Jesse Pantuosco

Baseball Daily Dose

print article archives RSS

Dose: Donaldson Destroys

Monday, August 29, 2016


I crossed one off the bucket list last week when I went to my first Bruce Springsteen show at MetLife Stadium. Listening to Springsteen CDs was a staple of car rides with my dad growing up. Needless to say, seeing The Boss play Born to Run in person was quite a thrill for me.

 

About 500 miles north in Toronto, Josh Donaldson wasn’t doing much running on Sunday. He didn’t have to. That’s because home runs require only a light jog (or a light crawl if you’re David Ortiz).

 

Donaldson teed off on the Twins Sunday by slugging a career-high three homers in Toronto’s 9-6 victory. All three were no-doubters with his third blast traveling an estimated 438 feet. It was a majestic showing by an elite hitter in the prime of his career. On a team ripe with power bats, Donaldson stands above the rest. Donaldson leads the American League in runs scored (105) while ranking second in OPS (.984) and slugging (.578) behind only the aforementioned slow-home-run trotter David Ortiz.

 

It’s lonely at the top but Donaldson seems to like it up there. By his standards, it’s been a slow month for the reigning AL MVP. He entered Sunday’s action with a relatively ordinary .253 average over 79 August at-bats. But as Sunday’s eruption proved, Donaldson’s bat can go from zero to 100 pretty quick. Sunday marked his fourth multi-homer game of the year and his fifth outing with at least four RBI. He’s been on a lethal RBI binge with 10 ribbies over his past four contests. The self-proclaimed Bringer of Rain (check out his Twitter handle) has lived up to his extravagant nickname by hitting an absurd .322 with 20 homers and 62 RBI over 273 at-bats since June 1. It’s as if Donaldson is good at hitting or something.

 

Donaldson’s impact has been felt in the standings as well. The Blue Jays weathered a sluggish first few months but have retaken control of the AL East by winning 31 of their last 48 games (.646 winning percentage). They’ve opened up a two-game lead over Boston and a three-game cushion over Baltimore with New York lurking at six-and-a-half games back.

 

Through 130 games, the Blue Jays have the same record they had last season at this time, which was the team’s most successful campaign in over two decades. In some ways, this group might be even more equipped for October than last year’s squad. The Blue Jays have been an offensive juggernaut for years but it took the pitching a while to catch up. After finishing 12th in ERA last season, the Blue Jays have improved to sixth this year with a 3.81 ERA over 1,177 innings of work. That turnaround has been led by AL wins leader J.A. Happ and All-Star 24-year-old Aaron Sanchez. There isn’t a clear No. 1 like last year when David Price was pegged as the staff ace, but with Happ, Sanchez, Marco Estrada and Marcus Stroman all healthy and making important contributions, the Blue Jays have four starters they can trust in the postseason.

 

There’s been a greater sense of urgency for Toronto this season with Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista both coming off the books at the end of the year. But maybe there doesn’t need to be. The Blue Jays have done fine without Jose Bautista, who has missed almost half the year with injuries, and suddenly have a deep outfield after acquiring Melvin Upton from the Padres. Upton still has one year remaining on his current deal and would be a fine complement to defensive whiz Kevin Pillar and first-time All-Star Michael Saunders (though Saunders is also a free agent at the end of the year). The pitching staff is made up of young, cost-controlled arms while Donaldson is under contract for two more seasons. Even if Bautista and Encarnacion both jump ship, the Blue Jays should be plenty well-stocked for the coming years.

 

While Bautista has shown signs of age, Encarnacion has posted a robust .554 slugging percentage while creeping closer to new career-highs in both home runs and RBI. Toronto obviously can’t re-sign both Encarnacion and Bautista this offseason but the Blue Jays probably have enough money saved up to land one of them. Not only has Encarnacion had a better season than Bautista, but he’s also three years younger and hasn’t dealt with as many injuries. Those factors might make him a tad more expensive but if Toronto can only choose one, Encarnacion seems like the obvious choice. Encarnacion might also be more inclined to stay in Toronto where he could DH instead of flocking to the National League where he’d be forced to play first base.

 

But that’s looking too far ahead. The Blue Jays are trending in the right direction and though the AL East will probably go down to the wire, the team is well positioned to make a deep run in October, where stuff like this can happen.

 

Editor's Note: Don't whiff on this special FanDuel offer: win your first contest or get your money back (up to $10) to keep playing. Try FanDuel now.

 

 

Royals Rally in Boston

 

The Royals don’t have an ace (though Danny Duffy has looked like one at times). They don’t have a .300 hitter. Their star closer is on the disabled list. Mike Moustakas has been out since May and isn’t coming back. So why are the Royals playing their best baseball of the year right now?

