How much better I feel after the Cubs stole that win away from the Braves last night is almost laughable.
At best, they eeked out a 50/50 coin flip win. At worst, they got lucky with a couple bad ump calls early in the game (plus another play at the plate that saved a run), and didn’t deserve to win at all. So, logically, I know I shouldn’t feel good.
Still, this was me this morning:
Here’s some news from around the league …
- I have to say, I’m pretty bummed about the Robinson Cano news (he was suspended 80 games for a PED violation (or, rather, a masking agent, which he claims was totally normal and legal to use for a separate condition, but come on)). Not only did I like following Cano as a player, but he was also one of the best examples of an aging veteran who’d received a massive contract for past performance … and was living up to it.
- Since signing with the Mariners back before the 2014 season, Cano has slashed .294/.353/.471 with 101 homers and just a 13.3% strikeout rate. During that time, he’s been worth 19.0 WAR, was a three-time All-Star, and earned top-10 MVP votes twice. And the worst part is there’s not even a good bad-excuse/explanation. Like, whenever I talk about Barry Bonds and his use of PEDs, for example, I always like to point out that the steroids didn’t make him the player he was. He already was a truly phenomenal and unique slugger and probably would’ve been without the drugs. HOWEVER, the steroids did help him recover faster and last longer than his clean league-mates. So for Cano, whose current claim to fame was his ability to keep performing at a high-level despite his age, the look is bad. And like Brett said yesterday, this isn’t 2001. Everyone isn’t doing it and the league isn’t condoning it behind the scenes. He knew what he was doing, he knew the consequences, and he did it anyway. Bummer.
- Moving on … just as Tommy John surgery was once a much riskier endeavor for Major League pitchers, but is now just a common step many guys take before their career is through, surgery to address Thoracic Outlet Syndrome has had some success stories lately, hasn’t it? Well, at least, moderate-success stories. For example, Vincent Velasquez underwent TOS surgery last offseason, but has a 28.1% strikeout rate and an 7.9% walk rate through eight starts for the Phillies this season (while averaging 95.1 MPH on his fastball). Tyson Ross underwent the surgery after the 2016 season and although it took him a year to return to his normal self, he has a 3.40 ERA (3.28 FIP) plus a 26.6% strikeout rate through eight starts for the Padres this season. And then there’s Matt Harvey. Who knows where his career is headed, but after being traded to the Reds he debuted for his new team with a 4.0 IP, 1H, 0ER, 0BB, 2K start against the Dodgers. He’ll start for his new team against the Giants again tonight, and we’ll see how he looks.
- In any case, that’s all a long-winded, anecdotal way of saying/hoping that Thoracic Outlet Syndrome might soon stop being the end of guys’ careers and start being just another bump in the road the sports-medicine world has smoothed over.
- Hey, remember Noah Syndergaard? Heard of him? Yeah, he’s still a beast:
Thor, 93mph Changeup. 🙄 pic.twitter.com/oizPjemhm7
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 16, 2018
- Through nine starts and 51.2 IP this season, Syndergaard is basically as good as ever: 3.14 ERA, 2.73 FIP, 2.96 xFIP; 28.0% strikeout rate, 5.5% walk rate. He’s such a monster.
- After dealing with a “hip strain” for about the past ten days, Yoenis Cespedes has been placed on the 10-day disabled list. The move is backdated to May 14th, so he’ll be able to return in just eight days, if he’s ready.
- The Cardinals have sent should-be-closer Luke Gregerson back to the disabled list this morning with a right shoulder impingement. He’ll join Carlos Martinez, Tyler Lyons, and Adam Wainwright as Cardinal pitchers on the DL. Gregerson seemed like a bit of steal when the Cardinals signed him to a two-year/$11M deal (with a $5M club option for 2020) over the offseason – the sort of deal they got because of a broken free agent market – but he’s been injured for most of the season. Indeed, Gregerson didn’t even take the mound for the Cardinals until April 19, and now, just 12 appearances later, he’s back on the shelf (with an 8.64 ERA, 5.43 FIP, I might add). Poor Cardinals – I feel so bad.
- Even though I never really liked Matt Carpenter – he is a Cardinal, after all – I drafted him in my Fantasy Baseball league this summer, because he’s been one of the more consistent hitters in baseball … until this season. Naturally, he began the 2018 season with a .147/.296/.284 slash line. Now I really don’t like him. But more to the point, the Cardinals sat him for three straight games (before returning him to the starting lineup yesterday) as a sort of mental “restart,” for their formerly-excellent infielder. Carpenter went 0-4 with three Ks in his return.
- Although I can smile about that, I can’t say I’m as happy about Dexter Fowler’s struggles. Through his first 152 plate appearances this season, Fowler is hitting just .146/.257/.285 (53 wRC+). Like Carpenter, the Cardinals have been giving Fowler some dedicated time off to reset. Hopefully, he returns a little stronger than Carpenter (but still not enough to help the Cardinals). Still don’t like that one homer, though.
- Keeping it in the NL Central, Pirates outfielder Starling Marte (right side discomfort) and catcher Francisco Cervelli (right forearm discomfort after being hit by a pitch) were both removed from the team’s Tuesday night win over the White Sox in Pittsburgh. From the sounds of it, Cervelli seems to be mostly okay, and could return soon, but Marte might be out a little longer – they don’t seem to know yet. Cervelli (167 wRC+) and Marte (138 wRC+) are the Pirates’ two top hitters. And although we may not expect the Pirates to be there by the end of the season, they are currently in first place.
- Cubs. He said Cubs, guys. Look, he said Cubs:
Harper, on if it matters which team he liked as a kid now that he's so old: "We have to do the things to keep track of what's important and that's winning ballgames…It doesn't matter who we're playing — if it's the Yankees, Cubs, Dodgers, Phillies, name it."
— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) May 15, 2018
- That came as the Nationals are playing the Yankees, and the New York media apparently desperately tried to get Bryce Harper to comment on whether he’d want to join the Yankees next year. As expected, he declined to even touch the topic.
- What a moment, as Stephen Piscotty returned to the lineup for the A’s after time away to mourn his mother’s passing:
— Oakland Athletics (@Athletics) May 16, 2018
- And finally, from Baseball is Fun … Giancarlo Stanton just recorded the 1,000th hit of his career, but unlike 90% of his hits, this one was not crushed into a million little pieces. In fact, it was quite the contrary (I love that even he couldn’t help but smile at the irony):
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) May 16, 2018
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.