Rest in Peace, Lou Brock...
Is Jacob deGrom better now than he’s ever been? It’s not an outrageous comment.
The latest evidence was Sunday’s start against the Phillies, where deGrom allowed just one run — a solo homer to Andrew Knapp — over seven innings with 12 strikeouts. Sitting in the high-90s with his fastball these days, the back-to-back NL Cy Young Award winner induced 35 swinging strikes in his 108 pitches. Yes, 35 of them. That’s the most by any pitcher since Royals left-hander Danny Duffy on August 1, 2016.
DeGrom now has 44 double-digit strikeout games in his career. He’s struck out 35 batters in 20 innings over his last three starts and has allowed one earned run or fewer in four consecutive starts. His ERA now sits at 1.69 for the year, more than justifying his first-round status in mixed fantasy leagues.
Only Cubs right-hander Yu Darvish (1.44) and Indians right-hander Shane Bieber (1.25) have outshined deGrom in ERA so far this season. Darvish, who was great in his start against the Cardinals this past Friday, represents the biggest threat to deGrom winning his third straight NL Cy Young Award. Hall of Famers Randy Johnson and Greg Maddux are the only pitchers who have pulled off a three-peat. These final couple of weeks are going to be very interesting.
Lack of run support has been a topic of conversation around deGrom for years now, but he didn’t have that issue during Sunday’s game. The Mets pounded out 14 runs, six of them coming against Phillies ace Aaron Nola. Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, and Pete Alonso all had three hits. Alonso managed his sixth career multi-homer game and now has 10 homers this season after getting off to an ice-cold start. Dom Smith also had his first career four-hit game, including three doubles.
Teoscar Hernandez has been one of the biggest surprises of this 60-game MLB season, amassing 14 home runs, 27 RBI, five steals, and 27 runs scored over 39 games with a .308/.358/.637 batting line. Coming into Sunday’s action, he was a top-10 player in Yahoo fantasy leagues. Unfortunately, it’s unclear whether he’ll be able to add to those impressive totals the rest of the way.
Hernandez was held out of Sunday’s lineup against the Red Sox due to stiffness in his left ricage. Results of an MRI were inconclusive due to swelling in the area, so he was due to be sent for a second MRI. We should know something official soon, but Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun reported early Sunday morning that Hernandez was going to miss “serious time.” Given how important Hernandez has been to the Blue Jays, this injury could put a real crimp in their postseason hopes.
It’s nothing new to see Hernandez hitting for power, as he socked 26 homers in 125 games last year and 22 in 134 games in 2018, but he has reached a new level this year. Cutting down on his strikeouts (33 percent in 2019 to 28.3 percent this year) has helped, but he’s also hitting the ball harder than ever while using the whole field more. He’s among the game’s elite in terms of average exit velocity, hard-hit percentage, and barrel percentage.
Chapman's Status in Question
It’s been a rough couple of days for Athletics third baseman Matt Chapman. After going 0-for-5 with five strikeouts — a platinum sombrero — on Saturday, Chapman was forced to exit Sunday’s game against the Padres with what was termed as a right hip strain.
Athletics manager Bob Melvin told reporters that Chapman had been dealing with a hip issue at various times this season, but the star third baseman appeared to aggravate the injury after making a spinning play to throw out Jurickson Profar in the second inning. He was scheduled to be sent for an MRI following Sunday’s game, so more should be known about his status on Monday.
Chapman has been in the middle of a noticeable slide at the plate. He went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts before leaving Sunday’s game, so he’s now hitting .120 (3-for-25) with one homer and 17 strikeouts over his last eight games. Overall, he’s batting .232/.276/.535 with 10 home runs through 37 games on the year.
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Notable players who landed on the injured list over the weekend:
Jose Altuve (right knee sprain)
Anthony Santander (right oblique strain)
Roman Quinn (concussion)
Jay Bruce (left quad strain)
Lance McCullers (neck nerve Irritation)
Luis Campusano (left wrist sprain)
Anthony Alford (fractured right elbow)
Joely Rodriguez (strained left hamstring)
Kwang Hyun Kim (kidney ailment)
Niko Goodrum (right oblique strain)
Brad Hand (11) - Hand leads the majors in saves, hasn’t allowed a run in his last eight appearances
Daniel Bard (6) - Bard worked around a couple of walks for his save against the Dodgers on Sunday. As his amazing comeback story continues, he's looking like the main man here the rest of the way.
Yoshihisa Hirano (1) - Hirano is finally with the Mariners after a long absence following a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. He’s the odds-on favorite for saves in this bullpen the rest of the way.
Bryan Garcia (1) - Garcia has allowed just one earned run in his last 15 appearances, though the peripherals (6/4 K/BB ratio in 12 2/3 innings) don’t quite match up. The Tigers’ closer situation remains murky.
