Yesterday we saw the Milwaukee Brewers get a deal done for Carlos Gomez, finally shipping one of their few assets for future prospects, hauling in a couple of nice pieces from the Houston Astros.
We’re heading towards the trade deadline later this afternoon – one of the more exciting times of the year for fans of Major League Baseball.
Let’s play a little catch up on what’s happened in the last week!
St. Louis Cardinals
Traded for RF/1B Brandon Moss with the Cleveland Indians.
Traded for RP Steve Cishek with the Miami Marlins, sending #88 prospect LHP Rob Kaminsky.
Traded for 3B Aramis Ramirez with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Purchased P Joe Blanton from the Kansas City Royals.
Traded for RP Joakim Soria with the Detroit Tigers.
Traded SP Johnny Cueto to the Kansas City Royals for LHP Brandon Finnegan.
Traded SP Mike Leake to the San Francisco Giants.
Traded CF Carlos Gomez and SP Mike Fiers to the Houston Astros for #39 prospect OF Brett Phillips and #88 prospect OF Domingo Santana.
Other players were involved in some of these deals, but I’ve only noted them if they are either current/former Major Leaguers or among MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects.
The Brewers, for example, received four prospects from the ‘stros, but those two mentioned were the big haul.
The Reds’ Leake was dealt for the #1 prospect in the Giants’ system, but he wasn’t currently considered a Top 100 prospect in all of baseball, so I skipped mention of him as well.
And, of course, it’s interesting that (so far) the Cubs have chosen to stand pat, although there have been plenty of rumors involving them over the last couple of days.
Let’s see what happens these last few hours. Should be interesting.
Did you know that if you ranked all 15 National League teams by winning percentage, the NL Central has the top 3 teams?
And if you did the same for all 30 Major League teams, the NL Central has 3 of the top 5?
* * *
The Pittsburgh Pirates were 7-6 winners over the visiting Cincinnati Reds, scoring all their runs in the 4th inning.
The Bucs sent 10 men to the plate in the inning, highlighted by Francisco Cervelli‘s 3-run homer that tied the game at 4-4 and Andew McCutchen‘s 2-run tater that put Pittsburgh ahead by 3 runs.
Tony Watson struck out the side in the 8th and Mark Melancon did the same in the 9th to pick up his 24th save. That’s 19 straight appearances now, spanning 19.1 innings, without allowing a run. MM has 16 saves in that stretch.
Starling Marte made a pair of highlight reel plays in left field, helping the Pirates snap a 3-game losing streak, having been swept by the Washington Nationals over the weekend.
Neil Walker made his first start in 5 days, having sat out with hip pain.
* * *
The Chicago Cubs continued to hold their own against division leaders, this time beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 1-0 in 10 innings on Chris Denorfia‘s walk-off sacrifice fly to deep center field.
The Cubs loaded the bases to start the bottom of the 10th. Addison Russell inside-outed a grounder to Adrian Gonzalez at first base which was nearly muffed, but then recovered for a 3-2 fielder’s choice. Denorfia then followed up by connecting on a 1-1 cutter into center field that carried deep enough for the speedy Matt Szczur to score easily.
No win, but Jason Hammel was solid, throwing 7.2 shutout innings and allowing just two hits and two walks while striking out 6.
The win was Chicago’s 4th straight.
* * *
Another day, another win for the St. Louis Cardinals, who scored 4 unanswered runs in the middle innings to win 4-3 visiting the Miami Marlins.
Jason Heyward put the birds on the board first, picking up his 8th homer of the year in the 4th inning. He’s homered in 3 of his last 5 games now and is hitting .500/.520/.958 in his past 6 games. Heyward was looking like a bust of a signing, batting just .211/.268/.333 through May 3rd. Since then? 42 games in which he’s hit .320/.350/.503 with 15 extra base hits.
A 2-RBI double into the left field corner by Xavier Scruggs tied the game up.
Mark Reynolds‘ base hit off of pitcher Sam Dyson with two out and the bases loaded in the 7th broke the 3-3 tie.
Trevor Rosenthal came on to pitch the 9th, ending the game by getting Dee Gordon to ground into a 4-3 double play.
Jhonny Peralta had a rough night, going 0-for-5, striking out 3 times and grounding into double plays in his other two plate appearances.
