MLB Notes of Interest – July 28th

MLB Notes of Interest – July 28th

MLB is postponing Tuesday’s Yankees-Phillies game in Philadelphia and Orioles-Marlins in Florida due to additional Marlins players testing positive. Ken Rosenthal reported four Marlins players tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday morning, bringing the total number of affected players to 15. No Phillies players tested positive over the last two days.

In Minnesota, the Twins host the Cardinals in the first of their two-game series. Nelson Cruz drove in seven runs in the Twins 14-2 win over the White Sox on Sunday, tying an MLB record for most RBI in the first three games of the season.

Most RBI, Single-Game
First three games of MLB season
2020Nelson Cruz at White SoxTwins7
2003Corey Patterson at MetsCubs7
1997Tino Martinez at MarinersYankees7
1974Reggie Jackson at RangersAthletics7
1971Brant Alvea at White SoxTwins7
1935Dolph Camilli vs GiantsPhillies7

After setting an MLB record for most strikeouts in an Opening Day shutout with 15 on Friday against the Mets, Atlanta helped Tampa Bay set a team record by striking out 19 times on Monday.

Atlanta designated Monday’s starter Mike Foltynewicz for assignment after surrendering six earned runs in 3.1 innings in the Braves 14-5 loss to Tampa. The 28-year old went 13-6 with a 2.85 ERA along with starting Game 1 of the 2018 NLDS against the Dodgers. In 2019 Foltynewicz suffered multiple injuries, limiting him to 21 starts. Against Tampa on Monday, his fastball averaged 89.3 mph and topped out at 92.9 mph. That same pitch averaged 95 mph last season and 96.5 mph during his 2018 All-Star season.

Tyler Stephenson homered in his first career plate appearance.

In the Cubs 8-7 victory over Cincinnati on Monday, the Reds Tyler Stephenson homered in his first career plate appearance. Stephenson was the first Reds player since Ted Tappe on September 14, 1950, and third in team history to accomplish that feat.

Homered in First Plate Appearance
Cincinnati Reds Team History
Opponent
7/27/2020Tyler StephensonCubs
9/14/1950Ted TappeDodgers
4/17/1935Hank EricksonPirates
MLB Notes of Interest – July 27th

MLB Notes of Interest – July 27th

The first full weekend for one of the four major sports came and went yesterday. However, due to 14 Miami Marlins players and staff testing positive for COVID-19, MLB could suspend operations after it just began. Regardless, here are some numbers, figures, facts, and players to catch my attention over the weekend.

Team Notables

Every team won and lost: all 30 MLB teams recorded at least one victory. Yes, even the Royals and Pirates.

Tigers offense: through their first three games, Detroit hit six home runs (T-3rd in MLB), one double and 11 singles. Last year the Tigers finished 5th in the AL in doubles (292) and last in HR (149). Despite their porous numbers, Detroit took two of three against Cincinnati.

Indians pitching: Cleveland dominated the Royals lineup, allowing 20 baserunners in their three-game series. Kansas City struck out twice as many times (40) than runners on base (20). Cleveland’s 0.71 WHIP is .15 lower than the next closest (Atlanta 0.96)

Twins Offense: After setting an MLB record with 307 HR last season, the Twins continued their power surge in the first weekend. Minnesota’s seven HR, and 27 runs scored lead MLB.

After struggling in the first two games, the Braves decimated the Mets pitching staff on Sunday.

Braves top-heavy?: through two games, Atlanta’s big three, Ronald Acuna Jr., Ozzie Albies, and Freddie Freeman, combined to go 2-28 (.071) with zero runs scored. Their production modeled the Braves entire team who registered just one run in their first 17 2/3 innings against the Mets. However, Marcell Ozuna’s two-out, solo HR in the top of the ninth of game two, ignited Atlanta’s offense.

Braves Lineup
Weekend Series at Mets
1st 17 2/3 InningsFinal 10 1/3 Innings
H-AB (BA)7-59 (.119)21-51 (.412)
Runs118
XBH211
HR15
K267

The Rockies and Rangers post offensive numbers: Opponents playing the first games in Texas new Globe Life Field, combined to hit 16-187 (.184)

White Sox pitching implodes: Chicago’s south-side residents allowed 27 runs and 7 HR in their three-game series against the Twins.

