A Quick Guide To: #SpringTraining

mlb.team_.logos_.version.3.small_-672x372

Spring Questions For All 30 Teams:

Will the Cubs live up to the rampant World Series expectations? Are the D-backs for real? Can David Price make his contract worth it? Are the Royals a dynasty in the making? Do the Blue Jays, Astros and Mets have staying power?

Spring Training preview materials will be loaded with these questions and more, but the obvious truth is that Spring Training itself can’t answer those questions. So the goal in this particular preview, mere days away from pitchers and catchers report dates, is to pose an actual, spring-specific question each Major League club is facing on the cusp of camp.

I’m dedicating this column to the memory of my friend and teammate Tom Singer, who suddenly passed away earlier this week. Tom was one of the more inquisitive and creative minds in the business, and I know he was looking forward to showing up at Spring Training camps and asking unique questions of his own.

Here we go….

NL East

Mets: How carefully should the young starters be eased into the season?

For the Mets, it will be a delicate balance between overworking and underworking Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard after they all saw significant innings increases due to the postseason run. Syndergaard jumped 65 2/3 innings from his 2014 total in the Minors, while deGrom and Harvey jumped 37 2/3 apiece. Because of injury, Steven Matz (15 2/3) didn’t see quite as big an increase, though he, like Syndergaard, is entering his first full Major League season, an adjustment in and of itself. These guys need to be properly prepared for the every-five-day grind, but they should also probably see a less rigorous spring workload than the typical big league starter.

Nationals: Is Trea Turner ready for the big leagues?

The Grapefruit League will be a great test of the Nats’ new-look infield. Anthony Rendon is moving back to his natural position at third base — a fine move in isolation (he grades out better defensively there than at second base). But some scouts believe Daniel Murphy would be far better suited at third than at second base and that Rendon is the better defensive option at second. And then, of course, there’s the big question at short, where the Nats’ options come down to a utility guy (Danny Espinosa) who has spent far more of his career at second, a light-hitting free-agent signee (Stephen Drew) and the top prospect (Turner), who has only played 212 games in what has already been a whirlwind pro career (including 27 with the Nats down the stretch in 2015). Lots of questions in this infield.

Marlins: Can Barry Bonds help Marcell Ozuna’s swing?

New manager Don Mattingly and new hitting coach Bonds pleaded with the front office to keep Ozuna despite the rampant trade rumblings and the disconnect between player and organization last season. Ozuna was one of eight players identified as above-average in each of the five-tool categories by Statcast™, so the potential is off the charts. But his decline in production last season — leading to a controversial stay in Triple-A — was as swift as it was stunning, and spring is an important time for Ozuna and Bonds to develop a positive working relationship.

Braves: Will Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn open any eyes with their spring at-bats?

It’s no secret the Braves would love to move one or both of these guys. So they are destined to receive a steady dose of Grapefruit League at-bats as the Braves try to garner enough interest for a salary dump swap. With Freddie Freeman working his way back from a wrist injury, perhaps Swisher will see some time at first base.

Phillies: Is Tyler Goeddel the next Odubel Herrera?

Last year, Herrera arrived as a Rule 5 Draft pickup and wound up leading the Phillies in WAR (and yes, that says as much about the Phils as it does Herrera). Now, Goeddel is the marquee Rule 5 Draft addition (the first overall pick). That he’ll make the big league club is a foregone conclusion, because the Phillies have nothing to lose by keeping him. The question is how much the athletic but unpolished Goeddel will separate himself from Aaron Altherr, Peter Bourjos and Cody Asche in the battle for playing time in Pete Mackanin’s lineup.

AL East

Blue Jays: Will Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion agree to extensions?

In the lead-up to Opening Day, the new-look front office will have to weigh the attraction of satiating the fan base and ensuring stability in the long-term lineup against the obvious risks that come with power hitters in their mid-to-late-30s. These discussions will take place when all parties arrive in Dunedin, Fla., later this month.

Yankees: CC Sabathia or Ivan Nova?

The last rotation spot is the lone source of genuine positional intrigue in Yankees camp. (That said, Starlin Castro’s continued immersion at second base and first-ever trial at third base, where the Yanks might need him as a Chase Headley backup, is interesting). Sabathia is the former Cy Young Award winner coming off a homer-prone year that ended in alcohol rehab. Nova is the Tommy John alum the Yanks tried to trade. General manager Brian Cashman has said Sabathia’s $25 million salary wouldn’t preclude the Yanks from sticking CC in the bullpen if somebody else (Nova is the obvious candidate, though Bryan Mitchell is another) wins the job outright.

Orioles: What’s the outlook for the outfield?

They’re reportedly making progress with Yovani Gallardo to fill a big hole in the rotation, so let’s focus on the outfield here. Big-bodied Hyun-soo Kim, fresh off signing a two-year contract with the O’s, will arrive from South Korea and try to prove he has the range and athleticism to handle the everyday left-field assignment. Adam Jones was tasked with covering a ton of outfield ground last year, and his performance tailed off in the last two months of the season. At the moment, right field likely belongs to Nolan Reimold, though an O’s team familiar with in-spring splashes could still sign somebody to support or replace him.

Rays: Will James Loney, Desmond Jennings or Brandon Guyer be moved?

It’s a question that presumes a healthy camp, of course, but it would solve a logjam. Dealing Loney would allow Logan Morrison and Steve Pearce to share first, Corey Dickerson to spend the bulk of his time at DH and Jennings, Kevin Kiermaier and Steven Souza Jr. to provide dependable defense in the outfield, with Guyer as a bench option vs. lefties. Or the Rays could move Jennings or Guyer and open up more at-bats for Pearce and Morrison. Whatever the case, one presumes the Rays would be seeking relief help in any deal involving their position player depth.

Red Sox: Can Hanley Ramirez handle first base?

The Red Sox don’t have any position battles, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have position issues. Hanley’s position switch last year — from shortstop to left field — wasn’t subjected to any truly challenging plays during the spring schedule, but obviously the ball is going to find him at first. Because they’re paying Ramirez a ton of money, the Red Sox have no choice but to hope this works — and the same goes for Pablo Sandoval at third. The Panda’s physical condition will, naturally, be a spring storyline all its own.

NL Central

Cardinals: What is Yadier Molina’s timetable?

Molina will spend camp’s early days not swinging the bat or catching bullpen sessions, but building strength back up in his left thumb after having a second surgery this winter. Because there’s no telling how long that process will take and how much it will affect his season preparation, it’s hard to know if Molina will be ready by Opening Day. To say getting him back in a timely matter is important for the Cards is, of course, an understatement.

Pirates: How well is Jung Ho Kang progressing?

Because of the division’s demands, the decisions to deal Neil Walker and non-tender Pedro Alvarez, and the lack of additions of bankable depth options, the Pirates can ill-afford any medical setbacks for Kang, who suffered a fractured tibial plateau and torn lateral meniscus on an ugly takeout slide by Chris Coghlan last September. The move to third base (with Jordy Mercer at short and Josh Harrison replacing Walker at second) will limit Kang’s lateral movement when he returns. As of now, the Pirates are expecting him back in April, with Sean Rodriguez (last seen assaulting a water cooler) filling in and Minor League free agent Cole Figueroa competing for a bench job.

Cubs: Can Kyle Schwarber improve in left field?

As much as we love this Cubs lineup, there’s no denying there are defensive concerns in the outfield, where Jorge Soler had some surprising struggles in ’15, Jason Heyward is moving from right to center and, most importantly, Schwarber was a mess during the NLCS. Schwarber has been working on his first step and flexibility this winter, and that work will be put to the test in Arizona. But his efforts in left coincide with his work behind the plate, where he still hopes to remain an option long-term. Combine all of this with Schwarber’s bid for more at-bats against left-handed pitching, and the kid’s got a lot on his plate.

Brewers: How’s Ryan Braun feeling?

Not that the Brewers are making an earnest effort to contend in 2016, but Braun could stillpotentially play himself into a viable trade chip (provided the Brew Crew is willing to eat some cash, of course) if he’s healthy and producing the way he did for much of ’15. Braun had surgery for a herniated disc in the offseason, but he won’t have a clear idea of how well his back is responding until the regular swings that come in the Cactus League.

Reds: Will a market develop for Jay Bruce?

