MLB 2017: Last Week In Baseball July 16-22

(originally written 7/22/17)

A lot went down as the 2017 MLB Trade Deadline approached, including: three significant trades, a huge game from a guy who had all but been traded already, a humbling return for a fallen star, two busted-up faces, more wild antics from a weird outfielder, and a fantastic gem spun by a grieving ace. Read on:

 

 

 

  • The week opened with Oakland packaging relievers Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson to a Washington team that desperately needs late-inning help. Both men opened strong for the Nats, with Doolittle converting both save ops—though not without a lil' drama—and Madson tallying three scoreless innings with one walk. Meanwhile, two of Oakland's four losses during the week? Blown leads by their redone 'pen.

 

  • Those two losses weren't the only pain Oakland experienced this week; 1B Ryon Healy was victim to a bad-hop grounder courtesy of New York Met Lucas Duda 7/21-—Healy took a vicious shot off the left side of the face and left the game, clearly feeling it. The next day, rookie Colin Moran of division rival Houston one-upped Healy by fouling a ball off his own face. Unable to stand without support, Moran—who had just been recalled to the majors and hit his first HR the day before—immediately hit the DL with a facial fracture.

 

  • More bad Astros news: star SS Carlos Correa went down with a thumb injury 7/17; it occured during a swing, of all things. Correa is on the DL with a torn ligament, and won't return until near season's end. However, on the plus side, P Dallas Keuchel has begun a rehab assignment.

 

  • Paul DeJong continues to swing a hot bat for the Cardinals, who went 3-4 last week. DeJong is slugging .719 since Independence Day, homering five times (including twice last week; he added another blast 7/23 as this column was going to press.)

 

  • However, St. Louis lost to the Mets 7/20 when RP Trevor Rosenthal simply failed to cover 1B on a routine Jose Reyes grounder to first (quite a happening week for routine Mets grounders to first base, wouldn't you say?)—prompting GM John Mozeliak to publicly issue a challenge of sorts to his sub-.500 team the next day.

 

  • The Dodgers run of invincibility finally ended 7/20 with consecutive losses to visiting Atlanta; both the team and SP Alex Wood had won 11 in a row. LA  recovered with a 7/22 win behind Rich Hill, who's now 7-4 this season.

 

  • The Braves surprising flirtation with .500 (they were briefly there as the week opened) did nothing to dissuade them from trading veteran P Jaime Garcia and possibly others. Though a deal with the Twins was all but finalized during the week, Garcia started for Atlanta against the Dodgers 7/21 and responded with the best two-way game of his career—7 innings of three-run ball, coupled with a grand slam off the dominant Wood!

 

  • That blast, along with one hit by Freddie Freeman a few batters prior, were the first two homers Wood had surrendered to a lefty all year. He's now 11-1, 2.17...still not too shabby.

 

  • The Yankees and White Sox also completed a blockbuster trade 7/18—3B Todd Frazier, RP David Robertson and RP Tommy Kahnle headed east, with the Sox receiving what's left of Tyler Clippard and three prospects. The trade solved New York's most pressing needs: first base (where incumbent 3B Chase Headley has shifted) and the bullpen, whose ERA had increased a full run during the Yankees' recent backslide.

 

  • Of course, subtracting Clippard—who blew a lead in his first Chicago outing but is still expected to inherit Robertson's closing duties—will help as much as any addition.

 

  • In more Yankee news, CC Sabathia returned from the DL and won twice this week; his first effort help extend Boston's scoreless streak to 22 innings. It grew to 23 before Mookie Betts homered in Game 2 of their 7/16 doubleheader.

 

  • Also traded on 7/18: outfielder J.D. Martinez, from Detroit to Arizona. The very next day, Martinez was knocked out of action by an errant Tim Adleman (Reds) pitch, but fortunately the newest Diamondback broke no bones. Ironically, Frazier suffered the same fate on the same day at the hands of Minnesota's Jose Berrios—but also avoided injury.  Is drilling traded players MLB's new introductory ritual? And we thought fraternities were harsh on newcomers.

