David Shovein

Baseball Daily Dose

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Daily Dose: Wonderful Waino

Monday, September 17, 2018


Wonderful Wainwright


To say that the Cardinals desperately needed a terrific pitching performance on Sunday night would be a massive understatement.


The Red Birds had been reeling. Losers of four straight games, including the first three of a four-game weekend set against the Dodgers. Saturday’s loss dropped them a game behind the Dodgers in the race for the second Wild Card berth in the National League. With the Rockies beating the Giants on Sunday afternoon, the Cardinals entered Sunday night’s game a full game behind the Rockies and Dodgers for that final postseason berth.


To stop the bleeding, they turned to long-time staff ace Adam Wainwright.


The 37-year-old right-hander had battled injury and ineffectiveness all season, entering play just 1-3 on the year with a 4.70 ERA and 1.74 WHIP over 23 innings in his five starts. He had made just one start since May 13, which was Monday’s outing against the Pirates where he surrendered four runs on seven hits in his five innings.


Wainwright has always seemed to deliver on the biggest stage though, and he was certainly up to the task on Sunday.


In as close to a must-win game as you can get with only two weeks remaining in the season, Wainwright fired six shutout innings against one of the hottest offenses in the National League, and a team that had hung 17 runs on the Cardinals the previous day. He racked up nine strikeouts on the night while giving up just two hits and walking three, throwing 61 of his 101 pitches for strikes.


''You know what? Us old guys can still play can't we? A little bit,'' the 37-year-old hurler told reporters after the game. ''The main thing for me tonight was to do what I did in my entire rehab performances. It was all about executing, making my pitches. That's probably the deepest lineup I've ever faced.''


Cardinals’ manager Mike Shildt was admittedly impressed with Wainwright’s performance ''Clearly there's some significance there… But that's what guys like Adam Wainwright do. They step up. That's what horses do and that's what aces do and that's he's been for a long time in this organization. He stepped up and it's hard to beat a shutout.''


It’s anyone’s guess as to whether he’ll be able to keep up this level of performance, or stay healthy, for the final two weeks of the regular season. If he can though, it’ll go a long way toward the Cardinals securing a spot in the postseason.


With the Rockies reclaiming the division lead in the National League West, the Cardinals and Dodgers enter the final two weeks of the regular season tied for the final Wild Card spot. Should they remain that way, Sunday’s victory will have extra significance. The two teams had split the first six games of their season series, so Sunday’s win gives the Cardinals a 4-3 advantage in head-to-head play. That’s significant, because if the two teams are still tied at season’s end, a one-game playoff between them would take place at Busch Stadium rather than in Los Angeles.




Krushed Again


Khris Davis clobbered his major league-leading 43rd home run of the season on Sunday, a grand slam off of Sergio Romo, in a losing effort against the Rays.


He has now matched his career-high with 43 home runs and increased his already career-high RBI total to 115. He now has a two-homer lead on Red Sox’ slugger J.D. Martinez for the top mark in all of baseball, and trails Martinez by seven RBI for the lead in that category.


Unfortunately for the Athletics, Davis’ grand slam was the only offense that they were able to generate in the contest and their comeback effort fell short.


The A’s are assuredly going to make the playoffs, as they lead the Rays by seven games for the second and final Wild Card spot in the American League.


The A’s are now 4 ½ games behind the Astros for the race in the American League West, meaning that barring a miracle, it’ll be the Athletics and Yankees squaring off in the do-or-die playoff game. The only thing left to be decided is the venue. The A’s trail the Yankees by 1 ½ games for the right to host that one-game playoff.



Nice Round Numbers


There is just something special about nice round numbers. The majority, if not all, big league players are well in-tune with their current stat lines. With two weeks left in the season, some players are left trying to eke out certain numbers in order to trigger bonuses in their contract or to perhaps activate option years.


One phenomenon that we notice every season around this time, and that is usually in the player’s complete control, is the fascination with getting their stolen base totals to the next round number. There’s just something special about 20 stolen bases. It’s a much more attractive figure than 18 or 19. And sure, 28 stolen bases is an impressive total, but 30 stolen bases really jumps off the page.


Not that it’s going to impact many fantasy leagues, as nearly all of these players are already rostered and started in all mixed leagues, but perhaps for daily fantasy purposes it could be something to look out for as the season draws to a close.