 

The Royals’ offense came to life Sunday in a 10-4 win over the Red Sox. Just as they did countless times during last year’s World Series run, the Royals dug themselves an early hole and managed to climb out of it. The Royals feasted off Eduardo Rodriguez (5 1/3 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 5 BB) who has had a tough sophomore season for the Red Sox.

 

E-Rod’s replacement, Matt Barnes, wasn’t any better. The Royals gashed him for five runs without making a single out. In total, the Royals crossed home plate eight times in the sixth inning on six hits, two walks and a hit-by-pitch. Cheslor Cuthbert also reached on a fielder’s choice that scored Raul Mondesi from third base.

 

Yordano Ventura was his usual inconsistent self (4 1/3 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 2 BB) but the bullpen came through for him by finishing the night with 4 2/3 shutout innings. The Royals now carry a 2.54 ERA for the month of August, which leads the league by a comfortable margin. They’ve now won 15-of-18 and have moved within three games of the AL’s second Wild Card spot. Most teams would have thrown in the towel at 51-58 but as the rest of the league is quickly realizing, the Royals aren’t like most teams. What other team would adopt a live praying mantis as their team mascot? Baseball is weird and the Royals seem to know and embrace that better than anyone.

 

 

AL Quick Hits: Gary Sanchez had a tough afternoon Sunday against the Orioles. He only had two hits instead of his usual four and didn’t even homer. The rookie has hit a ridiculous .425 since his call-up earlier this month … Alex Cobb is expected to make his season debut against the Blue Jays next weekend. The right-hander suffered multiple setbacks in his recovery from Tommy John surgery but is finally ready to get back on a big league mound … The Angels have toyed with the idea of using a six-man rotation in September. Nate Smith and Alex Meyer would both be in line to start in that scenario … Adam Eaton exited Sunday’s game with a bruised right forearm. He was hit by a pitch from Mariners starter Taijuan Walker in the fourth inning … Billy Butler is expected to come off the disabled list on Monday. He’s been out with a concussion he suffered in a fight with teammate Danny Valencia. Their lockers have since been moved to opposite ends of the clubhouse … It looks like Carlos Beltran pulled a Carlos Boozer on Sunday. That is not your real hair, Carlos.

 

NL Quick Hits: Asdrubal Cabrera left Sunday’s game with left knee soreness following a collision with Tommy Joseph at first base. Jose Reyes filled in at shortstop with Wilmer Flores handling third base … Yoenis Cespedes (quad) and Neil Walker (back) were both held out of Sunday’s series finale against Philadelphia. Both players aggravated existing injuries … Alexei Ramirez drew the start in left field Sunday against the Marlins. It was his MLB debut in left field and the first time he’s played any position besides shortstop since 2009, not including the one inning he pitched last season … Former Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis made his Phillies debut Sunday against the Mets. He went 1-for-4 with a double and two RBI … Jeremy Hellickson was reportedly claimed off waivers by an unknown team earlier this month but the Phillies pulled him back. The former AL Rookie of the Year will now spend the remainder of his walk year in Philadelphia … Matt Cain will be activated in time for Friday’s game against the Cubs. He’s been out with a lower back strain … According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, things would have to go “absolutely perfectly” for Giancarlo Stanton to make it back for the final week of the regular season. Stanton strained his groin in a game against the White Sox earlier this month … Junior Guerra is expected to return against the Pirates next weekend. He’s missed most of this month while battling elbow inflammation … Top prospect Lucas Giolito returned to the majors Sunday after spending a month in Triple-A. He might not get another start after scattering six hits and four runs over five innings in a loss to Colorado … John Lackey will throw two bullpen sessions before rejoining the Cubs’ rotation. He’s been out the past two weeks with a strained shoulder … Yasiel Puig has been placed on revocable trade waivers. The Dodgers could work out a trade if he’s claimed within the next 48 hours, otherwise Puig will likely be dealt during the offseason … Cardinals GM John Mozeliak doesn’t expect Michael Wacha to return this season. He’s been dealing with shoulder issues since early August.



Jesse Pantuosco is a football and baseball writer for Rotoworld. He has won three Fantasy Sports Writers Association Awards. Follow him on Twitter @JessePantuosco.
Email :Jesse Pantuosco



Highest Searched Players over the last 7 days



Video Center

  •  
    Waivers: Perine a must-add

    Waivers: Perine a must-add
  •  
    Dose: Wilson breaks loose

    Dose: Wilson breaks loose
  •  
    Dose: Allen explodes vs. Bills

    Dose: Allen explodes vs. Bills
  •  
    Dose: Brown lights up Titans

    Dose: Brown lights up Titans
  •  
    Silva: Week 11 Matchups

    Silva: Week 11 Matchups
  •  
    Dose: Bills to Start Peterman

    Dose: Bills to Start Peterman
  •  
    Matchups: Burkhead vs. Raiders

    Matchups: Burkhead vs. Raiders
  •  
    Waivers: Davis

    Waivers: Davis' Time to Shine