He only remains in Cincinnati as a function of the unusually deep and late-developing free-agent outfield market this winter, because the Reds, now in full-on rebuild mode, were motivated to move him. Most likely, Bruce will start the season with the Reds and try to piece together enough of a bounce-back campaign to become July trade bait. But all it takes is one spring injury elsewhere to suddenly make the idea of dealing for Bruce more palatable for a contending club. The Reds also have to hope Zack Cozart’s grisly knee injury last year hasn’t affected his defense at short, because he, too, could play himself into trade-chip status.

AL Central

Royals: Can Christian Colon steal playing time from Omar Infante?

In the third year of a four-year deal, Infante will make $7.75 million, and there was a time when that fact alone would settle him into a starting spot for this small-market club. But you might have noticed things are a little different in the realm of the Royals these days, and they’re calling this a legitimate position battle between Infante and Colon, who drove in the winning run in the World Series Game 5 clincher. (Top prospect Raul A. Mondesi will also get consideration but is far more likely to start the season in the Minors). Sure, the Royals are paying Infante a good amount of money, but, hey, they took Colon ahead of Matt Harvey in the 2010 Draft! One way or another, they’ll look for better returns on both of these investments.

Twins: Will Miguel Sano stick in right?

Byung Ho Park’s transition to the bigs is also a major matter in Minnesota, but Sano’s defensive work — directly related to Park’s arrival — will be a more pressing spring concern. Torii Hunter will be in camp as a special assistant to work with the 6-foot-4 Sano in the outfield, and the Twins’ lineup alignment demands that this experiment be successful. Sano was tasked with dropping 20 pounds this winter. Citing a desire to maintain his power, he dropped just five. He’s agile for his size, but this is undoubtedly a big test for him.

Indians: Will Michael Brantley continue his rapid recovery?

He’s the key to the whole darn thing for an Indians team projected by FanGraphs to have the best record in the division despite a less-than-dynamic winter. Brantley didn’t have surgery on his lead shoulder until early November, which means you can count him out for Opening Day and likely all or most of April. But because his recovery has progressed so well so far, Brantley must avoid the temptation to do too much too soon, lest he suffer a setback that crushes a Tribe club already prone toward slow starts.

White Sox: What’s up at short?

Tyler Saladino played terrific defense at third base for the Sox down the stretch last season, but his 68 OPS+ detracted from his value. So it’s an open question whether he’s ready for prime time at a prime spot, and he could be pushed in camp by top prospect Tim Anderson. The other, still-lingering question here is whether the Sox will wind up too tempted by Ian Desmond’s reduced price tag to pass him up. With a protected top-10 Draft pick, the White Sox are better positioned to sign Desmond than many others in the market.

Tigers: Can Bruce Rondon work his way into the bullpen plans?

Well, obviously we’ll be playing close attention to the statuses of Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. But they’ve both had a healthy offseason, so, at this point, there’s little reason to doubt they’ll be in the Opening Day lineup and, hopefully, ready to produce. But Rondon’s dismissal from the club due to a lack of effort makes him an interesting figure in camp. The Tigers’ bullpen has a new closer in Francisco Rodriguez and better balance overall, but there’s always room for a motivated flamethrower. We’ll soon learn for sure if Rondon is committed to winning the respect of his teammates.

NL West

Dodgers: Will Hyun-Jin Ryu be ready by Opening Day?

And if so, what does that mean for fellow lefty Alex Wood? The Dodgers have assembled rotation depth to allow Ryu to ease into action, rather than rush back from labrum surgery. So the most likely outcome is that he starts the season in extended Spring Training or on a rehab assignment. But the Dodgers could also be tempted to take advantage of Wood’s ability to be optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Giants: How is Joe Panik’s back?

He’s 25 years old and coming off an All-Star season. But that season was cut short by back woes. Doctors have not discovered any structural damage, so Panik did not have surgery. But only time and performance will dictate whether this will be a persistent problem for a club all too familiar with back issues involving their second basemen (see: Sanchez, Freddy and Scutaro, Marco).

D-backs: Can Yasmany Tomas acquit himself in the outfield?

In their bold bid to take a major competitive step forward, there’s no denying the D-backs sacrificed defense by involving Ender Inciarte in the Shelby Miller swap. The question is how much. Tomas enters the year as an everyday corner outfielder (Arizona is still unsure whether he’ll remain in right or swap spots with left fielder David Peralta) after proving he can’t handle the hot corner. Tomas has indicated he’s more comfortable in right field, though the D-backs might prefer to have the better defender there and use this spring to get Tomas acclimated to left. And oh by the way, Tomas, who had a .707 OPS last season, needs to hit, too.

Padres: Can Andrew Cashner limit walks and neutralize lefties?

Yeah, yeah, the spring results don’t matter. But scouts are in the stands for a reason. Cashner is a guy with ace-quality potential when he’s right — and that’s a big deal for a Padres team either hoping to surprise some people in the NL West or use Cashner as a valuable trade piece midseason (or even sooner). Last year, Cashner’s effectiveness against left-handed hitters spiraled (.383 wOBA vs. a .294 mark a year earlier), and his overall walk rate jumped to 8.2 percent.

Rockies: What will Jose Reyes’ punishment be?

In invoking punishments under the sports’ domestic violence policy for the first time, Commissioner Rob Manfred has big decisions to make with Reyes, Yasiel Puig and Aroldis Chapman. But Reyes is the only member of that group who is facing a criminal procedure. He has pleaded not guilty to domestic abuse charges, and his trial is slated to begin April 4 (Opening Day, of course). Manfred can make his decision independent of those proceedings, and there’s no telling how stiff the penalty will be. Reyes is the Rockies’ highest-paid player and a guy they hoped would rebuild his offensive value (and, ergo, his trade value) at Coors Field. Right now, there’s no way of knowing when or if he’ll be on the field in 2016.

AL West

Rangers: Can Jurickson Profar get back in baseball shape?

We’ll venture away from the obvious intrigue surrounding Yu Darvish’s timetable, because, by all accounts, he’s still on track for a May return. Profar provides intrigue of his own. This is a guy who was once considered the top prospect in the game, but hasn’t played a single inning in the field the last two years because of shoulder issues that eventually required surgery. Profar’s bat action as a designated hitter in the Arizona Fall League caught the attention of scouts, and several teams contacted the Rangers in an attempt to buy low on the middle infielder. The Rangers wisely held onto him, and they’ll ease him back into action in the field this spring. His odds of making the big league club are slim to none, barring injury to somebody else. But the Rangers are about to see if Profar can emerge as an important depth piece in their bid to win the AL West again.

Astros: Will Evan Gattis be ready for Opening Day?

It was revealed this week that Gattis required surgery for a sports hernia, sidelining him for four to six weeks. That’s going to hurt his ability to get his timing back before the end of Grapefruit League play, so the Astros will dole out more playing time to Jon Singleton, Matt Duffy, A.J. Reed, Tyler White and Preston Tucker. While the Astros, in letting Chris Carter walk, might generally be trying to get away from the all-or-nothing approach that was one of their calling cards in ’15, Gattis is still clearly a key cog in this offense. He was also hopeful of increasing his value to the team beyond his DH duties, losing weight and doing catching drills in the offseason.

Angels: What’s Albert Pujols’ timetable?

The Angels are getting crushed in many corners for not doing more to improve their production potential around Mike Trout, opting instead for a more contact-heavy approach. Maybe the Halos have it right, but there’s little denying that their lineup look demands healthy and productivity from Pujols, who is working his way back from November surgery on the plantar plate of his right foot. Pujols is already hitting off a tee but is not expected to resume full baseball activities until March, putting Opening Day in jeopardy. Pujols rushed back to action too quickly in 2013, to the point that it affected his performance, and the Angels don’t want that to happen again.

Mariners: Can James Paxton win a rotation spot?

Technically, it’s Taijuan Walker, Nate Karns and Paxton for two spots, though you’d have to imagine the 29 starts and the progress Walker made as ’15 evolved give him the inside edge on one of those. Karns was Dipoto’s first addition in a busy offseason, but Paxton is the guy who was long lauded as one of the M’s prominent prospects. Injury issues have limited Paxton to 30 career starts over parts of three Major League seasons, but the left-hander has dropped some pounds and will come to camp intent on proving he’s ready to turn his potential into production. Other guys potentially in the mix for that last spot are Mike Montgomery, Joe Wieland and Vidal Nuno. Paxton seemingly has the most upside of those options, but he’s got to earn it.

