Lance Lynn: Sweet Home Chicago

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While this Week That Was gave us the All-Star Game and the All-Star break, it was still a rather robust news week in Major League Baseball. On Saturday, the White Sox rewarded a successful first half for righty pitcher Lance Lynn by offering him a two-year, $38-million contract extension, which includes a club option for the 2024 season.

The terms of the extension detail that Lynn will receive $18.5 million in both 2022 and 2023, with the White Sox holding an $18-million option for 2024 with a $1-million buyout. The 34-year-old veteran was acquired from the Texas Rangers on December 8, 2020, in exchange for pitchers Dane Dunning and Avery Weems.

In his first year with the Pale Hose, Lynn has gone 9-3 with a 1.99 ERA and 105 strikeouts in 90 2/3 innings pitched over 16 starts this season. His 1.99 ERA is the lowest mark by a White Sox pitcher in the first half since Wilbur Wood (1.69) in 1971. Among American League leaders, Lynn has been limiting opponents’ offense well: he ranks second in opponents average at .189, second in slugging percentage at .303, second in OPS at .303, and third on-base percentage with .260. He’s also in the top ten in home runs per 9.0: Lynn is 7th at 0.89, and eighth in strikeouts per 9.0 IP, at 10.42.

Lynn’s extension helps paint a picture of what the White Sox rotation will look like in the very near future, shored up by staff ace Lucas Giolito, and supplemented by Dallas Keuchel (who hits free agency in 2023), and Dylan Cease. Carlos Rodon is having a career season himself; free agency is looming for the All-Star lefty, and a highly justified extension will hopefully follow Lynn’s.

After Lynn’s successful first half, the White Sox were not about to let the right-hander anywhere near free agency; he’s currently pitching at the end of a three-year, $30 million deal agreed upon with the Rangers. Lynn himself has commented how he feels at home with the White Sox: “Since the day I got here in Spring Training, everything's felt like the perfect fit, even the guys in the clubhouse, the clubhouse staff and everybody.”

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The game we love is played in a world with grim realities, and that came to surface on Saturday night, in which two people were shot outside of Nationals Park. In wake of the incident, the game between the Nationals and Padres was suspended, but the game was unimportant, considering how folks were willing to help one another in the face of danger. Accounts from Nationals Park say that after gunshots were heard, fans took shelter in bathrooms or suites; some ducked for cover. Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado allowed fans into the Padres dugout for safety. After the game was suspended, fans calmly filed out of the stadium. Law enforcement is currently investigating, but confirmed there was no ongoing threat; still a scary situation for all involved.

Notable Performances

Jake Cronenworth hit for the cycle on Friday, making that the third cycle in Padres’ history. He smacked a two-run double in the second inning, an RBI triple in the third inning, and a solo homer in the fifth inning, contributing to a 24-run clobbering of the Washington Nationals. The second-baseman and 2021 All-Star is off to a blazing start to the second half, already. He’s hitting ​​.287/.358/.483, with 64 runs scored, 13 home runs, 40 RBI, and four stolen bases in 395 plate appearances.

Tim Anderson is on a hot streak: going into Monday, he’s now at 11 straight games with a hit and run scored. That’s now the longest such streak in White Sox franchise history. On Saturday, he fell a triple short of the cycle, and hit his eighth home run of the year on Sunday, extending his hit streak to 15 games. The 15 game hit streak equals the 28-year-old shortstop’s career-high, previously achieved on Sept. 9-24, 2017.

Speaking of hitting streaks, David Fletcher is still on a tear - and extended his hitting streak to 26 games on Saturday. He’s been baseball’s hottest hitter for more than a month -- and knocked in three doubles and five RBIs against the Mariners on Saturday at Angel Stadium. Fletcher has batted .454 (49-for-108) during his 26-game streak, helping him raise his average to .318 in 86 games this season.

For whatever reason, in case you were at all thinking Willy Adames would slow down in the second half, think again: in the second half opening series versus the Reds, he went 8 for 13, including two home runs, seven RBIs, six runs, and also drew three walks. Since joining the Brewers, he’s slashing an absolutely outstanding .306/.383/.557/.941 over 206 plate appearances.

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Honor Roll

Walker Buehler (7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K on Saturday), Freddie Freeman (2-for-3, 2 R, HR (21), 2 RBI on Saturday), Lucas Giolito (9.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K on Saturday), Lance McCullers (7 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 2 BB, 10 K on Friday), Juan Soto (4-for-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI on Friday), Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. (2-for-3, HR, 2 RBI in Tuesday’s All-Star Game)

Injury Report

Tim Locastro tore his ACL on Saturday after making a spectacular catch in a game against the Red Sox. Locastro has suffered a handful of injuries in 2021; he dislocated his pinkie finger earlier this year, whilst still with the Diamondbacks. The 28-year-old outfielder's season is over, and whether or not he’ll be ready for 2022 is up in the air. The Yankees have recalled Ryan LaMarre in a corresponding move.

The NL East-leading Mets will be without superstar Francisco Lindor for an extended period after an MRI on Saturday revealed a Grade 2 right oblique strain. Lindor has been swinging the bat well lately, and it’s disappointing to see this good offensive momentum lost. The injury occurred on Friday against the Pirates; the defensive-wizard infielder will be out a minimum of two weeks, but Lindor himself described it as being more “week-to-week,” rather than day-to-day.

Another area of concern for the Mets: RHP Jacob deGrom was placed on the 10-day injured list on Sunday with forearm tightness. The two-time Cy Young Award winner experienced forearm tightness while performing a side session on Friday. An MRI revealed no issues, but the Mets will err on the side of caution and handle their ace with care. deGrom has already been sidelined a few times this year, due to a handful of ailments involving his shoulder and elbow.

Giants manager Gabe Kapler told reporters after Sunday's game that Buster Posey will return from the injured list on Monday, after being sidelined with a left thumb contusion. Posey caught a few bullpen sessions and was cleared to return. The All-Star catcher is having a renaissance year, hitting .328/.421/.547 with 12 homers and 28 RBI in the first half.

Jazz Chisholm Jr. attempted to dive backward to rob Bryce Harper of a base hit on Sunday, but injured his shoulder on the play. The encouraging news is that Marlins manager Don Mattingly said after Sunday's game that the X-rays on Chisholm's shoulder came back negative. He’s been diagnosed with a left shoulder contusion for now, but this is a situation to keep an eye on.

Reigning NL Rookie of the Year Devin Williams was placed on the 10-day injured list on Saturday, with elbow discomfort. Williams reported the soreness after warming up on Friday, and has already undergone an MRI already that revealed no structural damage. The Brewers reliever posted a 2.97 ERA and 1.32 WHIP, with 52 strikeouts in 33 1/3 innings over 37 appearances.

That concludes the short but eventful Week that Was -- please join us next week as we recall more stories, accolades, and accomplishments from around Major League Baseball.