MLB PITCH: 7/26/21
(originally written 7/26/21)
MLB PITCH = (PREDICTIONS, INFO, TRANSACTIONS, COMMENTARY, HIGHLIGHTS)
(This will cover MLB news for 29 of 30 clubs; the Giants' past week will receive its own article.)
This time of year, baseball chatter should be focused on the upcoming Trade Deadline and those who might be moved leading up to it. While I was informed about the first big name to change addresses (All-Star 2B Adam Frazier, from PIT to SD) about 702 times throughout Sunday afternoon/evening—more on that later—deadline hype took a backseat to a pair of troubling stories.
⦁ The legal issues surrounding Dodgers SP Trevor Bauer completed Week 4 and didn't seem to get much closer to any sort of resolution; a 7/23 hearing was rescheduled for August and it's looking more and more like Bauer, who is on extended administrative leave, won't return to the mound in 2021.
(Despite my Giants allegiance, I am not sitting here celebrating Bauer's prolonged absence from the Dodgers rotation because it's coming at the expense of a beaten woman. But I'm certainly not upset he's gone, either.)
Athletics SP Chris Bassitt is part of a five-way tie for the American League lead in wins (10).
⦁ Meanwhile, 2B Starlin Castro of the Nationals saw his own administrative leave extended through 7/29 as charges of domestic violence are investigated. Never one to mince words, Nats GM Mike Rizzo—in a tone suggesting he knew some facts—doubted Castro would return to the team in 2021. The 31-year-old (that's IT?) is a free agent this winter, so this likely closes the book on his Washington career if not his MLB career.
Seriously, fellas: I know things get heated sometimes. I've been there firsthand. But you gotta keep your hands to yourselves.
⦁ Also grabbing headlines: once this season ends, take Cleveland's nickname, cross out the "In" and replace it with "Guar". The franchise could have monumentally fouled this move up, but "Cleveland Guardians" is not cheesy, ridiculous, ill-conceived or overdone. They'll even maintain their position alphabetically between the Giants and Marlins!
I see them being referred to as "The Guard" and/or "The Shields" in future TSR writings.
⦁ Orioles SP Matt Harvey, still in Baltimore's rotation only because they lack a better option, fired his second straight impressive start 7/24. The Dark Knight allowed one hit and no runs in six innings to beat Washington 7/24. His ERA dropped (yes, dropped) to 6.65.
⦁ It wouldn't be 2021 without name players visiting the IL. Reds OF Nick Castellanos (wrist) Royals SP Danny Duffy (flexor) and Dodgers OF Mookie Betts (hip) will hopefully return sooner rather than later. Nationals SP Max Scherzer was scratched from his 7/24 start (triceps), but he's expected to be back fairly quickly.
⦁ The Texas Rangers went 0-7 during the week, extending their losing streak to 12 games. Supposedly, that's their longest skid since 1982, which is a bit hard to believe given this franchise's extensive brushes with mediocrity through the years. The Royals (5-0) were the only other club to win or lose all their games last week.
⦁ It was announced 7/20 that Tigers SP Spencer Turnbull—out since early June with a strained forearm—will undergo UCL surgery. With luck, he could return in late 2022.
⦁ Player Of The Week honors went to Boston UT Kike Hernandez (.400 with three homers last week) and his former teammate, Dodgers UT Chris Taylor (.400 with five homers last week, much of it vs. my Giants, the bastard). Both men slugged 1.000 and flashed the leather as well.
⦁ On 7/20, Cardinals CL Alex Reyes was dismantled by the Cubs, snapping his record-setting streak of 24 save conversions to open his career.
⦁ In 2017, Houston OF George Springer and Dodgers SP Hyun-Jin Ryu squared off in a tenacious seven-game World Series. In 2021, Springer did this in support of Ryu, now his teammate with the Blue Jays. Sorry, Brandon Nimmo.
⦁ I wasn't going to give this any attention at first, but I'll just tell you that DH/C Yermin Mercedes, the once-hot rookie of the White Sox who's since been demoted to AAA, quit baseball for about a day through Instagram. This guy seemed destined to appear in the All-Star Game two months ago. Now he'll be lucky to appear in 2021 Topps Update.
⦁ Houston SP Zack Greinke moved into a tie for the AL lead with his 10th win, beating Texas 7/25 . It was victory #218 of his career, second among active pitchers to injured teammate Justin Verlander.
No recent word on Verlander's rehab, but fellow UCL patient Chris Sale of Boston made a very impressive return to the mound 7/20, firing 3.2 no-hit innings and whiffing six for Portland (AA). Sale's heater reached the high 90's, which I'm sure the rest of the AL East is just thrilled to hear.
Royals C Salvador Perez mashed a 454-foot home run 7/25, helping KC extend their win streak to five games. And I said he wasn't a serious masher!
⦁ On 7/25, Yankees SP Domingo German no-hit the Red Sox for seven innings, was pulled after a leadoff single to OF Alex Verdugo in the B8th, and watched Boston light up reliever Jonathan Loaisiga for five runs and the comeback win...ouch.
⦁ Watch out, AL Central: White Sox outfielders Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert—both feared out for the year after pec and hip injuries, respectively—are nearing returns. Jimenez is expected to be activated any day, while Robert's rehab assignment with Winston-Salem (A) is progressing well.
⦁ The week ended with news that Twins OF Byron Buxton, who's extremely gifted but has seven (oft-lengthy) IL stints in seven seasons and owns a career .247 average with 61 home runs, rejected an $80M extension from Minnesota despite supposedly being happy there. Even Matt Harrington didn't understand this move.
⦁ Though he lost to Seattle 7/20, Colorado SP German Marquez completed six innings yet again. Since being KO'd in the B1st by my Giants 5/1, Marquez has gone at least six innings in 12 of 13 starts. The 2021 All-Star leads the league with three CG (though only one went nine innings).
⦁ Speaking of CG...
COMPLETE GAME WATCH
⦁ On 7/25, Phillies ace Aaron Nola fired 116 pitches over 8.2 brilliant innings before being driven from the game by an Austin Riley homer; Nola was a strike away from the shutout. Angels lefty Patrick Sandoval topped that effort 7/24, going 8.1 HITLESS innings at Minnesota before a Brent Rooker double ended his bid; Sandoval was pulled after 8.2 innings and 108 pitches.
Yankees SP Gerrit Cole was emphatically denied a third straight CG by the Red Sox, who extracted 104 grueling pitches from Cole in just five innings. But Twins ace Jose Berrios was credited with the rare CG loss in the nightcap of a 7/19 double-dip with the White Sox; it ended on Gavin Sheets' three-run walk-off homer in the B7th.
MAJOR LEAGUE LEADERS THRU 7/25
HOME RUNS: Shohei Ohtani, LAA (35)
AVERAGE: Michael Brantley, HOU (.331)
RBI: Rafael Devers, BOS (80)
STEALS: Whit Merrifield, KC (25)
WINS: Kyle Hendricks, CHC/Julio Urias, LAD (12)
ERA: Lance Lynn, CHW (1.91)
STRIKEOUTS: Gerrit Cole, NYY (166)
SAVES: Mark Melancon, SD (30)
After relieving all season, P David Price entered the Dodgers rotation in the wake of SP Trevor Bauer's troubles. Price set season highs with 5.2 innings and 74 pitches 7/23 vs. Colorado, but received no decision.