PSA: This’ll be a 100% spoiler-free intro, but I do want to talk about a recent movie for a beat.
So I saw ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ and I have to say, I couldn’t disagree with the masses more. That movie was absolutely fantastic, and I went in fairly apprehensive. In fact, I’d say it was better than ‘The Last Jedi’ and ‘Rogue One,’ and it’s not like I hated either of those titles.
The actor portraying Han was as good as can be – which is decidedly not saying he’s anywhere close to a young Harrison Ford (who could be?) – and the additional layer/origin story of Han added a ton of depth to an already beloved character without sacrificing anything that makes him him. Go see it, I loved it. It was good stuff.
Here’s some baseball stuff.
- After getting plenty of bad news on the injury front this past month or so, the Cardinals are getting ready for some key returns:
Carlos Martinez will start Tuesday, officially. Barring any setback today, in his second rehab game, Yadier Molina will catch him. #STLCards
— Joe Trezza (@JoeTrezz) June 3, 2018
- Indeed, as soon as tomorrow they may be getting their best starting pitcher back, as well as their team-leader behind the plate. The former, Martinez, made eight starts this season (1.62 ERA), before going down with a right lat strain (just like Alex Reyes), and the latter, Molina, was hitting just better than average (102 wRC+) when he went down in a game against the Cubs on May 5 and needed surgery for a traumatic hematoma in his scrotum.
- But don’t feel too badly for the Cardinals. They’ve still got their fair share of voodoo magic. Take Paul DeJong replacement Yairo Munoz. The rookie is slashing .298/.355/.439 (118 wRC+) in limit duty this season, after slashing .289/.316/.414 (86 wRC+) in all of 2017 … at Triple-A. Shrug. They always get surprisingly good production from random guys like this (Cardinals 12th best prospect before the season), so maybe they just deserve some credit. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have gone 6-4 in their past ten games and remain just behind the second-place Cubs in the NL Central.
- Although we’ve known about the exciting class of free agents arriving at the end of this season for a while, there was always a chance that injury, underperformance, and/or extensions could spoil the maximum fun. But so far, the top two guys, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, are not just still on the table, they’re each having one of the best seasons of their careers:
10 Degrees: Manny Machado is fulfilling all of his potential. Bryce Harper is on pace to hit 50 home runs. The build-up to the greatest free agent frenzy since LeBron took his talents to Miami is living up to expectations.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) June 4, 2018
- Machado is slashing .327/.398/.633 (172 wRC+) and has already been worth 3.0 WAR. Harper has already cranked out 18 home runs and is walking in over 18% of his plate appearances. BRING ONE OF THEM TO ME – I DON’T EVEN CARE WHICH ONE (although, I am starting to think Machado is the way to go … [Brett: BLASPHEMER!]).
- Daniel Murphy is currently on his rehab assignment from an offseason knee surgery, which typically means a return to the Majors is just around the corner, but perhaps his will be longer than usual. Here’s what the Washington Post shared earlier today: “According to people who have seen Murphy in person over the last few days, the veteran second baseman does not look like a man ready to return from the disabled list any time soon. He has four errors on his rehab assignment. He is not running the bases well. A scout who has seen him play this weekend described him as ‘gimpy,’ ‘struggling to move laterally’ and lacking ‘straight-ahead speed.'” Murphy, 33, is getting up there in years, so a slower recovery is not entirely unheard of, but you have to assume the Nationals are dying to get their 4.5 WAR (2017) second baseman back. Wilmer Difo has taken a majority of his starts at second base and it hasn’t gone great: .245/.319/.362 (84 wRC+).
- It is worth pointing out, however, that the Nationals have gone on a bit of a tear, winning 21 of their 32 road games this season and improving to 33-25 overall. They’re now just 1.5 games back of the Braves and are closing in (7-3 in their past ten).
The more I look at the standings at trends, the more I'm expecting pre-season expectations to be reality by the trade deadline:
NL West: LAD (2.5 GB)
NL Central: CHC (2.0 GB)
NL East: WSN (1.5 GB)
AL West: HOU (1.0 GB)
AL Central: CLE ✔️
AL East: NYY ✔️
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) June 4, 2018
- The Yankees might have to play a night game before a double-header and they’re very, very angry about it. To be sure, playing three games within 24 hours does seem to be a bit much. So, I guess I’m on team Yankee? Hey, when the alternative is team-ESPN … I kid I kid.
- Speaking of the Yankees, fun with rainouts and odd standings:
Because of rainouts, the Yankees are a game "behind" Boston even though they have a higher winning %. According to @DanHirsch, the last time a team with the highest WP in its division or league was one game "behind" this late in a year was 6/4/1964. Before that, 1919, then 1901. pic.twitter.com/z947MbxkzK
— Ben Lindbergh (@BenLindbergh) June 4, 2018
- After smashing 38 homers and earning 4.0 WAR in his loud, award-winning rookie season, Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger has found himself benched more than usual lately. “He’s competing his tail off, just not getting the results,” said Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts. “He’s never struggled like this, like he did in the month of May. He’s doing everything right as far as the preparation. The results just haven’t been there. So as a young player, he’s constantly trying to make adjustments. You get to a point where you wonder if you’re ever going to get a hit.” I’m willing to bet Bellinger turns it around, but 1) I bet he’s screwed over a ton of Fantasy Baseball fanatics and 2) it makes you feel better about Kyle Schwarber’s 2017 season, eh? Really good players go through this adjustment period.
- Chris Archer fell after delivering a pitch on Saturday and is now nursing a sore groin. He met with reporters yesterday and told them that his next start is questionable, as he continues to heal up: “Obviously it hurts because the only thing I will take pride in and have an ego about is pitching once every five days,” Archer said. “Regardless of the results, I want to be there for my team, so I’m going to do everything I can to be out there, but not do anything silly to overexert myself.” Archer has been solid, but not his best this season, and remains a prominent trade-deadline candidate. Given the Brewers contention and needs in the rotation, he’s still a guy I’ll be keeping a very close eye on this season.
- Jose Ramirez, the Indians third baseman, has quitely become one of the best players in baseball – he’s fifth in WAR since the start of the 2016 season and has already earned 4.1 WAR this season. With that much value already on file (though obviously it could tank if he takes an extreme and unexpected turn), he has a chance to post the best season from a third baseman ever.
- Speaking of insane 2018 seasons, how about Matt Kemp playing like it’s 2011 again. His season line is now up to .344/.376/.572 (161 wRC+) and he’s already been worth 1.7 WAR. Pretty wild.
- And finally, Jake’s gonna rake if you make him:
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) June 4, 2018