* * *
The Milwaukee Brewers defeated the New York Mets, 3-2, aided by an error in left field by Michael Cuddyer who allowed a carom off the wall to get past him and allow the go-ahead run to score in the 7th.
Mike Fiers went 6 innings, allowing 2 runs on 4 hits and a pair of walks with 7 strikeouts.
Carlos Gomez started in center field for the first time in 9 days, going 1-for-2 with a walk.
* * *
|St. Louis Cardinals||45||24||–||L1|
* * *
|32-37||REDS||Leake (4-4, 4.01)|
|40-30||PIRATES||Cole (11-2, 1.78)|
|6:05 PM CT|
|46-24||CARDINALS||Garcia (2-3, 1.76)|
|30-42||Marlins||Latos (2-4, 5.37)|
|6:10 PM CT|
|39-33||Dodgers||Bolsinger (4-2, 2.87)|
|39-30||CUBS||Hendricks (2-3, 4.28)|
|7:05 PM CT|
|36-36||Mets||Colon (9-5, 4.81)|
|26-46||BREWERS||Nelson (3-8, 4.64)|
|7:10 PM CT|
* * *
NL Central Leaders
|Todd Frazier (CIN)||23|
|Anthony Rizzo (CHC)||15|
|Ryan Braun (MIL)||14|
|Joey Votto (CIN)||14|
|Francisco Liriano (PIT)||105|
|Gerrit Cole (PIT)||97|
|Jake Arrieta (CHC)||96|
|Carlos Martinez (STL)||94|
|Jason Hammel (CHC)||92|
I didn’t expect to be writing that headline this morning.
Mike Fiers (W 2-5) went 6 shutout innings, while a quartet of Milwaukee Brewers relievers finished the job, blanking the St. Louis Cardinals on the road, 1-0.
Francisco Rodriguez got Kolten Wong on a ground out to first with men at 1st & 2nd to notch his 9th save of the year.
Fiers finished with 6 strikeouts, allowing 4 hits and a pair of walks while lowering his ERA to 4.06 this season.
Jean Segura led off the contest with a base hit and later scored on a two-out RBI single off the bat of Carlos Gomez. It turned out to be the only run of the evening.
The Cardinals had their share of chances, bringing a batter to the plate with a runner in scoring position on 7 occasions. However, they failed to get the ball out of the infield in any of those chances.
Jaime Garcia pitched well again for the Redbirds, going 7 innings and allowing just the one run on 3 hits and not a single walk. He’s a tough luck 1-2 across 3 starts with a 2.70 ERA.
Jonathan Lucroy returned to the Brewers’ lineup, which was good to see. On the flip side, back troubles sidelined first baseman Adam Lind for a second straight game. They’ll need him back and healthy if they’re going to flip him for a prospect. He’s expected back at first for tonight’s game.
Reliever Will Smith (24 G, 1.93 ERA) is expected to get the final results on his appeal of an 8-game suspension this Friday. Smith got in trouble for not clearing a giant glob of sunscreen off of his arm.
In Cardinals news, if you think Jhonny Peralta is underrated, you will find a kindred spirit in Bernie Miklasz today. Read his article at the Post-Dispatch… Matt Holliday extended his season-opening on-base streak to 45 games. That put him past Harry Heilmann‘s mark of 44 with the 1923 Detroit Tigers and is good for 5th best of all-time. Next up is 47, accomplished by Alvin Davis of the 1984 Seattle Mariners.
* * *
Jason Hammel continues to reward the Chicago Cubs faith in bringing him back, striking out 11 Miami Marlins in a 5-1 win.
Hammel went 6.2 innings, allowing 1 run on 5 hits and no walks, dropping his ERA to 2.82 and improving to 4-2 this year. His 0.9 walks per 9 are 2nd best in the National League, trailing only the New York Mets‘ Bartolo Colon (0.7). Here’s a video recap of Hammel’s night as he did a really nice job of moving the ball up and down all game long.
Starlin Castro hit a solo homer (4th) in garbage time, while Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant each had RBI doubles.
Miguel Montero had a rough game for the Cubs, going 0-for-4 with a strikeout and an error in the field.
