Kansas City's slow start, plus: Yes to Trayce Thompson, yay J.A. Happ, and way to be Dae-Ho Lee
The Tuesday Takeaway Close your eyes and think of the Royals. There has perhaps been no more unique team over the past two years. They’ve won in a way that was at first foreign, and—seemingly, at times—illogical. The long ball isn’t the weapon of choice here; rather, they wield defense, a never-ending procession of elite relievers, and Ned Yost’s gut. Close your eyes and think of the Royals. You see Wade Davis. You see Alcides Escobar and his sub-.300 OBP leading off. You see Salvador Perez poking the ball under Josh Donaldson’s glove down the left field line. You see Omar Infante running rampant in the All-Star voting. It feels unconventional, but it feels right. There’s something magical about what they have done and what they have been. Something that makes the corners of your mouth curl up and forces a chuckle out of your throat.
The last-place Yankees continue to suffer, the Blue Jays offense breaks out, and Colin Rea hacks the feed for two hours.
The Thursday Takeaway
A game that stays scoreless into the 10th sounds like a textbook example of a pitchers’ duel. This presumption gets a bit weaker when the teams in question are the Orioles, who had not scored in 12 innings heading into Thursday, and the last-place Yankees, who have hardly been a model of offensive capability this year. Regardless, keeping the scoreboard empty into extras is a feat, and both Masahiro Tanaka and Kevin Gausman looked sharp yesterday—particularly Gausman, who held New York to three hits with no walks over eight innings.
In the four years since Gausman was drafted, he’s been seen (among other things and in no particular order) as: a top prospect, a question mark, a disappointment, a popular example of every question around the Orioles’ pitcher development, and a young man painfully familiar with the road between Baltimore and Norfolk. Right now, he’s a back-of-the-rotation starter, and on Thursday, he was a very good pitcher.
On replay reviews, genies out of bottles, and our nitpicky natures.
Early last week, Yonder Alonso was called out trying to steal second in the top of the second inning. He was initially called safe, but forensic replaying showed he came off the bag just a little bit for just a little bit. The Blue Jays challenged, and Alonso was called out. And then some folks got a little bit grumpy.
How a cycling equipment company splashed color onto every baseball broadcast.
You may have noticed a trend of major-league players using brightly colored bat grips in recent seasons. Bats that were once adorned only by pine tar buildup and cleat marks were now wrapped with a rubber-like material that was only seen on metal or composite bats to that point. What was once reserved for Little League had made its way to the highest level of the sport.
Behind this transformation in brightly colored grip tapes was a company who first made hay in the cycling industry. Their vision and, frankly, good fortune, have made images like the one below commonplace across the majors. Lizard Skins, a company who saw an opportunity to improve the feel players have with their bats, is now a big player in the baseball world.
The Mets finally won another one against Kansas City, the new slide rule has a second consecutive controversial day, and Carlos Correa makes a highlight.
The Tuesday Takeaway
Since last October, the pairing of Noah Syndergaard and Alcides Escobar has stood in for all sorts of weighty questions on the concept of revenge and unwritten rules and where we draw the lines of safety through the code of convention. On Tuesday, though, the pairing signified something more simple again—a pitcher, a batter, the start of a baseball game.
Velasquez, who turns 24 in June, debuted with the Astros last year in a swingman capacity. He made seven starts and appeared 12 times in relief, racking up 58 strikeouts in 55 2/3 innings, a reflection of big-league-ready stuff. Chris Crawford wrote in our Transaction Analysis of the Giles trade, “At worst, Velasquez marks a strong central piece as a potential high-leverage reliever,” but the Phillies will let him start until he proves he can’t, and his ceiling could be substantially loftier than the late-inning floor.