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- Not a great second start back for SP Robbie Ray, with the Cardinals getting five extra-base hits and four singles over five innings, leading to six earned runs. Ray walked a batter and struck out seven. Ray went with a very slider-heavy approach, throwing the pitch a season-high 43 times. That’s probably because his four-seam fastball wasn’t working, as the Cardinals put it in play 12 times, seven of those coming for hits. Ray has only started in the “new” (see: humidor-impacted) Chase Field three times this year, so perhaps this is just the learning curve. He gets a great chance to bounce back Saturday at home against the Padres, then goes to Atlanta for his final pre-All Star Break start on July 13.
- RP A.J. Minter worked the 11th inning against the Yankees last night to earn his fourth save of the year, as RP Arodys Vizcaino was pushed back another day in his return from the disabled list. He should be back today for the second of three games in New York.
- OF Ronald Acuna Jr. went 2-for-5 with a game-winning two-run homer in the 11th inning, plus an RBI double. He did strikeout three times, but it seems silly to have him batting sixth when both OF Ender Inciarte and 2B Ozzie Albies aren’t hitting as well as Acuna at the top of the order.
- SP David Hess is uncertain to make his scheduled start tomorrow against the Phillies, according to a comment from manager Buck Showalter. This would be a performance-related issue, not injury, but the Orioles don’t have any realistic options to replace Hess on their current 25-man roster.
Boston Red Sox
- SP Rick Porcello only generated four swinging strikes over 92 pitches last night, but a generous strike zone and the support of 21 called strikes helped him pick up five strikeouts over six innings, as he earned his 10th win of the season. Porcello’s home run problems continued, with two allowed on the night, but they were both solo shots and he otherwise held the Nationals off the scoreboard on five singles and two walks.
- The Cubs get two off days this week between yesterday and Thursday, so they’ll be reconfiguring their rotation. Only SP Kyle Hendricks going today and SP Jose Quintana going tomorrow is set. If anyone gets skipped, it’s likely to be SP Tyler Chatwood, who is currently set up to start Saturday at home against the Reds.
Chicago White Sox
- OF Avisail Garcia homered again on Monday, his fourth in seven games and his fifth multi-hit game in his last four starts. He has a nine-game hitting streak going.
- 1B Jose Abreu left yesterday’s game with a left ankle bruise and is day-to-day.
- SP Luis Castillo just needed a start against the White Sox to get right for the first time in almost a month. He displayed much better command of the strike zone over his 101 pitches, especially with his four-seam fastball, which picked up 20 total strikes over 36 pitches and was put in play five times, but not once for a hit. Overall, he went 6 2/3 innings, allowing a run on six hits and no walks, striking out six.
- SP Danny Salazar will not pitch this season after undergoing arthroscopic right shoulder surgery yesterday. He should get the chance at a regular offseason as he attempts to come back to the rotation in 2019.
- OF Lonnie Chisenhall’s calf problems have resurfaced, and he’s on the disabled list again with a left calf strain. This should help OF Rajai Davis’ value, as he’ll get more at-bats to pick up stolen bases. Davis started in center field last night and went 3-for-3 with three runs scored.
- We are very impressed with SP Kyle Freeland, who delivered again in a tough spot last night, not only being at home but facing the same team for consecutive starts (the Giants). Freeland allowed a leadoff homer to open the game to OF Gorkys Hernandez, but over the next 25 batters he allowed just a single, a double, and walk, striking out three. He went seven innings total and earned his eighth win of the year, and his home mark now stands at 5-2 with a 2.89 ERA over 43 2/3 innings.
- RP Shane Greene was placed on the 10-day disabled list yesterday with a shoulder strain, pushing RP Joe Jimenez in to the full-time closer role. He blew his save chance yesterday with a one-run lead in the ninth, allowing a double and three walks, including one to 1B Justin Smoak with the bases loaded that tied the game. He ultimately ended up getting the win as the Tigers scored in the tenth inning to win on the road at Toronto.
- Today is a make-or-break start for the status of SP Dallas Keuchel as a “must use” pitcher. He draws an average Texas lineup on the road, but temperatures are expected to be close to 100 degrees by game time, so if Keuchel has his regular first-inning issues again, there could be some home runs against him.
Kansas City Royals
- With their terrible team making it tough to get wins, SP Jake Junis’ recent struggles are making it hard to justify owning him in any mixed league format. The Indians tagged him at home last night for eight earned runs on eight hits and a walk over 5 1/3 innings, including two home runs and two doubles. Junis’ slider, by far his most valuable pitch in his young major league career, has been hit around a bunch over his last five starts, and last night he threw it a just 28.7 percent of the time, his second lowest number of the season.
Los Angeles Angels
- General manager Billy Eppler said yesterday that SP/DH Shohei Ohtani “looked good” over the weekend in 20 at-bats during simulated games, so there’s a chance he may be activated today. Yesterday was his fifth consecutive day of doing hitting workouts, per Jeff Fletcher of the OCRegister.