Athletics: What is the rotation beyond Sonny Gray?

Oakland has probably one of the most — if not the most — unsettled rotation situations in the big leagues. The A’s signed Rich Hill with the intent of inserting him into the rotation, though he hasn’t been a regular starter at this level since 2009. After Gray and Hill, it’s a wide-open competition involving Kendall Graveman, Jesse Hahn, Chris Bassitt, Sean Nolin and possibly even Jarrod Parker (who is attempting to come back from two elbow surgeries) and Sean Manaea (a promising trade acquisition who hasn’t pitched above Double-A but who manager Bob Melvin has called a “wild card” in the rotation battle). Should be fun to watch this evolve.

Source: A Spring Training question for all 30 MLB teams.

Power Ranking All 30 MLB Starting Rotations Entering 2016 Spring Training:

SchwarberPanikRamirez

 

Rejoice! Spring training is almost upon us, bringing to an end what has been a hectic offseason, one that saw a slew of starting pitchers change uniforms, whether via free agency or trade. Keeping up with what your favorite team’s rotation looks like, much less the competition’s, has been challenging at times.

Read: Power Ranking All 30 MLB Starting Rotations Entering 2016 Spring Training

What You Need To Know for #TNF and Other Stuff

name of site - hunter thompson style

1. A Dolphin’s Tale?

Maybe the only thing to worry about – besides your lineup – is if Tom Brady takes a cheap shot.  The NFL Media and the Tennessee coaching staff went nuts on the low hit on Mariota, and it’s not inconceivable that Man Campbell hasn’t already ordered the “Code Red”!  Any team that Ndamukong $uh is on – you must keep a weathered eye…


2. When the Mountaineers Come Calling

7:30p EST FS1 – WV @ TCU
Trevone Boykin begins his push for the Heisman tonight.  Sure they haven’t played anyone yet and yeah, they get three opponents next month that are all in the top 14 currently – but the kid is fun to watch.  So in front of a primetime audience on the “FS1” at 7:30p EST check out the #2 guy in total offense and #5 in passing offense – because the only way this guy has a shot is to be undefeated.


3. #23 and Climbing

5:00p EST ESPN – UNC @ Pitt
Also tonight is the other college football game on that other network that sounds like mental telepathy from a sorority girl when she wears her Uggs to tight.  5p ESt on ESPN, UNC visits Heinz Field to take on a surprisingly good Panthers team from Pitt.  Nice job so far from new coach Pat Narduzzi who’s teams’ only loss is to Iowa.  Lots of coach speak will determine the outcome, such as: Special Teams will be important and who wins the turnover battle so should come out ahead as long as they score more points than the other guy.


GettyImages-494748550

4. Nobody Knows You When You’re Down…0-2

Johnny Cueto tossed a complete-game two-hitter for the Royals as they defeated the Mets, 7-1, in Game Two of the World Series. Two weeks ago, Cueto pitched Kansas City into the ALCS by defeating the Astros in Game Five of the ALDS, allowing only two hits in eight innings. The only other pitchers who have had more than one postseason outing in their careers of eight or more innings in which they allowed no more than two hits are Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens.


 

5. Few Games In – C’Mon Man!

Are The Rockets Doomed – Is Ricky Rubio already an All-Star PG – Is New Orleans turr-able – Is Jahlil Okafor the next one – and finally, is this the Knicks’ time?!  All these overreactions and more…

Source: Biggest overreactions to first batch of NBA games


6. Vlade-dadi We Like To Parde

It has been…an interesting time for the Kings. No one knows what the hell is going on (including those inside of the organization!). For a quick recap:

Last Season: The Kings rushed out to lead the Pacific Division, home of the NBA champion Warriors, before the floor fell out from underneath the team. Star center DeMarcus Cousins was diagnosed with viral meningitis and was sidelined for more than a month. The Kings faltered without him, and their record fell to 11-13. And then the Kings’ Chernobyl of a season began to crumble when owner Vivek Ranadive fired head coach Mike Malone, who was not only a favorite of the players, but had Sacramento ready to play. Mike Malone was fired after only 24 games, and according to Adrian Wojnarowski, the move created a sense of contempt among Kings players, especially Cousins who loved Malone and his system. The Kings then later fired interim head coach Tyrone Corbin, and hired George Karl to coach the team after the All Star Break.

Source: House of Cards: The Kings, Jokers and Chaos in Sacramento


7. The Kobe Bryant Experience

Kobe Bryant, who is older than hell, crankier than hell, and shackled to a misshapen Lakers team, looked better than he has in years tonight as his Lakers fell to the Timberwolves at home 112-111. This game was stuffed full of cool shit: the two teams’ tribute to the recently passed Flip Saunders; Nick Young hitting a half-court leaner to end the first quarter; the debuts of Karl-Anthony Towns, Julius Randle (his 14 minutes last season don’t count), and D’Angelo Russell; Kevin Garnett yapping at people; and Ricky Rubio dropping 28 points and 14 assists. But most of all, there was Kobe.

Source: Old Man Kobe And The Young Lakers Are Fun As Hell 

pablo (10)

What if I Told You…Sometimes You Should Never #Checkdown

I’ve seen enough.  It was a back-to-back showing on national TV and the script did not change.  No more, should the WR position shoulder the blame of ineptitude.  Sure, some of the fault could be laid at Andy Reid’s feet – but he has won a few games in this league, has gone to the playoffs, a Superbowl, etc…The issue at large lies squarely in the small hands of Alex Smith.

Did you watch last night’s game?  Do you remember anytime Alex Smith looked for a secondary read?
Or, did you witness as I did, a professional quarterback, a former 2005 #1 draft pick, no-longer a spring-chicken, stare down his primary target.  After three quarters, Alex Smith had 6 completions and 2 turnovers.  His numbers ended up being decent and yet that was garbage-time – no one who watched the game would say he was decent.

The problem with Chiefs having Cap’n Checkdown as their quarterback is they single logo_small
do not stretch the field.  You have to feel for Chiefs fans.  Sure Andy Reid does not run enough with Jamaal Charles, but the inability to throw further than 10 yards with any consistency is alarming, and as long as that guy is your quarterback – Kansas City will never win.

As for the Packers, word is, Aaron Rodgers is prettay, prettaay, prettaaay good.  How good? Aaron Rodgers threw five touchdown passes, and Green Bay has now won their last 10 regular-season home games – scoring 383 points – the highest total in team history over a span of 10 home games. The only other NFL teams to win 10 consecutive home games while scoring as many points as the Packers; were the Rams in 1999 and 2000, and the Broncos spanning 2012 and 2013.

Rodgers has now thrown 43 TD passes at Lambeau since his last interception there (in 2012), more than twice as long as any other streak of TD passes without an interception in home games in NFL history.  It sure does help when you also have a tank in the backfield.  You know how they say “it takes a village” to raise a child? It also takes a village to stop Eddie Lacy. Green Bay’s 5-foot-11, 234-pound back ran 10 times for 46 yards — not great numbers, but enough to show he can turn a corner real quick and run you over.


Here week3’s #NFL perfect lineups

DraftKings

DK_perfectL_wk3

FanDuel

FD_perfectL_wk3


On the Lighter Side…

This is an actual ad that was posted to Craig’s list in Arkansas.  Top Marks for ingenuity – They are counting the days Bert.


 

Denorfia’s blast gives Cubs a rare kind of victory

Chris Denorfia hit the first pitch of the bottom of the 11th inning for a walkoff home run to give the Cubs a 1-0 win over the Royals on Monday. He’s the first pinch-hitter in major-league history to hit a walkoff homer for the only run of an extra-inning win.

Denorfia is only the third player to hit a walkoff home run for the Cubs at Wrigley Field in extra-innings of a game that was scoreless to that point. Joe Pepitone’s 12th-inning home run was the only run of a Cubs’ 1-0 win in 1971, and Frank Secory hit a two-run walkoff homer in the 12th inning in 1946.

