Will Fernando Tatis’ power (and career) go the way of Ryan Braun?

If ever there was a punt worthy of Pat McAfee emptying his bowels over, it’s an 82-yard howitzer. That kind of ability to flip the field is such an underrated weapon. It’s a shame he’s going to one of the best offenses in the NFL. The Bills punted 53 times all of last season, good for seventh fewest in the league. The Texans, on the other hand, had the most (88) punts a year ago, and at least there’d be a reason to watch Houston had they drafted him.

Hope your Friday night was better than Zach Wilson’s

There’s not much to take away from the exhibition against the Eagles other than to ask, what’s the point of the preseason? Jalen Hurts took a late hit in the game, and Philly coach Nick Sirianni rightfully lost his shit.

Advertisement

The only good that came out of Friday’s slate was Deshaun Watson finally apologized to the women he “impacted”/scarred for life. The Jacksonville crowd didn’t seem to care though as they booed him throughout his three series of action and chanted “You sick fuck.”

Advertisement

The new Browns starter completed one pass for seven yards, but more importantly, he didn’t burst into flames as karma intended.

Advertisement

Bill Belichick was supposedly heated after the Giants repeatedly blitzed the Pats in their warm-up for the regular season earlier this week.

Apparently, Brian Daboll hasn’t been told he only gets one blitz every 10 downs, and after that, it’s a three Mississippi count until they can pressure the QB.

Advertisement

Aaron Rodgers isn’t playing in any of the Packers games because he sees no benefit, and as much as it pains me to agree with a guy who microdoses, he’s right.

There’s zero gained from a glorified practice. Teams have an idea of who they’re going to cut, and the only real drama about letting loose a largely unknown player comes from a neatly packaged storyline on Hard Knocks.

Advertisement

The sole reason I’m writing about it is that I need content for this post — which I guess counts as another pro for the preseason. So there we have it. Sports blogs and an opportunity to deliver an apology that should’ve been issued months ago, are the only benefits of the preseason.


And now an update on Aaron Judge

Yup, he’s still treating baseballs with the same amount of disdain I have for preseason football.

Advertisement

That 429-foot shot that left Fenway Park was his 46th home run of the year, and his campaign to break Roger Maris’ single-season record is a welcome distraction from the standings for Yankees fans. New York has dropped eight of its past 10 games, including last night’s 3-2 loss in Boston, and now is a game and a half behind the Astros for the best record in the AL.

Fernando Tatís Jr. suspended 80 games for PEDs

The long arm of the MLB law came down hard on Tatís, hitting him with an 80-game suspension for violating the league’s PED policy. That’s a typical suspension for a first-time offender. Nothing to see there. The only question now is how badly does this suspension hurt the Padres’ World Series chances?

Advertisement

Pretty damn hard if I do say so.

There’s no denying that the Padres will make the playoffs. They’ve established themselves as one of the best teams in the National League all season long despite the absence of Tatís. But when the playoffs roll around, the Padres are going to need Tatís’s powerful bat to keep up with teams like the Dodgers, Braves, and Mets.

Advertisement

While home runs are already responsible for most of the scoring in the regular season, they become all the more important in the playoffs as teams often only throw out their best pitchers. That ability to add to the scoreboard quickly is what makes a team all the more dangerous in October. Tatís is one of the best in the league at hitting dingers. Hell, he led the Senior Circuit in that category last year. The Padres’ current shortstop, Ha-Seong Kim has 6 home runs and a .695 OPS. While that’s still good enough for a 101 OPS-plus, making him an ever so slightly above-average hitter, it’s a far cry from the value that Tatís would bring.

The Padres are just not on the same level as the Dodgers without their star shortstop. They just got swept by the Dodgers for goodness sake and that was after the trades for Soto, Hader, Bell, and Drury.

Advertisement

The Dodgers have more playoff experience, a better group of young stars to add to their 40-man roster down the stretch, and will likely have the better record come the playoffs, giving them a first-round bye, and home-field advantage should these teams meet up in the NLDS OR CS.

Tatís would’ve provided a much-needed spark for a team who has gone 2-8 against the Dodgers this year. Sadly, the Dodgers will hold the advantage for the rest of the season. I’m not saying the Padres’ season is over, but the Dodgers hold a massive upper hand now.

Devil's advocate: Dylan Cease's 14-game stretch is being overhyped

In that stretch, Cease is 8-3 with a 0.66 ERA, 11.3 K/9, .171 BAA, and 1.05 WHIP. Also, despite all the success, he’s only pitched 82 innings during this stretch, or just under six innings per start. Originally, I was going to write an article detailing exactly how Cease managed to maintain this level of dominance over the last two and a half months. However, it has slowly devolved into trying to figure out how Cease has managed these figures, because the more I looked at them, the less they made sense.

