With only 11 games on tap in an abbreviated early-September slate, a pair of electrifying rookie right-handers stole the spotlight on Wednesday evening, locking horns in a throwback pitchers duel in the desert. Fantasy owners were treated to a glimpse of the future as a pair of burgeoning fantasy aces, Zac Gallen and Chris Paddack, traded zeroes into the late innings of this contest. Gallen, whom the Diamondbacks acquired from the Marlins at the trade deadline earlier this summer, authored the most dominant performance of his young major-league career in this one, carrying a no-hit bid into the seventh inning before giving up a one-out single to Manny Machado. He allowed only four base runners and recorded eight strikeouts over seven scoreless frames. He was credited with a win thanks to the efforts of Ketel Marte, who clobbered a go-ahead grand slam -- his 30th round-tripper of the season -- in the bottom of the seventh inning. The 24-year-old righty has allowed three earned runs or fewer in 13 consecutive starts to begin his big-league career and owns a pristine 2.50 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 82/32 K/BB ratio across 68 1/3 innings of work. Simply put, he looks like a potential upper-echelon fantasy starter for years to come.
Not to be outdone, Paddack, the 23-year-old Padres’ rookie sensation held up his end of the bargain whiffing eight batters over 5 2/3 scoreless frames of his own. He racked up a whopping 11 swinging strikes, including six on just 24 changeups, in just 90 pitches. The Texas native has tailed off a bit in the second-half, after a remarkable start to the year, but has bounced back nicely in his last two starts, allowing just one run over 12 1/3 innings with a 16/2 K/BB ratio during that span. He owns a sparkling 3.54 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 137/29 K/BB ratio across 129 2/3 innings (24 starts) this season. There may not be a pitcher in the big leagues with a higher long-term ceiling than Paddack if it all comes together.
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Alonso’s Historic Home Run Barrage Continues
It’s not about how many times you get knocked down during the regular season. It’s about whether or not you get back up and keep grinding. After coughing up a six-run lead in the ninth inning against the Nationals on Tuesday night, suffering one of the most devastating losses in recent memory, it would’ve been easy for the Mets to roll over in an afternoon matinee nearly 12 hours later. Led by rookie sensation Pete Alonso, who clobbered his major league-leading 45th round-tripper of the season, the Mets responded with an electrifying 8-4 victory on Wednesday to keep their playoff hopes alive, remaining fewer than five games (four and a half to be exact) out of the final Wild Card spot in the National League.
The 24-year-old first baseman launched a towering solo shot to left field off Nationals’ starter Anibal Sanchez -- who was lit up for a season-high seven runs over five frames -- in the fifth inning to give the Mets a commanding three-run lead in Wednesday’s intra-divisional series finale and also reclaim solo possession of the big-league lead in long balls. He’s now one home run ahead of both Angels’ slugger Mike Trout and Dodgers’ sensation Cody Bellinger. He’s also two clear of Brewers’ standout Christian Yelich. With 23 games remaining in his rookie campaign, Alonso is only seven big flies shy of Aaron Judge’s single-season rookie record of 52, a mark he established two years ago. He owns a remarkable .267/.367/.593 triple-slash line with 86 runs scored, 45 home runs, 105 RBI and one stolen base in 594 plate appearances this season.
“It feels pretty good,” Alonso told reporters after the contest regarding his ownership of the home run lead entering the late stages of the regular season. “I feel really, really fortunate. I’m really happy with how I’ve been performing, and this year’s not over yet. I just need to keep on playing well, capitalizing on good pitches, and keep trying to help this team win.”
In addition to Alonso’s latest exploits, the Mets also got an additional boost from the return of veteran second baseman Robinson Cano, who went 3-for-3 with a pair of RBI and runs scored -- reaching safely in all four of his plate appearances -- in his first game since August 4. The injury-plagued 36-year-old infielder missed the last four weeks with a torn hamstring, but stuffed the stat sheet with a pair of singles and a two-run homer in the fourth inning of this one. When he’s fully healthy, he’s still a difference maker at the plate.
