A Nice Addition

 

Today the Toronto Blue Jays acquired Jason Grilli from the Atlanta Braves for pitching prospect Sean Ratcliffe. Grilli will be provide a veteran arm in a bullpen that has some young arms.

Grilli will be a four month rental for the Blue Jays but he does have a team option if the Blue Jays like what they see from the 39 year-old right-hander. If you look at Grilli’s numbers this season, they are less than stellar but pitching for the Atlanta Braves is not the most exciting thing to do. He will arrive in Toronto with a 5.29 ERA, 1.706 WHIP and an impressive 12.2 K/9. Grilli will get a fresh start in Toronto and will not be expected to be the guy as Toronto has an excellent young closer in Roberto Osuna. Drew Storen and Jessie Chavez have had subpar starts to the 2016 season and Grilli has an opportunity to provide more depth for the Toronto pen.

Sean Ratcliffe was drafted in the 18th round in the 2013 MLB draft and is still only 21 years-old. He has pitched in low A this season for the Toronto organization as a reliever.

Dave Roberts, WHY?

 

 

Being a Red Sox fan I will always have a special place in my heart for Dave Roberts but last night Dave Roberts almost cost the Dodgers the game against the Mets and the series.

I do not know why he would take Kershaw out of the game in the 8th inning to bring in another lefty. Kershaw was brilliant again last night as he only gave up 1 run in 7 and 2/3 innings. Roberts decided to take Kershaw out with Curtis Granderson coming to the plate. Granderson is a left-handed hitter and lefties are hitting .136 against Kershaw this season. Granderson led off the game with a double off of Kershaw and then grounded out and struck out. Now the announcers on Sunday night baseball were talking about fatigue and that his pitch count was at 114. If Roberts took Kershaw out because he was at 114 pitches, that is an absolute joke. Kershaw is by far the best pitcher in baseball and I think he has proven himself by now. If Kershaw would have thrown 120 pitches to get Granderson, so be it. Roberts decided to go to the left-hander Adam Liberatore. I don’t care if lefties are hitting .138 against him, there is no way I would take out Kershaw to bring in another lefty to face Granderson. NO WAY!

Now the only way I would have even considered taking out Kershaw last night was to put in Kenley Jansen. Jansen has been excellent against both righties and lefties this season and encourages his manager to use him for more than one inning. I liked the shot of Jansen shaking his head as he went to sit down in the pen after Liberatore gave up the game-tying triple. So many people believe in playing matchups but in moments like last night, I want my best versus their best.

Luckily for Roberts and the Dodgers, the Dodgers retook the lead in the 9th inning on an Adrian Gonzalez 2-run single. I hope Roberts learned his lesson and next time leaves Kershaw in the game.

 

 

 

 

Weekend Review: Mariners Disappoint

 

My biggest take away from this weekend is that every time I begin to buy that the Seattle Mariners are for real, they have a weekend like this past weekend. The Mariners were swept at home against the Minnesota Twins. The Twins came into the series with only 12 wins on the season. The Mariners even had their ace on the mound in Felix Hernandez and he got bombed in the 3rd inning as he gave up 5 runs Friday night. Miguel Sano and Joe Mauer led the way for the Twins in the series as both of them homered in every game in the series. Now every team in baseball is going to have a bad weekend and get swept. But the fact that the Mariners got swept by the worst team in the American League is a problem. These are the type of series that you circle on a schedule and believe you can begin to build some momentum going into the next week. Now they have the task of trying to rebound from a difficult weekend and luckily they welcome the San Diego Padres into town. I am going to have to see a lot more of the Mariners this year before I buy stock in the Mariners.

