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Less than 48 hours removed from the All-Star break, the NL East snow globe has been shaken up due to an avalanche of unexpected injuries in New York. The division-leading Mets will be without superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor for an extended period after an MRI on Saturday revealed a Grade 2 right oblique strain. The 27-year-old defensive wizard, who was just starting to experience an uptick in offensive production over the last few weeks, has already been placed on the 10-day injured list after sustaining the injury during Friday’s loss to the Pirates. There’s no timetable for his potential return, but it sounds like he’ll be sidelined for at least a few weeks, which places a significant strain on the Mets’ infield depth.
As if the Lindor news wasn’t bad enough, the hits just kept on coming throughout the afternoon as Mets manager Luis Rojas also revealed that hard-throwing ace Jacob deGrom experienced tightness in his right forearm during a recent side session and has been shut down from throwing. An MRI revealed no structural damage, but he won’t pitch against the Reds on Monday night, and it’s unclear when exactly he’ll be able to make his next start. It doesn’t sound like a long-term issue, but it’s cause for serious concern anytime the best pitcher in the galaxy is dealing with a forearm issue, even if it’s relatively minor.
In the wake of those rather devastating injury developments, the Mets appeared to be on the verge of a much-needed victory over the Pirates on Saturday night, thanks to six scoreless innings from rookie right-hander Tylor Megill, and a two-homer explosion from third baseman J.D. Davis in his first start since May 1. Unfortunately, the Mets bullpen melted down in spectacular fashion, surrendering nine runs over the final two frames, capped off by an untimely implosion from closer Edwin Diaz, who served up a walk-off grand slam to Jacob Stallings, resulting in a stunning 9-7 loss at Citi Field. Yikes.
The ramifications from Lindor’s serious oblique injury, and deGrom’s forearm issue to a lesser extent, are wide-ranging, and appear likely to have a major impact on the impending major-league trade deadline, and the overall National League playoff picture as well. The Braves have cemented their status as buyers already, swinging recent deals to acquire outfielder Joc Pederson and catcher Stephen Vogt to bolster their lineup for the stretch run. It remains to be seen what direction the Nationals and Phillies elect to go in, but they’re just a handful of games behind the Mets for the NL East division lead. One thing is for certain, the NL East is wide open. Get ready for some fireworks over the final two months of the 2021 campaign, folks.
White Sox Lock Up Lynn With Extension
The White Sox bolstered the front-end of their starting rotation for the foreseeable future on Saturday afternoon, finalizing a two-year, $38 million contract extension with All-Star right-hander Lance Lynn. According to reports, the deal also includes an $18 million club option for the 2024 campaign. It’s a mutually beneficial deal for both sides as the White Sox manage to keep their durable veteran workhorse from reaching the free agent market at the end of the season, and Lynn cashes in on a short-term deal which will pay him $18.5 million per season for at least the next two years. The 34-year-old righty has become the lynchpin of the team’s rotation in just his first season with the organization, making the All-Star team and recording a microscopic 1.99 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 105/31 K/BB ratio across 90 2/3 innings (16 starts).
Starting Pitchers with an EDGE
Lucas Giolito vs. Astros
9.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K
36% CSW, 17 swinging strikes
Giolito authored one of his most dominant performances of the 2021 campaign, tossing a complete game three-hitter on Saturday night in a win over the Astros. The 27-year-old righty coaxed 17 swinging strikes, finished with an elite 36 percent CSW (called strikes plus whiffs) and needed only 107 pitches (78 strikes) to go the distance. A solo homer by Abraham Toro in the top of the eighth inning represented the lone tally against him in a truly dominant performance. He’ll look to keep the momentum going when he squares off against the Brewers in a road tilt on Friday night.
Gerrit Cole vs. Red Sox
6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 11 K
40% CSW, 16 swinging strikes
Cole threw 96 pitches (63 strikes) and was technically credited with a complete-game victory in the Yankees’ rain-shortened six-inning win over the Red Sox on Saturday night. The hard-throwing 30-year-old righty punched out 11 batters, recording his seventh double-digit strikeout performance of the season, and finished with a sublime 40 percent CSW. He’ll carry a pristine 2.63 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 158/24 K/BB ratio across 120 innings (19 starts) into a rematch against the Red Sox next weekend.
