There’s a high degree of probability the overwhelming majority of diehard baseball fans won’t remember exactly where they were when Orioles second baseman Jonathan Villar took Dodgers’ lefty reliever Caleb Ferguson deep for a go-ahead, three-run homer in the seventh inning on Wednesday evening. Yet, it was a historic moment simply because of its distinction as the 6,106th round-tripper in the major-leagues this season, which shattered the previous all-time single-season record set back in 2017. It was only fitting that the team that has served up a big league-leading 280 big flies this year would be the ones to actually breaking the record. The league-wide proliferation in over-the-fence power has been the prevailing narrative of the 2019 campaign. Not only has the single-season mark fallen already, but hitters have nearly three more weeks to extend the record into uncharted territory. Entering play on Wednesday night, an eye-popping 108 hitters had already reached the 20-homer plateau, which is the third-most of any season in the last half century. According to MLB.com’s Sarah Langs, there have been five months with at least 1,000 or more home runs this season, which is the most of any season in major-league history.
From a pure fantasy perspective, the central question moving forward is whether Major League Baseball will institute changes to the baseball manufacturing process with the goal of reducing over-the-fence power next season, or if the current league-wide power environment is here to stay for good. If this is the new normal, fantasy owners should feel confident in their ability to acquire cheap one-dimensional sluggers and place an even greater emphasis on five-category impact contributors, especially those that offer 20-plus stolen base potential in drafts next spring.
Mets Surpass Snakes in Wild Card Race
The Mets roller coaster playoff push continued on Wednesday evening when they crushed the Diamondbacks 9-0 in Citi Field. New York has won three consecutive games against a red-hot Arizona squad and will have an opportunity to complete an improbable four-game sweep when they hand the ball to mid-season trade acquisition Marcus Stroman in the series finale on Thursday afternoon. Not only have the Mets jumped ahead of the Diamondbacks in the hotly-contested race for the final Wild Card berth in the National League, but they’re now only three games out of a playoff spot thanks to yet another Cubs’ loss to the Padres on Wednesday night.
The Mets’ offensive explosion began right away when they chased Diamondbacks’ left-hander Robbie Ray from the contest in the opening frame, plating five runs on five hits, including back-to-back homers from Todd Frazier and Brandon Nimmo. Frazier also tacked on a solo tater in the third inning to record his second multi-homer effort of the season. The veteran third baseman wasn’t the only one to go deep on multiple occasions in this one. Versatile outfielder Jeff McNeil also slugged a pair of home runs, including a solo shot in the second inning and a two-run dinger in the sixth inning, to eclipse the 20-homer plateau for the first time in his brief major-league career. The unheralded 27-year-old top-of-the-order tablesetter still has a shot at the National League batting title if he can put together a strong two-week finish to the 2019 campaign. He’s hitting .325/.394/.536 with 76 runs scored, 20 homers, 68 RBI and five stolen bases across 513 plate appearances this season. Not too shabby for a guy who was nearly universally ignored in standard mixed-league fantasy drafts this spring.
Luzardo Dazzles in Major-League Debut
Athletics’ left-hander Jesus Luzardo was simply outstanding in his major-league debut, allowing one run over three innings in a relief appearance against the Astros on Wednesday night. The 21-year-old southpaw lived up to the considerable hype after relieving veteran starter Brett Anderson in the sixth inning. He recorded a pair of strikeouts and allowed only one hit -- a solo homer by Martin Maldonado -- and retired the other nine batters he faced in this one. He averaged nearly 96 mph on his fastball, showcased some incredible movement on those heaters and needed only 36 pitches to navigate three frames. The Athletics are expected to keep him on a tight schedule, with his next appearance likely to come in the next four or five days. It seems likely that Oakland will keep him in a manageable long relief role moving forward, but he certainly has the ability to shift into the rotation if the need arises. He may not make a major fantasy impact over the final two weeks of the 2019 campaign, but Luzardo looks like a potential fantasy ace for years to come.
Yelich To Avoid Knee Surgery
According to a report by Jim Bowden of The Athletic late on Wednesday night, Brewers’ outfielder Christian Yelich (knee) will be out for at least six weeks, but will not require surgery on his fractured right kneecap. The 27-year-old slugger had already been ruled out for the remainder of the 2019 campaign, but this latest development is outstanding news for his long-term future and immediate 2020 outlook. Obviously, the Brewers will miss their main offensive catalyst as they make a playoff push over the next two weeks, but barring any setbacks, he should be ready to go by the time spring training rolls around. Considering that there don’t appear to be any long-term ramifications from the injury, fantasy owners can safely lock the reigning National League MVP into a top three slot on their draft board for next spring.