 

  • Jake Odorizzi pitched into the 7th inning with a no-hitter before Starlin Castro hit a 2-Run Home Run to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead. Teams who have had pitchers throw 1-hitters this season are 3-3. I guess if you only get 1 hit, make it count like the Yankees did on Sunday.
  • Dodgers are 10-1 when Clayton Kershaw pitches and 17-23 when the other starters pitch.
  • Dallas Keuchel beat the Los Angeles Angels and got the win for the first time since April 15th. Now wins do not tell the entire story but his 7 starts in between wins looked like this: 6 ER, 5 ER, 5 ER, 2 ER, 8 ER 3 ER, and 7 ER. The Astros rotation has been awful this season and the Astros need Keuchel to start pitching like the guy who won the CY last season.
  • The White Sox are in trouble. After a strong April, the White Sox are no longer in 1st place in the American League Central. Their bullpen blew 3 straight leads, leads of 4, 6, and 2, as they got swept by the Kansas City Royals. I would be worried if I were a White Sox fan right now.

 

 

Right or Wrong?

 

In tonight’s game between the New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers, Noah Syndergaard was ejected for throwing behind Chase Utley. It was clear that Syndergaard was trying to get revenge for Utley’s slide that broke Ruben Tejada’s leg.

This is a topic that really bothers me with today’s game. I still have some of those old-school roots in me but I also like some of the new ideas in the game today. Despite what my brother believes, I have no problem for the Mets trying to get a little revenge from last year’s post-season. What bothers me is how they went about it. The Mets and Dodgers had a 4 game series in Los Angeles and Chase Utley had 14 at-bats without being hit. Noah Syndergaard even faced Chase Utley 4 times in one of those games. So if Syndergaard felt an obligation to get justice for his former teammate, should he not have done this in LA? Why did the Mets wait for the 6th game and 18 at-bats versus Chase Utley to finally hit him? That bothers me. Syndergaard is one of the hardest throwers in all of baseball as he has thrown more fastballs of 98+ than half of the teams in baseball. Syndergaard cannot throw at a player when he throws that hard when he is not expecting to be hit. Utley had to feel like the Mets would try to get revenge in LA. But after 18 at-bats, the idea of getting hit intentionally was probably the farthest thing from his mind. What if Syndergaard would have missed badly with a fastball up and in and Utley was expecting a fastball on the outside corner instead of getting hit? Bad things happen when guys who throw that hard go seeking for revenge.

Whatever viewpoint you have about getting revenge or not in baseball, Syndergaard deserved to get thrown out. According to the rule, the umpire had every right to throw him out because there was clear intent. So was it worth it? The Mets had to use their bullpen very early, may lose the game, and Syndergaard is likely to receive a suspension. Thoughts?

Did the Yankees Salvage their Season?

 

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about how the Yankees were about to enter a crucial stretch of games and at the time, they were buried in the basement of the American League East. Looking back at the last 17 days for the Yankees, they had an impressive stretch.
3 out of 4 against the Royals
2 out of 3 against the White Sox
1 out of 3 against the Diamondbacks
4 game sweep of the A’s
Lost 2 out of 3 to the Blue Jays
They have an 11-6 record during that time and ultimately may have saved their season. Remember, after the Yankees lost two out of three against the Red Sox, Alex Rodriguez went on the DL with a hamstring injury and shortly after that C.C. Sabathia went on the DL as well. During this important stretch, a few players for the Yankees have really stepped up. The first player who stepped up has been Carlos Beltran. Beltran looked like a player who was playing like a 39 year-old in April. Once Rodriguez went down and Beltran was moved to the DH, he began hitting like the Carlos Beltran that the Yankees gave a huge contract to 3 years ago. Over the past 14 games, he has hit .302/.340/.628 with 3 HR and 14 runs batted in. He has been a huge factor in the middle of the Yankee lineup.
Another big performer over the past few weeks has been C.C. Sabathia. Sabathia did spend 15 days on the disabled list but over his past three starts has looked like the C.C of old. He has thrown 20 innings only allowing 11 hits and 1 earned run with 21 strikeouts. That equals a 0.45 ERA and a great sign for the Yankees going forward.
The biggest addition to this team over that past three weeks has been Aroldis Chapman. Chapman was suspended for the first 6 weeks of the season for a domestic abuse incident. Chapman has allowed Girardi to manage his pen to shorten games. The big three in the pen have been outstanding since Chapman has arrived. In Dellin Betances’s last 12 games, he has pitched to a 1.64 ERA and opponents are hitting .179 with 20 strikeouts. In Andrew Miller’s last 10 games, he has pitched to a 1.86 ERA and opponents are hitting .211 with 18 strikeouts. Since debuting with the Yankees, Aroldis Chapman has pitched in 8 games and has a 2.25 ERA and opponents are hitting .200 with 11 strikeouts.
Unfortunately for the Yankees, the Red Sox have gone 11-5 during the same stretch and the Yankees are currently 6.5 games back in the American League East. For the Yankees, the worry is not about winning the division in May but the worry was to dig themselves such a big hole that they cannot climb out of it. They have weathered the storm and 6.5 games in May is nothing to worry about. There are still a lot of questions that the Yankees will have to answer during the final four months of the season. They are an older team and a lot of their players are injury prone. But the Yankees deserve a lot of credit for how they have played over the past three weeks.