Cardinals blank Pirates the hard way

Six Cardinals pitchers combined to shut out the Pirates on Monday, despite issuing 10 walks. It’s the first game in 33 years in which a team threw a nine-inning shutout while walking at least 10 batters. The Mets were the last team to do that, in a 1-0 win in Montreal in 1982.

nullOsuna joins the man who David Letterman called “a fat tub of goo”

Twenty-year old Roberto Osuna picked up his 20th save of the season in Toronto’s come-from-behind win in Baltimore on Monday. The only other pitcher to save 20 games in one season at age 20 or younger was Terry Forster, with 29 saves for the White Sox in 1972.

nullRodriguez wins 10th game of season

Eduardo Rodriguez, the Red Sox’ 22-year old left-hander, improved to 10-6 and lowered his ERA to 3.85 in Boston’s win over the Yankees on Monday. The last Red Sox left-hander under the age of 23 to win 10 games and finish a season with an ERA under 4.00 was none other than Babe Ruth. The Bambino did that in three straight seasons: 18-8 with a 2.44 ERA in 1915, at age 20; 23-12 with a 1.75 ERA in 1916 and 24-13 with a 2.01 ERA in 1917.

The Red Sox have allowed one run in their last four games, their best stretch since the final four scheduled games of the 1978 season, when they gave up one run in four games to the Tigers and Blue Jays. That left the Red Sox tied for first place in the A.L. East with the Yankees, who won a one-game playoff-the “Bucky Dent Game”-at Fenway Park the next day.

nullIf only Sano had arrived earlier

Miguel Sano drove in the first run of the Twins’ win in Cleveland on Monday, giving him 51 RBIs this season. Sano, who made his major-league debut on July 2, is the second rookie in major-league history to drive in more than 50 runs in a season without having any before July. The other player to do that was Josh Phelps, with 58 RBIs for Toronto in 2002.

nullScherzer falls short of second no-hitter of season

Max Scherzer took a no-hit bid to the eighth inning in the Nationals’ win over the Reds on Monday. Scherzer, who no-hit the Pirates on June 20, is the first pitcher since 2011 to take a no-hit bid to the eighth inning after having completed a no-no earlier that season. Justin Verlander had two bids ended in the eighth inning that year after holding Toronto without a hit on May 7; and Francisco Liriano also had a no-hitter end in the eighth inning after his no-hitter against the White Sox.

nullCarter’s clutch homer

Chris Carter’s seventh-inning home run gave the Astros a lead they would not relinquish in their victory in Seattle on Monday. It was Carter’s first go-ahead homer in the seventh inning or later this season, although he hit three of those homers in each of the past two seasons.

 

 

What You Need to Know for Tuesday Night #Baseball

Clemente

Today would have been Roberto Clemente’s 81st birthday – so let’s all toast a legend of the game while we watch StrikeZone!

Heavy Favorites – according to Vegas

Clayton Kershaw vs. Oakland A’s (-221) – Ànother fifth day, another start for Kershaw as the favorite on the night. It’s becoming  routine, so surely on Sunday, Kershaw will be here. Tonight, Kershaw gets the Oakland Athletics, a team that is really struggling to find their groove – ask Stella. Since the second half of the season, the A’s have the lowest wOBA out of ANY team in the league. Think about that for a moment, worse than Atlanta, Miami, crazy to think about, right? So other than the fact that the A’s can’t hit, they’re at least a tough team to strikeout. They maintained that in the second half, as their strikeout percentage stands at 18%, one of the best in both leagues. But truly, with Kershaw entering tonight with a K/9 of 11.3, what does that mean? Maybe he ends up with eight strikeouts on the night? Kershaw has just been that good. Since the All Star break, Kerhsaw owns a 0.92 ERA giving up only four runs in 39 innings and striking out 45. As usual though, he’s going to cost you a fortune to roster. Priced at $15,000, you better get damn creative building the rest of your roster – thankfully I can help with that.
cropped-logo_1260147_print-1-e14180934753933.png

Francisco Liriano vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (-215)- We were arguing recently, if the Diamondbacks were getting the respect they deserve when it comes to being a good offensive club. They gave Gerrit Cole a run for his money last night. Tonight, Liriano is the second highest favored pitcher of the night. Like Cole, Liriano hasn’t exactly had a stellar month of August. He’s pitched nine innings giving up seven runs on 13 hits with a 9:6 K:BB ratio. Not exactly great numbers when you’re going to face a team that owns the ninth highest wOBA on the month at .331. Overall, Liriano comes into tonight with a 3.19 ERA with a 1.13WHIP and a K/9 of 9.9. Once again, we’re not sure we’re all giddy to throw Liriano on a roster tonight against this D-Backs team. Are they as good as we’re making them out to be? Maybe not, but I can’t feel great about putting pitcher in tonight that hasn’t exactly shown much as of late. At $10,300, it certainly is risky.

RA Dickey vs. Philadelphia Phillies (-190) – We’ll give credit when it’s due, Dickey has been solid as of late. Dickey has given up only four runs in his last three starts on 14 hits and a K:BB ratio of 13:6. For a knuckleballer, that’s pretty good. Tonight, he gets those Phillies that Vegas loves to hate on. After starting off the second half on fire, the Phillies have seen their wOBA slip to the middle of the league at .312, good for 16th. Dickey is of course, one of the toughest pitchers to predict because, quite frankly, even he doesn’t know what the knuckler will do on a particular day, Dickey has had his struggles on the road this season, with his wOBA against is over 60 points higher compared to at home. His price tonight just might make him a serious consideration, as he’s only going to run you for $7000.

Top Overall Game per O/U

Washington Nationals vs. Colorado Rockies (Coors Field) – 11 Over/Under- Vegas is expecting some fireworks in this one. Jordan Zimmermann takes on David Hale in this one. Zimmermann has looked like his old self lately in his past two starts, scoring 22.6 and 30 points against the Rockies and Dodgers. However, of course, pitching in Coors Field adds a whole different dynamic to the equation. As for Hale, he’s coming off the disabled list to return to the rotation, proving how bad their rotation really is. Hale owns a 5.69 ERA on the season with a 1.39 WHIPand a K/9 of 6.6. The Nationals have really been struggling at the plate, owning a .296 wOBA this month, good for 24th in the league. Nothing a little Coors Field can’t fix, right? As always, find a way to work a couple of these hitters into your lineup tonight.

Toughest Pitcher L/R matchup

  • Left handed batters
    • Felix Doubront OAK (LwOBA .218)
    • CC Sabathia NYY (LwOBA .222)
    • John Danks CWS (LwOBA .253)
  • Right handed batters
    • Jacob DeGrom NYM (RwOBA .197)
    • Clayton Kershaw LAD (RwOBA .238)
    • Jordan Zimmermann WAS (RwOBA .256)

Easiest L/R matchup

  • Left handed batters
    • Matt Wisler ATL (LwOBA .436)
    • Tyler Cravy MIL (LwOBA .424)
  • Right handed batters
    • CC Sabathia NYY (RwOBA .385)
    • Felix Dubront OAK (RwOBA .373)

All Pitcher Stats

81815_pitch

Hottest Hitters – last 7 days

  • Chase Utley PHI – DiRT Canon Value 106.66
  • Carl Crawford LADDiRT Canon Value – 101.06
  • Pedro Alvarez PITDiRT Canon Value – 98.37
  • Jackie Bradley Jr BOS  – DiRT Canon Value – 93.63
  • Alejandro De Aza BOSDiRT Canon Value – 90.90
  • Matt Kemp SDP – DiRT Canon Value – 88.86

Other notables:  Joey Votto is 11-for-23 with 2 HR’s, 7 RBI and 6 runs scored.  Miguel Sano is 10-for-24 with 3 HR’s, 9 RBI, a stolen base and 4 runs scored.

Best BvP matchup Tonight

Brian McCann vs. Mike Pelfrey – All is right in the world once again! McCann is 19-40 against Pelfrey with 10 extra base hits, two of them going for home runs, and a 1.368 OPS.

Adrian Beltre vs. Hisashi Iwakuma- If Iwakuma is thinking he’s going to pull out another no hitter, Beltre is here to stop him dead in his tracks. Beltre is 11-33 against Iwakuma with four extra base hits, three of those going for home runs and a 1.008 OPS.

Nick Markakis vs. James Shields- These two have seen a lot of each other back in their AL East days. Tonight, they matchup once again with Markakis 23-74 against Shields with seven extra base hits, two of them being home runs and a .859 OPS.


Weather

Looks like it might be a clear night of baseball!


