Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit 91 home runs on Monday night.
During the All-Star Game itself — midway through the summer of the long ball — we got two of them. And no multi-hit games for anyone.
The headline then is pitching-related, and while no pitcher threw more than a single inning, no single inning was more spectacular than the one thrown by —>
Shane Bieber, Fantasy Ace
An injury replacement on the AL All-Star squad, Shane Bieber strolled into the Midsummer Classic in his home stadium and quickly mauled three NL hitters, striking out the side on 19 pitches en route to an All-Star MVP award. For the Beebs, that continues an outstanding trend the last seven weeks — especially when it comes to strikeouts. Consider the following breakdown:
Bieber, first nine games: 49 2/3 innings, 41 hits, 13 walks, 54 strikeouts, 3.81 ERA, 1.09 WHIP
Bieber, last 10 games: 62 2/3 innings, 49 hits, 10 walks, 87 strikeouts, 3.16 ERA, 0.94 WHIP
The only pitcher with more strikeouts during the same span? Max Scherzer.
And the only pitchers with more strikeouts on the season than Bieber’s 141 are: Scherzer (181), Gerrit Cole (170), Justin Verlander (153), Chris Sale (153), Trevor Bauer (149), Matthew Boyd (142) and Charlie Morton (142).
The bottom line: a robust congratulations are in order if you traded for Bieber on or around the 15th of May. He has already been — and is on track to continue being — a monstrous difference maker in the months ahead.
While we’re talking hot streaks, how about this one from the guy who hit one of two homers on the night — Charlie Blackmon:
First 18 games: .221 average, zero homers, six RBI
Last 55 games: .366 average, 20 homers, 51 RBI
At age 33, the steals have pretty much dried up for Blackmon — he’s gone from 43 to 17 to 14 to 12 the last four seasons, and has two so far this year — but his bat has never been better (the 1.010 OPS would be a career-high if it held up). He’s also well on his way to obliterating last year’s production in homers (29) and RBI (70). And speaking of obliterating previous bests…
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Gallo Gone Goodbye
Joey Gallo stepped to the plate in the bottom of the seventh and annihilated an offering from Will Smith. We all know that Gallo has had a career year in terms of average (.275) after hitting .209 and .206 the last two seasons. And with 20 homers in 207 at-bats, he also still has a shot at his third straight 40-homer season — despite the fact that he missed most of June with an oblique injury. It makes you think … if he hadn’t missed all that time, he would have a bona fide shot at 50 homers, some truly spectacular strikeout totals (he has 95 of them in 61 games), and perhaps double-digit steals. Though he may still make a run at the 40-homer, 10-steal plateau regardless — all four of his steals on the season have taken place since the start of May.
Quick Hits: If you want to throw a challenge flag on the phrase “no single inning was more spectacular than the one thrown by Shane Bieber”, you have a point considering that Aroldis Chapman struck out the side in the ninth to close out the win for the AL — becoming the first pitcher to strike out three while picking up an All-Star Game save since Bob Gibson in 1965. … A.J. Pollock (elbow) homered in his last rehab game with High-A Rancho Cucamonga. He’s set to rejoin the Dodgers on Friday for the start of the second half. … Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Red Sox have started preliminary talks with the Mets regarding Zack Wheeler. … The White Sox will call up A.J. Reed after the All-Star break. … Diego Castillo (shoulder) pitched a scoreless inning in a rehab appearance Tuesday. … Welington Castillo (oblique) went 1-for-4 in a rehab appearance at Double-A on Monday. … Sean Manaea (shoulder) made a rehab start for High-A Stockton. … Ender Inciarte (back) went 0-for-3 on Monday and is hitting .063 on his rehab assignment.