As we await the beginning of the Cubs’ biggest series of the year (four straight agains the Brewers, if you’re not following along), let’s check in on some other news around the league …
- Like, for example, how the Pirates walked it off against the Brewers last night, reducing their elimination number down to 8 despite the Cubs loss. Here’s a look at Frazier’s walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth:
— Pirates (@Pirates) September 21, 2017
- The Nationals got some good news yesterday: Bryce Harper could return as soon as next week. Having long guaranteed their spot in the NLDS, the Nationals have undoubtedly been hoping their star right fielder would make it back in time for the postseason, and it appears that he will (with time to spare). Joy. As far as the “plan” goes, Harper, who played in a simulated game today, will get another workout in tomorrow, before the team makes a final evaluation this weekend. You can tentatively expect him back next week.
- And, again, I’ll remind you that if the season ended today, the Cubs would get Harper and the Nationals in the first round of the playoffs.
- A horrible situation at the Yankees game, as a foul ball struck a young fan, and the topic of additional protective netting is going to be a big point of discussion this offseason.
- With 13 more Ks (and no walks) last night, Chris Sale has recorded 300 strikeouts this season. That’s 29th on the all-time list, and he *could* have two more starts this season (depending on what happens with the Red Sox/AL East). It’s entirely possible, with two more starts, this season could end up somewhere around the low-teens, nestled next to Sandy Koufax, Curt Schilling, and Pedro Martinez. Wow.
- Alex Gordon has hit just eight home runs this season, but his most recent, which came two nights ago against Blue Jays right-hander Ryan Tepera, was the 5,694th homer of the 2017 season – setting a new Major League single-season record. You can read all kinds of quirky, interesting, and unusual facts about various home run marks set this year here at MLB.com.
- But with that new record in mind, Travis Sawchik openly wonders if this is an outlier season, or if baseball is setting a new baseline. And if it’s the latter, how will teams prepare for the future? While the answer may seem relatively simple (target ground ball pitchers and fly ball hitters to stave off/take advantage of the fly ball revolution!), it’s not that easy. These sort of trends can change quickly, as an interesting anecdote from Pirates GM Neal Huntington proves, so this is a really important question.
- Here’s a mini Cardinals Injury Update: Starter Adam Wainwright was activated from the 10-Day disabled list two days ago, after missing most of the last month with an elbow injury. However, he’ll pitch out of the bullpen, not the rotation, for the rest of the season. Similarly, Jedd Gyorko made his first start since August 26th against the Reds two nights ago, but went 0-4 at the plate (1-3 yesterday). And finally, reliever Sueng Hwan Oh returned to the mound (hamstring) yesterday, throwing one scoreless inning of relief.
- Quick: Name that (non-Aaron Judge) rookie who’s been hitting a home run in like every other at-bat this year … Did you say Rhys Hoskins? If so, I wouldn’t be surprised. That kid has hit 18 homers in his first 40 big league games … but I’m not talking about him. Nope, I’m talking about A’s first baseman Matt Olson, who’s hit 23 homers in 56 big league games this year, while remaining almost wholly unheard of (by me, until now, at least). To be fair, he played in 11 games last season (without a homer), so his streak is slightly less impressive (23 homers in 67 games), but still, wow.
- As we explored earlier, one buy-low (formerly impending) free-agent starting pitcher, Marco Estrada, has come off the board. The Blue Jays gave him a one-year, $13 million extension, so he’ll stay in Canada for at least one more season.
- However, another starter, Alex Cobb, continues the march towards free agency and is using his best stuff to get him there. At FanGraphs, Travis Sawchik warns teams not to forget about Cobb, who’s second-half has been something of a revelation. He’s got a 3.41 ERA in the second half of the season, while rocking a 52.6% ground ball rate. He’s giving up a bit too much hard contact, but Sawchik sees plenty to like. And it’s not all smoke and mirrors, check out Sawchik’s article at FanGraphs to see some of the specific changes Cobb has made (including using his signature pitch “The Thing,” less often than ever before (boo!)) to see these improvements. There’s about zero chance the Cubs won’t check in on Cobb this offseason.
- As much as I hate the Brewers right now, it’s hard to argue that they’re not turn a corner, organizationally … which is why this hurts (for them) a whole lot more:
Jimmy Nelson had successful surgery, but labrum required a repair according to GM David Stearns. Will miss undetermined portion of next yr.
— Todd Rosiak (@Todd_Rosiak) September 20, 2017
- I will never revel in another person’s injury/rehab, but that’s inarguably a good thing for the 2018 Chicago Cubs, who will likely see a continued threat from the 2018 Milwaukee Brewers. Brett discussed the injury a bit more this morning in the Bullets.
- Remember Clayton Richard? Well, after making 30 healthy starts this season (4.82 ERA, 4.32 FIP), the San Diego Padres have rewarded him with an extension: 2 years/$6 million.
- Ah, Giancarlo – just keeps crushing:
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) September 21, 2017
- And finally, speaking of those Brewers: Did you catch the 104.7 MPH throw their center fielder made yesterday?
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) September 20, 2017