Around The League: 5/17

:dbacks: Nico Hoerner appears ready to come off of IL and provide spark after hot start in desert. Hoerner provides intriguing bat on days ohtani is unable to play in LF. Arizona sits at the top of the NL in vast majority of offensive categories, but 10-11 record on road and 6-6 record in one-run games leaves room for improvement. Keep an eye on 12th ranked NL bullpen ERA.
:braves: After losing 5th straight on April 22 to the Marlins, Atlanta was 9-12, 5.5 out of the East lead. Since then, the Braves are 17-3, now leading the East by 2 1/2. Might Sunday’s 4-for-4 outing from Taylor Sparks be a sign of things to come? Rookie Nick Madrigal has provided a spark since his call-up. Can Antonio Diaz find his bat or will Braves have to soon move on from Diaz who is 4-for-44 to start the season.
:orioles: The O’s offense sputtered much of last week, scoring 2 or fewer runs in 4 of their past 7 games. Andrew Taylor provides spectacular defense, but heads to the dish without a bat. With Nick Senzel playing well at AAA, might he earn another shot? The same can be said for a myriad of AAA players (Leach, Feitelberg, Gonzalez), most notably 24 y/o Seaver Sheets who has the attention of many around the league. His time appears to be now, but will Baltimroe give him a chance?
:redsox: The Sox sit at 23-17 despite a decimated bullpen and slow starts to key starting pitchers (Cole, Sale, Lock). The additions of Porter Curran and Zach Potter have helped, while George Springer’s 10 homers have led the way offensively. Could this be a team that looks to find an improement at either 1B or DH?
:whitesox: New GM Greg must navigate a path forward in similar fashion to what was done in Pittsburgh. Recent troubles at home against New York further illustrate where things stand. Some reinforcements coming with near return of Roberto Torres, an addition to the lineup that cannot go unnoticed. Three names to monitor in Chicago: Spencer Torkelson (AA, 22.264), Chad RIx (AAA, 22.99), and Emerson Hancock (AA, 22.351), in rebuilding type of season, could the trio see the bigs in 2022 to get rookie lumps out of way this season? Each is very talented with bright future ahead.
:cubs: Jabs is 41 for 41 with exports!!!………………..The Cubs are 15-25. Can’t blame Ryan Copeland or Julio Urias who each have been good to begin year. But offensively, those in front office shake head at continued struggles of Yordan Alvarez and Eloy Jimenez. Perhaps scouting department error? Perhaps unreached potential? Whatever it might be, Cubs need it to change and change fast.
:reds: The Reds rotation continues to have the NL’s best ERA. Nate Pearsons’ ability to keep the ball in the park this year has been huge turnaround from poor rookie campaign last year. With Faedo/Aumont/Gray as a strong trio in back of pen, Reds just need to figure out getting to them in middle innings. Rafael Castillo proving breakout 2021 was no fluke. With quality in rotation, could someone like Brennan Malone be rushed to the bigs but in a new role out of the pen? Additionally, might Brandon Soleimani have eyes on bigs in place of Will Anderson with Anderson’s .218 start?
:cleveland_guardians: After decent first year in Cleveland, Josh Collmenter has been flat out terrible this year. The former Twin giving Cleveland fans more headaches, just now from within. With 2020 1st round pick Davis Mills already in AAA, it could be a quick rise to the bigs for the team’s highly-regarded prospect. The same can be said for Jazz Chisholm who after 2+ years at AAA appears ready for the bigs and as an immediate replacement for Allen Walker.
:rockies: A recent blow to Hideaki Abe hurts a Rockies team that is 2nd in the NL in runs scored. The team has been thrilled by bullpen with a dynamic set of options to rely on. Behind the plate, the duo of Moreno and Sanchez have shown life post Jed McKinley is tough, but if each manages the defensive side of the things, it’s doable. With Shea Langeliers feasting at AAA, he could soon earn shot at time behind plate in bigs.
:tigers: The Tigers do not like the Orioles. The Tigers like T. Johnson’s, drafting Termarr & Tanner in the draft. 247 runs scored (1st) as been huge for a team that ranked 14th amongst AL clubs last season. This has come with Aguilera and Noonan sidelined. Expect more runs to come. Some believe Brandon Tewksbury has turned a corner, others point to 4.92 FIP and believe Tigers in for rough awakening with both trade asking price and on-field performance. Jason Groome’s effectiveness taken slight dip in May, again many focus on innings and appearances. Something to watch.
:astros: A 4-11 May has sent Astros in wrong direction. With three regulars hitting below .200 this month (Arredondo, Bart, Fowler), Houston finds itself in middle of AL pack in OPS, a surprise to many. 14th among AL teams in starters ERA, inconsistency and short outings far too prevalent. Garrett Corchet’s injury for year was blow to player who had potential fix to some of team’s woes. With George Kirby off to dazzling start in Fresno, he could be the one to earn shot to fix things.
