Rockies plan to sit LeMahieu to preserve batting title
DENVER — Colorado Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu likely won't play in the final two games of the season as he clings to a minute lead over injured Daniel Murphy of the Washington Nationals for the National League batting title.
LeMahieu sat out Wednesday and Thursday at San Francisco. He went 0-for-2 on Friday night in the Rockies' 4-1 win over the Milwaukee Brewers and left the game in the fourth inning with a .348 average, one point better than Murphy.
Murphy has a strained buttocks and last played in the field on Sept. 17. His last appearance was as a pinch hitter on Sept. 20.
“It's a unique situation because Murphy's injured, he's not playing,” Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. “If he's playing, they could fight it out. I don't want DJ to lose a batting title that way (with Murphy not playing), so I'm going to pay attention to the math. My philosophy, whether you like it or not, is I'm going to take care of the guys who take care of our team. DJ's one of those guys that takes care of our team.”
LeMahieu is 192-for-552 (.3478). Murphy is 184-for-530 (.3471). LeMahieu will only play in the final two games of the season if Murphy gets a pinch hit. One hit in his next at-bat would raise Murphy's average to .3484.
“I'm going to play when Skip wants me to play,” LeMahieu said. “I understand what he's doing. He sticks up for his players all the time. It's one of his best characteristics.”
LeMahieu finished with a .301 average last year when Weiss didn't play him on the final day of the season. It was the first time LeMahieu hit .300 in his career. He entered this season with a .284 lifetime average and is finishing a career year in bittersweet fashion.
“It's probably the least amount of fun I've had all season — this week,” LeMahieu said. “Part of me wants to be out there competing, doing what I've been doing all year. The other part of me — there's something really special out there, and I'm going to let Walt take care of that.”
Jeff Hoffman will start Saturday for the Rockies, taking the place of Tyler Anderson. He was scratched because of a tired arm.
Hoffman, who has never faced the Brewers, was promoted from Triple-A Albuquerque on Aug. 20 and made five starts, the last on Sept. 14, and went 0-4 with a 6.04 ERA. He has lowered his ERA to 5.47 with two two-inning relief appearances, the last on Tuesday at San Francisco.
Hoffman threw 27 pitches in relief on Sept. 23 and Tuesday. Weiss said Hoffman “may be a tad de-conditioned” as far as starting, but the expectation is he'll be able to work five innings or 75 pitches.
Wily Peralta, who is 7-11 with a 5.10 ERA, will start for the Brewers. He took a 4-2 loss against Cincinnati in his last start on Sunday, allowing three runs (two earned) in six innings.
Peralta was Milwaukee's Opening Day starter but was optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs on June 12 before returning to the Brewers' rotation on Aug. 9. In nine starts since coming back to Milwaukee, Peralta is 3-4 with a 3.23 ERA.
Brewers first baseman Chris Carter will continue his pursuit of Colorado third baseman Nolan Arenado for the NL home run run title. Each player homered Friday, giving Arenado 41, one short of the career high he set last year, and Carter 40. Arenado and Washington's Bryce Harper tied for the NL lead last year.
Arenado hit a two-run homer in the first inning on Friday night. Carter accounted for the Brewers' run with his homer in the fourth.
“I wasn't trying to hit any more homers, I was just trying to hit it hard,” Arenado said. “Definitely when (Carter) hit his homer, I realized he was one behind me now. He's a great hitter and he's had an unbelievable year. He's got a lot of power. He barely touched that ball and it went flying.
“The competition is fun, and that's just the way it goes. I feel like every time I hit a homer, the other guys does. Last year when I hit 42, Harper hit (his 42nd) the day after. It's always fun. That's what makes this game good.”
Arenado and Carter are tied for the NL lead with 158 games played. Carter's previous career high was 37 home runs with Houston in 2014, and he relished getting to 40.
“It's definitely nice, it's a place I've never been,” Carter said. “In (2014), I ended up with 37 and couldn't make it to it. I definitely started trying harder (in 2014). This year, I just kept playing the same game and not try anything different.”