Reds bullpen: The Reds bullpen wasted strong efforts from their starters on Saturday & Sunday, allowing seven runs in their five and two-thirds innings of work.

Reds Pitchers
Last 2 Games vs Tigers
StartersBullpen
IP12.15.2
H87
R27
K248

Notable players

Nelson Cruz (Twins): the 40-year old OF/DH proved age is overrated. Cruz went *7-13 (.538) *3 HR, *7 R, *10 RBI against the White Sox (*leads majors).

Miguel Rojas (Marlins): tied with Cruz and four others with seven hits. Despite a roster decimated by COVID-19, Florida won two of three in Philadelphia, led by their SS (7-10, HR, 4 R, 5 RBI).

Jose Iglesias (Orioles): like Rojas and Cruz, Iglesias seven hits tie for most in MLB. Projected to finish last in the AL East, Baltimore defeated Boston twice at Fenway thanks to Iglesias’ production.

Trevor Bauer dominated the Pirates, striking out 13 batters in 6.1 innings.

Trevor Bauer (Reds): while former teammates Shane Bieber (14) and Carlos Carrasco (10) recorded double-digit strikeouts against the Kansas City, Bauer outdid them both. MLB’s most famous geek, allowed three baserunners in 6.1 IP while fanning 13.

Lucas Giolito (7), Gio Gonzalez (6), Kelvin Herrera (4), and Reynaldo Lopez (4): allowed21 of the White Sox 27 runs against Minnesota. 

Rick Porcello (Mets): After watching fellow starters Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz allow three hits, one run and strike out 15, the former AL Cy Young Award winner added to the Mets misery. Eleven of 15 Atlanta batters reached base (2 IP, 7 H, 3 BB, 7 R), humiliating New York 14-1 in front of a nationwide audience on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball.

Van Wagenen Legacy Rides with Diaz, Cano

Van Wagenen Legacy Rides with Diaz, Cano

When Brody Van Wagenen receives his final verdict as Mets general manager, his one glaring error will live in the memory of fans like a drunken escapade. The tragedy of his fateful decision will linger for the foreseeable future, as Robinson Cano’s $24 million price tag (runs EACH SEASON through 2023) and Edwin Diaz’ relapses make each player untouchable. If watching both isn’t gut-wrenching enough, looking west starting in 2021 might produce sepsis.

The result of obtaining both albatrosses on the fateful day of December 3, 2018, is hard to fathom. Despite never producing a home-grown everyday player worthy of Hall of Fame induction since joining MLB in 1962, Van Wagenen’s first bold move as GM (hired on October 29, 2018), spit in the face of intelligence.

Despite recording two division titles and World Series appearances (both losses in five games) since 1989, the Mets lack of home-grown talent is alarming. Perhaps Van Wagenen viewed the 38 previous first-round selections since 1989 and drew his conclusions. From 1989 through 2017, the Mets 38 first-round draft selections yielded just three all-stars, David Wright (7x), Matt Harvey (1), and Michael Conforto (1).

Van Wagenen traded the Mets fourth (2018 first-round pick Jarred Kelenic) and fifth (2016 first-round draft pick Justin Dunn) highest-rated prospects, Jay Bruce and Anthony Swarzak for every Mets fan worst nightmare. Van Wagenen moved on the deal and even accepted paying Cano $100 of the $120 million remaining on his 10-year, $240 million contract signed in 2014.

The stalwart of the deal was Diaz, who at age 24 appeared to be one of the top relievers in baseball. Blessed with electric stuff, Diaz average 14.9 K per 9 innings, while posting a 1.01 WHIP, 2.64 ERA, .187 BA, .566 OPS, converted 109-121 save opportunities and Seattle won 82 percent of the games in which he appeared.

While the former Seattle closer fared well in his 24 appearances (Mets won 19 with Diaz posting 1.64 ERA, 13/14 Save/Save Opp.), his last 44 appearances have been a disaster.