Reynolds Rallies Pirates Past Marlins
Rookie outfielder Bryan Reynolds has quietly served as the Pirates’ primary offensive table setter for the duration of the 2019 campaign. The unheralded 24-year-old has flown under the radar in comparison to the flashy names headlining this season’s exceptional rookie class, but he managed to grab a few headlines on Wednesday night, propelling Pittsburgh to a 6-5 comeback victory over the Marlins. He delivered the first walk-off hit of his major-league career, slicing a two-run, walk-off single to shallow left field off newly-minted Marlins’ stopper Jose Urena in the bottom of the ninth inning, lifting the Pirates to their fifth win in their last six contests. As if his late-inning heroics at the plate weren’t enough, he was also responsible for the defensive highlight of the evening, making a remarkable diving grab in the left-center field gap to rob Magneuris Sierra of extra-bases back in the sixth inning. He won’t win the National League’s Rookie of the Year Award, thanks to the surreal campaign put together by Mets’ phenom Pete Alonso, but he’s put together one of the most remarkable rookie seasons in recent memory. His .332 batting average ranks second in the major leagues, trailing only Nationals’ superstar Anthony Rendon (.338), this season. He has a realistic chance to become the first rookie to win a batting title in the National League. He owns a sublime .332/.398/.525 triple-slash line with 75 runs scored, 14 home runs, 62 RBI and a pair of stolen bases in 470 plate appearances.
AL Quick Hits: Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said Wednesday morning on Houston's SportsTalk790 that George Springer (head, neck) "may need a day or two." Barring a setback, he could potentially return to action before the end of this week … Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Gio Urshela (groin) will likely be activated from the injured list on Sunday … Luis Severino (shoulder, lat) will make another rehab appearance Friday with Double-A Trenton … Giancarlo Stanton (knee) reportedly headed to the Yankees' spring training complex on Wednesday to begin facing live pitching … Max Kepler left Wednesday's game against the Red Sox with soreness in his upper chest area … Mookie Betts went 4-for-5 with a pair of home runs and five RBI to power the Red Sox past the Twins … Jorge Soler walloped his 40th round-tripper of the season in the Royals’ victory over the Tigers … Franmil Reyes went 2-for-3 with a two-run homer to propel the Indians past the White Sox … Tim Anderson went 3-for-5 with a two-run dinger in the losing effort … Shane Bieber whiffed nine batters over seven innings to collect his 13th win of the season in that contest … Nick Wittgren came on in relief of Brad Hand to record his fourth save of the year in that one … Aaron Judge belted his 20th round-tripper of the season in the Yankees’ win over the Rangers … Tanner Roark struck out six batters over 6 2/3 scoreless innings in a win over the Angels … Nomar Mazara is dealing with tightness in his oblique … Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto announced Wednesday that J.P. Crawford (hamstring) will be out at least two more weeks … Dellin Betances (shoulder, lat) is scheduled to make another rehab appearance Friday with Double-A Trenton … Brett Anderson will start on Thursday against the Astros in place of Chris Bassitt.
NL Quick Hits: According to Matt Ehalt of Yahoo Sports, there is a "sizable market" for free agent reliever Jeremy Jeffress, who was released by the Brewers on Tuesday … Juan Soto reportedly underwent X-rays on his right elbow after getting hit by a pitch on Tuesday … Eugenio Suarez (hand) remained out of the Reds' starting lineup on Wednesday night against the Phillies. He’s been out of action since getting hit on the left hand by a pitch on Sunday… Nick Senzel was scratched from Wednesday's lineup against the Phillies … Kevin Newman (leg) was held out of the Pirates' starting lineup again on Wednesday. He hasn’t played since experiencing leg tightness on Saturday … Corey Dickerson left Wednesday's game against the Reds with an apparent left leg injury, but is expected to play Thursday … Joc Pederson homered twice and drove in three runs to power the Dodgers to a victory over the Rockies … Joey Votto went 3-for-4 with a solo homer and a pair of RBI in the Reds’ win over the Phillies … Michael Lorenzen became the first player to hit a home run, play the field and earn a win as a pitcher in the same game since the Yankees’ legend Babe Ruth back in 1921 … Starlin Castro went 4-for-5 with a two-run homer and three runs scored in the Marlins’ loss to the Pirates … Kevin Pillar went 4-for-5 with a two-run homer to lift the Giants over the Cardinals … Paul Goldschmidt went 2-for-4 with four RBI in the losing effort … Will Smith struck out three batters and recorded a four-out save, his 31st of the season, in that one … Clayton Kershaw will start on Friday against the Giants … Rich Hill (elbow) will face live hitters on Friday … Johnny Cueto (elbow) is slated to throw a bullpen session this weekend after experiencing stiffness while throwing a bullpen on Tuesday … Gregory Polanco (shoulder) will receive PRP injections and miss the remainder of the 2019 season … Alex Verdugo (oblique) suffered a setback in his rehab assignment with short-season Ogden. He’s been sidelined since August 6 … Mitch Keller (wrist) was able to play catch on Wednesday … Chris Archer has begun throwing from flat ground … Giants placed Reyes Moronta on the 60-day injured list with a torn labrum in his right shoulder.