Top 4 by Position – in no partciular order

81815_pos

A Pitcher To Consider

Garrett Richards ($9,800) –Raise your hand if you made a weird face when you saw Richards here. I’ll admit, I did, and I’m the one writing this. I have a few reasons to go this route so hear me about before you close this article in disgust and un follow me on Twitter. First off, Kershaw is just too expensive. $15,000. Putting Kershaw on your roster leaves you with $35,000 to work with, or $3,888 on average for each remaining player. Even if you went with Adam Conley, who’s the cheapest pitcher on the night, that leaves you with an average of $3,862 per player. Doable, but tough for sure. Then we have deGrom. Do I like the matchup against Baltimore? I don’t love it. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t hate if you draft deGrom tonight. His WHIP is a ridiculous 0.83 and he doesn’t give up a lot of home runs, only 11 on the year, but at Camden Yards scares me a bit. I have no doubt that deGrom will most likely have a solid start, but at $11,600, I’d at least want to like the matchup a bit more. Baltimore does own the best wOBA against RHP this season. So, with all that being said, here we are with Richards.

After starting off the month hitting way more to the potential people thought the White Sox have, they’ve fallen all the way down to 15th in wOBA in the month of August. Their power is decent, as they’re 10th in ISO this month, but a matchup in LA makes me feel a lot better about dealing with that. The White Sox are also in the middle of the pack in terms of strikeout % sitting at 20.5 on the month, or 14th in the league. I’m ok with that since Richards has a K/9 of 7.1, which I feel as if that’s obtainable tonight or close to it. Overall, for his price tag of $9800, it gives you a good chunk of flexibility that you wouldn’t necessarily get with deGrom and certainly not with Kershaw. Richards certainly isn’t the same caliber pitcher as those two, but matchup wise, I’m feeling good about this one.

Worth Considering

Anthony Rizzo($4900) – Rizzo gets a matchup tonight with the home run happy Anibal Sanchez. The majority of the home runs Sanchez has let up as come from RHB, but Rizzo does such a good job against righties, I like this chances tonight. Rizzo owns a .392 wOBA against righties this season with an ISO of .262. Big numbers for sure against someone who struggles to keep the ball on the park. Sanchez is given up an astonishing 28 home runs on the season. If someone can take him deep, Rizzo is certainly fitting the mold tonight.

Save $$$…

Abraham Almonte ($2000) – Honestly, I’m riding the hot streak right now. Almonte doesn’t have impressive overall numbers, but he’s been hitting well since taking over the every day outfield role in Cleveland. In the month of August, Almonte is batting .286 with two home runs, and eight RBIs. Again, nothing overly impressive, but at just $2000, you have nothing to lose here. Tonight he faces Eduardo Rodriguez, who has an wOBA over .300 against both RHBand LHB. Almonte, being a switch hitter, can take advantage of either side. He’s not a great hitter and don’t expect a ton, but even a 5-7 point night exceeds what you could ask for from someone who’s an everyday starter costing you the minimum price possible.


The Rest by Position

81815_catch
81815_1st
81815_2nd
81815_3rd
81815_ss
81815_out

Randomly Generated Lineup Combinations – Ideas

81815_lineup

Monday News – Deadline 4 days

With four days left until the trade deadline, and Cueto officially being traded, things seem to be picking up, with some other potential deals getting done soon. So while we run with these speculative guesses as our post today, we might as well get it out now before teams make a good chunk of this irrelevant.

So, what follows is Dave Cameron’s (FanGraphs) guesses as to who goes where before July 31st, based on what teams are rumored to be looking for and who we know is available. The tricky part is that there are also guys who are available that we don’t know about, and if a team penciled in for one of the available guys goes for the mystery box instead, it will have a domino effect, driving that available player somewhere else, and messing up multiple guesses in the process. So, by Friday, it’d be surprising how many were right. This is really more just for fun, instead of any kind of serious attempt at handicapping. But let’s see.

We’ll go by how impactful the team’s additions would be, with the team’s making the biggest splashes listed first.

Chicago Cubs
Andrew Cashner, Justin Upton, Joaquin Benoit, Jedd Gyorko

Here’s my speculative blockbuster. The Cubs are in a position to make a run this year, and while they may prefer not to pay a high price for rentals, getting a guy like Cashner back might just be the carrot they need to give the Padres a good return for their other two pieces. And the two teams line up in a lot of ways, with the guys the Padres are selling checking a lot of boxes for the Cubs.

My guess on something this size is that the Cubs would send both Starlin Castroand Javier Baez (along with some lower level guys) to San Diego, as this trade would give the Cubs a guy who could slide in at second base and allow Addison Russell to go back to shortstop. The Padres get a brand new middle infield and get out from under Gyorko’s deal (though they take on Castro’s contract in the process), as well as restock their farm system to some degree, while the Cubs push in heavily on 2015 while also getting a couple of guys who will be around next year as well. Yeah, it’s probably too large and unwieldy a deal to get done in July, but we know A.J. Preller is up for shock-and-awe trades, and maybe Theo Epstein will go along for the ride.

Toronto Blue Jays
Jeff Samardzija, Jay Bruce, Aroldis ChapmanWe know the Blue Jays are going to add a starting pitcher, and Samardzija seems like the most obvious fit, even though he’s a rental. Alex Anthoplous could give up a little more to get one of San Diego’s controlled arms instead, but I’ll guess they pay a lesser price for Samardzija and then use the prospect currency to land a Bruce/Chapman package from the Reds instead. That combination would add some significant upgrades to not only this year’s team, but next year’s as well, and would justify giving up the young arms that everyone wants when they talk trade with the Blue Jays.

Los Angeles Dodgers
Hisashi Iwakuma, Jesse Chavez, Jake McGeeThe Dodgers need arms, and I’d expect that they’ll pick up a starter, a reliever, and a guy who could do both, depending on need. Iwakuma would be a perfect fit as a #3 starter for LA, since they don’t really need another ace, and if the Rays really are listening on Jake McGee, I’d have to imagine Andrew Friedman would love to add him as a lefty complement to Kenley Jansen; that pair could be the west coast version of what the Yankees have at the end of their bullpen. Jesse Chavez is a guy who could help keep the team from using replacement level starters down the stretch, then could add depth to the team’s bullpen in October, or potentially remain as the team’s #4 starter if Brett Anderson gets hurt again.

Kansas City Royals
Johnny Cueto, Marlon Byrd, Dan HarenThe Royals make the most sense for Cueto and probably aren’t going to give up on acquiring him just because one of their trade chips failed a physical. Maybe someone will swoop in and steal him away, but this is the one guess that seems most likely to happen, and if the Reds are sending Cueto to KC, they should include Marlon Byrd as well; the Royals could use another outfielder with Alex Gordon on the shelf and Alex Rios being terrible. Haren could make some sense as a replacement for the injured Jason Vargas, and if he’s going to keep his FIP-beating ways going anywhere, KC is probably the best bet for him.

New York Yankees
Ben Zobrist, Mat Latos, Jim JohnsonWhile Brian Cashman keeps laying expectations for a quiet deadline, the Yankees are the best fit out there for Ben Zobrist, given their glaring hole at second base and the likelihood of winning their division. Few teams are capable of giving themselves a larger boost than the Yankees would get from swapping in Zobrist forStephen Drew. On the pitching side of things, I’d imagine they’ll go with lower-tier options, and Mat Latos’ cost will be limited based on his struggles and personality, while a guy like Jim Johnson won’t cost a lot to add a piece who can bridge the gap toDellin Betances and Andrew Miller.

Texas Rangers
Cole HamelsThe teams in win-now mode have enough short-term alternatives to not need to pay a premium to get the 2016 value that comes with having Hamels under control beyond this year, and while I don’t necessarily see the Rangers as on the verge of contending, they clearly see themselves that way, and adding Hamels to a healthy Yu Darvish would at least give them a shot to get back to the postseason next year.

The Rangers probably aren’t giving up Joey Gallo, but if they put Nomar Mazaraor a combination of Jorge Alfaro and Alex Gonzalez on the table, this is the kind of deal that could work for both sides. I’m lower on Alfaro and Gonzalez than most, so I’d push pretty strongly for Mazara and some lesser stuff if I was Ruben Amaro. Getting at least one high profile guy seems to be the preferred course of action for the Phillies anyway, and Mazara is a legitimate top prospect, so this is probably the best option for Philly to get a guy with All-Star upside in return.

