The A's free-fall continued apace, the Phillies threw a no-hitter, and all the rest of the long weekend's action.
The Labor Day Weekend Takeaway
“Embarrassing” and “pathetic” were just two of the words that Oakland skipper Bob Melvinused to describe his team’s play during the weekend’s critical showdown against the division-rival Angels. The A’s began the four-game series just one game behind the Halos in the American League West, but Oakland’s bats went into hibernation during the weekend series as their chances of claiming a third straight division crown are rapidly slipping away.
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Seeing the best amateurs in the nation play in the Perfect Game All American Classic last weekend in San Diego proved to be quite the preview for the 2015 MLB Amateur Draft. Nine prep pitchers touched 95 mph or higher, including San Clemente (CA) senior Kolby Allard, who put his name in neon lights high above the amateur landscape, partly because of a velocity bump to the mid-90s. That’s just one example of what occurred while the players were centered up in the MLB Network lenses. But in spending time up close with the prospects at the workouts, the meals, the awards banquet and the Rady Children’s Hospital visit, it was easy to see there were many who had solid and diverse foundations provided by families and coaches at home.
And if you coaches wonder how quickly the seeds you have planted, nurtured with baseball wisdom and guidance, might blossom, then many of these athletes were an indication that there are plenty of coachable, skilled players in the next generation. The instant coaching impact had me wondering about the lasting stories that might be told about player/mentor connections decades from now.
Big days for Papi and Adam Jones, bad days for the Royals and fans of position players pitching.
The Monday Takeaway
On Sunday, the Red Sox hung a career-worst nine hits and six runs on Royals starter Yordano Ventura. On Monday, they treated Blue Jays starter Drew Hutchison with similar disregard. But while Boston’s assault on Kansas City pitching ended when Ventura hit the showers, the Sox had no such mercy on Toronto’s mop-up man.
The recent surges from April's fantasy slumptrucks.
A couple weeks ago, we discussed some unexpected early-season fantasy studs and asked how they had fared since their brilliant starts to the season. An intrepid commenter suggested a follow-up article that highlighted some players who had accelerated their performance after spinning their wheels out of the gate. This is my humble acquiescence.
The 25 players you might want to put on your fantasy bench for help down the road.
The Graduates: Oscar Taveras (2), Tyler Skaggs (3), Corey Hart (10), Jeremy Hellickson (HM)
This is what happens when Allen Craig has a .657 OPS. Of course, Taveras is hitting far worse right now, but his 11 strikeouts in 60 plate appearances suggest that he’s not being overmatched. If he’s given time to work through his initial struggles, look for Taveras to start hitting for more average in the second half—even if the power takes a little longer to come. Skaggs looked fantastic in his return from the hamstring injury, going into the eighth inning and allowing only two runs on the road in a tough hitters’ park. Hart returned on Friday and hasn’t done a whole lot with his at bats thus far. He’ll be OK, but not the pre-injury version. The fact that Hellickson went less than five innings in his 2014 debut, but it still can be considered a success (only one run allowed), shows how low expectations probably are for the disappointing right-hander.
The Departed: Jaime Garcia (23)
And in the span of a week, we’ve gone from wondering whether Garcia will be back on the mound in July to wondering if we’ve seen the last of him in a Cardinals’ uniform. In fact, it’s fair to wonder if we’ll ever see Garcia start another game in the majors again, as the surgery he will have to try and fix his thoracic outlet syndrome is the second major procedure he's had on that left shoulder of his.
Rick Porcello keeps the ball on the ground to notch a shutout, and the Angels sweep a doubleheader, plus more from Tuesday and what to watch today.
The Tuesday Takeaway
After walking off against Sean Doolittle and the Athletics in dramatic fashion on Monday night, the Tigers quickly disposed of the American League West leaders on Tuesday to clinch a series win. The game breezed by in just two hours and 13 minutes, as Rick Porcello tossed his second consecutive shutout and needed just 95 pitches to complete it.