Walker Buehler vs. Rockies
7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K
34% CSW, 13 swinging strikes
Buehler dominated the Rockies on Saturday night, limiting them to just a pair of runs over seven frames, in an extremely challenging road outing at Coors Field. The hard-throwing 26-year-old All-Star righty has allowed three earned runs or fewer in 12 consecutive starts since May 17. He’ll carry a 2.37 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 122/28 K/BB ratio across 121 1/3 innings (19 starts) into a home outing against the division-rival Giants on Thursday night.
Zac Gallen vs. Cubs
5.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K
29% CSW, 9 swinging strikes
Gallen authored a solid performance, striking out seven batters across 5 2/3 frames, on Saturday afternoon against the Cubs in his return from the injured list after missing two weeks due to a right hamstring strain. The 25-year-old righty has alternated good and bad stretches, while being limited to just 10 starts this season due to a series of rather bizarre injuries. Yet, he remains one of the most talented young starters in the entire landscape. He’ll carry a solid 3.86 ERA, 1.39 WHIP and 56/23 K/BB ratio across 46 2/3 innings (10 starts) into a rematch with the Cubs on Friday night.
Hitters with an EDGE
David Fletcher vs. Mariners
3-for-5, 5 RBI
No matter how you slice the data, Fletcher has been one of the hottest hitters in baseball over the last few weeks. The 27-year-old infielder extended his incredible hitting streak to 26 games, the longest in the major leagues this season, by tallying three doubles on Saturday night in the Angels’ win over the Mariners. He socked a bases-clearing, three-run double in the second inning and also added a two-run double in the eighth inning as well. He’s recorded at least one hit in every game since June 13 and is hitting .454 (49-for-108) during that span.
Mookie Betts vs. Rockies
4-for-4, 3 R, HR (14), RBI
Betts delivered a phenomenal performance, collecting four hits -- including a solo homer off Kyle Freeland in the third inning -- before exiting Saturday's game against the Rockies with right hip irritation. The 28-year-old five-category fantasy stalwart has been on a roll, tallying seven hits across two games since the All-Star break. He’s already been ruled out for Sunday’s series finale at Coors Field and it appears likely he’s going to miss at least a few games moving forward.
Max Muncy vs. Rockies
4-for-5, 2 R, 2 HR (21), 5 RBI
Muncy did nearly all of his damage in the late innings of a one-sided affair on Saturday night at Coors Field, scorching a solo homer to center field off righty reliever Carlos Estevez in the eighth inning and also clobbering a mammoth 466-foot two-run shot to right-center field off lefty Zac Rosscup in the ninth inning. It was his first multi-homer effort of the 2021 campaign.
Freddie Freeman vs. Rays
2-for-3, 2 R, HR (21), 2 RBI
Freeman served as the Braves’ main catalyst on Saturday night, walloping a two-run homer to center field off Rays lefty Josh Fleming in the fifth inning to effectively put the contest away. The 31-year-old first baseman appears to be on the precipice of a monster second half, and the Braves are going to need it, especially after losing franchise cornerstone Ronald Acuna Jr. to a torn ACL last weekend.
Joakim Soria vs. Cubs
1.0 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (2nd blown save)
Soria had the Cubs down to their final out before imploding on Saturday afternoon. He surrendered a two-out double to Rafael Ortega, who came around to score on an RBI single to ensuing batter Robinson Chirinos, and finally served up a go-ahead two-run homer to Willson Contreras. The Diamondbacks don’t exactly have a ton of alternatives, but it feels like Soria’s days are numbered as the team’s primary closing option.
Craig Kimbrel vs. Diamondbacks
1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K (21st save)
Kimbrel came on to guard a two-run lead in the bottom of the ninth after a furious Cubs’ comeback in the top of the frame, and worked around a leadoff walk to David Peralta to spin a scoreless frame. The 33-year-old All-Star stopper has reeled off 19 consecutive scoreless appearances since May 18, and has converted 21 of 23 save chances this season.
Gregory Soto vs. Twins
1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K (8th save)
Soto needed only six pitches to fire a scoreless seventh inning in the front-end of Saturday's doubleheader against the Twins to record his eighth save of the season. The 26-year-old All-Star closer has converted eight of his nine save opportunities this season.
