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In last week’s column, we discussed some of the pitchers in the forefront of the National League, as we’re headed towards the midpoint of the season, and ultimately, the All-Star Game. This week, we discuss who’s been holding it down for their clubs in the American League, and who might possibly get the ball in the Midsummer Classic.
Tyler Glasnow of the Rays has had a dazzling first half, much attributed to establishing a third pitch, a new wipeout slider he experimented with in the offseason. The 27-year-old fanned 11 in his start on Tuesday, where he lured the Nationals into an incredible 27 swings and misses. He now has seven games with 10 or more strikeouts this season, contributing to his overall 117 on the year. Glasnow also leads the AL in Hits per nine innings, at 5.5. The hard-throwing right-hander has certainly not only established himself as the ace of the Rays after Blake Snell’s exodus to the Padres, but has emerged as one of the more dominant pitchers in the AL. In 84 innings pitched over 13 games, he’s got a 5-2 record, a 2.57 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 117 strikeouts to boot.
The reigning AL Cy Young winner Shane Bieber is making a strong case for himself. As a strong testament to that high strikeout upside, he also leads the AL in strikeouts per 9, at 12.9. On May 11, the 26-year-old punched out at least eight batters in 20 consecutive starts leading up to that date but has now struck out fewer than eight in four of his last five outings since. Though his strikeout totals have dipped a little (for him, at least), he’s still leading all of Major League Baseball in strikeouts as he’s got 122 going into Sunday, which is mighty impressive. Through 85 innings pitched over 13 starts, Bieber carries forth a 2.96 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 7-3 record.
Other starters worthy of consideration for taking the bump at Coors Field in July are the fiery-mouthed Lance Lynn, the lately-controversial Gerrit Cole, and no-hitter alum John Means, if healthy. And of course, with the discussion of pitchers and the news breaking this week that MLB plans to have umpires inspect starting pitchers at least twice a game, and relief pitchers at least once for any foreign substances, we may see a fluctuation in numbers and performance going forward.
As we can’t seem to forgo a week without mentioning some kind of awesome, record-shattering feat from Jacob deGrom, it would be neglectful to not mention that as of Friday, he is the first pitcher since at least 1901 with 100+ strikeouts and 26 or fewer hits allowed in any 10-game span. He also now has the lowest ERA (0.56) through 10 starts since the earned run became an official stat in 1913.
In his last start on Friday, deGrom fanned 10 Padres while limiting that lineup to just one hit over six innings. If that wasn’t enough, he also went 1-for-2 at the plate, including two RBI. Not to spoil the party too soon, but deGrom was pulled after 80 pitches in that start due to right flexor tendonitis. However, after an MRI returned clean, he resumed throwing on Saturday afternoon in the Mets' bullpen at Citi Field, and should be able to make his start against the Cubs on Wednesday. The 32-year-old owns an ethereal 0.56 ERA, 0.53 WHIP and 103/8 K/BB ratio over 64 innings (10 starts) this season.
Isiah Kiner-Falefa made Trevor Bauer’s head spin on Saturday, stealing a career-high three bases in Saturday’s game versus the Dodgers. He’s swiped 14 bags so far this year, out of 15 attempts. He went 3-for-5 on the evening, scoring two runs, and knocking one run in. The 26-year-old has been a versatile fantasy option as he’s eligible for multiple positions, and has showcased the ability to both make contact and exhibit great speed.
Brian Goodwin made his debut for the White Sox on Saturday, batting in the two-spot versus the Tigers. And what a debut it was: Goodwin went 2-for-5 on the afternoon, including an RBI double and a three-run home run, for five total RBI. The 30-year-old was originally drafted in the 17th round of the amateur draft by the White Sox in 2009, but did not sign; he signed with the club on May 5 as a free agent, and took Nick Madrigal’s place on the roster.