:royals: “FINALLY!!!” That’s been the thought process behind recent surge from Kody Clemens who has hit 4 homers in the last three games, 80% of his season total. After 30 homer 2021, team expected big things and perhaps this week is sign of things to come. Now squad hopes for things to pick up soon for likes of Kinney, Kiriloff, and Rizzo. While Casey Mize has taken step forward, sophomore slump has kicked in for Kris Bubic. If Jason Neal also continues to struggle, some believe AAA prospect arms Pete Williams or Kevin Knaust could be quickly called upon to help out for a team that is headed in right direction.

:angels: While Kyle Funkhouser’s ERA sits above 4, rest of rotation has been very strong led by Paul Erickson and Brady Singer. Veteran Kevin Gausman finding success with BABIP of .259, needed as he is striking out just 5.5 batters per 9 innings. Early season additions of Posey and Martinez have been instrumental in success. Buster Posey sits in top five in AL in both batting average and on-base percentage, a key piece sitting behind Mazara and Hennessey. Recent return of Matt Nevarez strengthens deep bullpen.
:dodgers: After hot 17-9 April, Dodgers are just 7-7 here in May. Nathan Eovaldi has been steady providing repeated quality starts for Dodgers. Is there room to upgrade from Jose Fierro? If so, likely needs to come from outside the organization. Newcomers Chad Scott and Jose Abreu have each been positive additions to the team, but it’s all about future NL perennial MVP candidate Juan Soto.
:marlins: Above .500 at home, but dismal 6-12 on the road. A team that ranks near the bottom of the NL in offense, and bullpen ERA, yet has pieced together a 19-23 record. Cam Gallagher appears focused on free agency, but in doing so has potentially hurt his stock by hitting .185. Similar fate for Corey Seager who while showing power, has not shown reliable ability to make contact. Marlins fans and staff thrilled by improvements from Ronald Acuna who is in midst of true breakout season.
:brewers2: After posting the NL’s 2nd best ERA amongst its SP last year, this season the Brewers rotation sits 10th in the NL. Pedro Cuevas has seen a dramatic dropoff in his strikeout rate, while Archie Bradley’s new home has come with an astronomical rise in his home run rate. Similar misfortunes shared in the bullpen by Keegan Thompson who holds a BABIP of .491, nearly .200 points higher than last season. Teams rarely improved their team ERA with Scott Radinsky in charge of pitchers in the past, could this trend lead to a quick exit in Milwaukee?
:twins: A 9-1 record in their last 10 has Minnesota sitting on top of the Central. All eyes are typically on Gary Copeland (deservedly so), but it’s more than time to recognize Martin Lopez as an elite level MLB Pro player. With Jo Adell back and crushing the ball and Kaleb Cowart on pace for 40+ doubles, the Twins lineup is beyond potent. The one question for the Twins comes in the shape of their rotation. Can they matchup against the rest of the top of the AL beyond Lucas Giolito? AAA’er Tate Hallock provides interesting question ahead with Cowart at 3rd and Copeland at DH, does it make one of team’s best prospects available in pursuit of starting pitching?
:yankees: 1/3 of the Yankees wins on the year have come in the last five days. One bright spot has been Rule 5 pick Paul Robbins who is hitting .305/.401/.720 with 15 homers already. We’ve seen Gary Sanchez return to showing signs of his former self. But then there’s Wil Myers, the pitching, and a lack of upper level prospects that bring caution to the Yankees position moving forward. The team leaned to offense with their first pick in Jonathan Berry, a top level hitter, but at what point does this team go pitching, pitching, and more pitching?
:mets: A 16-10 April brought hope that 2021 would be a thing of the past. But here in May the Mets are 3-12, fading as the Braves flourish. Troubles in New York begin with Alberto Vega who has not been what many have come to expect. He’s on pace for 89 walks which would be more than the 68 he had allowed in the 331 innings over the last two years combined. With his walks up, his strikeouts are down, a bad combo for the team’s ace. 2020 NL MVP Jefry Marte continues to mystify those in New York, waiting for him to find his old groove.
:athletics: So the 14-13 start feels like a long time ago in Oakland. The bullpen has been bad, very bad. But in difficult times, look at solid big league starts from Jonathan Drew and Cam Randall as positives. Adam Hasley and Dyland Carlson have been good in becoming MLB regulars on a full time basis. A team loaded at AA and AAA with talent, can they find right balance of protecting pieces while also allowing for growth at big league level. Monitor likes of Shane Baz, Chris Schoeneborn, and Cole Winn on the mound, while Groshans and Bentley have eyes on ending Pablo Sandoval’s career. A crowded outfield provides intrigue with one of league’s top prospects Brandon Gil near ready despite struggles at AAA along with likes of Jalen Lofton and Luke Musgrave. Only so many options in the outfield to give and with Faustini, Carlson, Drew up, what does Oakland look to do? Struggles have come since signing Miguel Cabrera….why was it again that this rebuilding team decided to give away 4.4 million to veteran Cabrera to take starting spot away from youngsters?

