BY: Zane Miller
PHOTO Credit: David JaBlonski/WHIO-TV
When the Reds brought in current manager Jim Riggleman, who was the bench coach for the team at the beginning of the season, to replace former manager Bryan Price back on Apr. 19, the outlook for the rest of the season was not very positive.
Even despite the change, the team continued to struggle throughout the rest of April and the month of May and by early June the team was projected to lose over 100 games and possibly finish with the worst record in franchise history. The team even started out the season with a 3-18 record, the worst start for the franchise since the 1931 season.
However, in the late part of June going into early July, the team has begun to turn things around after getting a seven game winning streak and winning 16 of their last 22 games at one point during the season.
How did this happen? I feel that Riggleman played a role in the recent success of the team, though not immediately. The slump in May could be mostly attributed to the difficulties that are always involved with a new manager, but once the team began to buy into Riggleman as a manager, the chemistry began to click as well. Riggleman has also done an excellent job of revamping the bullpen, which was a weak spot at the beginning of the year, by bringing up new pitchers such as Jared Hughes and David Hernandez and putting them in roles where they can succeed.
Another part of Riggleman’s success as interim manager is that he has had experience with managing before. Riggleman managed the San Diego Padres from 1992 to 1994, the Cubs from 1995 to 1999, the Seattle Mariners in 2008 as well as the Washington Nationals from 2009 to 2011. While it had been a while, he was able to get back into rhythm after a tough start and put the Reds on pace for a strong second half of the season.
By: Jeffrey Romeu
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images
Let’s face it, Marlins fans have it tough this year and for many years to come. Currently, the Marlins have a record of 37 – 55, are in last place in their division, hold the third worst record in Major League Baseball (MLB), and are suffering the growing pains of another rebuilding. Even though the CEO of the Marlins and part-owner Derek Jeter doesn’t want to admit it, after trading away the likes of Stanton, Ozuna, Gordon, and Yelich, the Marlins are in full tank mode hunting for the number one pick in the 2019 MLB Amateur Draft. It’s easy to see why attendance for the Marlins, which has ever been high to start with, is currently breaking record lows. However, games like yesterday against the Nationals allow Marlins fans to enjoy the thrill of victory even if it is leading to the Marlins 15th consecutive year without a playoff berth.
The Marlins knocked 22 hits along with another terrific day by JT Realmuto who went 5 for 5 and was selected to his first MLB All-Star Game later that day. Even though statistical analysis comparing his numbers to Wilson Contreras proves he should have been the starting catcher for the National League, fans should still be excited that JT will finally get to showcase his talents on a big stage. Along with JT, there is rookie Brian Anderson who has consistently proven himself as being the future of the franchise and a viable contender for National League Rookie of the Year. Finally, there is Kyle Barraclough, who was clearly snubbed for an All-Star Game selection as he has posted an impressive 1.37 ERA in 41 appearances and punched out 43 batters in the process. While many of these player’s futures in the Marlins is currently in question, fans should take pride in knowing that through every frustrating rebuild in the history of the team, there has always been a group of young players who attempt to bring legitimacy to the Marlins brand.
Of course, the Marlins begin a 3-game series now with the powerful Brewers team, likely struggle against them, and even welcome back Yelich in the process, but through the many defeats fans will no doubt have to face this year, there will always be games like yesterday where the Marlins hit 22 hits and prove that the one day the teal may once again be for real!
By: Noah Wright
AP Photo/John Minchillo
When you think who’s going to win NL MVP this season, you’ll probably think Nolan Arenado, Freddie Freeman, or Joey Votto. While each have had decent seasons, none really have done the job Reds’ third baseman Eugenio Suarez has done this season. Suarez’s season could put him in contention to win The NL MVP, making him a sleeper for the award.
Suarez originally came to The Reds when The Reds sent starter Alfredo Simon to The Detroit Tigers for Suarez, and a minor league pitcher, Jonathan Crawford in the 2014-2015 off-season. Suarez has always been a producer in The Reds’ line-up. In his first season, Suarez batted a good .280/.315/.446 with 13 homers, and 48 RBI’s in 398 PA’s as a shortstop. In his second season, Suarez took a slight step backwards, as he batted .248/.317/.411 with 21 home runs and 70 RBI’s in 627 PA’s. In his second season, Suarez was moved to the hot corner, and did just fine there with 1 DRS, .4 defensive WAR, and a -1.6 UZR. However, Suarez’s breakout would come in his 3rd year with The Reds. Last season, Suarez hit .260/.367/.461, with the OBP and slugging % being career highs. Plus, he also stepped up his defense, with 5 DRS, .8 defensive WAR, and 4.4 UZR. While Suarez had a very nice season in 2017, nothing he’s done compares to his 2018 season so far.
To give a representation on how good Suarez’s season has been so far, his slugging % of .580 is higher than that of Aaron Judge’s, Manny Machado’s, and Nelson Cruz’s. He is also leading The NL with a .982 OPS. Suarez’s .316 average is 6th in The NL. His RBI total of 66 leads The NL as well. In WAR (according to Fangraphs), Suarez has a 3.1 WAR. That sits right behind Freddie Freeman with a 3.4 WAR, and Arenado with a 3.5 WAR. In sabermetrics, Suarez has a 159 wRC+, which is higher than Joey Votto’s 140 wRC+, and Paul Goldschmidt's 146 wRC+. Another sabermetric Suarez excels in is OPS+, which he leads the league in with 161. Suarez also barrels up the ball a good amount of times, as he has a 50.9 hard hit%. On the defensive side, he’s held his own. In comparison, Nolan Arenado has -1 DRS, 4 UZR, and 0 defensive WAR. This season, Suarez has -1 DRS, -2.9 UZR, and 0 defensive WAR.