Houston Astros
Carlos GomezThe Astros already got a pitcher, but they shouldn’t stop there, and Gomez would be a perfect fit for them, sliding in as their regular center fielder, pushing the overmatched Jake Marisnick back to a reserve role. With George Springer,Colby Rasmus, and Preston Tucker around, a center fielder makes more sense for the Astros than any of the corner guys on the market, and Gomez is the best center fielder potentially available. Given that he’s under control for next year as well, this is the kind of guy the Astros should be willing to pay for.

Pittsburgh Pirates
Mike Leake, Tyler ClippardThe Aramis Ramirez acquisition essentially sums up the kinds of moves the Pirates like to make at this point in the year; looking more for depth than paying for the perceived huge impact that doesn’t really exist in acquiring a guy for two months. Given that, I don’t think Pittsburgh will be in on the big names, though Ben Zobrist does still make some sense there, and I would see them going more for the middle-tier guys who can help but aren’t going to cost an arm and a leg. Leake and Clippard both fit that mold, but there are a lot of other mid-level starter/reliever combos that could go here too. And if Ramirez doesn’t take to 1B well, I could see them swinging a deal for Mike Napoli, though that might be an August trade.

Anaheim Angels
Carlos GonzalezThey want a left-handed power hitting outfielder, and there’s really only a couple of them on the market. Bruce could fit here too, but because they don’t have much in the way of prospects to trade, taking on most of CarGo’s contract is probably an easier deal for them to make. His recent hot streak has made it more likely that he’ll get moved, and Anaheim looks like the most logical landing spot for him if they have the budget room to get it done.

Minnesota Twins
Yovani Gallardo, John AxfordThe Twins are openly talking about adding a power arm who can rack up strikeouts, and Axford checks both boxes. If the Twins are really going to make a run, they’re going to need to add another arm to their rotation as well, because Ervin Santana is ineligible for postseason play; Gallardo seems like a good fit among guys who could be an actual upgrade but won’t cost top-line prospects.

San Francisco Giants
Gerardo ParraParra is a classic Giants player, with the good-at-everything-great-at-nothing skillset that has become the team’s hallmark. He makes contact, hits for power, plays solid defense in a corner, and could even replace Angel Pagan in center if the team needed him to. While Parra is playing well enough to appeal to a wide variety of teams, he seems destined to play for the Giants; they own the copyright on players like this.

St. Louis Cardinals
Adam LindIt’s tough to see St. Louis really rolling into the postseason with a rookie platooning with Mark Reynolds at first base, so I’ll pencil them in for Adam Lind, though they could go with a buy-low guy like Mike Napoli if they wanted to give Stephen Piscotty a longer look. My guess is that they know Piscotty isn’t the answer, though, and a lefty with power who can fit between Matt Holliday and Jhonny Peraltafits the bill nicely.

Washington Nationals
Jonathan PapelbonThe Nationals are getting their big guns back, making additions anywhere besides the bullpen less likely. But they’re almost certainly going to add a reliever, and Papelbon actually makes some sense here. Yes, Drew Storen is doing a great job as the team’s closer, but they wouldn’t lose much in the ninth with giving Papelbon that job, and that would free Storen up to pitch high-leverage spots in the 7th and 8th innings. And since the Phillies are reportedly willing to pay down some of Papelbon’s contract, the Nationals — who even got the Indians to pay the freight on Asdrubal Cabrera last year — might be able to get a good reliever by just taking on 2016 money.

New York Mets
Koji UeharaThe Mets made their move to solidify their line-up on Friday, adding Juan Uribeand Kelly Johnson as solid role players who didn’t cost a lot. I’d expect one more similar move for the bullpen, with a guy like Uehara being a good fit as a different look from the hard-throwing staff the Mets already have. It isn’t a sexy deadline, but the total value added by these three guys may have just as large of an impact on the team as making one big acquisition.

DiRTy Thursday

Toews scores 10th goal, Chicago ties series

Jonathan Toews scored his 10th goal of the playoffs, tying Patrick Kane for the team lead, in Chicago’s 2-1, series-tying win over the Lightning on Wednesday. The only other playoffs in which the Blackhawks had more than one 10-goal scorer were 1971 (Bobby Hull 11, Jim Pappin 10) and 2010 (Dustin Byfuglien and Patrick Sharp 11 each, Kane 10).

The first four games of this year’s Stanley Cup Final have been decided by the minimum margin. There have been just two other Finals in which the first four or more games were decided by one goal: all five games of the Canadiens vs. Maple Leafs series in 1951 and all four of the Canadiens vs. Blues series in 1968.

Brandon Saad‘s tiebreaking goal in the third period was the game-winner for the Blackhawks. Saad has scored seven goals in the Blackhawks’ 10 playoff games at United Center this year, which ties him with his teammate, Patrick Kane, Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov and Anaheim’sCorey Perry for the most goals in home games in the 2015 playoffs. Going back to the second round of last year’s playoffs, Saad has scored 12 goals in his last 16 postseason games in Chicago.

Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig returned to the Dodgers’ lineup, and last night against the Diamondbacks he was a triple away from the cycle after the fourth inning. It was a very Puig game, complete with a opposite-field homer.

Cardinals have a pair of young aces

Carlos Martinez improved to 7-2 with a win over the Rockies on Wednesday; his fellow 23-year old teammate Michael Wacha is 8-2. The Cardinals are the first team to have two pitchers age 23 or younger win at least seven of their first 12 starts of a season since Dwight Gooden (8-2) and Sid Fernandez (7-2) did so for the Mets in 1986.

A surprising start by Morton

Charlie Morton, who had a 36-61 career won-lost record in the major leagues prior to this season, improved to 4-0 in four starts this year with a win over the Brewers on Wednesday. He’s the first pitcher to win his first four games of a season after entering the year at least 25 games under .500 since Red Ruffing for the Yankees in 1934. Ruffing, who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1967, had spent the 1920s with some poor Red Sox teams, before being acquired by the Ruth-and-Gehrig Yankees.

Nationals stun Yankees with late comeback

The Yankees led the Nationals, 4-2 in the eighth inning on Wednesday, but Washington scored twice in the eighth and once in the eleventh to win, 5-4. It was the Yankees’ first loss after leading by two or more runs in the eighth inning or later since August 27, 2012 against Toronto.

The Yankees’ streak of 164 consecutive wins when leading by two or more runs in the eighth inning or later was the longest for any major-league team since the Twins’ 207-game streak from 2004 to 2007. The only longer regular-season streaks for the Yankees were a 183-game streak from 2004 to 2006 and a 174-game streak from 1998 to 2000.

Washington took three of the four meetings between the teams this season, despite trailing by multiple runs in all four games. The Yankees are 28-4 against all other teams this season when they have had a lead of at least two runs.

Hunter loses his mind

Royals return to throne

The Royals finished off their sweep of the Twins and moved two games ahead of Minnesota in the A.L. Central with a 7-2 win on Wednesday. It’s the first time since 1982 that Kansas City has swept a series from a division rival to move into first place, and force their opponent out of first place, at least 50 games into a season. The Royals won three games from the Angels from July 2-4 to move past California into first place in the A.L. West. California wound up winning the division by three games over Kansas City.

Weekend Sediment

Before we get to the weekend recap – there is a tragic news story coming out of Florida – It seems an owner of a major-league-fantasy sports team decided to hold his wedding during the baseball season and subsequently neglected his team for a honeymoon destination without wifi.  His reckless decisions have placed his teams chances for a title in serious jeopardy that they may never recover from.  If this sounds like something you might do, then stop and think of your players.  Of course you can avoid any of these scenarios by playing Daily Fantasy with us and never have to worry about taking a vacation and ruining your teams chances, because each day is a new chance to earn some fresh lettuce.  We have developed a baseball solution based on avoiding zeroes and increasing your chances to cash 75% of the lineups you enter.  So, look for our information by 2p each day based on the amount of games being played in our BASEBALL page.  Now on with the recap!


