The MLB slate rolls on as some pitchers make their second starts of the second half and others return from a prolonged layoff. It’s still important to tread lightly with a lot of these hurlers as guys work to get back into rhythm. We’re also seeing the rumor mill spin a little bit faster, so those clouds are hanging over clubhouses right now.
All but two teams are in action today, so we’ve got a lot to discuss.
Pirates/Cubs: The Cubs went wire-to-wire for a 4-2 win on Tuesday to continue their recent upswing. Three in the first off of Bryse Wilson was good enough, as Keegan Thompson allowed two unearned runs over seven innings. This hasn’t been a great season for Chicago, but Thompson and Justin Steele look like viable MLB pieces and Seiya Suzuki continues to swing a good bat. The Cubs had a 56.7% Hard Hit% yesterday, but somehow only managed four runs. They’re not as far away from contention as their record suggests.
However, there was an emotional moment with Willson Contreras and Ian Happ after the game, in what will likely be the final home game at Wrigley for Contreras. Happ may be an attractive name for buyers as well.
Marlins/Reds: The line for this game was pretty fascinating yesterday, as Pablo Lopez and Hunter Greene battled to a 2-1 pitcher’s duel. The Marlins offense has been pathetic lately and the Reds, who are playing better, faced a really tough customer in Lopez, who had been scuffling a bit. He struck out 11 over seven dominant innings, while the Marlins left a village on the basepaths with nine hits and 11 hard-hit balls off of Greene in 6.1 innings.
Braves/Phillies: I was very close to firing on Atlanta yesterday, as Spencer Strider seems like the kind of pitcher to really benefit from the All-Star Break. He threw six strong innings and allowed just three hits and one walk over 90 efficient pitches. The Braves got to Aaron Nola for five runs on seven hits, including two homers. Nola had 19 whiffs in 50 swings, but Atlanta’s contact quality was the difference in the game. A breather during the first big-league season for Strider did pay dividends and I’d try to back him over his next few starts if the prices are right.
Giants/Diamondbacks: Carlos Rodon kicked a bat into teammate Thairo Estrada while expressing his frustrations as the Giants dropped their sixth game in a row. Rodon had 17 swings and misses and 10 strikeouts over six innings, but allowed five runs on three hits, including two backbreaking long balls. The Giants offense once again failed to muster much of anything. We’ve reached the point where the Giants could be sellers and move Rodon over the next six days. What a fall from grace.
Nationals/Dodgers: Josiah Gray kept his Nationals bunch in the game and the offense did the rest, scoring six runs against reliever Garrett Cleavinger as the Dodgers tried to steal one without some of their better relief arms. Washington scored two in the eighth to take a 4-3 lead and four in the ninth to put the game away. Josh Bell had two hits and two RBI to further his case as the best rental hitter on the market. The Nats have actually won three in a row with a lot of trade talks swirling around the team.