There are worse things to set your watch to than Fernando Tatis Jr. dingers.
The Padres’ sensation did it again on Sunday, homering for the fourth straight game, this time a two-run shot off Diamondbacks left-hander Madison Bumgarner which traveled an estimated 418 feet. Tatis has now homered five times in his last four games and six in his last six. He’s tied with Yankees slugger Aaron Judge for the MLB lead with eight blasts.
With his latest power display, Tatis now has 30 home runs through his first 100 MLB games. No other shortstop in major league history has done that through his first 100 games. According to Sarah Langs of MLB.com, the only players (non-shortstops) who have hit more homers than Tatis through their first 100 MLB games are Mark McGwire, Cody Bellinger, Rudy York, Pete Alonso, Gary Sanchez, and Jose Abreu.
The talent was obvious with Tatis last year, as he batted .317/.379/.590 with 22 homers and 16 steals over 84 games as a rookie. However, he struck out 29.6 percent of the time while benefiting from an unusually-high .410 BABIP. There was also the question of health, as Tatis missed time last year with a hamstring injury and a stress reaction in his lower back.
Tatis had an ADP (average draft position) of 16.3 in Yahoo! fantasy drafts this spring and summer, so there was still plenty of enthusiasm for him, but he wasn’t considered nearly as “safe” as the common first-round selections. We might find out that “safe” was the wrong strategy to use in this weird 2020 MLB season. Tatis is making the case for untapped upside and consideration for the No. 1 spot next year. He’s that good already.
Tatis wasn’t the only headline to come out of Sunday’s game with the Diamondbacks, as right-hander Dinelson Lamet carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning before Kole Calhoun took him deep to begin the frame. Lamet retired two more batters before being pulled at 83 pitches. He struck out 11, walked none, and hit a batter while throwing 60 out of 83 pitches for strikes. He induced an incredible 21 swinging strikes.
Lamet now holds a 1.61 ERA and 28/7 K/BB ratio in 22 1/3 innings through his first four starts this year. He was a popular breakout pick in mixed league drafts this spring and summer and it’s safe to say that he’s living up to the billing.
Benches Clear Between A’s and Astros
Look for some heavy punishments to be handed down by MLB on Monday.
Despite “fighting and instigating fights” being strictly prohibited this season, the Athletics and Astros had benches clear Sunday. Athletics outfielder Ramon Laureano was at the center of the conflict after he was hit by a pitch for the third time in the series and the second time in Sunday’s game alone.
After the hit-by-pitch, Laureano pointed toward Astros pitcher Humberto Castellanos and eventually got into a heated exchange with first base coach Alex Cintron. That’s when Laureano decided to rush toward the Astros’ dugout to get to Cintron. However, he was intercepted by Astros catcher Dustin Garneau, who was doing his best to keep the peace.
Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly recently received an eight-game suspension for purposely throwing at Alex Bregman and mocking Carlos Correa. This is obviously a different circumstance, but Cintron clearly taunted Laureano to come and fight him. Kelly’s suspension is probably the benchmark for what to expect for Laureano, but it could be lengthier for Cintron since he’s a coach.
Laureano went 0-for-2 with a strikeout on Sunday and now holds a .278/.406/.519 batting line with three homers, 10 RBI, and 10 runs scored through 16 games this season.
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The moment Phillies fans have been waiting for finally arrived on Sunday, as top prospect Spencer Howard made his major league debut in the second game of a doubleheader against the Braves. While he was a welcome sight in those sweet powder blue uniforms, it didn’t exactly go according to script.
Howard allowed four runs on seven hits and one walk over 4 2/3 innings as part of an 8-0 loss. The 24-year-old right-hander gave up two homers along the way, though it’s hardly embarrassing to have Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuna Jr. take you deep. There were some flashes of brilliance from Howard too, including a dominant showing in the second inning and a pair of swinging strikeouts against Marcell Ozuna.
It’s unfair to expect any rookie pitcher to come up and have everything figured out from the jump, but that’s especially the case this year where there’s no minor league baseball and prospects are getting tuneups in scrimmages. There’s just no duplicating the type of lineups one faces in the big leagues, especially one as aggressive as the Braves were on Sunday. Howard looked tired as the outing moved along, with his velocity dipping in the fourth and fifth innings, but that’s not exactly unexpected given the circumstances involved.