Currently, both Mookie Betts and Lorenzo Cain are sitting on 28 stolen bases. It would shock me if Cain didn’t reach the 30-steal plateau. It would also surprise me if Betts doesn’t get there, given the cache that comes along with putting together a 30-homer/30-steal season. The Red Sox’ superstar enters the final two weeks with 29 long balls and 28 swipes. In my opinion, 30/30 is in the bag.


Looking down a bit further, Rajai Davis, Ian Desmond and Christian Yelich are all stuck on 19 stolen bases. I’d expect all three of them to have motivation to secure that 20th stolen base, in fact I’d be a bit surprised if all three didn’t reach that goal this week.


The next step down we have Amed Rosario and Cesar Hernandez each with 18 swipes You’d better believe that the Mets’ leadoff hitter knows exactly how many stolen bases he has on the season and will be striving to reach that 20-steal mark before season’s end. Hernandez could wind up being an exception here, as he only has two swipes in four attempts over his last 24 games. If he does get one early this week though, look for his stolen base opportunities to rise substantially prior to the final week.




American League Quick Hits: Michael Fulmer (knee) will undergo an MRI on Monday and is unlikely to pitch again this season… Mookie Betts was removed from Sunday’s game with soreness in his left side. Manager Alex Cora called his exit precautionary and Betts is expected to return to the Red Sox’ lineup on Tuesday… Tyler Skaggs will return to the Angels’ rotation on Tuesday against the Athletics in Oakland… Luis Ortiz (hamstring) will undergo an MRI on Monday or Tuesday… Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Sunday that it's possible Aaron Judge (wrist) will return for the series versus the Red Sox that begins Tuesday… Trevor Cahill (back) played catch on Sunday without issue and is hopeful for a return to the Athletics’ rotation next weekend against the Twins… Nelson Cruz was scratched from the Mariners’ lineup due to illness on Sunday… Daniel Palka was forced to exit Sunday's game against the Orioles after injuring his right knee and left side while attempting to catch a line drive. That was after he had clubbed a pair of solo homers in the ballgame. He’s considered day-to-day… David Fletcher left Sunday’s game with a left hamstring strain which is expected to end his 2018 season… Chris Sae fired three shutout innings against the Mets, throwing 27 of his 42 pitches for strikes… Lance Lynn fanned seven over five innings of one-run baseball in a no-decision against the Blue Jays… Cedric Mullins went 4-for-5 with an RBI and a stolen base as the Orioles defeated the White Sox… Justin Verlander whiffed 11 over seven stellar innings of one-run ball in a victory over the Diamondbacks. He’s now 16-7 with a 2.67 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 269 strikeouts in 202 innings on the season… Johnny Field went 4-for-5 with a homer and two RBI in a win over the Royals… Adalberto Mondesi smashed a two-run homer -- his ninth of the season in only 62 games -- in Sunday’s loss to the Twins… Justin Upton swatted his 30th home run in a victory over the Mariners… Mike Minor whiffed seven while allowing just two runs over 6 ⅓ innings in a tough-luck no-decision.



National League Quick Hits: Maikel Franco missed another game on Sunday with shoulder and neck injuries sustained when he fell on Tuesday… Johan Camargo (groin) remained out of the Braves lineup on Sunday. He hasn’t played since tweaking his groin on Tuesday… Jose Urena was removed from Sunday’s start against the Phillies with a right hand cramp… Kyle Schwarber (back) will not travel with the Cubs' for their trip to Arizona.. He’ll return to the lineup on Friday…  Tyler Mahle will have his next start skipped and could miss the remainder of the season due to tenderness in his right shoulder… Jacob deGrom struck out 12 over seven innings of three-run ball in no-decision against the Red Sox. He now boasts a 1.78 ERA on the season and has fanned 252 batters in 202 innings… Peter O’Brien homered and drove in three runs as the Marlins beat the Phillies… Trevor Williams hurled six shutout innings in a victory over the Brewers… Bryce Harper clubbed his 34th home run -- a towering 431-foot shot -- in a win over the Braves… Anthony Rendon went 3-for-4 and clubbed a two-run homer in that victory… Francisco Mejia crushed a walk-off grand slam, completing a five-run rally in the ninth inning to sink the Rangers… Hunter Renfroe clubbed his 23rd home run -- 18th since the All-Star break-- in that win as well… Wade Davis recorded his National League-leading 40th save with a scoreless ninth inning against the Giants.



Dave Shovein is a baseball writer for Rotoworld. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveShovein.
Email :David Shovein



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