Taylor Rogers vs. Tigers
0.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K (4th blown save)
Rogers was brought on to close out the second game of Saturday’s twin-billing and couldn’t get the job done. He recorded only two outs and surrendered a game-tying RBI single to Jonathan Schoop and a walk-off single to Miguel Cabrera. The 30-year-old has blown back-to-back saves (both against the Tigers) and has converted only eight of 12 save chances this season. There’s a possibility that Hansel Robles gets the next opportunity in Minnesota.
James Karinchak vs. Athletics
1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 B, 0 K (10th save)
Karinchak dealt with plenty of traffic on the base paths, yet still managed to wriggle out of a ninth-inning jam against the Athletics on Saturday afternoon. The 25-year-old righty has converted 10 of his 12 save opportunities and appears to be in the driver's seat in Cleveland moving forward after Emmanuel Clase blew a save chance on Friday night earlier in the series.
Alex Reyes vs. Giants
1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K (21st save)
Reyes made things interesting to open the ninth inning on Saturday, giving up a leadoff single to Wilmer Flores and issuing a walk to ensuing batter Brandon Crawford, which put the potential tying runs on base with nobody out. However, he managed to retire Steven Duggar, Thairo Estrada and Mike Tauchman in succession to escape completely unscathed. The 26-year-old All-Star righty has converted all 21 of his save opportunities this season.
Edwin Diaz vs. Pirates
0.2 IP, 2 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K (3rd blown save)
Diaz simply didn’t have it on Saturday night and wound up surrendering a walk-off grand slam to Jacob Stallings with two outs in the frame. The 27-year-old righty has been prone to coughing up the occasional untimely homer, and that’s exactly what happened in this one. If the Mets are going to make a postseason run, they’ll need him to be pitching at an elite level over the final two months of the season.
EDGE Priority Pickup
J.D. Davis, 3B/OF, Mets
Davis went 3-for-4 with a pair of two-run homers on Saturday in the Mets’ loss to the Pirates. It was his first start since May 1. The 28-year-old slugger will take over as the Mets’ everyday third baseman in the wake of Francisco Lindor’s oblique injury after missing two and a half months due to a sprained middle finger. It’s an extremely limited sample size, but he’s been phenomenal at the dish, slashing .413/.491/.739 with four homers and 11 RBI across 53 plate appearances this season. He possesses significant over-the-fence pop and could make an impact for fantasy managers over the final two months of the 2021 campaign.
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Sunday’s Matchup of the Day
Gilbert and Sandoval are slated to square off on Sunday afternoon in a battle between two of the most intriguing starting pitchers in the entire fantasy landscape. Gilbert tossed seven shutout frames with a career-high eight strikeouts against the Yankees his last time out. The 24-year-old rookie right-hander has pitched extremely well since being called up in mid-May. Meanwhile, Sandoval has blossomed into a reliable mixed league fantasy contributor, allowing three earned runs or fewer in nine consecutive starts since becoming a full-fledged member of the Angels’ rotation back in mid-May.
