It's October but the playoffs haven't started, which can only mean one thing -- players getting shut down with only a handful of games left to play.
Two high-profile starters were among the most recent to be given the rest of the week off, with both David Price and Madison Bumgarner having thrown their last pitches of the 2015 season. Both players' managers confirmed the news Thursday.
For Bumgarner, it's the end of a long calendar year. Bumgarner threw a record 52 2/3 innings last October in the Giants' World Series run, and for the fifth straight season the southpaw surpassed the 200-inning mark this year. In 32 starts, Bumgarner threw 218 1/3 innings in 2015, the highest total of his seven-year career.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy referenced the 2014 stretch and also cited Bumgarner's recent starts, with the Giants making a desperate push for another playoff berth, as reason for shutting his ace down.
"We worked him pretty hard the last three starts," Bochy said of Bumgarner. "There's no point in Madison making this start."
Price is also being given extra rest with an eye on postseason workload, but the Blue Jays hope his heavy lifting comes later this month. Since the trade to the Jays, Price is 9-1 with a 2.30 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 87/18 K/BB ratio over 11 starts. His 18-5 record, 2.45 ERA and 225/47 K/BB ratio overall has him among the serious contenders for this year's American League Cy Young award.
The Jays clinched the American League East title Wednesday, and with Price having already thrown 220 1/3 innings this year he said he'll take the extra rest where he can get it.
"We said if we clinched [Wednesday] I wasn't going to pitch [Thursday]," Price said. "They wanted me to throw just because of personal awards, and I could care less about those, so it's that point of the season where if you could get an extra couple of days, you'll take it."
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Eickhoff Finishes Strong
The only shutdown in Philadelphia on Thursday was Jerad Eickhoff's dominance over the National League East champs.
Eickhoff rolled past the Mets' shell of a starting lineup Thursday, striking out 10 over seven scoreless innings in the Phillies' 3-0 victory. Eickhoff yielded just four hits and a walk on the afternoon.
It culminated a year that saw the 25-year-old change organizations -- Eickhoff was among the prospects the Rangers sent to Philadelphia in exchange for Cole Hamels -- and make his major league debut as a member of the Phillies. In eight starts, Eickhoff went 3-3 with a 2.65 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 49/13 K/BB ratio through 51 innings.
That included a four-game stretch, capped by Thursday's brilliance, in which Eickhoff threw at least seven innings with two or fewer runs allowed in all four outings. Phillies manager Pete Mackanin was impressed with what he saw from the right-hander in his rookie year.
“He can be an outstanding pitcher here,” Mackanin said. “He’s on his way to becoming a complete pitcher.
“With each start he got stronger and stronger and realized he can pitch here."
Yanks Clinch A Postseason Spot
After finishing runner-up in the AL East a day earlier, the Yankees wouldn't be denied a spot in the tournament on Thursday.
The Yanks downed the archrival Red Sox 4-1 on Thursday -- incidentally, the organization's 10,000th win all-time -- to secure their spot in the American League Wild Card game. They prevailed over the Sox behind solo homers from Carlos Beltran, Greg Bird and Rob Refsnyder and five strong innings of work by a rejuvenated CC Sabathia.
The playoff appearance will be the first for the organization since 2012, a relatively long layoff for the storied franchise. Many of the faces of this year's success -- including Bird, who took over for the injured Mark Teixeira without missing a beat, and the crack relieving duo of Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller -- weren't around for the team's last playoff run.
Who they'll be playing is still undecided. After Thursday's games, the Astros, Angels and Twins are separated by one game in the standings for the second Wild Card spot.
National League Quick Hits: Yasiel Puig (hamstring) began running at 100 percent effort Thursday, a very positive step toward his return. The Dodgers will have to make a decision in the coming days as to whether Puig will be healthy enough to contribute as a member of the NLDS roster ... Yoenis Cespedes was not in the Mets' lineup Thursday after taking a pitch off his left hand in Wednesday's game. X-rays were negative on the fingers in the hand, though, so it's not likely a major concern ... Wil Myers left Thursday's game with left wrist soreness. The wrist was surgically repaired earlier this season, and the Padres may be best suited to shut him down for the rest of the year ... Steven Matz, who has twice been scratched due to stiffness in the right side of his back, is expected to pitch Saturday or Sunday ... Hector Olivera was scratched from the Braves' lineup Thursday as he continues to recover from a HBP on the elbow during Tuesday's game ... Yunel Escobar (back) missed another contest Thursday. He's now missed four straight starts due to discomfort in his upper back ... The Phillies activated Maikel Franco (wrist) from the disabled list Thursday. Franco missed six weeks with a non-displaced fracture in his right wrist ... The Marlins reportedly interviewed Bo Porter for their expected managerial opening. Porter managed the Astros in 2013 and 2014 before being fired last September ... The Braves promoted John Coppolella to the position of general manager ... Jeremy Affeldt announced his retirement after a 14-year career.
American League Quick Hits: Don't tell Manny Machado the Orioles' season is over. The third baseman had a monster day Thursday, homering twice, stealing two bases and scoring three runs in a win over the Blue Jays. The 20/20 season -- he has 33 homers and 20 steals after Thursday's game -- is just the seventh in Orioles history and it's only the second time an Oriole has gone 30/20 in a season ... With the Yankees clinching, they have the luxury of lining up their Wild Card Game starter. That starter will be Masahiro Tanaka, who felt good Thursday after returning from a Grade 1 hamstring strain to start Wednesday's game against the Red Sox ... Troy Tulowitzki (shoulder) will face "live pitching in a simulated environment" Friday. If that goes well, Tulo could be back in the Jays' lineup as early as Saturday ... After fouling a pitch off his knee Wednesday, Lorenzo Cain sat out Thursday's tilt. His teammate Alex Rios was scratched from Thursday's lineup with back stiffness ... Adam Jones (back) remained out Thursday. Time is running out for him to get back on the field ... J.J. Hardy is on the field, but his effectiveness this season has been limited by a torn labrum in his left shoulder. Hardy revealed Thursday that he's been playing through the injury all season ... Micah Johnson underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Thursday. He should be 100 percent by spring.