Reds’ third baseman Eugenio Suarez has done more than enough than prove that he deserves some MVP votes. He’s currently batting better than stars like Freddie Freeman, and Joey Votto. If Suarez continues to produce at the rate he has so far this season, Suarez could be a sleeper for The NL MVP award.
By: Noah Wright
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, file
MLB announced the all-star rosters for the 2018 all-star game earlier today, and after the all-star award show, some fans had some different thoughts on the roster. Let's look at some of the starters, some of the reserves, and the players that we think were snubbed from the 2018 All Star rosters.
For The NL, it was first announced that the starting outfield would consist of Matt Kemp, Nick Markakis, and Bryce Harper. For some fans (including myself), we think Harper should not start. His overall batting line of .219/.371/.475 is somewhat lackluster for Bryce Harper. And while average isn’t everything, someone like David Peralta, or Brandon Nimmo (who not only have better averages, but beter OPS) should have gotten an all-star nod, but instead Harper will be starting in The NL line-up, lest injury occurs. The infield was then announced to be Willson Contreras, Freddie Freeman, Javier Baez, Nolan Arenado, and Brandon Crawford. The infield was fairly agreeable on, except for Contreras, and maybe Baez getting the starting nods for catcher. While Contreras is batting a decent .287/.371/.469 with 7 homers and 34 RBI’s, there were a few other catchers that should have gotten the start over Contreras. The biggest example being J.T. Realmuto, who’s having an amazing season.
On The AL side, the outfield was announced to be Mookie Betts, Aaron Judge, and Mike Trout. I do not think any fan would disagree that much with the 3 starting OF’s. The infield is also stacked. Behind the plate will be Rays’ Wilson Ramos. He’s followed by Jose Abreu, Jose Altuve, Jose Ramirez, and Manny Machado to fill out the rest of the infield. First base could cause some fans to disagree. While Abreu has always been a very productive batter, Abreu is having his worst season in the majors, as he’s batting just .259/.316/.450 with 12 homers and 50 RBI’s. Another position that can cause some arguments is shortstop. Though Manny Machado is having an amazing season, the best of his career, a good argument can be made that Francisco Lindor should have gotten the nod over Machado.
The NL had a good amount of reserves that could have been starters. Buster Posey and J.T. Realmuto make up the catching duo in the reserves. At first, Joey Votto, and Paul Goldschmidt back-up Freddie Freeman. The middle infield reserves will be Scooter Gennett, Ozzie Albies, and Trevor Story. In the outfield, Charlie Blackmon is joined by 2 Brewers, Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich. Second base was really up for grabs until voting ended. Each second basemen in the running had a good chance of starting, and had number to back it up too. However, it was Baez who ran away with the starting spot.
The AL further stacked their team with their reserves. At catcher, Royals’ Salvador Perez makes up the only catcher in reserve. The infield corners will be backed up by Mitch Moreland, and Alex Bregman. The middle infield reserves are 2 young and talented players in the form of Gleyber Torres, and Francisco Lindor. In the outfield, Michael Brantley, Shin Soo Choo, Mitch Haniger, and George Springer get all star nods. Nelson Cruz was also the only reserves DH.
For The NL, pitching is headlined by ace starters Max Scherzer, Jacob DeGrom, Aaron Nola, Miles Mikolas, Mike Foltynewicz, Jon Lester, and Patrick Corbin. The bullpen will be strong too, with relief pitcher Brad Hand, Sean Doolittle, Felipe Vazquez (formerly Rivero), Kenley Jansen, and strikeout artist Josh Hader.
The AL also has a strong pitching staff. Leading the way will be former Cy Young winners Justin Verlander, and Corey Kluber. They’ll be joined by Trevor Bauer, Gerrit Cole, Chris Sale, Luis Severino, Jose Berrios, and J.A. Happ. The bullpen pieces that went to The All Star Game will be hard throwing Aroldis Chapman, with rival closer Craig Kimbrel also making the team. Backing them will be Blake Treinen, Joe Jimenez, and Edwin Diaz.
Every year, there are always a handful of snubs. This season is no different. I won’t count any final vote players, as they still have a chance. However, I’d like to start with The NL. Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera has had a great season. He currently has a .280 average, and his .333 OBP, and .470 slugging % are both decent enough to make The ASG. Another NL snub is Cubs’ closer Brandon Morrow. While Morrow had seen a few days on The DL, he is having a terrific season. Overall, he has a 1.35 ERA, 2.71 FIP, and 1.088 WHIP.
The AL also had their fair share of snubs. The first I want to mention is Rays’ starter Blake Snell. How snell didn’t make The ASG is beyond me. Snell currently holds a league low 2.09 ERA, along with a decent 3.35 FIP, and 1.026 WHIP. He also has a 10.2 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9, both are career bests. Tigers’ Nick Castellanos has also been batting well (I had previously written an article on him recently, you can click ‘here’ to check it out), and missed The ASG.
For some of the guys that didn’t get into The ASG, there’s always the final vote, when a few of the players that may have just missed getting into The ASG, or deserve it get a last chance. For The NL, Jesus Aguilar, Matt Carpenter, Max Muncy, Trea Turner, and Brandon Belt are on the final NL ballot. For The AL, Andrew Benintendi, Eddie Rosario, Jean Segura, Andrelton Simmons, and Giancarlo Stanton make up the final AL ballot.