Edwin Diaz
Career Numbers
w/SEAw/NYM>>
Team Win Pct in App,0.8240.632
Save Pct.9077.1
HR per 90.92.4
WHIP1.021.37
ERA2.645.55
>>.545 win pct., 1.55 WHIP, 7.82 ERA in last 44 appearances

Cano meanwhile continues to struggle in his return to the Big Apple. Last season the former Yankee posted career lows in WAR (0.3), BA (.256), and OPS (.736). Now 37, there is little reason to foresee him returning to the form that saw him average 22 HR, 88 RBI, and a .848 OPS in the first 14 years of his career.

Meanwhile, Kelenic ranks 11th on MLB top prospect list, posting a .904 OPS (23 HR, 20 SB, .291 BA) across three levels in 2019. The former sixth pick in the 2018 draft, Kelenic’s rapid improvement, and five-tool ability have scouts drooling.

While the Mets lost Zack Wheeler to free agency and Noah Syndergaard to injury, watching Justin Dunn blow away his competition must sting. Dunn posted a 1.19 WHIP in 2019, striking out 158 in 131.1 innings and reached the majors in late September.

Watching Diaz melt under the New York spotlight and Cano growing older each minute, Van Wagenen’s gaffe could rank among the worst trades in team history. For a franchise known for their legendary blunders on the trade market (Nolan Ryan, Amos Otis, Tom Seaver, Jon Matlack, Ken Singleton, and Scott Kazmir, to name a few), that is saying something.

Diaz, Mets, Once Again Bow to Their Master

Diaz, Mets, Once Again Bow to Their Master

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Such is the story of the New York Mets against the Atlanta Braves. Regardless of health, epidemic, flood, natural disaster, or an act of God, the New York Mets never fail to self destruct against their nemesis. Facing a top-heavy Braves lineup incapable of reaching scoring position without assistance from MLB’s new extra-inning rule, the Mets still shake with fear when seeing Atlanta.

Marcell Ozuna joined Brian Jordan, Freddie Freeman, Adeiny Hechavarria, Nick Markakis, Greg Norton, Chris Johnson, Erik Hinske, and two others this millennium to tie or give the Braves the lead in 9th inning on the Mets home field. The culprit once again was Edwin Diaz, who continues his fall from superior closer with Seattle, to court jester with the Mets. In his last 44 appearances, the Mets are 24-20, with Diaz allowing 13 HR and blowing seven saves.

Braves to hit game-tying or go-ahead HR
Ninth inning or later, at NY Mets
DatePitcherResult
Marcell Ozuna7/25/20Edwin DiazL, 5-3 (10)
Nick Markakis8/5/2018Tyler BashlorL, 5-4
Freddie Freeman9/23/15Jeurys FamiliaL ,6-3
Chris Johnson8/21/13Greg BurkeL, 4-1 (10)
Eric Hinske6/3/2011Francisco RodriguezL, 6-3
Martin Prado5/13/2009Ken TakahashiL, 8-7 (12)
Greg Norton9/14/2008Luis AyalaL, 7-4
Wilson Betemit5/5/2006Billy WagnerW, 8-7 (14)
Keith Lockhart6/24/2002Scott StricklandL, 3-2
Brian Jordan9/23/2001Jerrod RigganL, 5-4 (11)
>>Adeiny Hechavarria hit game-tying HR in 9th and go-ahead HR in 11th on 9/29/2019

In winning the NL East the previous two seasons, Atlanta thrives on defeating the Mets, winning 25 of 35 meaningful games, including winning 12 of 14 games at Citifield (does not include six late September games when Braves already clinched NL East).

The Mets continued a trend started last season, allowing home runs in the 9th and extra-innings. Since the start of 2019, New York’s pitchers lead the majors with 41 HR allowed (Diaz leads with 16) with 11 tying or giving up the lead.

Last season the Mets inability to put away games cost them a playoff berth. Despite just as troubling as watching another game clenched from the jaws of victory, was their inability to pick up Diaz in the bottom of the ninth. Once the game reached the top of the tenth, everyone knew what was coming. Only two games into their 60-game schedule and Mets fans have little reason to believe the 2020 version is any different than 2019.

