The Weekend Takeaway
During a weekend series highlighted by Matt Kemp’s 10th-inning walk-off homer in Saturday’s 4-3 Dodgers victory, the Nationals got a glimpse into their future—a future that likely will not include many more sweeps at the hands of the Dodgers.
Top prospect Bryce Harper arrived with a bang on Saturday, and while Kemp ultimately stole the show, the 19-year-old phenom immediately displayed the tools that will soon make him a superstar. Harper rocketed a high Chad Billingsley fastball over Kemp’s head to straightaway center for a double, fired an 80-grade bullet home from left field, and drove in the go-ahead run with a ninth-inning sacrifice fly that would have won the game if not for a Henry Rodriguez meltdown in the bottom half of the frame.
The Nationals went quietly in a 2-0 shutout loss on Sunday, but Harper contributed a 1-for-3 effort with a walk. Playing center field in the majors for the first time, Harper also took a double away from Juan Uribe with a leaping grab at the wall. Though he was shifted to left later in the game, the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Harper showed enough athleticism that manager Davey Johnson may play him in center regularly when the Nats get Mike Morse back from the disabled list in June.
After a travel day today, the Nationals will begin a six-game homestand against the Diamondbacks and Phillies on Tuesday. With Ryan Zimmerman joining Morse on the shelf, the 14-8 Nats needed a boost—and Harper-mania has given them just that.
What to Watch for on Monday
- The lone matinee of the day will feature the major-league debut of Diamondbacks lefty Patrick Corbin as he takes on the Marlins and Mark Buehrle (12:40 p.m. ET). A command-and-control type, Corbin ranked 12th on Kevin Goldstein’s prospect list for Arizona but has since raised his stock by posting a 1.67 ERA and 25-to-8 K/BB over 27 innings for Double-A Mobile. With higher-ceiling prospects on his heels, Corbin will need to establish himself quickly to stick in the rotation.
- Tommy Milone, another young lefty, has managed to squeak through his first four starts with the A’s, logging a 2.00 ERA despite only fanning 13 batters in 27 innings. His control-oriented approach worked in the pitcher-friendly confines of the Coliseum, Angel Stadium, and Safeco Field, but it’ll be tested at Fenway Park tonight (7:10 p.m. ET). Pitching on an extra day of rest, Milone could certainly use some additional oomph on his fastball, which has averaged just over 88 mph to date.
- After Friday’s deadline passed with no objections to the sale of the Dodgers to the Stan Kasten/Magic Johnson-led group, the transfer from Frank McCourt should be completed today. Meanwhile, a Rangers loss in Toronto coupled with a Dodgers win in Colorado would give Don Mattingly’s team the best record in baseball.