American League Quick Hits: Shane Bieber struck out 10 batters over five innings of one-run ball in a win over the Brewers on Sunday … Anthony Rendon went 2-for-5 with a two-run homer as the Angels completed a four-game sweep of the Astros on Sunday … Astros general manager James Click said during an appearance on the team’s pregame show Sunday that Justin Verlander (forearm) has progressed to throwing off a mound … Nelson Cruz was scratched from the Twins’ lineup on Sunday due to minor hip tightness … Tyler Glasnow allowed three runs over 5 1/3 innings with nine strikeouts Sunday against the Marlins … Xander Bogaerts socked home run No. 10 — a two-run blast — Sunday versus the Blue Jays … Kyle Lewis connected for his ninth home run of the season — a solo shot — in Sunday’s win over the Rangers … Kyle Seager went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer in Sunday’s game against Texas … Marcus Semien (side) is set to taking batting practice on the field Monday … Coming off a golden sombrero on Saturday, the struggling Gary Sanchez was on the bench for Sunday’s game against the Orioles … Framber Valdez took it on the chin Sunday, allowing eight runs over seven innings against the Angels … Orioles call-up Dean Kremer dominated in his MLB debut Sunday against the Yankees, allowing just one run and one hit over six innings with seven strikeouts and three walks for the win … Randy Arozarena slugged a pair of solo homers in Friday’s extra-inning win over the Marlins … Rowdy Tellez went 3-for-6 with a solo homer in Sunday’s slugfest win over the Red Sox … Lourdes Gurriel collected four singles with an RBI and two runs scored against Boston on Sunday.
Ryan Yarbrough (groin) will rejoin the Rays’ rotation Tuesday against the Nationals … Edwin Encarnacion slugged a three-run blast in Sunday’s win over the Royals … Renato Nunez is considered day-to-day with a sore hamstring … Nate Eovaldi (calf) threw a bullpen session Sunday and is set for a simulated game on Wednesday … Justin Dunn allowed two runs over six innings for the win Sunday against the Rangers … Willi Castro contributed in a comeback win over the Twins on Sunday, going 2-for-5 with a homer and three RBI … Casey Mize surrendered three runs over four-plus innings in his start against the Twins on Sunday … Dallas Keuchel is considered day-to-day after leaving his start on Sunday with lower back stiffness … DJ Stewart connected for his third homer in his past two games Sunday against the Yankees … Leody Taveras went 2-for-4 with a solo homer Sunday against the Mariners … Josh Reddick is considered day-to-day with a right elbow contusion … Franklin Barreto was being evaluated for a shoulder injury following Sunday’s game … Yairo Munoz left Sunday’s game against the Blue Jays with a right hip strain … Astros right-hander Luis Garcia will likely make his first MLB start Wednesday against the Athletics … Nate Pearson (elbow) threw a bullpen session Saturday … X-rays came back negative after Kevin Plawecki was hit in the right hand by a pitch on Sunday against the Blue Jays; Plawecki slugged a three-run homer prior to the HBP … Luis Rengifo was scratched from Sunday’s lineup with a sprained left thumb.
National League Quick Hits: Fernando Tatis Jr. hit his NL-leading 15th homer — a two-run shot — in Sunday’s win over the Athletics … Juan Soto (elbow) missed his third straight game Sunday … After going without a grand slam through the first 1,383 games of his career, Freddie Freeman hit his second in the past three days on Sunday against the Nationals … Starling Marte went 2-for-5 with a homer and a stolen base Sunday against the Rays … Paul Goldschmidt slugged a go-ahead three-run homer in Sunday’s win over the Cubs … Marcell Ozuna went 3-for-5 with a homer and four RBI in Sunday’s win over the Nationals … Corey Seager hit a pair of homers in a loss to the Rockies on Sunday ... Raisel Iglesias suffered his second blown save of the season Sunday a after allowing two runs (one earned) on three hits over 1 1/3 innings against the Pirates … Justin Turner (hamstring) took at-bats in a simulated game Sunday at Dodger Stadium … Jason Heyward went 0-for-2 in Sunday’s game against the Cardinals before leaving due to lightheadedness ... Matt Kemp hit a go-ahead homer in the eighth inning in Sunday's win over the Dodgers ...
Garrett Richards struck out nine batters while allowing three runs over seven innings in a win over the Athletics on Sunday … Joc Pederson left the Dodgers on Sunday due to a family-related move and while he could rejoin the team soon, manager Dave Roberts isn’t sure whether a roster move will be required … Andres Gimenez made his third straight start at shortstop on Sunday, seemingly leapfrogging Amed Rosario for the starting job … Jose Urena (COVID-19) is expected to rejoin the Marlins’ rotation Monday against the Braves … Trevor Rogers allowed three runs over six innings with a career-high 10 strikeouts in a no-decision against the Rays on Sunday … Donovan Solano went 3-for-3 with a two-run homer in Sunday’s win over the Diamondbacks … Mitch Keller (oblique) threw a 35-pitch live batting practice session on Friday … Erik Gonzalez delivered a walk-off sacrifice fly for a 3-2 victory over the Reds on Sunday … Luis Garcia was removed from Sunday’s game against the Braves due to a heel bruise … The Mets have moved Robert Gsellman back to their bullpen.