By: Dawson Wright
Ben Margot, Associated Press
This morning, the Giants traded right-handed reliever Cory Gearrin, outfielder Austin Jackson, and pitching prospect Jason Bahr to the Texas Rangers in exchange for a PTBNL or cash.
This deal for the Rangers is basically them buying Jason Bahr (who isn’t that much of a prospect anyways), and taking the contracts from the Giants most struggling veterans.
For the Giants, this move does open up quite a few options. As it was very apparent during the off-season, the Giants will do whatever they can to make a contending team, while trying to avoid the luxury tax. And with this move, they knock out two birds with one stone.
With the cap space that the Giants just cleared, they now have a couple million dollars to work with in case they want to add a piece at the trade deadline, and this makes that deal less difficult.
The Giants also got rid of 2 of their worst players. Austin Jackson was the worst player by fWAR on the Giants with a -0.8. And Cory Gearrin was the worst pitcher as he had a -0.3.
With the roster spots gone, the Giants have added RHP Ray Black and OF Steven Duggar. Steven Duggar has had a decent season in the minors so far, and Ray Black has been amazing for the River Cats.
Even with all of the veterans on the team, the Giants are getting younger, and a little bit better with this move.
By: Noah Wright
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
Now that The Tigers are in a full rebuild mode, no player is really safe on their roster. This includes slugging corner player Nicholas Castellanos. Castellanos has been a tremendous force in The Tigers line-up this season, and was last season too. With his young age (26), and bat, Castellanos has been seen in Tigers trade talks often. But what exactly would he be worth to a team, and what teams would be interested?
Let’s first look at Castellanos’ value. Castellanos carries a big stick with him. At the time of writing this, the 26 year old is batting a tremendous .301/.352/.518 in 229 PA’s, all of which are career highs, to go along with 15 homers and 55 RBI’s. His 134 wRC+ is also a career high. Castellanos also makes good contact, with a 48.2% hard hit rate, and a .358 BABIP. While his value is greatly supported by his bat, it’s his glove that really brings it down some. This season, The Tigers moved Castellanos from third base to right field. However, the transition hasn’t improved his defense. In RF, the slugger has -11 DRS, -5.2 UZR, and is worth -1.4 WAR defensively. Plus, his arm isn’t great either, with -2 outfield arm runs above average. The reason for this move to RF is because his 3B defense isn’t good either. In his career, Castellanos is worth -64 DRS in 4401 innings at the hot corner. He’s also prone to errors at third as well. Every season he played 120+ games at third, he mad at least a dozen errors. With his fielding ability being lack luster to say the least, fans have been wanting to see how he can handle first base. Another thing that affects his value is his contract. 2019 is the last season of control for Castellanos before he hits free agency. A team will likely not be willing to shell out a handful of top 100 prospects for Castellanos for a year and a half of his production.
One team I could see being interested in his service is The Phillies. The Phillies haven’t gotten great production from their third baseman. Maikel Franco (their main 3B), along with Scott Kingery and J.P. Crawford each have seen time at the hot corner, however none have done all that great with their bats this season. With Castellano’s ability to play RF (sorta), this gives him some flexibility in the outfield. The plan to platoon Nick Williams and Aaron Altherr in RF hasn’t been so smooth. Neither have done great with their bats, or gloves this season. With a deep enough farm system, The Phillies have the pieces to make a trade for Castellanos. The Phillies current division rival, The Braves, could also be a landing spot for Nicholas. The Braves have gotten decent production out of Johan Camargo this season, as he’s batting .256/.355/.445 in 245 PA’s this season, however, The Braves could be ones to upgrade their 3B situation. The Braves also have one of the best prospect systems in the game right now, so they should not have any trouble acquiring someone of Castellanos’ caliber. Another East team I could see being involved in trade talks for Castellanos is The Yankees. The Yankees have been rumored to be looking at Mike Moustakas as a potential solution for first base, since they’ve gotten lack luster production from Greg Bird, and Neil Walker (the main duo that’s gotten time at 1B), and I think the same can be said here. With some fans wanting to see how Nick handles first, The Yankees could be a team that would be interested in looking at what Castellanos can do. The Yankees also have a farm system like The Phillies and Braves, and should not have trouble dealing off any prospects to acquire Castellanos. The Diamondbacks are a team that could also be in the market for some third base help. Current 3B Jake Lamb is only batting .244/.337/.393 in 196 PA’s, far from his usual power and OBP production. With Lamb currently having a below average season, The D-Backs are candidates for a 3B upgrade. However, they do not have a farm system like previously mentioned teams, which could pose as a challenge for The D-Backs in acquiring Castellanos, or a 3B upgrade. The last team I could see that would show interest in Castellanos is The Rockies. The Rockies currently first base situation isn’t pretty. Ian Desmond hasn’t performed with the bat like The Rockies expected him to. So far, Desmond is batting a weak .219/.293/.430 with 17 homers in 341 PA’s. While they do have young options in a player like Ryan McMahon, The Rockies could use a proven upgrade at first. The Rockies also have a good farm system, which is a factor that will likely play in The Tigers decision in a trade.
With The Tigers entering a rebuild, no player on their roster is 100% safe. This includes 26 year old corner field player, Nick Castellanos. Castellanos can provide a decent bat for the teams that could look into him as a trade target. While he may not provide much with the glove, he is still young, and his bat makes up for the lack of fielding prowess.