Lightning strikes

From Elias: Ben Bishop became the first goaltender in NHL history to send his team into the Stanley Cup Final with a road shutout in a Game Seven, as he lifted the Lightning into the Final by blanking the Rangers, 2-0. For Bishop, it was his second Game Seven shutout of the 2015 playoffs; he had blanked the Red Wings, 2-0, in the seventh game of Tampa Bay’s first-round series. Bishop is the third goaltender in NHL history to earn a pair of Game Seven shutouts in one playoff year. The others were Colorado’s Patrick Roy in 2002 (vs. Los Angeles and San Jose) and Boston’s Tim Thomas in 2011 (vs. Tampa Bay and Vancouver). (For Bishop, unlike Roy and Thomas, the shutouts came in the first two Game Sevens of his NHL career.)

Bishop, who recorded an assist in his Game Seven win versus Detroit, did the same in Friday’s victory against the Rangers. The only other NHL goaltenders with even one career assist in a Game Seven shutout are Pittsburgh’s Frank Pietrangelo in 1991 (vs. New Jersey) and Colorado’s Patrick Roy in 2002 (vs. Los Angeles).

Bishop shut out the Rangers not only in Game Seven, but also in Game Five. No other goaltender had ever pitched a road shutout in a winner-take-all road game after also having earned a shutout in his previous game on the same ice.

The Lightning’s victory, on the heels of a 7-3 loss in Game Six on Tuesday, marked the first time in NHL history that a team had won a series by means of a Game Seven road shutout after having allowed at least five goals in the previous game.

Toews puts Chicago on path to victory

From Elias: The Blackhawks, on a pair of goals by Jonathan Toews, outscored the Ducks, 2-0, in the first period of Game 7 in the Western Conference Final at Anaheim. Toews is the third player in NHL history to score two first-period goals for the road team in the seventh game of a playoff series. The other players to do that were the Maple Leafs’ Dave Keon at Montreal in a 1964 Semi-Final series, and the Kings’ Ted Irvine at Oakland in a first-round series in 1969. The last NHL player to score two first-period goals for the home side in Game 7 was the Bruins’ Milan Lucic in a second-round matchup versus the Flyers in 2010.

Kane helps on three goals

From Elias: Patrick Kane assisted on three of the Blackhawks five goals in their win over the Ducks in Game 7 of the Western Conference Final. In the NHL’s expansion era (1968 to date) the only other players to record three assists in the seventh game of a Semi-Final or Conference Final series are Boston’s Jean Ratelle at Montreal in 1979 and Toronto’s Doug Gilmour versus Los Angeles in 1993, though each of them did so in a game their team lost.

Blackhawks offense comes alive in last two games of Conference Final

From Elias: The Blackhawks won 5-3 in Game 7 of the Western Conference Final, after posting a 5-2 victory in Game 6. It’s the seventh time in NHL history that a team won Game 6 and Game 7 of a playoff series while scoring at least five goals in each game, but it’s only the second time it has happened after the first round. The only previous instance of an NHL team winning a series in that fashion after the opening round was when Wayne Gretzky and the Los Angeles Kings posted 5-4 wins over the Maple Leafs in Games 6 and 7 of the 1993 Campbell Conference Final.


Think of the Central time zone and the 4 teams that are .600 or better as the dog days begin – St. Louis Cardinals (33-17), Minnesota Twins (30-19), Houston Fir-stros (31-20) and the Kansas City Royals (29-19).  Maybe the Royals and the Cardinals are so much as a surprise as the Twins and Astros are – but no one saw this…

FRIDAY

Norris caps one-of-a-kind night with walk-off grand-slam

From Elias: Derek Norris, who had struck out in each of his four previous trips to the plate, hit a two-out, grand-slam walkoff homer in the ninth inning to propel the Padres to a 6-2 victory over the Pirates. It was the first game-ending grand-slam homer in the majors this season and the sixth such blow in Padres history, the last coming off the bat of Adrian Gonzalez five years ago. But fans at Petco Park on Friday night saw something never previously done in the history of major-league baseball: Norris became the first player to hit a walkoff grand-slam home run in a game in which he has previously struck out as many as four times.

Dodgers bring drought on the road with them

From Elias: When the Dodgers play in Los Angeles, they have to deal with water restrictions necessitated by the California drought. But now on the road, the Dodgers have experienced a scoring drought, one that reached a remarkable total of 37 consecutive road innings without a run as they fell, 3-0, to John Lackey and the Cardinals on Friday night. That total represents the second-longest streak of consecutive scoreless innings in road games since the Dodgers joined the National League in 1890. The one longer streak was fashioned during the Roosevelt administrationthat’s Teddy Rooseveltin August of 1908. In the midst of a 22-game road trip through six National League cities, the Dodgers went 41 straight innings without scoring in Pittsburgh and Chicago.

The 2015 Dodgers had lost three straight shutouts at San Francisco, May 19 to May 21, in their last road games before Friday’s contest in St. Louis. They have been shut out in four straight road games for the first time in franchise history.

Buehrle’s 204th win is unlike any of the others

From Elias: The Twins ended Mark Buehrle‘s streak of 35 consecutive innings without allowing Minnesota an earned run early and with emphasis, scoring four runs, all earned, in the first inning. But then Buehrle slipped back into form, the Blue Jays pecked away and the veteran left-hander wound up going the distance to earn a 6-4 victory. Only two major-league pitchers over the last 30 years have earned a complete-game win, going nine or more innings, after having allowed four or more runs in the first inningand even they were long ago. In 1995, Seattle’s Tim Belcher downed Cleveland, 11-5, after allowing four in the first, and in 1986, Fernando Valenzuela went the route after yielding four in the first to help the Dodgers top the Phillies, 11-4.

Buehrle’s streak, crafted over five games dating back to 2011, was the longest by any big-league pitcher against an opposing team since Zack Greinke held Seattle without an earned run over 38 innings from 2008 to 2010. It was the longest such streak crafted by a starting pitcher against the Twins since Sudden Sam McDowell sailed through 48 innings without allowing the Twins an earned run over 1968 and 1969.

Hamilton hits two in second home game of season

From Elias: Josh Hamilton homered on each of his first two trips to the plate off Boston’s Steven Wright and the Rangers took it from there, repelling the Red Sox, 7-4. Each of Hamilton’s home runs gave the Rangers a lead (1-0 and then 3-2), and they came in his second home game after re-joining the Rangers while the team was on the road earlier this week. The home runs were the 84th and 85th that Hamilton has hit in a Rangers uniform in what is now known as Globe Life Park in Arlington. He hit only one home run there in 62 at-bats over 16 games while with the Angels over the past two seasons.

Bettis and Tulo have their way in Philly

From Elias: Chad Bettis threw seven and one-third hitless inningsthe second-longest no-hit effort in the 3,548-game history of the Rockies, second only toUbaldo Jimenez‘s complete-game no-hitter at Atlanta five years agoonly to see his bid spoiled when Cody Asche‘s soft grounder to the shortstop position rolled through to the outfield because Troy Tulowitzki was overshifted onto the right side of the infield. Bettis, against whom opponents had fashioned a collective .320 batting average in his 40 previous major-league games, allowed another hit later in the inning and earned credit for Colorado’s 4-1 victory at Philadelphia.

Tulowitzki did his best work with the stick in his hands, going 4-for-4, and reaching Cole Hamels for a pair of home runs. It was the second game in his career in which Tulowitzki produced at least four hits, including multiple homers, while batting 1.000; he went 5-for-5 with two circuit clouts in a game at Cincinnati two years back. Hamels is the fourth pitcher against whom Tolo has homered twice in a game; he had previously homered twice in the same game off Sean O’SullivanBronson Arroyo and John Ely.

Bettis, by the way, did keep a couple of other no-hit streaks intact: He went 0-for-2 at the plate, and is now 0-for-23 in his big-league career. Rockies pitchers as a whole are now hitless in their last 34 at-bats.

Another short start for Strasburg

From Elias: Stephen Strasburg left the mound due to an apparent stiff neck in the second inning of the Nationals’ game at Cincinnati, and the Reds later came from behind to take a 5-2 decision. Strasburg has had major problems with length in recent weeks: including his one-inning effort on Friday night, he has now thrown a total of 16 innings over his last five starts combined. That matches the fewest innings that any big-leaguer accumulated over a five-start span (with no relief appearances sprinkled in) all of last season; the Angels’ Cory Rasmus was the lone pitcher last season who amassed just 16 innings over five straight starts.

SATURDAY

Dodgers finally score on the road

From Elias: Howie Kendrick‘s sixth-inning single scored Justin Turner and ended the Dodgers’ road scoreless streak at 42 innings. That surpassed by one inning the franchise record streak of 41, set in August 1908. No major-league team had failed to score in 42 consecutive innings in road games in 30 years, since the Braves posted a 46-inning streak in May 1985.

