste the bullpen when he worked a scoreless sixth inning for Gwinnett on Saturday. I'm expecting to see him working out of Atlanta's 'pen in September.

Riley, who is ranked the club's No. 4 prospect by MLB Pipeline, has kept himself on the radar, as he has four home runs in his past eight games entering Monday. Since he could begin next season in the Majors, there could be some benefit to carrying him in September, but that decision might come down to whether the Braves feel they still have enough 40-man roster flexibility after possibly completing a waiver trade and deciding whether to carry a third catcher for the final month of the regular season.

If Atlanta ends up adding just three of the players mentioned above, they could designate pitcher Wes Parsons for assignment to create another spot. If in need of two 40-man spots, the club may have to choose whether to designate either Dustin Peterson or Michael Reed, a pair of right-handed-hitting outfielders. Given Peterson is a season removed from a significant hand injury, I think it's safe to assume he'd be safe.

When a player's contract is designated for assignment -- often abbreviated "DFA" -- that player is immediately removed from his club's 40-man roster, and 25-man roster if he was on that as well. Within seven days of the transaction (it was previously 10 days), the player must either be traded, released or placed on irrevocable outright waivers.

The Braves cleaned their 40-man roster a month ago, when Lucas Sims, Matt Wisler and Preston Tucker were traded to the Reds for Adam Duvall. It seemed like a harmless deal at the time, but as Duvall has gone 4-for-33 (all singles) and has provided little value to a bench that could also benefit from adding a left-handed bat.

Last week, Atlanta put a waiver claim in on first baseman Matt Adams, who ended up with the Cardinals, and debated whether to bid on second baseman Daniel Murphy, who has quickly found comfort with the Cubs. The Braves have continued to evaluate waiver-wire deals that would enrich their bench and most likely require being creative with the 40-man roster.

While the Braves have held out hope that reliever Arodys Vizcaino might return this season, there is certainly reason to question how durable and effective he might be if he does come back. His durability would be less of an issue, because he could be given extended rest while Atlanta works with an expanded roster. But with 40-man spots at a premium, he may eventually be moved to the 60-day disabled list.

Were Bryse WilsonTouki Toussaint and Kyle Wright all making relief appearances at Gwinnett an indication the front office plans to use them out of the 'pen once rosters expand?
-- @PatrickMollette

While we don't know whether Wright will be promoted as he nears the end of his second professional season, my expectation is that two of these highly-regarded prospects will be placed in the Braves' bullpen and the other will be used as a sixth starter in September.

Toussaint, who is ranked as the organization's No. 7 prospect by MLB Pipeline, seems to be the most likely to be used as a starter when necessary. Chad Sobotka's success since joining Atlanta's bullpen has seemingly only intensified interest regarding what Wright and Wilson could do with their respective power arsenals as a reliever.

The strides Toussaint, Wilson and Wright have made this year have provided both immediate and long-term benefits for the Braves.

Entering this year, we termed this a weeding-out season for the starting-pitching prospects. Luiz Gohara's value has dropped, and Kolby Allard has shown he is not physically ready to compete at the Major League level. We'll see what the future holds for Max Fried, who will certainly draw trade interest during the offseason.

Atlanta is still sitting pretty in the starting-pitching department. The Braves finally reached that point where Julio Teheran stands as their No. 4 or 5 starter. Mike Foltynewicz, Kevin Gausman and Sean Newcomb have looked like valuable anchors for a rotation that could include Wilson, Toussaint, Wright and eventually Ian Anderson at any point between now and next year's All-Star break.

Will the Braves acquire another infield bench bat before the waiver period expires? We all know Rio Ruiz is a placeholder.
-- @FoxHollowFilms

While Ozzie Albies' right hamstring has not been an issue in the second half, Atlanta really couldn't afford to continue carrying just one backup infielder, which it had done since Flaherty was designated for assignment last week. So from that perspective, it made sense to promote Ruiz, who was already on the 40-man roster.

There's no doubt the Braves will spend the next few days looking to add some offense to a bench that has lacked production beyond Charlie Culberson for much of the season. There was a preference for a left-handed bat, but with Duvall struggling, they won't be picky with their pursuit.

Who do you expect to see added in September?
-- @bravesfan549

Let's go with McCarthy, Wright, Wilson, Toussaint and Peter Moylan as the pitchers who will be added. Shane Carle will likely eventually be activated from the disabled list, but I have my doubts about Vizcaino returning this year.

As for the position players, let's go with Flaherty and Reed, unless there is a need for his 40-man roster spot. I think the 40-man roster crunch will lead to Riley not being promoted. Scouts have been down on Alex Jackson all season, but because we are talking about a third catcher, let's just say it's a coin flip between carrying him or Stewart.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

Atlanta Braves

Inbox: Can Diaz tie single-season saves record?