By: Ethan Cushman
Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
The Mets are in a weird spot. Not long ago they were in the world series with one of the best young rotations in baseball a bright future looked inevitable. In the next year they had a step back losing in the wild card game to the Giants and Madison Bumgarner. But still and especially With the Yankees “struggling” by their standards it felt like it was time for the Mets to take over New York. But a downfall occurred due to many mismanagement that have lead to injuries and the lack of pieces put around these starters. Now they have one of the worst record in the National League, a average at the very best farm system and worst of all a lack of young talent on the major league roster. Lets face it Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith haven't been the players that people thought they could be and the young starter besides DeGrom and Syndergaard have been mediocre. This brings up the question should they start to really unload their talent and replenish?
Short answer I think they should at least consider it. Players like Asdrubal Cabrera I think should almost certainly be traded as he is on the last year of his contract. I think a player like Todd Frazier you should take offers as he only has a year after this one on his contract (tho due to his salary you couldn't get much back for him). But where it gets really interesting is with guys like Jeurys Familia and more so Degrom and Syndergaard that have multiple year of control left. And I think they should at the very least consider it. Especially Degrom as his value is as high as it will likely ever be and less so Syndergaard because it is comparatively low to what it could be. But my point is that if you trade Degrom and Syndergaard now you can get prospects on the brink of major league readiness and be able to compete in a few years. And with the Braves and Phillies being full of young talent and even the Nationals even if Harper leaves have plenty of young talent and don't forget the Marlins you never know what can happen in a few years. But all i am trying to say is that if you keep these starters and just let them get old why not trade them to latter down the line stay competitive with the giants in there division.
By: Jeffrey Romeu
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Pre – Game Analysis
The Miami Marlins enter the third game of a four-game series with the Nationals still feeling the sting of Thursday’s lost. On that day the Marlins led by as much as 9 runs, when the Nationals staged unbelievable a comeback led by Trea Tuner who hit 2 homeruns and 8 RBIs, ultimately defeating the Marlins 14 – 12. Friday, the Marlins took a surprising 9th Inning walk off defeat as their exceptionally reliable Closer Kyle Barraclough gave up a pinch-hit home run to Mark Reynolds. However, isn’t this what everyone expected from the Marlins after their extremely active offseason?
The Marlins enter Saturday with a record of 36 – 54, 14.5 games away from first place in their division, 18 games under .500, and the third worst record in the MLB. Clearly the Marlins will not be contending for a spot in the playoffs this year or for many years to come after their huge salary dump. Yet, the biggest question they are facing for the rest of the year is – Who will be a Marlins when the season is over? Various teams throughout the MLB have shown interest in their stellar catcher JT Realmuto, second baseman Starlin Castro, and the bullpen of Barraclough, Steckenrider, and Conley.
As for tonight, the Marlins have Wei – Yin Chen on the mound, who will be getting paid over $40 million dollars for the next 2 to 3 years, even after his subpar performances and injury plagued tenure with the Marlins. The Marlins will also expect to showcase another lineup given that Martin Prado isn’t physically ready to play on a daily basis yet after returning from a hamstring injury. In the words of Marlins CEO Derrek Jeter, “Every time you step onto the baseball field you have a chance to win.” But the Marlins will be facing a struggling and confused Nationals team.
The Washington Nationals enter this game energized by their recent victories but filled with questions about their short term and long-term future. The Nationals on Saturday are in 3rd place in the National League East, 5 games behind the Braves and Phillies, something I’m sure most baseball fans didn’t expect. The biggest question mark in the roster is the possible future $400 million-dollar man, former National League MVP, and the 2010 first overall pick Bryce harper.
While Harper has hit a strong 21 Home Runs and driven in 50 RBIs his batting average has dipped to .211 and has struck out 90 times and with over 90 games left, he will be on pace to breaking his own record in strikeouts. He was slated to become the first baseball player to possibly gain a $400 million-dollar contract, however, with the glacial pace of free agency this offseason, his lack of productivity, and the Nationals struggles, where will he be next year and with who?
On the mound for the Nationals will be the dominate Max Scherzer who is in the top 10 in the MLB in ERA (2.16), strikeouts (174), and leads in opposing batting average at .173. I believe it’ll be an easy outing for Scherzer given the Marlins have a batting average of .236 against him this year. However, the larger questions loom for the Nationals and that is – Will they compete for a playoffs spot? Will they be competitive in the playoffs? And who will be a National next year given that so many contracts are up?
From the get-go Scherzer was confident with his stuff, frequently pounding the strike zone with the majority of his pitches. Derek Dietrich clearly figured him out by slapping an opposite field base hit after a tough 9 pitch battle. However, the leadoff single didn’t lead to much as Castro was clearly fooled by the off-speed pitch which made him pop the ball to center, and Realmuto hit a 3 – 1 pitch into the shortstop for an easy 6 – 4 – 3 Double Play.
Chen is hoping to lower his terrible ERA which is above 9. He started off well, after a tough 8 pitch battle with Turner, he got him to pop the ball to second. Soto followed with a soft hit into an easy 6 – 3 groundout and Chen concluded the inning by striking out Rendon looking with an inside pitch.
Justin Bour started the inning outmatched by Scherzer’s pitching arsenal as he struck out swinging in 4 pitches. Garrett Cooper and JT Riddle both hit into easy groundout, 5 – 3 and 4 -3 respectability, ending the inning in which Scherzer only thrown 10 pitches.
A struggling Harper led off in the bottom half of the inning for the Nationals as he singled to right maybe the start of his return to MVP form. Afterwards, Reynolds hit the first pitch he saw into the left field benchers for an early 2 – 0 Nationals lead. Chen did recover by getting Michael Taylor and Wilmer Difo to ground into 5 – 3 groundouts and striking out Severino swinging.
Nationals lead 2 – 0 going in the 3rd
Fun fact – Reynolds homerun marks the second consecutive time he hit a homerun on the first pitch.