With a stretch of 7 games in 13 days that will call for a designated hitter, the Cubs are considering a possible call-up of either 22-year-olds Javier Baez or left-handed masher Kyle Schwarber to fill the role. Baez is hitting .306-5-21 at AAA while Schwarber is .327-12-31 at AA. Not sure the call-up of Baez as a DH makes sense, when he might make a better fielder than he does a hitter. Call him up, sure, but find a way to get him in the field where he’s an even more valuable asset. Not sure how Castro would handle the move to DH, but worth consideration if you go the Baez route.
Castro made his 12th error of the season in last night’s win, giving him 6 flubs in his last 11 games.
* * *
In fact, all four NL Central starting pitchers had great games last night. Gerrit Cole is the only one we haven’t mentioned yet, so let’s notify you now that he went 7 innings, allowing 2 unearned runs and striking out 9, improving to 8-2 as the Pittsburgh Pirates bested the San Francisco Giants, 4-3.
An error by Jung Ho Kang (0-for-4, 2 SO) in the 1st inning led to a pair of unearned runs on a 2-RBI single by Brandon Belt, giving an early lead to the Giants.
A pair of sac flies off the bat of Andrew McCutchen tied the game, and Neil Walker‘s 2-RBI double in the 5th gave the Pirates a 4-2 lead.
Mark Melancon threw a spotless 9th inning to record his 12th save.
Cutch had the 2 sac flies but could have done a lot more damage. Hunter Pence made a sliding catch on the sac fly in the 5th, which was nice and all, but check out Angel Pagan robbing him in the 3rd inning. Both plate appearances came with the bases loaded. He was close to a 6-RBI game.
Cole’s 1.90 ERA is 2nd best in the division – see below. Want to see some impressive pitching? Here’s a video recap of Cole’s evening. Check out the movement on that strike out of Pagan in the 7th. Filthy.
Also impressive, this post from the Bucs’ Twitter feed.
— #VotePirates (@Pirates) June 2, 2015
* * *
The Cincinnati Reds had Monday off. Johnny Cueto is back on the mound tonight as he starts the push towards
becoming a valuable trade asset bringing the Reds back to the playoff race.
* * *
NL Central Leaders
|Matt Holliday (STL)||.318|
|Anthony Rizzo (CHC)||.316|
|Kolten Wong (STL)||.312|
|Matt Carpenter (STL)||.311|
|Jhonny Peralta (STL)||.311|
|A.J. Burnett (PIT)||1.81|
|Gerrit Cole (PIT)||1.90|
|Michael Wacha (STL)||2.27|
|Jason Hammel (CHC)||2.82|
|John Lackey (STL)||2.83|
* * *
|St. Louis Cardinals||33||18||–||L1|
* * *
|22-27||REDS||Cueto (3-4, 3.03)|
|19-33||Phillies||O’Sullivan (1-4, 4.81)|
|6:05 PM CT|
|27-22||CUBS||Hendricks (1-1, 3.76)|
|20-32||Marlins||Hand (0-1, 4.50)|
|6:10 PM CT|
|33-18||CARDINALS||Lynn (3-4, 3.41)|
|7:15 PM CT|
|27-24||PIRATES||Burnett (5-1, 1.81)|
|30-22||Giants||Heston (5-3, 3.82)|
|9:15 PM CT|
The Jon Lester / Max Scherzer showdown ended with a 3-0 win for the Washington Nationals, taking the rubber game against the Chicago Cubs.
It was yet another high-strikeout game for the Cubs, who fanned 13 times in Scherzer’s 7 shutout innings of work.
For his part, Lester did well, going 7 innings and allowing 2 runs (1 earned), striking out 10.
At the plate, Lester made history by going 0-for-2. Lester sett n MLB record for most consecutive at bats to start a career without a hit (59), breaking former San Diego Padre Joey Hamilton‘s record. He’s now tied with Hamilton for most consecutive plate appearances to start a career without a hit (66).
Starlin Castro had a multi-hit game, but also had a multi-error day in the field. That gives him five errors in his last nine games.
That’s back-to-back series losses for the Cubs now and things don’t get any easier – the Kansas City Royals are up next.
