Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen has made numerous moves that haven’t worked out thus far in his first year on the job. Discarding Travis d’Arnaud doesn’t rank high among his failures, but the Rays are nonetheless happy he did it.
D’Arnaud had a night to remember Monday in the Bronx against the Yankees, slugging three home runs in the Rays’ comeback victory. The third one came with two outs in the ninth inning, the Rays down two and Aroldis Chapman on the mound, one strike away from sealing a win. D’Arnaud squared up a hanging slider and lifted an opposite-field shot that found the short porch in right field.
D’Arnaud reached base five times on the night, drawing a pair of walks in addition to his three bombs. All three of his home runs went to the opposite field. It’s the first time a catcher has hit three homers from the leadoff spot since 1908.
In 146 plate appearances since the Rays acquired d’Arnaud for cash from the Dodgers (who had signed him and given him one plate appearance before flipping him to Tampa Bay) in mid-May, the catcher has slugged nine home runs. All nine of those dingers have come since the start of June, and he’s batting .330 over that span. This was d’Arnaud’s second big moment against the Yanks already this month, as he popped a walk-off home run against them back on July 6 in Tampa.
D’Arnaud isn’t an everyday player for the Rays, as Mike Zunino still sees plenty of starts at catcher. Still, the club has been so happy with the former Met’s work that they’re also working him in at first base in addition to often hitting him leadoff. D’Arnaud remains largely available in fantasy leagues but is worth owning at this point.
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Contreras Hits IL
If you’re a Willson Contreras owner, you might want to consider scooping up the aforementioned d’Arnaud.
Contreras was placed on the 10-day injured list following the Cubs’ loss to the Reds on Monday after an MRI revealed a strain of the arch muscle in his right foot. The feeling is that the injury isn’t serious but that Contreras could have made it worse had he tried to play on it. The Cubs hope that he’ll be ready to go when his 10 days are up.
Seeking to reinforce their catching depth, Chicago traded for Martin Maldonado on Monday, sending Mike Montgomery to the Royals in return. Maldonado is a dreadful hitter who is batting just .227/.291/.366 this season, but he’s a former Gold Glove winner and respected receiver.
It will be interesting to see how the Cubs divvy up playing time while Contreras is on the shelf, as Victor Caratini would be interesting for fantasy purposes if he plays enough. The 25-year-old is sporting a .289/.369/.485 batting line with four homers this season and he’s batted fifth in each of his last three starts.
As far as Montgomery goes, he will slide into the Royals’ rotation on Friday in Cleveland. The lefty has pitched exclusively in relief with the Cubs this season and has really struggled, posting a 5.67 ERA and 18/13 K/BB ratio over 27 innings. Montgomery has a career 3.72 ERA, though, while splitting time between the rotation and bullpen. He’s also under team control through 2021, giving the Royals a potential back-end starter that didn’t cost much to obtain. Montgomery, of course, came up in the Kansas City organization and was a top prospect with the Royals several years ago.
Crawford Crushes Rockies
Brandon Crawford had a big day Monday. So big, in fact, that he’s now in exclusive company with a couple Giants legends.
Crawford had a monster afternoon in the first game of a doubleheader against the Rockies, going 5-for-6 with two home runs and eight RBI in the Giants’ 19-2 blowout win. The eight RBI tied a team record that is also held by Orlando Cepeda and Willie Mays.
But wait, Crawford wasn’t done.
The shortstop went deep again in the second game of the double dip, hitting a solo shot as the Giants won 2-1 to complete the doubleheader sweep. Crawford also drew a walk, as he finished the day having reached base seven times, hitting three home runs, driving in nine runs and scoring four times.
Although he’s swung the bat well so far in July, Crawford is still sporting just a .240/.310/.397 batting line on the season. Twenty-three percent of his 39 RBI in 2019 came on Monday.
National League Quick Hits: Cody Bellinger went 4-for-6 with two solo homers and four runs scored as the Dodgers crushed the Phillies on Monday. … The Mets put Zack Wheeler on the IL Monday with right shoulder fatigue. … Chris Taylor is expected to be sidelined 4-6 weeks after being diagnosed with a non-displaced fracture in his left forearm. … Tyler O'Neill went 3-for-4 with two homers and four RBI on Monday in a win over the Pirates. … Miles Mikolas fanned three while tossing a shutout against the Pirates on Monday. … Clayton Kershaw pitched six innings of one-run ball and struck out seven in a win Monday against the Phillies. … German Marquez imploded Monday against the Giants, allowing 11 runs over just 2 2/3 frames in the first game of a doubleheader. … Luis Castillo struck out 10 hitters over six innings while allowing three runs in a no-decision against the Cubs on Monday. … Max Fried was pulled from Monday's start in Milwaukee after five innings with a blister on his left hand, but he hopes to take his next turn … Stephen Vogt went 2-for-4 with a homer and a double in the second game of a doubleheader on Monday against the Rockies. … Yasiel Puig went 2-for-5 with a homer on Monday to help the Reds beat the Cubs on Monday. … Robbie Ray is reportedly drawing interest from the Phillies, Astros and Yankees. … Mike Yastrzemski went 4-for-6 with a home run and three RBI Monday in the Giants' win over the Rockies. … Gregory Polanco was lifted from a rehab game with Triple-A Indianapolis on Sunday due to renewed tightness in his left shoulder. … Evan Longoria landed on the IL Monday with a strained left foot.
American League Quick Hits: Mike Trout is considered day-to-day after an MRI revealed a small strain in his right calf. … George Springer went 3-for-5 with two homers, three RBI and three runs scored in a loss to the Angles on Monday. … Tyler Glasnow (forearm) will be shut down for two more weeks following an MRI on Monday and his season is in jeopardy. … Nathan Eovaldi (elbow) will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket on Wednesday or Thursday. … Carlos Correa (rib) is targeting a return on July 26, the first day he's eligible for activation. … Jakob Junis allowed just one run over seven innings while striking out 10 in a win over the White Sox on Monday. … Oscar Mercado went 3-for-5 with two homers and a steal to lead the Indians to a win over the Tigers on Monday … Edwin Encarnacion homered twice in a losing cause against the Rays on Monday. … Jordy Mercer homered twice and doubled in a loss to the Indians on Monday. … Ken Giles (elbow) will throw a light bullpen session Tuesday and if it goes well will be available to pitch that night. … Michael Chavis hit his first career grand slam and drew two walks Monday in the Red Sox' defeat of the Blue Jays. … The Red Sox designated Eduardo Nunez for assignment.