Rojas led off the inning by getting jammed by an inside fastball, Rivera grounded easily to third base for an easy 5 – 3 out, and Chen grounded the first pitch he saw to second for an easy 4 – 3 out. Scherzer continued to end at bats for the Marlins swiftly by keeping most hitters tonight to only 1 to 4 pitches.
Scherzer who is a great pitcher/hitter led off taking a huge cut at the ball but ended up in the center fielders glove. Turner popped up to second base and is easily retired and Chen struck out Soto looking with an outside pitch. Chen is surprisingly kept up with Scherzer with Reynolds homerun being the only mistake he threw up to this point.
Scherzer continued to frustrate the Marlins as Dietrich starts the inning getting jammed into a groundout to second for an easy 4 – 3. However, Castro cracked a hanging curveball deep into the left field benchers for a solo homerun making the game 2 – 1, but the show continued! Realmuto knocked another homerun into left on another hanging breaking ball evening the game at 2. This is the first time all year the Marlins have hit back to back homeruns, as they are lacking homerun power without Stanton and Ozuna. Scherzer did response by throwing high heat to Bour striking him out swinging with three 95 plus MPH pitches and striking Cooper out with a heavy curveball.
With the back to back homeruns the Marlins tied the game at 2 going in to the bottom half of the 4th.
Chen did start off well after the mini homerun show by the Marlins, as Rendon grounded to third. However, Harper again showed signs his slump may be over as he rips a low 90s fastball into center right for his second hit of the game and that is followed by an RBI double to the left field corner by Reynolds which scores Harper from first. Chen then walked Taylor but gets Difo to ground into a 6 -3 groundout. With Runners on second and third, Chen jammed Severino as he popped the ball to Castro at second which minimized the damage to only one run.
Nationals lead 3 – 2 going to the 5th
Fun Fact – Chen’s ERA differential between home and Away is almost 8! Pitching well at home and struggling on the road.
Hoping to take advantage of the new one run lead, Scherzer faced Riddle and pounded him with fastballs, but he knocked a tripled with a deep drive in between Taylor and Harper. Which is followed by a jammed single to right by Rojas who tied the game again at 3. Scherzer recovered by getting Rivera to ground into a 6 – 4 – 3 double play. But, facing Chen at the plate who is a 0.93 career hitter, proved to shock him as Chen popped a soft hit into center for his 4th hit of his career! Yet, Dietrich grounded to the 1st Baseman ending the inning.
Marlins tie the game again, 3 – 3
Scherzer apparently wanted revenge on Chen as he led off the bottom half of the 5th with a single of his own, which clearly frustrated Chen as his punches his glove multiple times. Yet, Turner hit to Castro at second, but a double play ball was dropped, and he was only able to get the force out at second. With Turner at first, Soto singled to center making it first and second with Rendon coming to the plate. After a long battle at the plate Rendon hit a deep shot into the left field wall scoring Turner and Soto giving the Nationals a 5 – 3 leads. After Harper is internationally walked, Marlins Manager Don Mattingly took Chen out ending another subpar game for him.
Into the game is the young and sometimes erratic thrower known as Elieser Hernandez who has an ERA of 4.66. How erratic? His second pitch was a 94 MPH wild pitch over the head of Reynolds and his fourth almost hit him with another 94 MPH fastball. Reynolds then singled to left scoring two more runs making the game 7 – 3. Hernandez finally got his first out of the game with a lazy fly to right by Taylor. However, with Reynolds still on first, Difo singled with a half swing into right field extending the already complicated inning for the Marlins. To cap off the inning Severino destroyed a weak breaking ball into left field making it 10 – 3. Finally, the inning ended with a 6 – 3 ground out.
Nationals score 7!!! 10 – 3 lead
Castro led off with a walk as Scherzer who started the game sharp showed signs of struggle, but then got Realmuto to pop to the catcher. Bour then pops to first for another easy out for Scherzer. However, he walked Cooper giving him two walks for the game. He then got out of the inning with another easy pop, this time to the third baseman.
JT Realmuto was removed from the game and Bryan Holaday was added as catcher. He wasn’t removed because of a possible injury, but likely to rest him given the high run differential. Turner began the inning with a walk, but Soto and Rendon both hit opposite field fly for easy outs. Harper then hit his third hit of the game showing more signs that he isn’t slumping anymore. Reynolds came to the plate and launched a center field homerun for his 8th RBI of the game! Nationals now led 13 – 3. The Inning ended as Taylor hits a lazy pop to second.
Fun Fact - Reynolds has 8 RBIs and has hit Harper in every time he’s been on base.
Nationals lead 13 – 3 going to the 7th Inning
Scherzer wasn’t taken out of the game, even though the game is well out of reach for the Marlins and he was well into the 90s in his pitch count. Also, Harper is replaced in the game by Brain Goodwin in order to give him rest much like the Marlins are resting Realmuto. Rojas hits a laser to Rendon at third, but it was picked and easily throw to first. Rivera out of nowhere hits his first major league homerun to center on a ball that didn’t stop rising, making the game 13 – 4. Yet, Scherzer got another easy grounder to second and Dietrich to popped to second for the end of the inning.
Marlins scored one run making the game 13 – 4
7th Inning Stretch – Reynolds has 8 RBIs tonight much like Turner who also hit 8 Nationals in on the 4th July just three days prior.
