If Shelby Miller didn't have bad luck, he wouldn't have no luck at all.
The Monday Takeaway Shelby Miller woke up yesterday thinking he would start today. Then he got word from manager Fredi Gonzalez that Mike Foltynewicz had fallen ill and was going to be scratched because of flu-like symptoms. Miller, on regular rest anyway, agreed to take the rookie's place.
In so doing, the right-hander might have been hoping to drum up a little good karma for himself, karma that, ideally, would manifest itself in the form of run support. Miller had compiled a 3.24 ERA in his previous 18 starts, but the Braves had gone just 3-15 behind him, and the ex-Cardinal had no wins to show for his fine work on the mound. You'd be hard-pressed to find better evidence that win-loss records belong in the dustbin than his 0-10 record since May 23rd.
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Dingers and no-hitters and division races. It's alllllll here.
The Weekend Takeaway
The Blue Jays' are good at offense; that's your weekend takeaway. Really, that's been the takeaway from the last month, but it came to a head this weekend, especially regarding Edwin Encarnacion.
Encarnacion has a 25-game hitting streak that began on July 26th. His ISO in August is .525. To say he's crushing the ball would be selling him short. Encarnacion has benefitted from a BABIP in the upper .300s, but he has also cut his ground-ball rate in half and replaced the missing grounders with line drives. He's cut his GB/FB ratio nearly in half from the first half to the second.
The weekend is here! What are you going to do about it?
The Thursday Takeaway Yordano Ventura's 10-month-long road from World Series stardom back to big-league dominance had no shortage of twists and turns. He was ejected from back-to-back starts in April, spent a month on the shelf with ulnar neuritis in his throwing elbow in June, and was briefly demoted to Triple-A, with only the season-ending injury to Jason Vargas' elbow sparing Ventura a summertime stint in Omaha. But the electric right-hander appears to have come out the other side just fine.
He'd held foes to two or fewer runs in three straight starts before Thursday, when the Orioles bore witness to the crispest stuff Ventura has wielded all season. He fired 36 four-seamers at the Birds and averaged—yes, averaged—99.6 mph with the fastball, approaching 102 and entering triple digits time and time again:
The Tuesday Takeaway Brendan Ryan played right field and pitched yesterday. The Astros batted around thrice. Besides that, it was just another day at the yard in the Bronx.
It all started with Ivan Nova on the hill for the Yankees, and say this for Nova: He twice got Jose Altuve out on one pitch. Trouble is, he did that twice in the first inning, which means he did a whole lot of less impressive stuff in between.
This weekend, we had a no-hitter, back-to-back 14-9 games, and Yoenis Cespedes. Get in here and read about it.
The Weekend Takeaways
If three's a charm, then three threes must be … uh … nine charms? Well, whatever it is, the Astros did it this weekend, scoring just nine runs total in their three-game set against the Dodgers, but holding Los Angeles to just three runs of its own and coming away with a sweep.
You probably heard about the first game, which was a no-hitter by Astros right-hander Mike Fiers. It was the first complete game of Fiers' career, too. It was a good game that Fiers threw! Obviously, because he didn't allow a hit to the Dodgers, and they're a team that tends to hit the ball well, but Fiers didn't start really cruising until the fourth inning. He threw 19, 19, and 22 pitches, respectively, in the first three innings. After that, he never threw more than 14 in an inning. The linear weights value of Fiers' pitches in the final six innings also never rose above -0.848, while the lowest he got in the first third of the game was -0.532. Basically, Fiers got much, much better as the game went on.
Chris Archer and Charlie Morton dominate and other action from yesterday, plus what to watch this weekend.
The Thursday Takeaway Charlie Morton pitched one of his best games of the season, striking out eight batters in 6 2/3 innings while only allowing six baserunners as he shut down the Giants, who are tied with the Dodgers for baseball's best TAv. "Charlie is developing into a more complete pitcher," Clint Hurdletold MLB.com. "A pitcher with a sinkerball, rather than a sinkerball pitcher."
Over his last five starts, Morton has indeed moved away from the sinker, throwing it 56 percent of the time instead of the 66 percent rate he used through his first 11 starts of the season. Correspondingly, Morton has begun to rely more heavily on his curveball, which, as Hurdle also noted, has a great amount of "tilt and depth," as this nifty Statcast analysis shows:
Greg Bird powers the Yankees and more from yesterday's action, plus what to watch tonight
The Wednesday Takeaway Greg Bird narrowly missed out on his first career hit and first career home run through the power of replay review on Saturday, but he's since collected both of those things and then some.
Blowouts and playoff races and pitching duels galore!
The Weekend Takeaway
Although Ivan Nova spent much of Friday night on the losing end due to a three-run second inning against the Blue Jays' meat of the order, he ended up pitching a game as good as, if not better than, that of his opponent, David Price. After Price had outdueled him the previous Saturday, Nova came back stronger, relying on his sinker for 74 of his 105 pitches, a much higher proportion than the usual 42 percent rate at which he usually selects the pitch. It paid off, as Nova was able to generate 14 ground outs against a team that is fifth in baseball in fly-ball rate.
Price labored, allowing eight hits through seven innings, but managed to escape each jam, often ending innings with a runner or two on base with a strikeout or a ground out. Price featured his changeup heavily throughout the game, a midseason adjustment to make the pitch his most frequently used. Although it didn't generate the usual 20 percent whiff rate it usually does, he was still able to strike out six batters along the way.
Pittsburgh took it right to the Cardinals and other action yesterday, plus some exciting pitching matchups tonight.
The Thursday Takeaway
Many Pirates-Cardinals games have ended in exciting fashion this season, as seven have been decided by walk-offs. Although the same could not be said for Thursday night's matchup, Pirates fans were still pretty excited to see their team's first victory in Busch Stadium in 2015.
Pittsburgh won in resounding fashion. Against Lance Lynn, who had given up seven runs in his previous four starts (24 innings), the Pirates exploded for seven first-inning runs. Lynn lacked any kind of command, throwing just 24 of his 41 pitches for strikes; he was either wild or left the ball over the plate: