Shohei Ohtani is the gift that just keeps on giving. Take it all in, baseball fans; this stuff is must-see TV these days.
Shohei Ohtani’s Marvelous Month of June
Shohei Ohtani has been on an absolute tear of late, and as Jeff Passan pointed out on Twitter this morning, the last three weeks in particular. Since June 9, Ohtani has put up 2.5 WAR and has been the best pitcher by that metric and the 15th most productive player on the offensive side.
On the mound, Ohtani has allowed one earned run in 26.2 innings (over four starts) for a minuscule 0.34 ERA with a 12.15 K/9. Ohtani’s strikeout to walk ratio in that span is 36-6, and Ohtani rang up 11 White Sox hitters in just five and two-thirds innings in Anaheim. The two-way phenomenon has a 21 and two-thirds innings scoreless streak right now.
Shohei surrendered no runs on five hits against the Sox last night in another brilliant performance.
As a hitter, Ohtani is slashing .344/.436/.719 with six home runs and 17 RBI since June 9. Shohei has a 1.155 OPS and a 215 wRC+. He’s also logged his career-high in RBI (8 vs. KC on June 21), strikeouts (13 vs. KC on June 22), recorded his hardest-hit home run (118 mph vs. SEA on June 25), and is riding an 11-game hitting streak.
On the season, FanGraphs has Ohtani at 4.0 fWAR (2.3 (pitching), 1.7 (hitting). Shohei is simply on another level, and he’s must-watch television. Now, if only he played on a team that was capable of showcasing him in October. Sigh.
Sandy Alcántara Refuses to Leave, Notches Complete Game
Sandy Alcántara is quietly putting together one heck of a season in South Beach (is there any other way one goes about putting together one heck of a season in a market like Miami?). On Wednesday night, Alcántara convinced Marlins skipper Don Mattingly to let him stay in the game when Mattingly made a trip to the mound intending to go to the bullpen with Miami nursing a one-run lead with two on and one out in the ninth.
Mattingly stuck with Alcántara, and he did not make him regret it. After Alcántara induced a game-ending 4-6-3 double play to lock up the Miami win and the complete game, the 26-year-old pitcher pointed to the Miami dugout and screamed, “I told you I had it!” to his skipper.
Alcántara allowed two earned runs on seven hits while striking out three and walking two in the complete-game victory over the Cardinals. Mattingly said after the game that he wasn’t going to take Alcántara out when he went to the mound, but he also wasn’t promising him two more outs.
“I wasn’t taking him out on that one but I did want to see where he’s at,” Mattingly said. “Kind of asked him where he’s at, and he said he had it. I wasn’t going to promise him two hitters but I was going to give him that one.”
Alcántara said that he told Mattingly that he had everything under control and believed that his skipper had the confidence in him to get the job done.
“When he came to me, I just said, ‘I got it, I got it, I got it,’ and he left,” Alcantara said, “because I think he’s got too much confidence in me, and he knows I can finish the game.”
Alcántara’s 117 pitches topped his 115 in a May 22 complete game for the Marlins, and he has thrown 79.2 innings in his last 10 starts. With an ERA of 1.95 ERA an 8-3 record, and the league lead in innings pitched (by almost 20 innings), Alcántara is making a case for the NL Cy Young Award this year. No Marlins pitcher has ever won the Cy Young.
Josh Naylor Does it Again
You might remember Josh Naylor gaining some national headlines last month when he drilled a game-tying grand slam against Liam Hendriks and the White Sox and then put the Guardians on top for good with a three-run home run in the top of the 11th inning.
I know I do. I was there, and it was not a fun ride home.
Well, Naylor was at it again last night against another AL Central rival, the Minnesota Twins. With Minnesota leading the Guardians 6-5 in the bottom of the ninth inning at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Naylor belted a walk-off two-run home run to give Cleveland the win on Wednesday night, trimming the Twins’ lead in the AL Central to just two games.
Cleveland is 17-10 this month and has won six of seven series. If they can beat the Twins today, they’ll move that mark to 18-10 and winners of seven of their last eight series. They would also sit just one game behind Minnesota as we turn the calendar to July.
Oh, also, did see you Naylor’s helmet-less headbutt? Because … it is insane.
Odds and Ends …
- Bryan Reynolds had a day on Wednesday, belting three home runs against the Washington Nationals. Reynolds joined Jack Suwinski as Pirates with three-home run games this season. Reynolds and Suwinski are the only teammates to have three home run games this season.
- Justin Verlander’s comeback tour marched on as he became the first pitcher in baseball to reach 10 wins this season. After missing nearly two years, Verlander owns a 2.03 ERA in 97.1 innings of work and a 24.2% K-Rate.
- Zack Greinke made his 500th career start on Wednesday for the team he made his first with, the Kansas City Royals. Greinke is the 48th player in MLB history to make 500 starts and the only active player to accomplish the feat.
- Julio Rodríguez with the big bat flip on Wednesday:
- Mark Appel made his major league debut last night for the Philadelphia Phillies, nine years after he was taken No. 1 overall by the Houston Astros in 2013. Appel threw a scoreless inning of relief for the Phillies.
- Don Van Natta Jr. sat down with MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred for a lengthy discussion. Among the items covered: Expansion to 32 teams, pitch clocks, automated strike zones, banning shifts, Manfred’s regret over “piece of metal” comments, and other missteps by the commissioner. It’s a long read, but a good one.