Difo led off with a walk, but Severino popped to the shortstop for an easy out. Scherzer was finally removed, as the Matt Adams, who has been hitting very well as of late pinch hits for him. Adams hit a soft grounder to third, however, it bounced off the base and into left field for a hit. Turner followed with a single to center to load the bases and Soto hits a double to right scoring two more runs making it 15 – 4 Nationals. Spencer Kieboom was added to the game to replace Rendon and hit a sac fly to center to score another run making it 16 – 4. Don Mattingly finally removed Hernandez for Ben Meyer, after a very long day at the office for Hernandez.
Goodwin who replaced Harper, singles to center and advanced to second on the throw home by Rivera. Amazingly, Reynolds again, singled to left for his fifth hit and 10th RBI making it 18 – 4. The inning ended as Taylor almost hits a homerun to center, but it was caught at the warning track.
Reynolds with 5 Hits, 2 Homeruns, and 10 RBIs!
Nationals lead 18 – 4
Given the fact the run differential is 14, I’ll make this top half straight forward, 3 pop flies and the top half of the inning is done.
Ironically, the bottom half of the inning is pretty straight forward also, 3 pop flies and the 8th inning is complete.
In a very anti – climactic ending, the Marlins hit 3 fly outs again.
Nationals win 18 – 4.
It’s only fair that we call Mark Reynolds performance tonight as one of the greatest in the history of baseball. He becomes only the 15th player in MLB History to get 10 RBIs in one game. This also included 5 hits, 2 homeruns, and since his walk off homerun last night, 6 straight hits. I’m anticipating a nomination for performance of the year at the end of the year awards for Reynolds.
With the third straight win by the Nationals and the 14th straight win against the Marlins, it must feel good for a struggling the team that was recently swept by the Red Soxs. Additionally, Bryce Harper came to life tonight with 3 hits and a walk after working early on his swing from a tee instead of the usual batting practice. Now, the Marlins are not a quality ballclub, so it is unknown if the Nationals will continue to play this well. However, with Strasburg soon to come off the DL, Harper’s possible resurgence, Adam’s hot streak at the plate, and a healthy Scherzer, maybe the Nationals will contend. Only time will tell.
On the other hand, the Marlins Fall to 19 games under .500, with poor pitching performances and lukewarm hitting. Even though the Marlins do have bright spots in their lineup and pitching rotation, I believe they will continue to sell players before the deadline. However, their high asking price for quality prospects may deter buyers from agreeing to take the Marlins talent. As I mentioned in the pre-game analysis, the Marlins are unlikely to be contending anytime within the next 3 to 5 years and that may be even longer if their prospects continue to struggle in the minors like their 2nd Overall Pick in the 2014 MLB Draft Tyler Kolek who is unlikely to make it to the majors given his control issues and injuries.
To Derek Jeter, I say, yes, rebuilds like the Cubs and Astros created powerful teams, however, with anywhere between 6 to 8 teams currently tanking in order to rebuild, the question has to be asked, are you cheap or just delusional?
By: Noah Wright
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Prince Fielder was one of The Brewers most iconic sluggers. The first basemen has also played in line-ups that housed a triple-crown Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Beltre, and an MVP Ryan Braun. Early in his career when he was with The Brewers, Fielder looked like a for sure Hall Of Fame Player, and even into his years with The Tigers. However, neck injuries derailed his career, and forced him into retirement at only 32 years old. So with that, let’s analyze Prince Fielder’s career, and see whether he deserves a call to the hall.
Why He Will Go Into The Hall:
To start with, Fielder had 7 consecutive 30+ home run seasons. This spanned from 2007 season when he blasted a league leading 50 homers, to 2012 when he hit 30 with The Tigers.
Fielder is also one of just 86 players with a career slugging % above .500, with a .506 slugging %. It ranks 72nd among all time players (tied with Bill Terry and Bob Johnson, who is a Hall Of Famer), and ties Terry for 26th all time for first baseman. It’s also just .003 points lower than that of Harmon Killebrew, and .007 points higher than Orlando Cepeda, both of whom are Hall Of Fame Players. Though Fielder was a big power hitter, he got on base quite a bit. His career .382 OBP ranks 108th all time, and 31st all time among first baseman. His OBP is also higher than that of Vlad Guerrero (.379), and Carl Yastrzemski (.379). Fielder also was a very durable player. Between 2009, and 2013, Fielder never missed a game, and played 547 total games in that time span. His feat ranks 25 overall in consecutive games played. To add on, Fielder has 6 all-star appearances, 3 silver sluggers, and 2 Home Run Derby championship trophies. He has also went to The World Series once with The Tigers in 2012, and has made postseason appearances in 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, and in 2015. Fielder also finished in the top 5 of MVP voting in his sophomore season in 2007 when he led the league in homeruns, 2009 when he led the league in RBI’s, and 2011 when he finished with a league leading .566 slugging %.
Why He Won’t Go Into The Hall:
Like I stated before, Fielder had to retire early because of neck injuries. What could have been multiple more years of productive seasons, was limited to only 12 seasons in the bigs. However, Fielder was not an MVP level player into his seasons with The Rangers. In his first season in Texas, Fielder suffered a spinal injury, and caused him to undergo neck surgery. Even when he was healthy, Fielder only batted for a .247/.360/360 line with 3 homeruns and 16 RBI’s in 178 PA’s. This was by far his worst showing in the big leagues. While he did bounce back in 2015, made The All-Star Game and Home Run Derby, and batted a near career high .305, Fielder only hit 23 home runs, his lowest full-season total. Fielder’s last season in the bigs was the most disappointing in his career. His plate discipline had disappeared, as he only had a .292 OBP. His average dipped to just .212, and his power was non-existent with only a .334 slugging % and 8 home runs in 370 PA’s. Fielder had just crossed the 300 home run plateau too, giving him just 312 homeruns in his career. That doesn’t even place him in the top 100 all time in homeruns, and puts him at 120 all time. Fielder had also just passed 1028 RBI’s. With 1028, Fielder ranks 255th all time in RBI’s, and 66th all time among 1B’s. Fielder’s overall WAR of 23.6 doesn’t even rank in the top 100 of first basemen either (107 all time). Plus if you look at his season-by-season stats, Fielder truly only had 4 elite seasons. This includes his 2007 season, his 2009 season, his 2011 season, and 2012 season. In each of those seasons, Fielder hit at least .288/.412/.528 (an OPS of .900+) with 30 homeruns, 108 RBI’s, and had a 153 wRC+.
