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We’re going Around the Horn, taking a peek at the MLB wild card races in both leagues, Corbin Burnes on the hunt for a Cy Young, Trevor Bauer and more.
The first National League wild-card spot will go to the Dodgers or Giants. After that is anyone’s guess, with the Reds, Padres, Cardinals, Phillies and Mets all within 3.5 games of the second spot with 20 games to go.
The Reds and Padres enter Monday tied for the second spot. The Reds, however, are 4-6 in their last 10 games and the Padres lost Blake Snell to an injury on Sunday.
Since the All-Star break, the Phillies are 9-2 against the Nationals and 19-25 against everyone else, most recently losing three of four games against the last-place Rockies. The Mets, meanwhile, are 5-5 in their last 10 games and likely to be without their ace Jacob deGrom for the remainder of the season.
It leaves the Cardinals, one game out of the second NL wild-card spot entering Monday, as the potential favorites. They remain inconsistent, but with Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt on offense and the ageless Adam Wainwright leading the rotation, they are a dangerous opponent in a winner-take-all wild-card game. But one scout argues that two of their most important and underrated players are Tyler O’Neill, who is hitting .346/.414/.769 with three home runs in the last week (25 home runs on the season), and Giovanny Gallegos, who once again stabilized the ninth inning after All-Star closer Alex Reyes was demoted to lower leverage situations.
But don’t sleep on the Mets…
Especially if Francisco Lindor continues to hit like this.
This is the Lindor the Mets thought they were getting after acquiring him from Cleveland and signing him to a $341 million deal. Lindor, 27, had his signature moment Sunday night, hitting three home runs with five RBI in a thrilling 7-6 victory over the New York Yankees.
Lindor is only hitting .227/.322/.407 with 17 home runs and 52 RBI on the season. But if Sunday is a sign of things to come … watch out for the Mets.
One more note on the Mets
Thumbs down to thumbs up.
When the Mets acquired Javier Baez, numerous scouts expressed concern about adding a strikeout heavy bat to an already strikeout prone lineup. Those concerns have proven valid, with Baez striking out 33 times in 107 at-bats.
But Baez, 28, is hitting .299/.359/.589 with eight home runs and 16 RBI with the Mets. He has a 158 OPS and has played very strong defense alongside Francisco Lindor in the middle of the Mets’ infield. While there have been frustrating moments and early speculation connecting Baez to the Cubs in free agency, perhaps Baez is playing his way toward a second contract in New York.
Going to the AL wild card…
Since Aug. 1, four teams — the Oakland A’s, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays – have held the American League wild-card spots.
But there may not be a more dangerous team in the AL, potentially even in baseball, than the Blue Jays. They are 9-1 in their last 10 games. They have scored 47 runs in their last four games, including 22 on Sunday against the Baltimore Orioles, and have seen brilliant performances from Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Marcus Semien and Robbie Ray, among others, throughout the entire season.
An underrated part of their midseason turnaround, however, has been their bullpen. The additions of Adam Cimber, Jordan Romano, Trevor Richards and Tim Mayza have fortified the unit, with all four posting ERAs under 3 since Aug. 1.
Corbin Burnes is making a strong case for NL Cy Young
Before Corbin Burnes’ first start this season, I tweeted that he would be a prominent name in the NL Cy Young Award discussion.
Here we are, 142 games into the regular season, and Burnes is the favorite alongside Dodgers ace Max Scherzer to win the award. What might hinder Burnes’ chances, however, is his lack of innings pitched (152) compared to Scherzer (162), Zack Wheeler (195.1) and Walker Buehler (186).
But Burnes, as noted by Will Sammon of The Athletic, leads the league in numerous categories, which could complicate voters’ decisions after the regular season. A glimpse:
fWAR: 1st (7.1)
ERA: 1st (2.25)
FIP: 1st (1.50)
xERA: 1st (1.89)
xFIP: 1st (2.30)
SIERA: 1st (2.59)
K-BB%: 1st (30.5)
HR/9: 1st (0.30)
Barrel rate: 1st (2.6)
K%: 1st-t (35.4)
Trevor Bauer is done for the season
Major League Baseball and the MLBPA agreed to extend Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer’s administrative leave and he will miss the remainder of the season. There have been no new developments in the case. The move was an acknowledgment from the league and the Players’ Association that MLB’s investigation is ongoing and that the regular season is rapidly coming to an end.
Bauer, 30, would not have had enough time to return this season. Yet, even after this season ends, it would be a surprise if the right-hander threw another pitch for the Dodgers.