  • In more White Sox news, SP Derek Holland joined Terry Mulholland, Orlando Hernandez and others when he threw his glove—containing stuck baseball—to first base for the out 7/16; video to come here on TSR. (Unfortunately, Chicago still closed the week on an eight-game losing streak.)

 

  • David Peralta, A.J. Pollock, and Jake Lamb opened Arizona's 7/21 game with homers—off Washington's Max Scherzer, no less!

 

  • What a taxing week for the NL West cellar-dwelling Padres and Giants. On 7/21, a night game, the two teams went 12 innings before San Diego prevailed 12-9. About 12 hours later they suited up again...for another 12-inning clash (this one went to the Giants). Both teams made roster moves to aid their beleagured bullpens afterward.

  • Something we saw a lot of toward the end of those 12-inning marathons—empty seats, an unfamiliar sight at AT&T Park this decade. In fact, the Giants had sold out 530 straight home games dating back to 2010. But on 7/17, they fell a couple grand short of capacity. That's a testament to their fans—given just how hard it's been to watch the '17 Giants, that streak should have ended at least a month sooner.

 

  • The league-worst Phillies completed a 4-2 week, and in one of the two losses they turned a 6-0 deficit into an 8-8 tie before losing late. Odubel Herrera continues to wow...and confuse. Herrera's week included: 10 hits in 24 at-bats (.417) including a four-hit game, a bat flip to the wrong dugout after a BB, an emphatic bat flip after a double at least 15 feet short of the fence, and a fall during a swing.

 

  • Pirates starter Chad Kuhl lit up two different opponents two different ways last week. On 7/17, he (obviously unintentionally) crunched Brewers C Stephen Vogt at home plate, forcing him from the game with neck and knee pain; Vogt would be disabled with a sprained MCL. Then on 7/22, he angered Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez with a retaliatory pitch (that missed), emptying both dugouts as usual. Andrew McCutchen had just taken a German Marquez fastball to the back—not the first time he'd been drilled by Colorado this year.

 

  • Mercifully, the Dodgers finally cut RP Sergio Romo, a move probably a month overdue. Romo landed with the Rays.

 

  • While one ex-Giant went from the NL West to the AL East (Romo), another leaves the AL East for the NL West...hopefully. Pablo Sandoval finalized his minor league deal with San Francisco and reported to San Jose (A). Batting 3rd at DH, he went 1-for-4 with an RBI,

 

  • Kansas City closed the week with: two walk-off wins, a 16-4 rout, and a five-homer explosion against the White Sox. They closed the week at 49-47, just 1.5 games behind first-place Cleveland.

 

  • Cubs ace Jon Lester arguably threw the week's top gem 7/22. Pitching with a heavy heart following the recent passing of a close uncle, Lester fired eight innings against the Cardinals—retiring the first 17 in order. Counterpart Adam Wainwright held the Cubs' lineup in check for 7.2 innings, but Chicago prevailed just in time to secure Lester's 7th win. 

 

  • Minnesota demoted DH Kennys Vargas to AAA 7/18. Didn't see that coming. at least not now—while his overall numbers aren't much, Vargas had been better lately. However, the Twins decided to use his roster spot on Bartolo Colon, who later that day threw four good innings at the Yankees before a total collapse. If he doesn't right himself quick, Big Sexy is gonna be Big Exy...as in Ex-Major Leaguer.

 

  • Look out, American League—Andy's got his groove back. That is, Angels SS Andrelton Simmons. He smoked 17 homers way back in 2013, his first full season. Then he combined for 15 over the next three. On 7/22, his 10th longball of 2017 helped the Angels power past the Red Sox.

 

  • The Mets' Yoenis Cespedes played at least one game with blue hair this week, while St. Louis' Carlos Martinez played at least one game with green hair this week. I feel you should be aware of things like this. This isn't the MLB you grew up with.

 

  • Every year, I stumble upon a guy i think is a rookie or, at worst, a sophomore, only to find out the guy has been around forever, probably right under my damn nose. Bobby Wilson, the journeyman catcher, was last year's example. This year's is another catcher, Eric Fryer, who was D4A'd by the Cardinals 7/21. Turns out this guy has played in the majors each of the past seven years (not much, but still.)

 

 

See you after the deadline!