Don’t Forget This Play

 

Sunday, May 22nd is a date that will have a huge impact on the 2016 baseball season. On that day, Royals’ outfielder Alex Gordon collided with third baseman Mike Moustakas. Alex Gordon suffered a broken wrist and will be out at least 3-4 weeks. Today, we found out that Moustakas has suffered a torn ACL in his knee and will miss the rest of the season. That play could change the outcome of the 2016 season.

Kansas City is currently 2 games above .500 and 2 games back in the American League Central. They are winners of 7 out of their last 10 games and are showing signs of turning the corner. But this injury changes everything. The Royals will miss Gordon’s glove and bat for the next couple of weeks but Moustakas will not be easily replaced. Moustakas had a breakout 2015 with a stat line of .284/348/.470 and a 3.8 WAR as he played a vital role in the Royals’ championship run. Next up at 3rd baes for the Royals, Cheslor Cuthbert.

Cuthbert is only 23 years-old and in 15 games this season has produced a stat line of .237/.250/.339. Those are not terrible numbers for a utility player but he will need to step up if he wants to earn the starting job for the remainder of the season. Cuthbert has been a .270’s hitter throughout his minor league career. He is mainly a doubles hitter but has the pop to hit home runs at the big league level. I think the Royals will give Cuthbert a long look before deciding if they need to try to acquire a third baseman.

The Royals are trying to get back to the World Series for the third straight year and will have their work cut out for them now as they are playing without some key players. The American League Central is wide open now and so is the entire American League.

If the All-Star Break Started Today….

 

 

If the all-star teams were selected today, it would be difficult to predict who would be the starting shortstop for the American League. Right now, I think there is a clear battle between Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor and Boston’s Xander Bogaerts. This weekend we got to see the two matchup at Fenway Park and both played very well. So who would you take, Lindor or Bogaerts? Let’s look at the numbers.

Lindor is in his first full MLB season and is putting together a very solid season in his age 22 season. After Sunday’s game, Lindor’s stat line is .325/.383/.428. Lindor is now hitting 3rd for the Indians and their offense has taken off as they have scored the second most runs in the Majors in the month of May (102). Lindor is a complete baseball player as he is one of the best defensive shortstops in all of baseball. As of Sunday, he is 6th among all shortstops with 3 defensive runs saved. He has also stolen 8 out of 9 bases this season which has lead him to 2.2 WAR through the first 41 games of the season. The future is bright for Cleveland and their young shortstop.
Like Lindor, Bogaerts is also very young, 23 years-old, although it seems like he has been in the league for a while. He is also the 3-hole hitter for the Boston Red Sox and is off to a great start as he has played a big part on baseball’s best offensive team. Bogaerts’s stat line is .346/.397/.495. and is tied with Daniel Murphy for the most hits in baseball with 63. He is not quite the defensive shortstop Lindor has shown so far but he has improved in each of his three seasons in the big leagues. Bogaerts is 6 of 7 with stolen bases which has lead him to a 2.5 WAR. These two have had excellent starts to the season and to their careers.

Now Lindor and Bogaerts are not the only shortstops in the America League that are having good seasons. Carlos Correa and Elvis Andrus are also having nice seasons but not quite at the same level as the other two. Bogaerts and Lindor are clearly the favorites in the young season and it will be fun to watch over the next few weeks to see who claims the starting role on the American League roster. Who is your pick?