MLB Opening Day Provides COVID-19 Distraction

MLB Opening Day Provides COVID-19 Distraction

When MLB and the rest of the sports world shut down operations due to the spread of COVID-19 in March, few knew how important their season would become. After bickering between the MLBPA and MLB owners forced commissioner Rob Manfred to mandate a 60-game season, few in society thought MLB could manage the epidemic, player’s health, and what’s best for the fans.

Despite the minuscule sample size, Opening Day around MLB proved therapeutic. While it’s a small step for Aaron Judge, it’s a massive step for humankind’s mental health. New rules, faces in new places, and avoiding lengthy games entertained fans. Starting with Giancarlo Stanton’s mammoth blast off Max Scherzer on Thursday, and ending with Matt Olson’s walk-off grand slam early Saturday morning, MLB’s best was on display.

Here are some factoids from Opening Day

In Flushing, Queens NY, the Mets improved to 39-12 in their last 51 season openers (the franchise lost their first eight games on Opening Day) with a 1-0 win over the Atlanta Braves. New York won for the 22nd time in their last 25 home openers to start the season.

Yoenis Cespedes admires his seveth-inning HR against Braves reliever Chris Martin in the Mets 1-0 win over Atlanta.

The Mets recorded their ninth shutout on Opening Day, and their third 1-0 victory. Yoenis Cespedes homered in the 7th inning for the Mets only run. It was Cespedes first HR since July 20, 2018.

The Mets are 5-1 against the Braves on Opening Day (won five straight). The Mets pitching staff has recorded 35 consecutive scoreless innings against Atlanta on Opening Day. The last player to score for Atlanta was Marcus Giles, won hit a two-run HR off Tom Glavine in the first inning of the 2004 season opener in Atlanta.

Despite not earning a win, Jacob deGrom extended his consecutive inning streak without allowing a run to 28. deGrom, Seth Lugo, Justin Wilson & Edwin Diaz, combined for 15 K for the Mets, the most for an Opening Day shutout since 1901.

Shane Bieber struck out 14 Royals in six innings, becoming the first pitcher to strike out 14 on Opening Day since Randy Johnson struck out 14 White Sox for the Mariners in 1996.

Shane Bieber, Nick Wittgren, and Brad Hand combined to strike out 18 batters for Cleveland, the most for a nine-inning game on Opening Day since 1901.

Sonny Gray held the Tigers to three hits in six innings in the Reds 7-1 win over the Tigers. Gray has gone 34 consecutive starts allowing six hits or fewer, setting an MLB record.

Cavan Biggio was one of four former MLB sons in the Blue Jays win over the Rays.

Toronto defeated Tampa 6-4, while the Jays top four batters, Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Vladimir Guerrero Jr, and Travis Shaw (all sons of former MLB players, each recorded a hit and scored a run.

The Red Sox 13-2 win over the Orioles marked their most significant margin of victory on Opening Day in franchise history. 

Kyle Hendricks threw 103 pitches and going the distance in the Cubs 3-0 win over the Brewers. Hendricks was the first Cubs pitcher since Bill Bonham in 1974 to record a shutout on Opening Day.

Lance Lynn recorded six shutout innings while striking out nine Rockies in the Rangers 1-0 win. Lynn joined Jon Matlack (1980) and Charlie Hough (1989) in team history to record six shutout innings on Opening Day.

Texas won its inaugural game at Globe Life Field, marking the second time they were victorious in three home park openings (lost to Milwaukee Brewers in the first game at The Ballpark in Arlington in 1994 and defeated California at Arlington Stadium in 1972).

Max Kepler joined Ian Happ, Kaz Matsui and Dwight Evans to hit his teams first pitch of the season for a HR.

Max Kepler hit the first pitch from Lucas Giolito for a home run. He joined Ian Happ (Cubs in 2018 off Juan Urena), Kaz Matsui (Mets in 2004 off Russ Ortiz) and Dwight Evans (Red Sox in 1986 off Jack Morris) as the only players in MLB history to hit his team’s first pitch of the season for an HR.

Kepler also homered in his second AB, becoming the first Twins player since Jacque Jones (2002) and the fourth in team history (Gary Gaetti in 1982 and Brant Alyea in 1970)to homer twice on Opening Day.