American League Quick Hits: Saturday's game between the Rangers and Blue Jays was postponed due to inclement weather. It will be made up as a seven-inning doubleheader on Sunday afternoon … Xander Bogaerts was held out of the Red Sox’ lineup on Saturday due to wrist soreness … Athletics activated OF Mark Canha from the 10-day injured list … Robbie Grossman belted a leadoff homer in the opening contest, and Akil Baddoo drove in three runs in the nightcap, leading the Tigers to a sweep of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Twins … Jose Abreu, Tim Anderson, Gavin Sheets, Jake Burger and Zack Collins homered in the White Sox’ blowout victory over the Astros … Gary Sanchez and Gleyber Torres went deep in the Yankees’ rain-shortened six-inning victory over the Red Sox … Jarren Duran went 1-for-2 with a walk and a run scored in his major-league debut against the Yankees … Franmil Reyes slugged a solo homer in the Indians’ win over the Athletics … Cedric Mullins doubled twice in the Orioles’ blowout win over the Royals … Shohei Ohtani went 0-for-5 with four strikeouts in the Angels’ win over the Mariners … Mitch Haniger slugged his 22nd homer of the season in the Mariners’ loss to the Angels … Seth Brown went 2-for-4 with a stolen base in the Athletics’ loss to the Indians … Abraham Toro drilled a solo homer in the Astros’ loss to the White Sox … Josh Donaldson slugged his 14th homer of the season in the Twins’ loss to the Tigers … Nicky Lopez had two hits and scored a pair of runs in the Royals’ loss to the Orioles … Nathan Eovaldi notched seven strikeouts over five innings of one-run ball in a no-decision against the Yankees … Yusei Kikuchi was lit up for seven runs over five innings in a loss to the Angels … Kenta Maeda tallied eight strikeouts over five innings in a no-decision against the Tigers … Frankie Montas registered seven strikeouts over six innings of two-run ball in a loss to the Indians … Cal Quantrill allowed one run over five frames in a win over the Athletics … Jake Odorizzi allowed four runs over 3 1/3 innings in a loss to the White Sox … Alex Cobb yielded one run over 6 2/3 innings in a win over the Mariners … Josh Fleming was obliterated for seven runs over 4 1/3 innings in a loss to the Braves … Brady Singer was torched for seven runs over two innings in a loss to the Orioles … Jorge Lopez was charged with four runs over 4 2/3 frames in a no-decision against the Royals … Tyler Alexander gave up two runs over 3 1/3 innings in a no-decision against the Twins … Charlie Barnes allowed one run over 4 2/3 innings in a loss to the Tigers … Jose Urena made an early exit from Saturday's start against the Twins and was placed on the 10-day injured list with right groin tightness … Tim Locastro suffered a torn ACL on Saturday evening against the Red Sox.
National League Quick Hits: Saturday's game between the Nationals and Padres was suspended after a shooting outside of Nationals Park. The game will resume on Sunday afternoon with the Padres leading 8-4 in the sixth inning … Saturday's game between the Marlins and Phillies was suspended in extra innings due to rain. It will resume on Sunday afternoon with the score tied at 2-2 in the 10th inning … Nationals manager Dave Martinez told reporters Saturday that Stephen Strasburg (neck) has experienced a setback in his rehabilitation … Marlins placed RHP Pablo Lopez on the 10-day injured list with a right rotator cuff strain … Clayton Kershaw told reporters Saturday that he could be ready to begin playing catch next week … Corey Seager (hand) took seven at-bats on Saturday in a simulated game at the Dodgers’ Arizona Complex League affiliate … Nick Castellanos (wrist) was absent from the Reds' starting lineup for Saturday's game against the Brewers … Joc Pederson went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer in his Braves debut against the Rays … Tyler O’Neill and Paul Goldschmidt homered to propel the Cardinals past the Giants … Willson Contreras went 3-for-4 with a go-ahead two-run homer, powering the Cubs to a comeback win over the Diamondbacks … Wilmer Difo crushed a two-run homer and Jacob Stallings tattooed a walk-off grand slam in the Pirates’ dramatic comeback victory over the Mets … Willy Adames went 3-for-6 with an RBI and Christian Yelich went 2-for-5 with two RBI and a stolen base, lifting the Brewers to a win over the Reds in an 11-inning marathon … AJ Pollock went 2-for-4 with a solo homer in the Dodgers’ lopsided win over the Rockies … Daulton Varsho went 1-for-3 with a stolen base in the Diamondbacks’ loss to the Cubs … Max Fried whiffed seven batters over seven scoreless innings in a win over the Rays … Brandon Woodruff notched eight strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings in a no-decision against the Reds … Luis Castillo recorded eight strikeouts over six scoreless innings in no-decision against the Brewers … Kwang-Hyun Kim fired six scoreless innings in a win over the Giants … Anthony DeSclafani was charged with three runs over six innings in a loss to the Cardinals … Adbert Alzolay yielded two runs over five innings in a no-decision against the Diamondbacks … Wil Crowe allowed four runs over 5 1/3 innings in a no-decision against the Mets … Kyle Freeland gave up three runs over six innings in a loss to the Dodgers … Brewers placed RHP Devin Williams on the 10-day injured list with right elbow discomfort … Padres activated LHP Drew Pomeranz from the 10-day injured list.