The Thursday Takeaway
Two things stood between Matt Moore and a no-hitter.
One was Corey Seager, the young prodigy, on his bobblehead night. The other was Moore’s arm. Moore was 130 pitches deep into an impressive outing, as deep as any starter has gone into a game this year. Moore is a Tommy John surgery survivor, and was acquired by the Giants to give their rotation some stability. He had just battled with Chase Utley and Charlie Culberson for two long at-bats in the eighth inning, driving his pitch count to the highest by any major-league starter this year.
Rather than go to his bullpen, Bruce Bochy elected to give his starter a shot at history. Moore disposed of Enrique Hernandez and Howie Kendrick before staring down Seager, twenty hitless outs under his belt.
It was not meant to be.
We’re left to wonder what could have happened had Bochy gone to his bullpen, and whether or not we’ll be hearing about elbow soreness or forearm tightness for Moore in the coming days. We’re left to ask whether or not a shot at immortality is worth it for a club like the Giants, who need as much reliable pitching down the stretch as possible.
Bruce Bochy is a brilliant manager. That much has been made clear in recent years. He knows what he’s doing. But it was very, very surprising to see Moore bat for himself in the eighth inning. It was shocking to see him throw that many pitches.
It’s easy to be an armchair doctor in such situations. Perhaps the tone of this conversation would be different had Seager popped up or struck out.
Matt Moore came so very close on Thursday night.
Quick Hits from Thursday
It’s unwise to judge a baseball transaction on a short period of data, let alone a single game. Yet because we try to have a little fun around here at Baseball Prospectus, let’s do just that.
Carlos Gomez was not very good with the Astros this year. He hit to a horrendous .211 TAv and amassed -0.7 WARP. He flailed wildly at wayward pitches, lost flies in the sky, and was generally not good at handling baseballs and their hitting or fielding or throwing. The Astros decided to cut ties with Gomez, because they’re trying to make the playoffs. Just a few years removed from being an all-world caliber player in Milwaukee, Gomez was understandably a tantalizing target for a flier.
The Rangers decided to jump in. Go-Go made his Arlington debut on Thursday, and here’s what happened.
Again, judging a decision based on one game is an incredibly poor idea. One game can make a scrub look like a god. One game is the difference between Philip Humber being a pitching savant and being Philip Humber. It’s the difference between Bengie Molina being a generational hitter while hitting for the cycle and being Bengie Molina.
We know, however, that Gomez is a very talented man. We’ve seen Gomez do incredible things with his bat. That home run looks awfully like the old Gomez. It’s why teams like the Rangers wanted to snatch him up and see if they could drag the old Gomez kicking and screaming out of memory and back into existence.
There’s a good chance that this just an aberration, and that Gomez will continue to be lackluster. However, there’s also a fair chance that this is yet another outfielder who the Astros have cut despite a wellspring of promise. It was J.D. Martinez who once struggled his way through Houston and lost favor. Martinez is now one of the most important players on the Tigers.
Is this another Martinez-sized mistake for the Astros? Probably not, no.
Nah, it's not.
But goodness, if it is, there will be hell to pay.
For a long time, 2016 was the year of Stephen Strasburg in Washington. The young man with so much potential in his right arm seemed to put it all together, and then was rewarded with a substantial contract extension.
Injuries have claimed Strasburg, as they so often have. The weight of responsibility has now fallen square on the capable shoulders of Max Scherzer. On Thursday, he showed why he too is making a pretty penny.
Scherzer held the dangerous Orioles to just two hits over eight innings. Because, yeesh, he’s nasty.
It’s been a strange year for Todd Frazier. First was the trade to Chicago, then a near evaporation of his contact skills. He entered Thursday hitting just .209, with his TAv down to .269. It’s part of the reason that the White Sox have stagnated yet again.
On Thursday, however, he looked like his old self. First, he brought home two runs against Steve Cishek to tie the game.
Then, he walked it off in the ninth with another rope to left field.
Perhaps the Seattle bullpen should just avoid Chicago for the next decade. Between this and the massive Sunday Night Baseball meltdown, the city hasn’t exactly been kind to them.
Defensive Play of the Day
Jarrod Dyson’s story is well-known at this point. Drafted in the… lemme check my notes, yes, the 75,453th round, Dyson defied the odds with his blinding speed to make the majors. He’s Willie Mays Hayes with a career OBP over .300. Every now and then, he uses that preposterous speed to make a play on Thursday night.
The play was appreciated by many Royals, both current and former.
What to Watch on Friday
The grand return of Steven Wright is today. The improbable knuckleballer takes his stupefying talents into battle against the slap-hitting, base-stealing, grit-grinding Kansas City Royals. Everyone in this game may as well have a handlebar mustache. Ian Kennedy will try to not give up thousands of home runs to Mookie Betts, David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez.
At 8:10 ET in Chicago, we’ll have ourselves a good old-fashioned pitcher’s duel. It’ll be Chris Sale and Felix Hernandez toeing the rubber. The King has lost some steam this year, but the White Sox have been decidedly parboiled, so he should be able to effectively trade blows with Sale. That sound you hear is Ethan dejectedly sighing.
For your west coast game, you get to listen to Vin Scully talk about Kris Bryant and Mike Montgomery’s journey to the big leagues. You’ll also be privy to a barnburner of a Montgomery-Bud Norris pitching matchup, so what’s to lose?
But most importantly, if you can, watch the sunset with your loved ones.