MLB 2020: Last Week In Baseball August 3-9

(originally written 8/10/20)

  • Well, well, well. The Astros got in their second brawl of 2020. In the wake of their sign-stealing scandal, early predictions anticipated benches clearing just about every series, so that's really no surprise.

  • What IS surprising is that in this brawl, versus the Oakland A's 8/9, the Astros were the instigator. A's OF Ramon Laureano had just been drilled yet again and was clearly displeased about it. Former MLB IF and current Astros coach Alex Cintron was moved by some entity to bitch at Laureano, who understandably took offense. Just like that, it was on.

  • Perhaps Houston, about to lose for the fifth straight time, just needed to fight somebody. The streaking Athletics (12-4) are threatening to run away and hide in the AL West, a division many felt the defending AL Champion Astros still laid claim to despite their off-season turmoil. Word is, Houston ace Justin Verlander's (forearm) injury recovery isn't progressing all that quickly, either. (Plus, OF George Springer missed much of the week with a wrist injury.)

  • With the exception of the Cubs' Kyle Hendricks, during MLB's opening week of 2020 hooks were quick all over baseball, many at less than five innings even for effective starters such as the Giants' Johnny Cueto. As the season has progressed and managers have realized many of their middle relievers shouldn't even be in the majors, more starters are being "stretched out" past five innings. You know, like it's always been throughout baseball's history before analytics took over.

  • Last week, leaving the starters in proved costly to the Yankees and near-costly to the Giants. On 8/8 Cueto, cruising along with a no-hitter thru five at the Dodgers, "allowed a leadoff triple" to Kike Hernandez which was lost in the lights by LF Hunter Pence. Two outs, two walks and a run later, SF manager Gabe Kapler let Cueto face one more Dodger—nemesis Justin Turner, who promptly ripped a three-run jack. However, the Dodgers still trailed after the four-run rally and ultimately lost.

  • On 8/8, Pirates OF Gregory Polanco and 1B Phillip Evans collided, and it was not pretty at all. Both ranged far from their positions in pursuit of a Miguel Cabrera (Tigers) foul pop. Polanco made the play, but Evans ran full-speed face-first into Polanco's raised elbow, briefly knocking himself out. He's done for the year. (As bad as it was, Pirates fans will tell you this collision did not quite rival the Jacob Brumfield/Dave Clark smash of 1995.)

  • On 8/9, Yankee lefty James "Big Maple" Paxton pitched into the 7th at Tampa Bay; in that 7th, he was tagged for two home runs, blowing his 3-0 lead to a Rays team that eventually plated the winning run. Will Paxton be allowed past the 6th inning again this season? I wouldn't bet on it, not unless New York is up by six or more. (In that same game, Rays SP Charlie Morton was KO'd in the 3rd by injury.)

Philip Evans ends his 2020 season batting .359 with one home run in 11 games. 

  • New Arizona Diamondbacks lefty Madison Bumgarner continues to, well, stink. He entered his 8/9 start at San Diego with a 7.04 ERA and left with a 9.35 mark after allowing four home runs in two innings; MadBum departed with a back injury and is currently on the injured list. As much as it hurts me to disparage such a great Giant, he is also atop the "Free Agent Bust Of The Year" list.

  • Jo Adell, the Angels' highly-touted—so much so that Topps used his card as a prototype for its newly-shared 2021 design—outfield prospect, debuted last week. However, in four games Adell is just 2-for-15 with nine K, plus on 8/9 he allowed a fly ball from Texas's Nick Solak to squirt out of his mitt and over the fence for what's been scored (for the time being) as a four-base error.

  • By cracking a two-run homer off Seattle's Justin Dunn 8/4, Adell's teammate Albert Pujols moved within one longball of tying Willie Mays for 5th on the all-time list. The 40-year-old Pujols, now with 659 homers, trails Mays (660) Alex Rodriguez (696) Babe Ruth (714) Hank Aaron (755) and Barry Bonds (762).

  • Pujols' old team, St. Louis, continues to idle in the wake of continued positive COVID-19 tests among its ranks. They remain stuck at 2-3 on the season and will not play until late this week at the soonest.

  • Meanwhile, Miami returned to action and ran its record to 9-1 before dropping two straight to the Mets to close the week. 1B/DH Jesus Aguilar is slugging .694 in 10 games!

  • Padres SS Fernando Tatis, Jr. is a very good ballplayer; he closed the week having homered in four straight games and is at .333, 8, 18 in 16 games so far this season.

  • Yankees OF/DH Giancarlo Stanton is injured. Again. I'm not sad; he shouldn't even be on the Yankees in the first place. You'll never convince me something shady wasn't up between Derek Jeter and his old Bronx pals.

  • The 8/9 Orioles-Nationals game was suspended in the 6th inning. Grounds crew fail. Much mud. Very puddles.
    Greg Bird was summoned back to MLB last weekend. But on 8/4, before appearing in a game, he was placed on the IL (calf). Bird could be a nice man, but what is that, 10 IL appearances for him to date? What did he do this time, brake too hard?

WELCOME BACK TO THE MAJORS

 

RP Caleb Thielbar, out of MLB since 2015, returned to the Twins roster. He appeared in two games last week. Also, much to everyone's surprise, the Yankees called up 40-year-old catcher Erik Kratz in the wake of fellow C Chris Iannetta's retirement.


OPTING OUT


A day after Mets OF Yoenis Cespedes controversially opted out of the remainder of the 2020 season, Brewers SP Shelby Miller (with the team on a minors contract) did the same 8/4, though at least he did not disappear out-of-contact from the team before doing so.

 
(As I write this, news broke that Mets SP Marcus Stroman, on the IL with a calf injury, has also decided to opt out of 2020. Will we see more players "opting out" as their teams fall from contention? I HOPE not, but I expect as much.)

Thielbar.jpg

Caleb Thielbar was 5-3, 2.74 in 109 games for the Twins 2013-15 before his career was sidetracked.