Yankees, Tigers Set For Twin Billing
Wednesday's scheduled contest between the Tigers and Yankees was postponed due to inclement weather. The game will be made up on Thursday with a straight doubleheader, with the first game beginning at 1:10 EST and the second game taking place 30 minutes after the conclusion. J.A. Happ will take the ball for the Yankees, opposed by Tigers’ ace Matthew Boyd, with CC Sabathia -- to be followed by ace Domingo German in relief -- and Spencer Turnbull squaring off in the nightcap.
AL Quick Hits:Mike Trout (foot) remained out of the Angels’ starting lineup on Wednesday. He’s hoping to return on Friday. … Joey Gallo (wrist) is expected to be activated from the injured list on September 20. … David Price (wrist) threw a 20-pitch bullpen session on Wednesday. … Kevin Kiermaier told reporters Wednesday that he's seen “no improvement” in his neck injury. … Justin Upton underwent an MRI on his right knee on Wednesday. … Yuli Gurriel (hamstring) remained out of the Astros’ lineup on Wednesday. He’s been out since Friday due to hamstring. … J.P. Crawford (hamstring) has been cleared and will return to the Mariners’ lineup on Thursday. … Domingo Santana (elbow) could return before the end of the Mariners current homestand, which extends through this weekend. … Jorge Soler went 4-for-5 with two homers and four RBI to power the Royals past the White Sox. … Adalberto Mondesi went 3-for-5 with a two-run homer and a pair of stolen bases in that one, too. … Eloy Jimenez and Jose Abreu went deep for the White Sox in the loss. … Marcus Semien went 3-for-5 with a solo homer and a stolen base to lead the Athletics to a narrow win over the Astros. … George Springer went 2-for-4 with a solo homer - his 34th long ball of the season - in the losing effort. … Vladimir Guerrero Jr. drove in three runs to lift the Blue Jays to a blowout win over the Red Sox. … Trent Thornton whiffed seven batters over five scoreless frames in relief to pick up the win in that contest. … Jorge Polanco clubbed a two-run homer in the Twins’ loss to the Nationals. … Francisco Lindor and Carlos Santana left the yard in the Indians’ win over the Angels. … Shohei Ohtani slugged his 18th homer in the losing effort. … Kyle Lewis homered for the second consecutive game, blasting a three-run tater, to lead the Mariners past the Reds. … Ji-Man Choi homered twice and walked three times in the Rays’ loss to the Rangers. … Austin Hays collected three hits in the Orioles’ win over the Dodgers. … Ramon Laureano went 0-for-3 with a walk in his return to the Athletics lineup on Wednesday after missing three games due to a leg issue. … Aaron Hicks (elbow) was given a recommendation to rest for a few more weeks. He’s been out since early August with a flexor strain. It’s extremely unlikely that he will return this season and there’s still a chance he will have to undergo Tommy John surgery. … Justin Dunn will make his big-league debut on Thursday in a start against the Reds. … Asher Wojciechowski will start on Sunday against the Tigers.
NL Quick Hits:Garrett Richards (elbow) will throw a bullpen on Saturday, and is expected to start for the Padres against the Brewers next week if that session goes well. … Justin Turner will undergo an MRI on his injured left ankle. … Brewers activated Keston Hiura from the 10-day injured list. Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell told reporters Wednesday that Hiura won't play in the field until their next homestand which starts on Monday against the Padres. … Will Smith will resume throwing on Thursday and could be ready for the Giants’ series against the Marlins over the weekend. … Craig Kimbrel (elbow) will play catch again on Wednesday, but is still not ready for a bullpen session. … Max Muncy (wrist) has been facing live hitting in Arizona and is still on track to return on Friday. … Nick Senzel (shoulder) remained out of the Reds’ lineup on Wednesday … Starling Marte (wrist) remained out of the Pirates’ starting lineup again on Wednesday. He hasn’t started since spraining his wrist on Sunday … Addison Russell (concussion) won't play on Thursday and will be evaluated in Chicago on Friday. … Johan Camargo left Wednesday's game against the Phillies with a right shin contusion. … Chris Paddack recorded seven strikeouts over six shutout innings in a win over the Cubs. … Mike Moustakas homered twice and plated five runs to lead the Brewers to a win over the Marlins. … Josh Hader struck out the side to record his 30th save of the season in that one. … Ryan Zimmerman went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer and three RBI to power the Nationals past the Twins. … Stephen Strasburg fanned seven batters over six innings of two-run ball to record his 17th win of the season. … A.J. Pollock went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer in the Dodgers’ loss to the Orioles. … Dallas Keuchel struck out eight batters over six innings in a win over the Phillies. … Braves’ reliever Chris Martin threw an ultra-rare immaculate innings in that contest.