So what’s the verdict? Fielder had done a lot in his 12 seasons in the bigs, but could have done much more if he had stayed healthy, and wasn’t forced to retire. His injuries and forced retirement really affected his chances. If Fielder had like 3-5 more seasons in where he hit around .270-.280/.350/.450 with 20-30 homers and 80 RBI’s, we might have a different discussion here. At the most, Fielder would go in on his last few ballots (8-10), but if he does not make The Hall, I would not be surprised at all.
By: Noah Wright
Photo by Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
The Pittsburgh Pirates have fallen to a 40-45. Far from the 26-17 record they started the season with through the first month and a half. They’re last 2 series wins were against The Padres and The Mets. It’s even gotten so bad that they can barely even put up a fight against good teams, as shown by the depressing 1-17 loss to The Dodgers last night, and 3-8 loss tonight against The Dodgers. Their last series win against a team above .500 was against The Giants back in early/mid-May. I’ve previously pointed out flaws in their roster, however there are tons of problems with the way they play their players. The Pirates refuse to evolve to the new game not only does this affect their overall play, but also hurts their players.
The main problem I want to mention their pitching strategies. In the book, “Big Data Baseball”, which is mainly about how The Pirates made the playoffs for the first time in 20 years in 2013, mentioned how they used the shift, and pitching to the shift/contact to win games. According to the author, Travis Sawchik, The Pirates 494 times in 2013, with only 2 teams (The Cubs and Brewers) shifting on batters more often than The Pirates that season. While the shift is still a large part of the game today, The Pirates still rely on the shift more than the K in an era where strikeouts and overpowering the batter is king, at least when it comes to their starters. This is evident by The Pirates 7.51 K’s per game rate, with only The Royals below them in K’s/game. The Bucs’ K/9 rate ranks just 17th of all MLB teams at 8.42. The only team that is in a playoff spot with a lower K/9 ratio is The Cubs at 8.35 K/9. Their pitching to contact strategies are also hurting some of their young pitchers. Nick Kingham had an amazing 2 first games in the majors, and had 16 K’s in his first 12 and a third innings pitched. And he pitched great in those 12 and a third innings. However since then, Kingham has struck out just 21 batters in 26 innings played. Jameson Taillon consistently had K/9 numbers near or above 9 K/9, but hasn’t recorded a K/9 above 8.4 since reaching the majors. While Joe Musgrove’s K/9 numbers haven’t really changed, his spike from 30.2% hard hit rate last year to 33.1% hard hit rate this season, and .7% ground ball rate increase it shows that they want him to pitch to the shift/contact. In today’s game where hard contact and the long ball are the norm, pitching to contact over avoiding can hurt a team.
So who’s really to blame here? I’d say coaching. The Pirates coaching can sometimes be extremely stubborn. Multiple times you will watch Clint Hurdle let a pitcher let a game get out of hand before pulling him. Hurdle also marched out Gregory Polanco on a regular basis, even when he was struggling mightily, and had much better options in Corey Dickerson and Austin Meadows. Their stubbornness leads to multiple games lost, and this is no exception. Coaching refuses to move on, which is their biggest downfall.
The Pirates are still using strategies that worked in 2013-2014. However, that was 4-5 seasons ago. The game has evolved. It’s a hard contact and home run game for batters, and the 95+ mph fastball and high K rate game for pitchers. With The Pirates’ strategies to continue to pitch to contact, and refusal to change anytime soon, they will continue to lose, and affect their starters in a negative way until they change. Either The Pirates evolve with the game, or the game evolves and leaves them behind.
(If you enjoy baseball and/or any kind of statistical analysis, then checkout the book I mentioned in this article, “Big Data Baseball” by Travis Sawchik: https://www.amazon.com/Big-Data-Baseball-Miracles-20-Year/dp/1250094259/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1530685272&sr=8-1&keywords=Big+Data+Baseball )
By: Enrique medina
The Dodgers made headlines yesterday as they signed top international prospect, catcher Diego Cartaya, to a $2,500,000 bonus. The 16 year old Venezuelan catcher, Cartaya, has been known to be an advanced hitter for his age as he has a rating of 60 for contact, according to MLB Pipeline’s scouting report. He shows decent power to the gaps, but what may have impressed the Dodgers the most was his presence defensively as a catcher, his leadership, and high baseball IQ. It is reported that the catcher is good with handling pitchers and also possesses a great arm and good hands behind the plate. Many scouts have even compared him to possibly becoming another Salvador Perez type player. On a side note, in recent years the Dodgers have aquired talented players from the international pool including Yasiel Puig, Julio Urias, Yusniel Diaz, and Yadier Alvarez. They hope to add Cartaya to the list and add him to a young catching core that already includes Keibert Ruiz and Will Smith.
By: Noah Wright
Chris O'Meara/The Associated Press
Entering The 2018 Season, many fans expected The Blue Jays to trade star third baseman Josh Donaldson. Donaldson is on the last year of his contract, and was surrounded by rumors for most of the off season. However, his value has took a decline since the beginning of the season. So with this decline in value, what would a team be willing to give-up for Donaldson?