Grandal shows power with runners on

From Elias: Yasmani Grandal‘s three-run home run gave the Dodgers the lead for good in their 5-1 win at St. Louis. Grandal’s last two home runs were also of the three-run variety, both on May 7 at Milwaukee. The last Dodgers player to drive in at least three runs on three straight homers within one season was Adrian Beltre in 2003.

Keuchel White-washes Sox

From Elias: Dallas Keuchel struck out 11 without walking a batter in a complete-game 3-0 home win for the Astros over the White Sox. No Houston pitcher had struck out more than 10 batters without issuing a walk in a complete-game shutout since Randy Johnson fanned 16 Pirates at the Astrodome on August 28, 1998.

Stanton feels at home in Queens

From Elias: Giancarlo Stanton hit two home runs in the Marlins’ 9-5 win over the Mets in New York. It was Stanton’s third career-multi-homer game at Citi Field. That’s the third-highest total by any player behind current Mets slugger Lucas Duda(6), and former New York first baseman Ike Davis (4).

Paulsen homers off Garcia again

From Elias: For the second straight day, Ben Paulsen homered off Luis Garcia as the Rockies won at Philadelphia. Only two other rookies in the last 20 years have hit home runs in two consecutive games off the same pitcher: the Phillies’ Pat Burrell against the Mets’ Armando Benitez in June 2000, and the Braves’ Brooks Conrad off the Brewers’ Carlos Villanueva in May 2010.

Goldschmidt homers off Lohse in two straight innings

From Elias: Paul Goldschmidt hit two home runs, a solo shot off Kyle Lohse in the third inning and a two-run blast off Lohse in the fourth, in the Diamondbacks’ 7-3 win it Milwaukee. It was the third time that Goldschmidt has homered in consecutive innings, having done so against the Reds in 2013 and versus the Dodgers in 2014. But the last Arizona player to go deep in consecutive innings off the same pitcher was Aaron Hill against Madison Bumgarner at Chase Field on April 7, 2012.

SUNDAY

Hamilton gives the Rangers a dramatic win

Josh Hamilton‘s pinch-hit, two-run double off Koji Uehara with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning lifted the Rangers’ a 4-3 triumph over the Red Sox. It was the eighth game of Hamilton’s major-league career in which he produced a walkoff RBI, and in four of those games (all for the Rangers) his game-ender turned a deficit into a victory, three of which came in two-out situations. Sunday’s walkoff by Hamilton was the first for a Rangers pinch-hitter with the team trailing and down to its final out since June 2, 1995, when Rusty Greer‘s pinch-hit, two-run homer off Rick Aguilera with two outs in the bottom of the ninth gave Texas a 6-5 win over the Twins.

Colorado bullpen bails out injured Lyles for Philly sweep

Jordan Lyles lasted only 1.1 innings before his reoccurring toe injury forced him out of the game, but none of the four Colorado relievers who followed him to the mound was charged with a run in the Rockies’ 4-1 triumph in Philadelphia. Chris Rusin, who relieved Lyles in the second inning, tossed 4.2 innings and was credited with the victory. It was the 38th game in franchise history in which the Rockies’ starting pitcher recorded fewer than five outs, but it was the first of those games in which Colorado’s bullpen was not charged with a run.

Ten-hit shutout for Danks

John Danks answered Saturday’s shutout by Dallas Keuchel with one of his own on Sunday, as he scattered ten hits while the White Sox downed the Astros, 6-0. Danks became the first major-league pitcher since Minnesota’s Carlos Silva (11 hits) blanked the Angels on August 3, 2004 to toss a shutout in a game in which he allowed ten or more hits. The only other White Sox pitcher who did that in the post-WWII era is Stan Bahnsen, with a 12-hit shutout of the Athletics on June 21, 1973.

Frazier leads Reds in sweep of Nationals

Todd Frazier went 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs as the Reds completed their three-game series sweep of the Nationals. It capped a four-game span for Frazier during which time he went 10-for-15 with four doubles and three home runs. In baseball’s modern era (1900 to date), the only other Reds players who produced ten or more hits over a four-game period, including seven for extra bases and a batting average as high as Frazier’s (.667) are George Crowe in 1957, George Foster in 1980, Kevin Mitchell in 1993 (two overlapping four-game spans) and Barry Larkin in 1995.

Maldonado had enough

After playing the entire game behind the plate, Martin Maldonado put an end to his long day of squatting with a game-ending home run that gave the Brewers a 7-6 victory over the Diamondbacks in 17 innings. Maldonado is the first player in major-league history who ended a game of at least 17 innings with a home run after playing a complete game in the field as a catcher.

A late comeback for the Braves

The Braves erased a two-run deficit with a four-run ninth inning that was capped by Jace Peterson‘s bases-loaded triple in their 7-5 victory at San Francisco. The Braves had lost the previous 70 games in which they trailed in the eighth inning or later (since a come-from-behind win against the Mets on June 30, 2014). That was the longest current losing streak of its kind for any major-league team entering play on Sunday (a distinction that now belongs to the Marlins, who have lost the last 40 games in which they were in that predicament) and it was the longest losing streak of that nature for the Braves since the Boston version of the franchise lost 108 consecutive games in which it trailed in the eighth inning or later from 1904 to 1905.

Kipnis reached base more often than not during May

Jason Kipnis went 2-for-5 with a walk in the Indians’ 12-inning win at Seattle and he posted an on-base percentage of .511 during May, with 51 hits, 16 walks and five hit-by-pitches. Kipnis is the first Indians player to reach base safely at least 70 times in one calendar month (via hits, walks and HBP) since Earl Averill did it 74 times in July 1934 (38 hits, 35 walks, one hit-by-pitch).

Angels win four against the mighty Tigers

Johnny Giavotella‘s infield single in the bottom of the eighth inning plated two runs to snap a 2-2 tie in the Angels’ 4-2 win that completed their four-game series sweep of the Tigers. It was the fourth time in franchise history that the Angels swept a four-game series from a team that entered the series with a winning percentage as high as Detroit’s (.583 at the time of Thursday’s series opener). The Angels’ previous sweeps of that kind came against the Indians in both 1965 and 1967 and versus the Athletics last August.

Flores takes his place among young power-hitting shortstops

Wilmer Flores, at age 23, slammed his eighth home run of the season to help Bartolo Colon and the Mets defeat the Marlins in New York. Flores’s eight homers match the major-leagues’ fourth-highest single-season total by the end of May for a shortstop under the age of 24. The only higher totals belong to Alex Rodriguez, who did it twice (ten in 1996 at age 20; 20 in 1998 at age 22), and Cal Ripken (11 in 1984 at age 23). Four other under-24 players had exactly eight homers form the shortstop position by the end of May: Arky Vaughan (1935 Pirates), Rico Petrocelli (1966 Red Sox), A-

Rod (1999 Mariners) and Jean Segura (2013 Brewers).

Rookie home-run streaks

Tampa Bay’s Steven Souza (at Baltimore) and Miami’s Justin Bour (at New York) each homered for a third consecutive game on Sunday, tying them with the Dodgers’ Joc Pederson (April 29-May 2) for the longest home-run streaks by major-league rookies this season. Souza became the third Tampa Bay rookie to homer in three consecutive games, joining Evan Longoria (two such streaks in 2008) and Kevin Kiermaier (last season). Bour joined a surprisingly long list of Marlins rookies with three-game home-run streaks, including Kurt Abbott (1994), who is the only one of them who homered in four straight games. The other Marlins rookies with three-game home-run streaks are Charles Johnson (1995), Derrek Lee (1998), Hanley Ramirez (2006), Josh Willingham (twice in 2006) and Giancarlo Stanton (twice in 2010).

Martinez extends his streak of scoreless innings

Carlos Martinez allowed only one hit during seven shutout innings as he and the Cardinals defeated the Dodgers, 3-1. Martinez extended his scoreless streak to 20.1 consecutive innings, which is the longest for any major-league starting pitcher this season. The only other Cardinals starter who fashioned a streak of consecutive shutout innings as long as Martinez’s in any of the last four seasons is Adam Wainwright, who had two such streaks last year (25 innings and 21 innings).