* * *
The Miami Marlins couldn’t hold down the lead, surrendering a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the 7th as they lost 5-2 to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Bucs sent 10 men to the plate, doing it in strange fashion as they started the inning with consecutive outs and nobody on base. Four singles, two walks, and another single followed and they suddenly found themselves with a 3-run lead that held up. Neil Walker had the unfortunate discussion of hitting into both the first and last outs of the inning.
Gerrit Cole improved to 7-2 on the year, allowing a pair of runs in 7 innings of work while also fanning 7.
Andrew McCutchen (.262) and Sean Rodriguez (.281) each had a pair of hits for the Pirates, who won their 6th straight.
Before this comeback win, Pittsburgh was 0-15 when trailing after 6 innings.
* * *
The St. Louis Cardinals came from behind to sweep the Arizona Diamondbacks with a 4-3 win Wednesday night.
Trailing 3-2, Jason Heyward led off the bottom of the 9th with a solo homer to tie it up.
With one out and the bases loaded, Jhonny Peralta grounded into what looked to be a potential 5-2-3 double play, sending the game into extra innings. Third baseman Yasmany Tomas made a clean grab of the grounder, coming home to force Peter Bourjos out at the plate. But catcher Jordan Pacheco‘s throw down to 1st base sailed well over the head of first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, into right field for an error that allowed Matt Carpenter to score. Game over.
Matt Holliday made history in the game, reaching base for the 43rd straight game. Doing so in every game of the 2015 season thus far broke Albert Pujols’ National League record, set in 2008. There are five names ahead of him, but all did it in the American League. Next up? 44 – Harry Heilmann (1923 Tigers), 47 – Alvis Davis (1984 Mariners), 48 – Mark McGwire (1996 Athletics), 52 – Frank Thomas (1996 White Sox), 53 – Derek Jeter (1999 Yankees).
Holliday has a .433 on-base percentage this season, second only to the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo in the division.
On the injury front, Matt Adams‘ torn right quad could mean the end of his season. The expected recovery time is 3-4 months. In his place, Mark Reynolds will become the full-time first baseman. There’s some talk of calling up Xavier Scruggs to replace him, with Bernie Miklasz of the Post-Dispatch pointing out Scruggs’ power numbers and good batting average against lefties. Here’s the problem – 21 HR at AAA is nice, but what does that translate to over a full season in the MLB? 15? Maybe? And hitting lefties is something Reynolds already can do for you. You need a first baseman who can hit righties, the handedness of pitcher you will face 60% of the time. So now we’ll keep an eye on what deal the Cards can pull off both to bolster their rotation and first base.
CF Jon Jay could be returning for this weekend’s series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
* * *
The Cincinnati Reds couldn’t get a winning streak going one day after breaking a 9-game losing run, falling 6-4 at home to the Colorado Rockies.
Starting pitcher Mike Leake (L 2-4) was atrocious, allowing 6 runs in 5 innings of work and putting the team in a 5-1 hole after 2 innings.
Todd Frazier connected for his 14th home run of the year and Billy Hamilton stole his 18th base.
Reds manager Bryan Price held a closed-door meeting with the team following the loss. Things are bad in the Queen City.
The Reds are considering Johnny Cueto as Sunday’s starting pitcher.
* * *
The Milwaukee Brewers lost 3-1 to the San Francisco Giants.
Khris Davis had a pair of triples for Milwaukee.
Mike Fiers fell to 1-5, allowing 2 runs on 8 hits across 5 innings of work, starting on short rest.
Adam Lind, who had a monster April, is now mired in a 2-for-24 stretch. His 6th inning single broke up a run of 16 straight ABs without a hit.
That’s five straight losses now for the Brew Crew, who fell 15.5 games back. And we still have a few days left in May.
* * *
NL Central Leaders
|Anthony Rizzo (CHC)||.439|
|Matt Holliday (STL)||.433|
|Kris Bryant (CHC)||.393|
|Matt Carpenter (STL)||.389|
|Jason Hammel (CHC)||0.912|
|Johnny Cueto (CIN)||0.964|
|Michael Wacha (STL)||1.040|
|Jake Arrieta (CHC)||1.086|
|Gerrit Cole (PIT)||1.094|
* * *
|St. Louis Cardinals||31||16||–||W4|
* * *
|24-22||PIRATES||Burnett (4-1, 1.37)|
|23-25||Padres||Kennedy (2-4, 6.11)|
|9:10 PM CT|