First, let's take a look on why his value has went down. The biggest culprit is injures. Donaldson has only played in 36 games this season. The 2015 MVP hit the DL in mid April with shoulder issues. Since then, Donaldson has been placed on The DL again, and hasn’t seen playing time since late may. Most recently, he suffered a setback in his recovery from shoulder inflammation, which will likely push his date of return further down the line. Another thing that’s hurting his value is that he had not done well in the few games he’s played in. On the season, Donaldson has a .234/.333/.423 line with just 5 homers, 16 RBI’s, and 106 wRC+ in 159 plate appearances, which nearly all are career lows, aside from his 14 game sample in 2010, his debut season.
Though Donaldson’s value is fairly low right now, he’s still been a good line-up producer when he is fully healthy, and gets consistent playing time. Though he was unhealthy for parts of last season, only playing 113 total games, Donaldson still produced a quality .270/.385/.559 line with 33 homers, 78 runs batted in, and 149 wRC+. Donaldson’s value is also helped by the fact that he’s still a quality defender. Sure he may have only -.1 defensive WAR, but he has only seen 225 innings in the field. He still had a .5 dWAR in 2017, and a .4 dWAR in 2016, while also rating positively in DRS and UZR in both seasons.
So what exactly is Donaldson worth? Donaldson’s likeliest suitors include The Braves, Phillies, and The Cardinals. Each team, especially The Braves, have a good farm system. If Donaldson can see some consistent playing time after coming off The DL, along with some decent performance, his value will likely increase. At this point of the season, I do not think that Donaldson brings back a top 100 prospect, for he is a rental, and previously stated injuries and slumps. However, The Blue Jays may be able to squeeze out a mid-level guy out of Donaldson. A desperate team though could be willing to spend more for the former MVP third basemen.
By: Noah Wright
Photo by Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
The Oakland A’s are currently 46-38, and 3rd in The AL West. While they may be above .500, they’re still 8.5 out of the division, and 7 out of a wild card spot. But they are nearing the end of their rebuild phase, as former prospects Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Dustin Fowler, and Sean Manaea have already made an impact. Daniel Mengden, another young starter, has shown some promise at the major league level. The A’s could take one of two routes this season: they could either sell off some pieces to acquire some younger guys on the verge of MLB readiness, or buy to potentially go for a WC spot, or trade for guys controllable for next season, and prepare for next season.
What If They Sell?:
If The A’s decide to sell, they have some pieces that could bring back something decent. To start with, closer Blake Treinen has done an amazing job this season. With a .89 ERA, .91 WHIP, and 1.89 FIP, to go with a career best 10.8 K/9 rate, and .242 BABIP in 40.2 innings, Treinen could be an all-star this season. The right hander is also controllable through 2020, which further adds to his value. Teams that were interested in Kelvin Herrera before he was traded may also look for a trade for Treinen if The A’s make him available in trade talks. The A’s also have Santiago Casilla, who’s on the last year of his contract, along with Lou Trivino, and lefty Ryan Butcher, all of whom are having decent seasons. Another asset with control is Jonathan Lucroy. The A’s signed Lucroy to a two year deal over this past off-season. While he may not be performing at an all-star level like he has before, as he’s only batting .258/.315/.339, and his defense isn’t great, with -5 DRS and -.1 dWAR, Lucroy is still a serviceable catcher. He’s still caught a league average 27% of runners trying to take a base off of him. A team like The Nationals could show some interest in the former Brewer all-star. One starter that will likely be dealt at the deadline from The A’s is Trevor Cahill. The A’s signed Cahill to a minor league deal over the off season, and it’s paid off so far. On the season, Cahill has a 2.77 ERA, 3.04 FIP, and a .986 WHIP. His walk rate is also down, with a 2 BB/9 rate. With Cahill’s cheap price, any team looking for starting pitching depth, like The Yankees, Brewers, Indians, or Phillies. However, his value may be slightly be diminished because he has spent time on The DL, and is still on The DL as writing this. One last player The A’s could send off is Jed Lowrie. Lowrie is on the last season of his contract, and is owed a total of a cheap $6 million in total this season. Plus, Lowrie is having the best season of his career. Currently, he’s batting .291/.351/.500 with 14 home runs, 56 RBI’s, and 135 wRC+, with a .209 ISO, both of which are a full-season career high. Lowrie’s versatility also adds value. He can play second, third, and shortstop, along with being a switch hitter.
What if They Buy?:
The other option The A’s have is to buy some pieces. However, I do see this being the less likely of the two options. The A’s could fill some holes by getting some starting pitching help. Daniel Mengden, Andrew Triggs and Kendall Graveman have both had their fair share of struggles this season, with both performance and injures. The A’s have a fairly deep minor league system that could help them acquire some starters like J.A. Happ, Francisco Liriano, or Tyson Ross. A more controllable option they could look into is The Rangers lefty Cole Hamels. However, since they are in the same division, that could be a factor that plays in a trade like that. Another place in The A’s roster that could use some help is their outfield. Stephen Piscotty and Matt Joyce have been underwhelming so far this season. A cheap bat like Curtis Granderson could add some pop their lineup could use. A deal could happen that includes Jorge Mateo, and/or Austin Beck.
With the deadline approaching, The A’s are in a weird spot. They’re currently having a decent season, as they were 46-38. However, they’re still a good amount of games out of a playoff spot. With their current situation, The A’s will likely sell, but it would not be completely surpsing if they did decide to add a few cheap pieces.