Nathan Grimm

Baseball Daily Dose

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Dose: Bellinger Ties Record

Sunday, September 17, 2017


An incredible stretch of wins. A rookie pounding homers. Sound familiar?

Before the Indians' remarkable 22-game winning streak, and halfway across the world from Aaron Judge's American League-leading 43 homers, Cody Bellinger was once the talk of the town. A rookie in his own right, Bellinger was the big story for a team that went 91-35 through late August.

Bellinger on Saturday re-entered the spotlight when he hit his 38th home run of the season in a Dodgers win over the Nationals. The homer tied a National League rookie record for home runs held by Wally Berger and Frank Robinson.

The team has generally gone as the 22-year-old has gone this year -- per MLB.com, the team is 83-35 with him, and 13-17 without him. It's no surprise, then, that Dodgers manager Dave Roberts is glad to have him back in the lineup after Bellinger missed a few games in August with a sprained ankle.

"He's taking really good swings, moving well, in the batter's box he's staying inside the strike zone," said Roberts. "For him, it's not about left-handers or right-handers. To have him in the order to slug or take a walk to keep the line moving, he's a big part of our offense."

The Dodgers at one point seemed vulnerable to losing a once-commanding lead in the NL West, but a recent win streak has the club back in the driver's seat with two weeks left to play. With its wins against the Nationals this weekend, the club is also distancing itself in the race for the best record in the NL, and consequently home-field advantage in the postseason.

And it's due in no small part to Bellinger, who is hitting .275/.360/.611 with 38 homers, 88 RBI, 83 runs scored and 10 steals in his rookie year. It's more than anyone expected from Bellinger this season -- including him.

"A September callup," he said of his expectations ahead of the season. "That was the goal in Spring Training. Obviously, I wanted to be up there sooner, but with the team that we had, I didn't think there was a chance. Everything that came this year has been kind of crazy."

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Contreras Handed Two-Game Suspension

Willson Contreras was upset, understandably.

“He’s emotional,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “We’re all working on attempting to help him curb that a bit. But you don’t want to take it all away, either. That’s a big part of why he’s so good.”

The backstop on Saturday was suspended for two games for spiking his catcher's mask during Friday's game, hitting home plate umpire Jordan Baker on the bounce. Contreras has appealed the suspension.

The play at the heart of Contreras' anger was inconsequential in hindsight, but was a big moment in Friday's game against the Cardinals. With the St. Louis club chasing the Cubs in the NL Central, Cards starter Carlos Martinez looked at a pitch that Contreras and John Lackey -- who was fined but not suspended for also losing his cool -- thought was strike three to end the inning. Instead, Baker called it a ball, and Martinez singled on the next pitch to drive in a run and give the Cardinals a short-lived lead.

Lackey was tossed shortly thereafter, and Contreras wasn't far behind after the equipment hit Baker.

“You’re a catcher,” Maddon said. “You’re working in front of these guys all the time. I really believe you’ll see a nice progression with him. He’s still going to get upset at times. But not zero to 60 like that.”

The team is putting some distance between itself and the second-place Brewers and third-place Cards, making the potential loss of Contreras -- who is, as Maddon said, a key kog in the offense, batting .279/.355/.517 with 21 homers and 73 RBI -- sting less. Fantasy owners in leagues with daily lineups should take note, but even a few-day absence shouldn't make much difference.

Syndergaard (Lat) Hoping To Return This Season


Noah Syndergaard is itching to go.

“I am just anxious to get back. Right now we’re out of it, but for my personal well-being I want to go out there and throw and not let 10 months go by without pitching in a meaningful baseball game,” Syndergaard told reporters. “I mean meaningful to me.”

Syndergaard is hoping to pitch in relief in a game or two down the stretch before what he hopes is a regular offseason, but those plans got more complicated Saturday when the team, after initially saying it didn't believe the right-hander would need to face live hitters before returning, instead decided Syndergaard would need a simulated game situation before being activated. He'll throw a sim game early next week, at which point the team will decide his next step.

“We’re just trying to make sure we do it the right way, without rushing,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “There is no reason to rush so, we’re just going to make sure we take baby steps.”

National League Quick Hits: J.D. Martinez (neck) was back in the Diamondbacks' starting lineup Saturday against the Giants. Martinez was scratched from Friday lineup due to neck stiffness, but it fortunately wasn't serious ... Jake Arrieta (hamstring) threw 42 pitches in a bullpen session on Saturday. It should be the final step before his return to the Cubs' rotation. The plan calls for him to be reevaluated when he returns to the ballpark on Sunday, but there's a chance he's back sometime next week. Arrieta hasn't pitched since September 4 due to a Grade 1 strain of his right hamstring ... Wil Myers exited Saturday's game with a right leg contusion. Myers fouled a ball off his leg in his final at-bat in the sixth inning before being replaced at first base. He figures to be reevaluated on Sunday, but it sounds like a day-to-day situation ... Amed Rosario (hip) was in Saturday's lineup against the Braves. Rosario didn't play Friday after departing Thursday's game with a hip flexor injury, but it's not a major concern ... Brandon Phillips is day-to-day with lower back tightness. It was reported on Friday that Phillips was dealing with tightness in his side, but it's actually his back that's acting up on him. Either way, it doesn't appear to be serious. He could return on Sunday ... Ivan Nova was forced to exit Saturday's start against the Reds with right calf tightness. Nova isn't alarmed and expects to make his next start. The Pirates figure to see how he feels over the next day or two before that becomes official. Nova was charged with two runs over 6 1/3 innings in a loss to the Reds on Saturday ... X-rays came back negative on Dexter Fowler's hand. Fowler was sent for X-rays after being hit in the hand by a pitch in the ninth inning of Saturday's game. He's not a sure thing to play Sunday, as he's likely dealing with some swelling, but it doesn't sound like he's going to miss much time.

American League Quick Hits: Miguel Cabrera exited Saturday's game against the White Sox with lower back tightness. Cabrera went 0-for-2 before John Hicks replaced him at first base in the fifth inning. He's considered day-to-day ... Nomar Mazara (quad) was not in Saturday's lineup versus the Angels. Mazara made an early exit from Friday's game with left quad tightness and he wasn't ready to return on Saturday. Willie Calhoun made the start in left field ... Sonny Gray will move up in the rotation to start Sunday against the Orioles. Meanwhile, CC Sabathia will be pushed back to Tuesday against the Twins while Jaime Garcia will move up to start Monday. Gray was previously scheduled to start Monday, but he'll be going on usual rest on Sunday ... Josh Donaldson went a perfect 4-for-4 with two homers, a stolen base and four runs scored in the Blue Jays' 7-3 win over the Twins on Saturday. Donaldson wasted little time greeting Adalberto Mejia back from the disabled list, jumping on a high fastball in the first inning and depositing it into the left field bleachers. He then bookended that homer with another solo job in the ninth, this one just out of the reach of center fielder Byron Buxton. The 31-year-old now has 28 homers, 69 RBI and 56 runs scored to go with a .266/.389/.542 line in 101 games.



Nathan Grimm is a baseball writer for Rotoworld. He can also be found on Twitter (@Nate_Grimm).
Email :Nathan Grimm



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