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The Milwaukee Brewers starting rotation has been known for powerhouses Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, and Freddy Peralta – but perhaps Eric Lauer deserves a rightful addition to the conversation. The 26-year-old dazzled in Saturday’s 9-1 victory over the Cubs; he twirled seven innings, giving up just one run off five hits, and struck out 11.
Lauer is in the top of the league in K% at 36.6%, and mostly has his fastball to thank for that. Opponents currently carry a .172 batting average, and .160 expected batting average on that pitch. It also has a fantastic whiff rate, at 43.5%, and makes a great put away pitch, at 37.7%.
Indeed, a majority of Lauer’s strikeouts recorded on Saturday culminated on whiffing on the fastball. He ended Saturday’s start with a 58% whiff rate on the fastball, 57% on the slider. He now carries a ridiculous 13.11 strikeouts per nine, and the upside is absolutely rising.
He’s also increased the usage of his curveball and slider between 2021 and 2022; the slider has been a great secondary as it’s rarely turned around. Opponents have a .100 average on that pitch - and most impressively, a .090 wOBA.
Saturday’s outing now makes it two consecutive starts where Lauer has registered 10 or more strikeouts; on April 24, he struck out 13. He’s also setting franchise records: Lauer joined Yovani Gallardo as the only pitchers in Brewers history to record consecutive games of 11+ strikeouts while allowing no more than one run. He’s also given up a run or fewer in his last three outings; amongst Brew Crew pitchers, he’s tied in ERA with Corbin Burnes (1.93).
Lauer was acquired along with Luis Urias from the San Diego Padres in November 2019, in exchange for Zach Davies and Trent Grisham. There’s been debate on whether the Brewers would see the dividends of that trade, and Lauer’s recent success has swayed the conversation. Milwaukee’s pitching coaches have absolutely tapped into the southpaw’s potential – and it certainly appears that he’s in line to have a breakout season.
Kevin Gausman’s walkless streak to begin the season has continued this week. He has 41 strikeouts so far. On Sunday, he pitched seven strong innings, giving up just two earned runs off six hits on 98 pitches and striking out 10. Gausman now joins Cy Young as the only pitchers to begin a season (minimum of 20 innings pitched) with five straight starts of zero walks and zero homers allowed in the World Series era (since 1903).
The Yankees are on a nine game winning streak, and Aaron Judge has certainly contributed to the cause. Judge knocked in his sixth and seventh home runs of the year in Sunday’s 6-4 win over Kansas City, as New York etched its 3rd consecutive series sweep. He’s now tied with C.J. Cron for second in the majors in homers, and one behind his Yankees teammate Anthony Rizzo. He's also in the top 10 in both runs and RBI, with 16 a piece. In 84 plate appearances, he’s carrying a .293/.361/.600 slash line, including five homers and 11 RBI in his last seven games.
Tylor Megill helped in Friday’s combined no-hitter for the Mets – he authored a strong five no-hit performance on 88 pitches -- 53 for strikes. He finished with 12 whiffs to strike out five batters. Megill has been an early season sensation - he now has an excellent 1.93 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, and 27 strikeouts over 28 innings. Megill is now on the list of Mets pitchers (Johan Santana, Matt Harvey, and Jacob deGrom) to post a sub-2.00 ERA and a sub-1.000 WHIP in their first five games of a season since 2009.
Alek Manoah has now gone at least six innings in all four of his starts this spring, including two shutout performances. On Thursday, he tossed a seven-inning shutout, giving up just three hits and striking out seven. Manoah is also making franchise history: through Thursday, he ranks first in Blue Jays history through a pitcher’s first 23 starts in win percentage (.857), WHIP (1.04), and strikeouts (145). The Blue Jays are also 12-0 over his last 12 starts; he also has yet to lose a game at the Rogers Centre.
Manny Machado has been hot at the dish lately. He boasts a .375/.440/.591 triple-slash line including four homers, 16 RBI and 20 runs scored while leading the league with a 2.0 fWAR in 95 plate appearances through 22 games. Machado has collected 13 hits in his last seven games including a home run and six RBI. Through Sunday, Machado is second in the majors in batting average (.386) and fourth in BABIP (.438).
Taylor Ward has been a frequent visitor to this week’s Daily Dose columns, and rightfully so. On Wednesday, Ward put together an epic performance at the plate Wednesday night against the Guardians, reaching base safely in five of his six plate appearances and finishing with three hits. On Monday, Ward went deep twice from the leadoff spot. Through 67 plate appearances, he carries a hilariously great 271 wRC+, .364 ISO and .447 BABIP. Ward’s resurgence is incredible, considering he got a late start to the season due to a minor groin injury. Roster him in all formats, obviously.
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Shohei Ohtani was lifted from Sunday's game due to right groin tightness; he told reporters post-game that he fully intends on playing on Monday. Fumes aside, being in the lineup is dependent on how he responds to treatment; fantasy managers will want to keep ears to the ground on this one.
The highly anticipated return of Ronald Acuña Jr. happened on Thursday evening, as the Braves faced the Cubs. Alex Dickerson was designated for assignment in a corresponding move. In his first game since July 10, 2021, Acuña collected a hit and two stolen bases. The 24-year-old also recorded his first RBI back on Saturday - a scorched single that would eventually be the only Braves run in a 3-1 loss to the Rangers. This was a return 292 days in the making - but who’s counting?
The Rays announced on Sunday that they placed first baseman Ji-Man Choi on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to April 28. Choi has “loose bodies” in his right elbow; he had also missed four games prior due to a hyperextended elbow. The 30-year-old was swinging the bat incredibly well in the month of April, slashing .357/.491/.595 with a pair of homers. Manager Kevin Cash said Choi took swings in the cage both Saturday and Sunday, but they’re looking to make sure he's feeling 100 percent before he’s back in the lineup.
Christian Yelich (3-for-5, HR, 2 RBI on Saturday), Andrew McCutchen (3-for-4, HR, 3 RBI, BB on Saturday), Shohei Ohtani (2-for-5, HR, 3 R, SB on Friday), Corey Kluber (6 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 6 K on Friday), Patrick Corbin (6 IP, 4 H, 3 R (2 ER), 8 K, 2 BB on Thursday), Andrew McCutchen (3-for-4, HR, 3 RBI, BB on Thursday), Andrew Vaughn (2-for-4, R, HR (4), 4 RBI on Wednesday), Drew Rasmussen (6.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K on Wednesday), Logan Gilbert (5 2/3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 7 K, 3 BB on Tuesday), Anthony Rizzo (3-for-4, 4 R, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 1 BB on Tuesday), Walker Buehler (9 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 0 BB, 10 K on Monday), Luis Gonzalez (2-for-4, HR, 2 RBI on Monday)
That does it for this past week in Major League Baseball - join us next time as we highlight more top performances and broken records, as well as recall fantastic stories from the past week.