Dan Dobish

Baseball Daily Dose

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Daily Dose: Knock on Wood

Thursday, July 6, 2017


Alex Wood allowed just three hits and two walks while piling up 10 strikeouts over seven scoreless frames to run his record to 10-0 in Wednesday's victory against the Diamondbacks. He threw 61 of his 85 pitches for strikes in the tidy effort, lowering his ERA to a minuscule 1.67 which makes even locker room neighbor and All-Star Clayton Kershaw rather jealous.

 

Speaking of All Stars…uhh, how was Wood not selected when the National League roster was announced four days ago?

 

Wood is doing things the storied Dodgers franchise hasn't seen in over 60 years. He is the first pitcher in franchise history to start a season 10-0 since Don Newcombe turned the trick back in 1955 when the team still called Brooklyn home. He hasn't suffered a setback since May 30, 2016, a span of 13 consecutive starts. Sure, he spent time in the bullpen earlier this season, and he has logged just 80 2/3 innings through 15 appearances (13 starts). But he is 4-0 with a 1.00 ERA over his past four outings and surely he deserve a spot in the midsummer classic.

 

Wood might find himself in the All-Star Game in Miami anyway, as Kershaw is slated to pitch Sunday and will not be available for Tuesday's game. That means Wood could slide into the role of his teammate, and hey, that bullpen experience from earlier in the season will serve him well in the big game. His 1.65 ERA over the past month is better than that of Kershaw (2.01), as well as all but two other pitchers in the majors. Only Washington's Max Scherzer (0.83) and Cleveland's Corey Kluber (1.40), both All-Stars, have been harder on opposing batters than Wood.

 

Wood's turnaround is likely due to his ability to keep the ball in the yard. He showed signs of improvement last season when he yielded just five homers over 60 1/3 innings over 14 appearances (10 starts), and he has been even better this season. Wood has served up just two long balls across 80 2/3 innings while striking out 97 batters, or a career-high 30.9 percent of the batters he has faced so far this season. It seems like more fans are talking about teammate Justin Turner or Miami's J.T. Realmuto being the biggest All-Star snubs, but if Wood doesn't make the team it is a real travesty with his historic numbers.

 

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Texas Hold 'em

 

Suddenly, the Texas Rangers are dealing with a handful of injuries leading up to the All-Star break. Infielders Rougned Odor (hand) and Joey Gallo (hamstring) were each forced out of Wednesday's game against the Red Sox due to injuries, although neither appears to be something which is of the serious variety. Of course, if you're a fantasy owner leading into the weekend, it is a big deal and you might need to prepare yourself for a zero-filled weekend.

 

Odor was plunked on the left hand by a pitch in the fifth inning by Red Sox reliever Robby Scott, just so you know where to direct your mean tweets. Just kidding. But the good news is Odor belted his 16th home run while tapping the plate three times before departing, and X-rays taken after the game came back negative. While he'll be reevaluated Thursday, it wouldn't be a shock to see the team take it easy and keep Odor on the sidelines with the All-Star breaking looming. The light-hitting Pete Kozma filled in down the stretch in Wednesday's game and could see a bump in playing time if Odor is rested as a precaution.

 

As far as Gallo is concerned, he checked out with a sore left hamstring. He was battling a tender right hamstring last month, so perhaps it's related and he was favoring his left side or overcompensating. Either way, he checked out early. He needs time off of his feet, and his absence is a bit easier to make up for than that of Odor. Robinson Chirinos could play more behind the dish with Jonathan Lucroy handling first base until the team is ready to roll out Gallo again. The utility knife Kozma is also able to handle first base if needed.

 

Nifty Shades of Gray

 

A's starter Sonny Gray burst onto the scene with 14 wins in both 2014 and 2015, including a sparkling 2.73 ERA and 5.8 WAR in his '15 campaign. In 2016, he was limited to just 117 innings across 22 starts due to injury, sinking to a 5-11 record with a 5.69 ERA and devastating 1.50 WHIP. He has been battling elbow and lat issues over the past year, but he is finally starting to regain his form. Gray has ripped off three consecutive quality starts, going 2-1 with a 1.71 ERA. He has also issued just four walks with 16 strikeouts over 21 innings during the impressive span.

 

The good news for the A's and fantasy owners is that Gray looks to be back to his 2014-15 form, mostly because he is healthy. After yielding three homers in his first appearance of the season in Minnesota on May 2, Gray has served up just five homers over his past 72 2/3 innings. He continues to chip away at his WHIP, too, allowing just nine total hits over his past 21 frames while walking four. Right now he is a tremendous buy-low candidate, as his second half could be really special if he is able to stay healthy.

 

National League Quick Hits: Jose Pirela racked up three hits as the designated hitter in Cleveland, posting his first triple while adding a run scored and RBI. He also went without a strikeout for the first time in 10 outings. … John Lackey allowed three runs, six hits and no walks over six innings in a no-decision against the Rays. The most newsworthy thing here is that he did not serve up a homer, his time in 10 starts without a ball leaving the yard. … Gerrit Cole struck out eight batters over six innings in a win in Philadelphia, evening his record at 7-7 while lowering his ERA to 4.43. He also helped his own cause with a pair of RBI. … Speaking of pitchers helping their own cause, Jon Gray smacked a 467-foot two-run home run to back himself in a win against Cincinnati. He allowed just three runs - two earned - while scattering eight hits over 5 2/3 innings. … Ty Blach continues to hang in there, moving to 6-5 with a win in Detroit. He allowed three runs, six hits and a walk over six innings. … Madison Bumgarner (shoulder) was paddled for nine runs and nine hits, including four homers, in a start for Class A San Jose. He is scheduled to make another appearance Monday, and manager Bruce Bochy said MadBum could still return July 15. He'll obviously need to be much better Monday for that to occur. … Matt Garza was sharp, allowing just five hits with two walks and four strikeouts over 6 1/3 scoreless innings to move to 4-4 while lowering his ERA to 3.98 in the 100-pitch quality start.

 

American League Quick Hits: Justin Smoak celebrated his All-Star Game spot by staying hot, smoking a two-run homer off of Michael Pineda in a road win. He has 23 homers with 55 RBI through 83 games. His previous best was 20 homers in 2013 when he was a member of the Mariners. … Todd Frazier cracked his 16th homer while posting a pair of RBI. His average continues to leave a lot to be desired, but he is still a nice power source. … Chris Devenski worked 1 1/3 scoreless innings of relief for the win in Atlanta, improving to 6-3 while lowering his ERA to 2.09. Middle relievers aren't generally selected for All-Star duties, but if anyone is deserving it's Devenski. … Another should-be All-Star, Marwin Gonzalez, posted a double and three more RBI, giving him 49 on the season while pushing his average to .319. … Doug Fister was pounded for six runs - four earned - and five hits with three walks across just 3 2/3 innings in another loss. He is 0-2 with a 6.14 ERA in three starts while posting a dismal 1.70 WHIP. … Parker Bridwell outpitched Ervin Santana at Target Field, allowing just four hits and three walks with five strikeouts over six scoreless innings to move to 3-1 while lowering his ERA to 3.24. … Mike Moustakas cracked his 25th home run of the season while adding RBI No. 53 and 54 in an extra-innings win in Seattle. It was a nice tune-up for his appearance in the 2017 Home Run Derby in Miami next week.

 

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