Important note. What follows is pure speculation. There may be a million and one other reasons for this, and it quite probably will turn out to be something entirely innocent. But it is also trade deadline week, and if you're going to over-analyze any nugget of information, this would be the time! So if something does happen... You heard it here first!
Tomorrow night sees the Reno Aces take on the Fresno Grizzlies at Aces Ballpark, but checking the home team's website, I noticed something a tad odd. The starter for that game, as shown above, is listed as "TBA". Why might that be? Tonight's starter is Jhoulys Chacin, who last pitched for Reno on the 23rd - which makes sense, allowing for the off-day the Aces had yesterday. On that basis, the scheduled starter for Thursday would be their pitcher from July 24th, who is... Aaron Blair. Blair does not appear listed as a starter for any upcoming Aces games, though beyond Friday - trade deadline day! - the Reno starters are all "TBA"...
That's one piece of the puzzle. Digging a little deeper, I noticed something else, perhaps also of relevance: the apparent scratching of A.J. Schugel from his last outing for the Double-A Mobile BayBears. He should have started last night, but instead, Braden Shipley was used - the BayBears had an off-day Monday, so he pitched on regular rest. Schugel's name does still appear on the Mobile website as scheduled... for Thursday. Is this just a coincidence? Or something more sinister? [Adjusts tin-foil hat, listens to Coast to Coast] Possible scenarios here include:
- Blair is being traded, and Schugel will move up to Reno to fill the spot.
- Someone in the rotation - and my money would probably be on Jeremy Hellickson - is being traded, opening up a spot for Blair. Again, Schugel is promoted.
- Neither of the above: Schugel and Blair are just getting a little extra rest, and it's me over-reacting to signals, because it's the week of the trade deadline.
That said, this is the time of year when something as trivial as a player being pulled off the field in the later innings of a game can actually be a legitimate signal they've been traded; just ask Troy Tulowitzki. So who knows? We'll see what happens over the next couple of days!