:phillies: Flirting with .500 the past week or two, the Phillies are what many expected them to be. A great offensive team (top 3 BA, hits, runs, XBH), but a awful team on the mound (14th NL ERA, starters 15th, bullpen 13th). Broderick Wilson’s return to the NL has not been smooth since being acquired in the Sean Gilmartin trade. With Mat Latos shaky at best, it makes for a difficult to expect many innings from 2/5 of the rotation. Eric Sollenberger provided a good start earlier in week and could be in line for more opportunites. Hans Crouse was hit hard on Seattle, but still talented enough to earn more innings. Andrew Vaughn providing ROY type production while Anthony Hale is putting up MVP level numbers. Will Hale be extended or is he primed for huge free agent deal?
:pirates: Will the change in the front office provide spark for team that many around Pittsburgh felt would be better? With the Penguins out of playoffs, a new era of Steelers football, and the disaster with the 76ers roster, it’s the Pirates many are leaning on. The offense needs to be better. It has to be better at some point, right? Garrett Schlecht has a BABIP of .214, well below his career average. For every step forward (Mason Majerle) there’s a step back (Jared Stevens). With lots of talent waiting in the minors and a quality big league roster, what direction does this team head the rest of the season?
:padres2: Hanging around .500 in the difficult NL West, the Padres appear ready to give Gilbert Zepeda has innings in the rotation in place of Joseph Musgrove. The former 5th round pick has great stuff but struggled with command out of the pen. With Michael Brooks at AAA pitching well, the Padres have lots of options on the mound. One intriguing decision that could have to make soon will be behind the plate. Do they continue forward with the productive Stephen Mayer or does Luke Berryhill’s defense and intangibles give him a leg up for the future?
:giants: 5-18 on the road, 3-10 in one-run games — on the bright side, the team is a respectable 8-10 at home…and local fans are plenty distracted by the Warriors. None of this should be a surprise, the team was taken with a rebuild in mind, they had to with the aging Pardo and Posey. Noah Bryant continues to pitch well in pen, a bright future ahead for the flame thrower. Pay attention to Christian Graham and Collin Hurrell as they look to being in the rotation to start 2023 and at Evan Weaver, a player with great power potential, but his struggles at AAA provide hesitation.
:mariners: The Mariners bullpen by committee approach has been a disaster. In comes “Angel killer” Pat Crosby to hopefully change that..but is that enough? Some waiting for Matthew Thompson to make big league appearance and impact from pen. Others insiders think Cooper Benson could earn shot. Improving pen could go long way in cutting down of number of pitches from Hooper and Hultzen, something that could be important come readiness for October.
:cardinals: 21-20 and in first place! Live in the NL is off to a kind start for Ayden. That was the case at least until Craig Cooper’s season came to an abrupt end. Some believe that injury came at one place Cardinals could afford to lose, with likes of Kumar Rocker ready to take over. Logan Tanner’s .359/.400/.625 start at AAA also making things difficult on management to hold off on giving Tanner a chance to usurp J.J. Bleday’s job in rightfield.
:rays: Despite the 13th best AL starters ERA, the Rays are sitting at .500. Having recently gone 4-3 against the Mariners and Angels, Tampa fans are optimistic about the present and future. With Miguel Leon’s 0 home runs, how has that impacted his trade value? How many of the numerous talented prospects at AA and AAA be given opportunities this season?
:rangers: As streaky as streaky gets, both in good and bad fashion. 6-6 in one-run games, but a mere 10-18 vs. righties. Jacob Skole’s plate discipline and power each have returned, but is still hitting below .240. Fresh off of his big extension in January, James Kaprielian has backed it up with a good start. Mac Watten was not good in his first taste in the bigs, but could another shot be headed his way this month? Another prospect to watch is Riley Greene, who would be an upgrade from Andrew Hardy at DH.
:bluejays: Remember this is a team that lost Jon Lester and Klaas Bongers. No issues! 2nd in the AL in runs allowed, top 5 in all offensive categories. Braulio Pardo: brilliant, Josh Wilcox: superb. The only confusing thing with the Jays? Ryan Nash and his .206 average in the leadoff spot. If Nash can start to turn thigns around and be on base more ahead of Wilcox, Stanton, and Pardo this lineup only becomes better.
:nationals3: Chasing the Braves is the Nats. The Nationals are 24-18 despite the 2nd worst NL starters ERA. That’s from a team with Mark Davies and Ed Reith. Reith has been abysmal as has been the case with battery mate Ed Palmer. After a great 2019, Palmer was bad in 2020. He rebounded in 2021, but again has yo-yo’ed in the wrong direction here in 2022 — this comes via a .194 BABIP, .105 points below his career average.

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