- Fletcher also noted the SP Garrett Richards was scheduled for a bullpen session yesterday and, barring any setbacks, will start tomorrow in Seattle.
Los Angeles Dodgers
- More of the usual suspects dominating at the plate last night for the Dodgers in their 17-run outburst – OFs Joc Pederson and Matt Kemp both homered, as did 1B/OF Cody Bellinger and 1B/3B Max Muncy. Kemp went 5-for-5 with four RBI and four runs scored, and he’s hitting .409 with two homers and eight RBI over his last 23 plate appearances.
- RP Kyle Barraclough blew his first save since moving in to the closer role full time a little over a month ago, allowing a walks, a single and a double that turned the Marlins 2-1 lead in to a 2-2 tie.
- 1B/OF Brad Miller got another start at shortstop and in the leadoff spot, going 3-for-5 with three singles, a walk, two RBI, and two runs scored.
- OF Byron Buxton was activated and sent to Triple-A, where he’ll continue to try to get right at the plate for a potential second-half return.
- SS Jorge Polanco was reinstated to the 25-man roster after sitting out the first 80 games of the season with a PED suspension. He should be an every day player moving forward, as he got the start at short and hit fifth in the order yesterday. He went 0-for-4 but made contact in all four plate appearances.
New York Mets
- SPs Noah Syndergaard and Jason Vargas will oppose each other in a simulated game today at the Mets’ complex in Florida. If both hold up well then they should make minor league rehab starts next week and be ready to return after the All-Star Break.
New York Yankees
- SP Masahiro Tanaka will make a rehab start at Triple-A tomorrow, aiming to throw 70 pitches. Barring any setbacks, he’ll be lined up for a two-start week next week beginning with an outing in Monday’s doubleheader against Baltimore.
- RP Chad Green worked two scoreless innings yesterday, extending his shutout streak to 14 1/3 innings over 11 appearances, with 17 strikeouts and three walks in that span.
- 3B Matt Chapman played a rehab game at High-A Stockton last night, going 1-for-4 with a single and a strikeout and playing defense successfully, the key item in his potential return from a thumb injury. We expect Chapman activated and in the lineup tonight against San Diego.
- There is definitely a trade brewing for the Phillies to improve at third base – after rumors of 3B Adrian Beltre being a target, there were more yesterday that not only is the team looking at Kansas City 3B Mike Moustakas, but that current third baseman (at least part-time) 3B Maikel Franco is coming up in trade talks.
- SP Nick Kingham didn’t have it last night in his first start back since June 9 – while his velocity was above his season average on both his four- and two-seam fastballs, he left both pitches in the middle portion of the strike zone far too often, and the Dodgers ended up hitting each fastball for a home run, part of an attack on Kingham that resulted in him allowing eight hits and three walks over three innings, plus seven runs (five earned). He only struck out two.
San Diego Padres
- In his off-day mailbag, AJ Cassavell of MLB.com speculates that both RP Brad Hand and RP Kirby Yates could be traded, putting the odds at 45 percent and 25 percent, respectively. If we had to take a long-shot stab at the closer if both guys move on, it’d be RP Adam Cimber, who has struck out 46 in 41 innings this year with a 3.29 ERA and 1.10 WHIP.
San Francisco Giants
- OF Austin Slater has started three of the Giants’ last four games. He went 0-for-4 yesterday out of the five hole, but in his two starts over the weekend at Arizona he went 5-for-7 with two walks, two doubles, and three RBI.
- The team’s top pitching prospect, SP Sam Carlson, had Tommy John surgery yesterday and won’t be on the radar for fantasy owners until 2022 or so, as he was only at short-season ball this year after being a 2017 draft choice.
St. Louis Cardinals
- OF Tyler O’Neill was recalled yesterday and hit third in the lineup, coincidental timing since earlier in the day Cards’ general manager John Mozeliak publicly questioned OF Dexter Fowler’s effort level during his horrific season-long slump. O’Neill has great raw skills, and any chance at every day playing time would make him worth owning in all 12-team mixed league formats and larger. He went 1-for-4 last night with a run scored.
Tampa Bay Rays
- SP Nathan Eovaldi was very good for the second consecutive outing, limiting the Marlins to two runs over six innings on eight hits and a walk, striking out five. Eovaldi has done an increasingly better job with his command, keeping most of his pitches lower in the zone and generating a favorable percentage of ground balls. He gets the Mets in New York this weekend and should be started everywhere he is owned.
- SP Martin Perez has had consecutive scoreless minor league rehab outings, but the Rangers are still evaluating his next step in terms of another minor league start versus a return to the major league rotation for the first time this year. He’s an AL-only guy when he does return.
Toronto Blue Jays
- SP Ryan Borucki was good again in his second major league start, needing only 97 pitches to go seven innings, limiting the Tigers to six singles, no walks, and two earned runs. He struck out eight.
- 2B Daniel Murphy had his first big game of the year, hitting a single and a solo home run in four at-bats. Murphy should have first base eligibility by the end of this week, as well.