Howard struck out a total of four batters in his MLB debut and induced 11 swinging strikes in his 81 pitches. He got the bulk of his whiffs on his slider. According to Corey Seidman of NBC Sports Philadelphia, Howard averaged 93.5 mph on his fastball and maxed out at 95.5 mph.
The question here is when Howard will pitch next. If he was to pitch on normal rest, he would line up to face the Mets at home on Friday, but that means a decision would have to be made about where Vince Velasquez fits. Either way, it’s hard to see Howard going back to the minors at this point.
With Howard up in the majors, third baseman Alec Bohm moves to the top spot among Phillies prospects. He’s not far off either.
American League Quick Hits: Charlie Morton was forced to exit Sunday’s start against the Yankees due to tightness in his throwing shoulder, but he said after the game that he’s not worried about missing much time. … Yordan Alvarez (undisclosed) homered, singled, and drew three walks in six plate appearances during an intrasquad game on Sunday. … George Springer (wrist) missed his third straight game Sunday. … James Paxton struck out 11 batters while allowing three runs over 6 1/3 innings in a no-decision against the Rays on Sunday. … Aroldis Chapman (COVID-19) could face live hitters on Tuesday. … Jesus Luzardo yielded two runs over 5 2/3 innings with five strikeouts Sunday against the Astros as the A’s won their ninth straight game. … Lance Lynn notched his second win of the season on Sunday after allowing two runs over five innings against the Angels. … Hunter Dozier (COVID-19) went 1-for-4 with a two-run single in his return from the injured list Sunday. … Spencer Turnbull was excellent again on Sunday against the Pirates, allowing just one run over seven innings. … Giancarlo Stanton was officially placed on the 10-day injured list by the Yankees on Sunday after he left Saturday’s game with a left hamstring strain. … Mitch Moreland stayed hot on Sunday by launching a pair of homers, including a walk-off two-run shot against the Blue Jays. … Carlos Santana went 1-for-2 with three walks and two runs scored Sunday against the White Sox. … Nathan Eovaldi struck out 10 batters while allowing three runs in six innings against Toronto. … Zach Plesac was sent home by the Indians and will be quarantined for 72 hours after going out with friends in Chicago on Saturday night. … The Rays placed Oliver Drake on the 10-day injured list Sunday due to right biceps tendinitis. … Justus Sheffield struck out seven batters over six scoreless frames in Sunday’s win over the Rockies. … The Rays are hopeful Yonny Chirinos (triceps) will be ready to rejoin the rotation next week against the Blue Jays. … Franchy Cordero was placed on the 10-day injured list with a right wrist sprain.
National League Quick Hits: Ronald Acuna Jr. smacked three homers over the course of Sunday’s doubleheader against the Phillies. … Christian Yelich homered, tripled, and drew a pair of walks in Sunday’s win over the Reds … Mookie Betts clubbed a three-run homer in Sunday’s victory over the Giants. … Jacob deGrom allowed two runs over five innings while dealing with a finger issue Sunday against the Marlins, but still managed to walk away with the victory. ... Max Scherzer (hamstring) is tentatively expected to make his next start Tuesday against the Mets. … Freddie Freeman finished a single short of the cycle in the second game of Sunday’s doubleheader against Philadelphia. … Madison Bumgarner was tagged for six runs over two innings Sunday against the Padres before exiting due to back spasms … Manny Machado hit two homers Sunday against the Diamondbacks. ….Corey Seager (back) missed his second straight game on Sunday. … A.J. Pollock hit a go-ahead three-run homer Sunday against the Giants. … Kevin Gausman allowed just one run in 6 1/3 innings in his start against the Dodgers on Sunday. … Mets rookie Andres Gimenez went 3-for-4 with three runs scored and a stolen base Sunday against the Marlins. … The Reds placed Mike Moustakas on the 10-day injured list due to a left quad bruise. … Lane Thomas is the 17th positive COVID-19 case with the Cardinals, consisting of 10 players and seven staff members. … On a related note, Buster Olney of ESPN reports that the upcoming three-game series between the Cardinals and Pirates has been “canceled” due to COVID concerns. … Marcus Stroman (calf) is expected to throw another simulated game Tuesday. … The Mets placed Michael Wacha on the 10-day injured list with right shoulder inflammation. … Sunday’s game between the Nationals and Orioles was postponed due to rain and will resume on Friday in Baltimore. … The Giants acquired outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe from the White Sox in exchange for cash considerations.