Beat reporter Greg Johns answers questions from Mariners fans
MLB.com

With Edwin Diaz needing 12 saves in the final 31 games to tie the Major League record of 62 for a season, what's the most he's had in a 31-game stretch this year?
-- Robert K., Seattle

Diaz is on pace for 61.8 saves, so he just has to keep doing what he's done all year -- dominating the ninth inning and getting the same number of opportunities, which might be the hardest part. Diaz's 54 save opportunities are 13 more than any other closer in the Majors at this point and speak to the high number of close games the Mariners have played and led in late.

With Edwin Diaz needing 12 saves in the final 31 games to tie the Major League record of 62 for a season, what's the most he's had in a 31-game stretch this year?
-- Robert K., Seattle

Diaz is on pace for 61.8 saves, so he just has to keep doing what he's done all year -- dominating the ninth inning and getting the same number of opportunities, which might be the hardest part. Diaz's 54 save opportunities are 13 more than any other closer in the Majors at this point and speak to the high number of close games the Mariners have played and led in late.

Diaz has had several stretches that show breaking Francisco Rodriguez's record is still very possible. Diaz opened the season with 13 saves in his first 30 games. He had 15 saves over a 31-game stretch from June 2-July 5, and he's had 13 saves in his past 29 games.

:: Submit a question to the Mariners Inbox ::

What do the Mariners need to do to reach the postseason?
-- Bobby J., New Orleans

That indeed is the big question left this year, isn't it? And while many are writing this season off, given the Mariners trail the A's by five games for the final American League Wild Card berth and their FanGraphs playoff odds are down to 14.9 percent with 31 games to go, there still is a chance for one big reason.

Seattle still plays Oakland seven more times, starting with four in the Bay Area later this week. Those head-to-head games are a huge opportunity to make up ground in a hurry. And the A's did just place their top starter, Sean Manaea, on the 10-day disabled list, while the Mariners expect to get James Paxton back during that series.

What's it going to take? The Mariners to get hot in an easier homestretch and the A's to finally cool off from their torrid second-half pace. It's not that Seattle has fallen apart. The Mariners just went 9-7 in a brutal stretch against the Astros, A's, Dodgers and D-backs. Of Seattle's final 31 games, 18 now are against teams with losing records, including 14 against teams in last place in their division.

The A's have 15 of their final 31 against losing teams, but just six are against last-place clubs. So if Seattle wins at least four of its final seven against Oakland and takes care of business against a lot of lesser clubs, it will definitely have a chance. And every further victory against the A's would help immensely, so this weekend looms large.

Any rumblings on the August trade front? This season seems especially quiet.
-- Matt A., Boise, Idaho

I expect general manager Jerry Dipoto to pull something off prior to Friday's deadline for adding players who will still be eligible for postseason play, just because we all know his history. The man doesn't hesitate to make trades he thinks might help now or in the future.

Last season, Dipoto acquired first baseman Yonder Alonso from the A's in early August and Mike Leake from the Cardinals on Aug. 30. The year before, he landed outfield prospect Ben Gamel from the Yankees on Aug. 31 after dealing for relieves Arquimedes Caminero and Pat Venditte earlier in the month.

But waiver trades are tricky and it's not like there is a long list of quality starting pitchers available via that route, while the Mariners already made multiple moves to try to bolster the bullpen. And the lineup is already crowded with Robinson Cano's return. A pitching acquisition seems the likeliest, but we'll see.

Could we see Rob Whalen pitching at Safeco in September?
-- Nate E., Gilbert, Ariz.

Whalen just returned to Double-A Arkansas for a start on Saturday and pitched well in a three-inning outing after taking a couple weeks to regroup. After a strong first half with Triple-A Tacoma, he's not been the same since a midseason arm issue. But Whalen helped the Mariners immensely with four scoreless innings of relief in a big win over Boston in mid-June, and if he can show he's back to that form, maybe there's a spot for him as a long man in the 'pen in September.

Does Hisashi Iwakuma have a legit chance to pitch a game or two at the end of the season or does it depend where the Mariners are in the standings?
-- Suriel S., Pikeville, N.C.

Given Iwakuma has pitched just one inning -- on Sunday for Class A Short-Season Everett -- in the past year since shoulder surgery, it's very hard to imagine him getting built up enough to face Major League hitters in the next five weeks. Kuma is definitely pushing for it and Dipoto has said a bullpen role is still possible, but time is definitely not on his side.

Anything to get excited about with the Mariners' top Minor League prospects?
-- Patrick S., Buckley, Wash.

While Kyle Lewis (Seattle's No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline) has hit just .179 in 29 games since getting promoted to Double-A Arkansas, there has been good news from first baseman Evan White (No. 2 on the list). The big question with the slick-fielding White has been whether he could develop the power to stick at first base, and he's done well there of late for Class A Advanced A Modesto, batting .397 with seven doubles, three triples, five homers and 23 RBIs over his past 20 games.

Another guy opening eyes is 17-year-old outfielder Julio Rodriguez (No. 4 Pipeline prospect), who hit .315/.404/.525 in 59 games in the Dominican Summer League and is an intriguing athlete as their top international prospect.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.

Seattle Mariners