Matt Olson ended Opening Day with a walk-off grand slam against the Angels. Olson joined Jim Presley (Seattle in 1986 vs. Angels) and Sixto Lezcano (Brewers in 1980 vs. Red Sox) to record a walk-off Grand Slam on Opening Day.

2020 MLB Best Bets & Remembering 1981 MLB Season

2020 MLB Best Bets & Remembering 1981 MLB Season

Baseball is finally back! Last night saw both the Yankees and Dodgers start their seasons with dominating performances. The remaining 26 teams begin their quest for the postseason today (July 24). As promised, here are my final best bets for individual player awards in each league.

Atlanta Braves rookie Cristian Pache should receive plenty of playing time after returning from his ankle injury.

NL Rookie of the Year – Cristian Pache – Braves, +5000

MLB.com’s 13th ranked prospect continues the flurry of Atlanta prospects impacting the majors in the last few seasons. With Freddie Freeman recovering from COVID and Nick Markakis opting out, Pache should make an impact after returning from his current ankle injury. Pache recorded an OPS of .800 at two minor league levels last season.

AL Rookie of the Year – Sean Murphy – Athletics, +2500

Murphy broke on the MLB scene in 2019, posting a .889 slugging percentage in 53 AB. While his above-average arm, superior footwork, and game-calling skills will help Oakland’s staff, his pension for making contact and increase power production make him invaluable.

Most experts predict the Yankees and Dodgers winning their leagues. Their dominant performances in their season openers made geniuses for a day. The number of wins in the first 60 games (since 1900) is 49, by the 1912 New York Giants. Here are the top five since 1900.

Most Wins, First 60 Games of Season
MLB, Since 1900Record (W-L)
1912NY Giants49-11
2001Seattle Mariners47-13
1939NY Yankees47-13
1907Chicago Cubs47-13
1998New York Yankees46-14
1953New York Yankees46-14

REMEMBERING THE 1981 MLB SEASON

The only season featuring such a small number of games to qualify for the postseason in MLB was 1981. That season MLB provided split seasons, each producing postseason qualification. While the first half saw teams play between 50 and 60 games, the second half saw teams play between 48 and 53 games.

On June 12, the strike stopped the season. Players and owners settled their differences on July 31, announcing the resumption of play on August 9. MLB lost 713 games during the strike (38 percent of the season). 

Instead of continuing the season, the owners decided the most equitable solution was to split the seasons in half. The division leaders for the first half clinched postseason births. They would play the four division winners of the second half in the first postseason divisional series.

Fortunately for MLB, the second half of the season produced four different division winners than the first half. If the same team won their division in both halves, the runner-up in the second half would be their opponent in the divisional round. 

PROBLEMS?

Due to rainouts, schedules, and other factors, teams did not play equal games in either half. The Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates ended up playing the fewest games of any team at 102. Meanwhile, the San Francisco Giants played the most at 111. Most teams finished with anywhere between 106 and 109 games.

BEST OVERALL RECORD?

In the National League, the teams with the best overall record in both halves (Cardinals in NL East and Reds in NL West) each failed to qualify for the postseason.

The 1981 Reds finished with the most wins in baseball, but did not qualify for postseason.

St. Louis (59-43 overall) finished 1.5 games behind Philadelphia in the first half and 1/2 game behind Montreal in the second half. In the NL West, Cincinnati (66-42) finished 1/2 behind Los Angeles in the first half and 1.5 behind Houston in the second half.

In the American League, the Royals (AL West) and Yankees (AL East) each finished with the fourth-best overall record in their division. However, New York (AL East) finished two games ahead of Baltimore in the first half, while Kansas City (AL West) finished a game ahead of Oakland in the second half.

FIRST DIVISION SERIES

Despite the incredible lack of ingenuity, the owners provided a preview of future postseasons with the divisional series. By 1994, MLB expanded the postseason, adding the additional round.

DEJA VU?

Perhaps the most incredible connection to the 1981 MLB season can be made with who advances to the World Series. The Dodgers defeated the Yankees in six games, winning their first World Series since 1965. Could history repeat itself with both teams advancing as most experts predict?