Marcus Stroman posted another strong start on Saturday, going six innings, allowing only one run off six hits and issuing one free pass and fanning eight in a matchup versus a mighty Padres lineup. He also faced the Padres last Sunday, allowing one unearned run on four hits and four walks with seven strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings. He’s been fantastic at generating ground balls and inducing soft contact, without the high strikeout totals. He’ll carry forward a 6-4 record, along with a gorgeous 2.32 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and in 77 2/3 innings pitched over 14 starts.
Stroman’s Mets teammate Francisco Lindor may have had an icy start at the dish, but has certainly turned things around. On Saturday, Lindor went 1-for-2 with a homer, two runs, and a walk on Saturday versus the Padres. It’s safe to say that he’s broken out of his slump, as Saturday’s homer was the 27-year-old’s sixth of the year. The shortstop is now batting .304 with three home runs over the past 15 games.
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Anthony Rendon (2-for-3, 1 R, HR, 4 RBI, BB on Saturday), Jose Berrios (7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 K on Saturday), Anthony DeSclafani (9 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K on Friday), Nick Castellanos (2-for-3, HR, 3 R, 2 RBI, BB on Friday), Trevor Rogers (7 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 K on Thursday), Mitch Haniger (3-for-5, 2 HR, 3 R, 2 RBI on Thursday), Taijuan Walker (7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K on Wednesday), Tyler O’Neill (3-for-4, 2 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI on Wednesday), Framber Valdez (7 1/3 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K on Tuesday), Robbie Ray (6 1/3 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 13 K on Tuesday), Pete Alonso (2-for-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI on Tuesday), Adbert Alzolay (3 IP, 4 ER, 5 H, 5 BB, 4 K on Monday), Starling Marte (3-for-4, HR, BB, SB on Monday)
After being absent from the lineup on Saturday with what was then tightness in his right side, Max Muncy was placed on the injured list after a strain to his right oblique was found. The hot-hitting Muncy sported a .947 OPS going into Saturday, alongside 14 home runs and a league-leading 46 walks drawn through 60 games played this year. He’s expected to miss a few weeks with an estimated return of late June or early July.
A day after spinning an excellent start where he held the Red Sox to one run off four hits, Steven Matz was placed on the COVID-related IL on Sunday. The southpaw will have to return two negative tests, and could return at any time. In a corresponding move, Jeremy Beasley was recalled from Triple-A.
A devastating loss for the White Sox, fantasy managers, and folks who enjoy watching exciting young baseball stars: Nick Madrigal was placed on the 60-day injured list on Thursday with a right hamstring tear. The 24-year-old was hitting .305 with two homers, 21 RBI, one steal and 30 runs scored in 54 games played. A contact hitter with a fantastic two-strike approach, Madrigal was exhibiting some unexpected power before going down.
Danny Duffy of the Royals was having a stellar start to his season with a 1.94 ERA in seven starts, before going down with a left forearm flexor strain. The 32-year-old southpaw has been ramping up his throwing, as he’s now up to 90 feet with some “good intensity,” according to manager Mike Matheny. He’ll throw some live bullpen sessions versus hitters to simulate innings before the Royals release a definite timeline for his return.
Travis Shaw of the Brewers was moved to the 60-day injured list on Saturday when it was determined he’d be sidelined until at least August. The 31-year-old suffered a shoulder dislocation on Wednesday, after trying to field a hard-hit ground ball. He will attempt to rehab so he can return to play this year, but there's still a possibility he may undergo season-ending surgery.
And the Oscar goes to …
Sometimes you just gotta laugh off being plunked. Brett Phillips of the Rays may have given home plate umpire Nick Mahrley -- and Orioles pitcher Jorge Lopez a bit of a scare on Saturday. Phillips pretended to charge the mound after being plunked with a 95-mph fastball to the right shoulder. The act was enough to convince Mahrley to jog in front of Phillips, as he dropped his bat while angrily spouting towards the mound, but then broke out in laughter immediately after.
Lopez couldn’t help but smile after the fake-charge was revealed; He and Phillips were brought up together in the Brewers system, and later both traded to the Royals for Mike Moustakas in 2019.
Now that you’re all caught up on the week, be sure to join us next week for more stories, updates, and accomplishments from around Major League Baseball.