MLB Week 8: Beast of the Week & Things to Know

Opening Thoughts: There have already been as many rainouts as there were the entire 2016 season. This should make for some difficult doubleheaders later this season and scheduling conflicts, potentially leading to wild rides for multiple teams vying for a playoff spot…at least we’re not in a drought anymore.

Beast of the Week: Do I care if it happened against the lowly San Diego Padres? Nope, absolutely not. This week’s honor goes to Nats starter Stephen Strasburg, for an absolutely filthy performance on Saturday. Strasburg threw seven shutout innings, while only allowing three hits, one walk, and fanning 15 Padres! For those keeping track, two of three batters every inning got blown away without touching the ball – for seven straight innings.  Talk about demoralizing. Strasburg, the 1st overall pick in the 2009 MLB draft, was at one point billed the next Roger Clemens until Tommy John derailed his seemingly unhittable arsenal. He’s only managed to clear 200 IP once in his career, but when he’s healthy, he’s been absolutely dominant, posting a career 10.5 SO/9, 1.09 WHIP, and .641 Winning %. He led the NL in strikeouts during his only full season in 2014, and if his last start is any indication, the Nationals will run away with the division if he stays healthy – which is just what the Mets want to hear…

Weak Sauce of the Week: The Baltimore Orioles for not winning a single game the entire week. The Birds lost seven straight games and looked absolutely lost. Even worse, they’ve  gone 3-13 over their past 16 games (not including Monday), but still only sit 3.5 games out of 1st as nobody has taken advantage of their struggles.

Charlie Blackmon Rockies

Things to Know: The first part of this decade was all about the pitching, but the tide is quickly turning as more and more box scores end up looking like my co-ed softball league scores…the surprising Rockies are in 1st place, thanks to some excellent rookie starting pitching and centerfielder Charlie Blackmon having an MVP caliber season. Blackmon currently leads the NL in RBI’s, Hits, Total Bases, and Triples. Just in case you were wondering, he’s on pace for 217 hits, 21 triples, 40 HR, 141 RBI, and 116 Runs – fear the beard…two under-the-radar guys also on pace for 40+ HR and 130+ RBIs are Reds outfielder Adam Duvall, and Diamondbacks third baseman Jake Lamb. Both players last year cleared 29 HR and 90 RBI, so there’s no reason they can’t build on those numbers this year – they’re the real deal…Reds defensive wiz Billy Hamilton is on pace to steal 87 bases, which would be the most in over 30 years…last week’s Beast of the Week, Devon Travis, has continued his hot hitting, and currently has a 12-game hitting streak. He’s also hitting .371 for the month of May…keep an eye on first baseman Jose Abreu and shortstop Carlos Correa – both finished the week hitting .302 and are heating up…shifting to pitching, the Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen has the best ERA in the entire NL and six relievers with more strikeouts than innings. The bullpen has been so dominant, that 3-time CY Young winner Clayton Kershaw is eighth on the staff in SO/9…oh, and closer Kenley Jansen almost two months into the season has yet to walk a single batter while striking out 34…continuing his brilliance in May, southpaw Alex Wood extended his scoreless streak to 23 IP and lowered his ERA to 1.69…before Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman went on the DL, the bullpen ERA was 2.50. Without Chapman, the bullpen ERA has nearly doubled to 4.50…Ray’s ace Chris Archer threw a strong 7 2/3 IP while striking out 11 and walking one against the 1st place Twins. It was his fourth double digit strikeout game in his last five starts and has done a better job of keeping the ball in the park this season…2016 NL CY Winner Max Scherzer hasn’t missed a beat, throwing 8 2/3 IP with 13 strikeouts while allowing only one run for his fifth win of the season. In year three, Scherzer is making good on his seven-year, $210 million dollar deal…Red Sox ace Chris Sale didn’t set the record with nine consecutive 10+ SO games, but he does sit with 101 K’s in 10 starts, still an incredible feat…the bearded Dallas Keuchel made a quick recovery from a pinched nerve to throw six strong innings, improving to a league leading 8-0 on the season. The Astros are clicking on all cylinders, easily own the best record in baseball at 36-16, and have what it takes for a deep post season run…however, I’m just not convinced the 1st place Rockies have the pitching to finish the season in 1st, even with starter Jon Gray coming back from a broken foot. Antonio Senzatela is now 7-1, but the 22-year old and other young starters in their rotation can’t be counted on to throw the 190+ IP it’ll take to reach October, let alone advance…

Jacob deGrom
Met Ace, Jacob deGrom

the dysfunctional Mets received a much needed gem from Jacob deGrom, my favorite starter on their staff. The lanky righty pitched into the ninth inning, while allowing one run and striking out 10 Pirates. The Mets staff ace leads NL starters in SO/9 with 12.1, and is currently on pace for a stunning 290 K’s on the season. If he goes down like Syndergaard, the Mets can officially bow down to the Yankees as the best team in NY for 2017.

 

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