The first Sunday of summer certainly was a busy one around the league, and we have you covered. And in case you were wondering, a Mets game doesn’t appear to be official unless Pete Alonso hits a home run, 27 on the season, and they blow the lead for Jacob deGrom. Let’s take a look at some of the other performances that caught our eye yesterday.
1) The Rookie Cruises
Another start, and another victory for Jordan Yamamoto on Sunday. It was the rookie’s third win in as many starts as the Marlins completed a sweep of the Phillies. Yamamoto did have to work through four walks as he allowed the first two runs of his brief major league career on two hits. The right-hander struck out seven as he continues to strike out more than a batter inning as he did in the minor leagues; 495 in 463 innings. Thus far, again we are talking about just 19 innings, Yamamoto is stranding 86.7% of runners while benefiting from a .167 BABIP and checking in with a a ground ball rate of just 33.3%. Based on his minor league track record, the ground ball rate should get closer to 45%, as all we really have to go on, is his success prior to being promoted. At this point, he should be owned in all leagues, but he is not someone I would over pay for.
2) Stroman Cruises to Victory
At this point, we don’t know when Marcus Stroman’s last start with the Blue Jays will be, but it also possible the right-hander doesn’t get traded. But if he does, Stroman is putting the best foot forward to possible trade partners as he picked up his fifth victory of the season. The right-hander did it with six shutout innings of work in Fenway Park as he limited Boston to just five hits and one walk to pick up his fifth victory of the season. What holds Stroman back among other potential, available candidates, is the lack of strikeouts. Yesterday though, that was not the case as the right-hander struck out six batters to bring his rate for the season up to just 6.88. The good thing though, is that with 2.68 walks per nine innings, Stroman is able to limit traffic on the bases. When batters do reach base, Stroman’s 57.9% ground ball rate does aid in eliminating or minimizing the trouble, and that works out just fine, as long as you get your strikeouts elsewhere.
3) Bradley Makes His Debut
As far buzz regarding top prospects go, Bobby Bradley never really got on tract. It is clear though, that the slugger first baseman is a legitimate power threat. All throughout the minor leagues, home runs and RBI were were fine, but that .256 batting average is what held the first baseman back from truly being considered a top prospect. However, in our current climate with home runs really being everywhere, you can’t get enough of them. And that, is why Bradley should be targeted in just about all leagues. On Sunday, Bradley got his career with Cleveland off to a solid start as he went 1 for 3 with a walk before being lifted for a pinch runner. Bradley doubled and drove in a run, and for as long as he is in the lineup, I would expect him to eventually move up from seventh. Prior to his promotion, Bradley was already up to 24 home runs, so we know that he is going hit his share of home runs.
4) Machado is Making up for Lost Time
After dealing with his free agency all winter, Manny Machado didn’t get off to the best of starts but he is making up for it now. Slotted right behind Fernando Tatis and Eric Hosmer, and in front of home run threat Hunter Renfroe, Machado was a vital part in San Diego’s 11 run effort as part of a wild game. After going 3 for 6 with two RBI, Machado’s batting average is now up to .278. A large part of that surge after his early season struggles, has come in Machado’s last 14 games (.375 batting average), as he has also driven in 16 runs in that stretch. With 47 RBI on the season, that is also a distant memory, as your window to buying low on Machado has closed. This is the player that the Padres impatiently for this season.
5) Altuve Gets Back on the Board
After missing about month’s worth of games, Jose Altuve returned to action this week, but we are still waiting to see him to really work on trying build up to the level we have come to expect from the second baseman. Talking about Yordan Alvarez and his home run prowess, seven after making his debut a little over two weeks ago, can get a little boring, so instead, we have Altuve. The fact that he has looked ordinary since for the majority of the season, and especially since his return. We also know though, that it is nothing something anyone is expecting to see continue. After going 2 for 5 with his 10th home run and eighth double of the season, Altuve is still hitting just .251. The hope here, and it’s also very possible, is that this is the worst things are going to get for Altuve. This is also true with the impending return of George Springer, as the Astros work their way back full strength.
6) Woodruff Wins Again
As much as we say how hard it is to predict victories, at some points of the season, it becomes apparent which pitchers have a better chance at securing them. Of course, that logic is really based on what has already happened, but Brandon Woodruff has shown no problems ending up in the win column. The right-hander picked up his ninth victory of the season yesterday against the Reds as he continues to take advantage of Milwaukee’s strong offense and bullpen. Woodruff threw seven innings of three run ball while scattering seven hits and giving up one walk. However, it was really just one swing, a three run homer from Joey Votto, that did the damage for the Reds. What impressed me, besides the fact that Woodruff struck out 12, was that after he allowed the home run in the sixth inning, Milwaukee gave the right-hander another inning. In baseball’s current climate, teams are too quick to look to the bullpen, and regardless of what the other circumstances were, Woodruff did get to work through the seventh inning; and he produced as well. After striking out 12, Woodruff has 114 strikeouts this season in 94.1 innings to go along with a solid a 4.01 ERA and 1.17.
7) Dozier Doesn’t Miss a Step
After returning a few days ago, Hunter Dozier hasn’t missed a beat. One of the top sleeper candidates to emerge from the first half of the season, Dozier is right back to his run producing ways in the middle of Kansas City’s lineup. On Sunday, Dozier went 2 for 4 with a three run homer that was the big blow for the Royals in their victory. That is now 12 home runs and 38 RBI for Dozier to go along with his .311 batting average. In his first, true, extended look at the major league level, Dozier is finally living up to his prospect status.
8) DeShields Has a Perfect Day
Don’t look now, but Delino DeShields’ batting average is now up to .253. I know that is not why the Rangers’ outfielder ends up on our radar, but he needs to hit, at least at a solid level, to both stay in the lineup and to get on base. We know all about the old adage, that you can’t steal first base, and it certainly applies to DeShields, as that is why he ends up on our radar to begin with. Yesterday, he went 3 for 3 with two RBI, but more importantly, DeShields stole his 12th base of the season. Entering yesterday’s game, he was batting .300 in his last seven games, and this a trend we can hope to see continued as hitting for average has been a problem for DeShields throughout his career. But if he is in the lineup, the possibility for stolen bases is always there, and that means he is worth a roster spot.
9) Crawford Has a Day
We might be two or three seasons too late, but what we saw from JP Crawford on Sunday, is exactly what we have been waiting for from the top prospect. The fact that the Mariners are rebuilding, means they have the latitude to give Crawford playing time, as he was batting second on Sunday. And that shortstop certainly produced as he went 4 for 4 with four RBI and two runs scored as he hit his second home run of the season. In 100 at bats so far this season, Crawford is now hitting .300 with 16 RBI as the former first round pick is fast approaching his career high in at bats (117). Crawford hit .214 in each of his last two major league seasons, but with the ability always being there (just not present), I wouldn’t write this off as a fluke. Instead, the shortstop is finally healthy, and the change of scenery to Seattle has also worked for him.
10) Meadows Has a Strong Game
Austin Meadows couldn’t have started the season much better, but the outfielder has seen a drop-off in his performance since. In his last 15 games, Meadows is hitting just .179, but Tampa Bay isn’t overreacting as they are leaving the outfielder right in his customary third spot in the batting order. Yesterday, at least for one day, it looks like Meadows might have turned the corner as he went 2 for 4 with three RBI. Again, it’s just one game, but it is a reminder not to lose faith in Meadows as he brought his batting average back up to .304. Meadows, who singled for both his hits, is now up to 41 RBI on the season as he continues to make the Chris Archer trade look even more ridiculous.