Just Another Day at the Ballpark

So … did anything noteworthy happen Tuesday night?

Twice now, when Matt Harvey was the subject of one of the lead stories heading into a set of games, so much happened on the field to bury the story. “Bury,” by the way, happened to be the word that I missed in the third grade spelling bee, even though I had it used in a sentence. Along with a healthy diet and a supportive family, I received plentiful doses of humility as a kid.

The obvious big story of the day has to be James Paxton’s no-hitter against Toronto. Coming on the heels of a 16-strikeout outing against the A’s where he didn’t get the win because the bullpen couldn’t hold a 2-0 lead, Paxton took care of it all himself Tuesday night, needing just 99 pitches to go the distance. Well, not all by himself – he had a number of gems made behind him by the Mariners’ defense. Kyle Seager’s web gem justifiably garnered the most attention, but earlier in the same inning Ryon Healy made a terrific scoop on a bad throw + bad hop, plus Ben Gamel made a nice catch up against the wall in the eighth inning. I loved that he was still throwing 99+ mph against Josh Donaldson in the ninth inning. And I also love that Donaldson turned on that last pitch and hit a rocket to Seager, who of course turned in another great play.

Of course, there were other superlative outings. Luis Severino dominated (11 K’s in six innings, no walks) but didn’t get a win. Jeremy Hellickson took a perfect game into the seventh inning and struck out eight Padres and now has a 2.28 ERA and 0.87 WHIP for the Nats. Sean Newcomb shut out the Rays over six innings, allowing just two hits and three walks while striking out six. The Braves caught a lot of flak for dealing Andrelton Simmons to get Newcomb, but it’s paying off now. Jon Gray dominated for the third outing in a row, shutting out the Angels over seven innings while striking out eight. And Aaron Nola continues to be money in the bank, striking out 12 Giants over seven innings. Seemingly every night there are four-to-five elite-level outings, and the bar has risen on what we need from our top starters. There have been a whopping three no-hitters already this season.

Speaking of Nola, during his outing yesterday I got a trade offer in one of my leagues – his Clayton Kershaw for my Nola. What a difference a week makes – last week I might have agonized over it before accepting it, and now it was easy to decline the trade. The more interesting question to me now is where is that line? How low would you go before you’d accept that trade offer? I think my line would be around 15-20 – in the range of Carlos Martinez, Patrick Corbin and their peers. It’s entirely possible, maybe even probable, that Kershaw will come back to his elite form upon returning from the DL, and I’ll regret not trading Nola for him. But the nature of this injury worries me, as does his previous injuries the last couple of years. But consider this – Kershaw’s velocity was down before he hit the DL, from 92.7 mph to 91.1 on his average fastball. His K-rate has dropped below 10K/9IP for the first time since 2013. He’s walking more batters and he’s giving up more homers. Could this all be related to his biceps tendinitis? Sure it could, or it could be a sign of further deterioration of his stats. Moreover, there’s plenty of risk of setbacks in his rehab, or recurrences of the same injury. The higher percentage play is to give him a healthy discount.

I started this blog alluding to the Reds-Mets trade, with the Reds getting Matt Harvey for Devin Mesoraco plus the difference in the two players’ respective salaries. As a Reds fan, I’m pretty happy with the deal. It’s the type of chance a team in their position should be taking. Even if Harvey doesn’t work out they risked essentially nothing. Mesoraco will be a free agent at the end of the season, as will Harvey, but if he does improve, they can either flip him at the trade deadline or get a head-start on re-signing him before he becomes a free agent, if Scott Boras allows for that. Chances are that Harvey would be more marketable than Mesoraco if both recover. Mesoraco fits the Mets’ needs quite well, too – they desperately needed a catcher.

A few other quick notes from Tuesday night:

  • I took a quick cat-nap after lineup lock last night, and when I woke up after 15 minutes, my Draft Kings lineup was already toast, having rostered Dylan Bundy. It’s my own damn fault for using him – a quick look at his last two games, where he gave up five homers against the Angels and Rays, should have been enough to dissuade me. But in my infinite wisdom I couldn’t pass up a home start against the Royals and save some bucks from Newcomb, in order to allow me to spend up on Gary Sanchez. Oops. The funny thing is that I still won one of my head-to-head matchups despite using Bundy and a bunch of mediocre hitters. It served as a good reminder to me to keep playing h2h’s as a way of preserving/building a bankroll.
  • The Jays put Roberto Osuna on administrative leave almost immediately after he was arrested on a domestic assault charge, and he’ll be out indefinitely. I won’t pretend to speculate on the veracity or severity of the charges, nor on when he’ll be back. The most likely candidates to close for the Jays are Ryan Tepera, Seung Hwan Oh and John Axford, though it should be noted that Axford pitched yesterday with a four-run deficit. Tyler Clippard is also a dark horse candidate.
  • I get a kick how broadcasters are dutifully noting how many mound visits a team has made upon each time out. Has any team run afoul of the new rules on that yet? A quick Twitter query last night suggested (h/t Emma Span) that only the Angels have run out of visits so far, but there was no subsequent event where they ran into trouble because they lacked sufficient visits.
  • I refrained from stacking Angels and Rockies last night, as they played their first game of their two-game series and the first of the Rockies’ six-game homestand. I asked on-air whether the notion to fade the first game of a Coors Field home series was a thing, or whether that was still a myth. I haven’t yet found anything dispositive either way. Last night’s game ended up a low-scoring affair (see also, Jon Gray), but I still need to see more proof before I think this is anything bankable.
  • Wednesday’s Phillies-Giants game will be broadcast only on Facebook Live. That it’s online-only doesn’t bother me. That you have to have a Facebook account (note: I have an account, so this isn’t personally going to affect me) seems pretty egregious and an under-the-table way for them to acquire more data. Given their poor publicity in recent days when it comes to keeping data private, you’d think that Facebook and MLB might want to re-think this policy.

What else jumped out to you? Let me know on another social media platform with private-data-protection capabilities – on Twitter.

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