Advertisement

“Wait! So you’re telling me he’s lost not once, not twice, but three times despite giving up one or fewer earned runs in fourteen straight starts?”

“How bad is his control if he’s holding opposing hitters to a .171 batting average, yet is still allowing 1.05 walks plus hits per inning?”

Advertisement

“I know 14 games is the longest streak since 1913 for pitchers allowing one or fewer earned runs, but it doesn’t feel that great.”

If those unsettling thoughts are roaming through your head right now. They are all valid, and I’m here to make sure you know that they’re also incredibly accurate.

Advertisement

Since 1913, there’s only ever been one other pitcher to allow six or fewer earned runs over the course of 14 starts. However, it’s never been replicated in a single season. Former Cubs pitcher and Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta technically did it three times across 23 starts spanning from July 30, 2015, to May 3, 2016. I’m just going to look at his best 14-game stretch in that span. In that span, Arrieta went 13-0 across 104 innings pitched with a 0.52 ERA, a 0.615 WHIP, 103 strikeouts, eight total runs allowed, and only three home runs allowed.

Every single statistic I just mentioned is better than what Cease has done during his streak, except strikeouts. Cease struck out more batters in fewer innings, but in everything else, Arrieta reigns supreme. The most alarming differences between the two are total runs allowed and WHIP. While Arrieta allowed only eight total runs over the course of his best stretch, Cease has surrendered 16, meaning that 10 of those runs have been unearned.

Advertisement

“That’s not his fault!” you might be thinking to yourself. “He can’t control what his defense does!” and you’re correct. He can’t. That’s why unearned runs are a statistic. However, that’s where Cease’s WHIP comes in. See, during this 14-game stretch, Cease has walked 36 batters, twice as many as Arrieta did in 22 fewer innings than Arrieta pitched.

Cease’s lack of control consistently puts runners on base. In fact, Cease has allowed at least one baserunner in 53 of the 82 innings he’s pitched in this stretch. That’s not total baserunners. That’s just the number of times he’s allowed any baserunners in an inning. Is that number higher than you thought it would be? Probably, and that’s where Cease’s magical stretch falls apart statistically.

Advertisement

While he can’t control how poorly his defense plays — they’ve committed 11 errors during this stretch — that doesn’t mean those runs are entirely on the defense. An error doesn’t mean a run has to be scored, as evidenced by Cease’s July 17 start against the Twins. The White Sox committed two errors. Still, the Twins couldn’t score. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Cease’s June 9 start against the Dodgers.

In the fifth inning of that game, White Sox third baseman Jake Burger committed an error that could’ve ended the inning. Instead, the bases were loaded with just one out. Cease struck out the next batter. The inning should definitely be over at this point, so any runs Cease surrenders from now until the end of the inning would be unearned.

Advertisement

Cease proceeded to give up three straight hits (two for extra bases), then walk two batters, then throw a wild pitch, then finally finish the inning. Three batters that weren’t on base at the time of the error came around to score. Cease couldn’t record a single out for five straight batsmen, yet all those runs were unearned. That’s obviously not all on him, but I’d argue that it’s more on him than the goose egg under the earned runs column makes it seem.

Since 1913, there have been 65 14-game stretches where a pitcher started all 14 games and had an ERA under 1. Cease’s 16 total runs allowed is the 12th-most and the most since Dave Stieb did so between parts of the 1982 and 1983 season. Cease also has the fewest innings pitched, the lowest combined Game Score (66, according to Baseball-Reference), and is the only pitcher on the list to have a WHIP over 1.0 during their streak.

Advertisement

I’m not saying that Cease’s streak hasn’t been impressive. It’s been remarkable, and Cease is establishing himself as one of the best pitchers in baseball. However, the lack of earned runs allowed has cloaked the reality of Cease’s situation. Yes, Cease has flashed an immaculate array of pitches, and ever since he tweaked his slider, it’s been one of the best pitches in MLB, but he’s also got some serious control issues that constantly force him to pitch out of the stretch and put him in dangerous situations all too often.

Cease has a 0.66 ERA in his last 14 starts. There’s no denying the awesomeness of that figure. He also has a 2.76 FIP and an expected FIP of 3.28. When your defense commits an error that allows the inning to continue and scores two runners from first and second, that sucks. You can’t blame the pitcher for that, but why were there runners standing on first and second, to begin with? If you’ve put yourself in a position to be let down should your teammates make a mistake or your opponents get lucky, then you haven’t put yourself in a very good position. Cease is great, but let’s not pretend that he’s the next coming of deGrom, please.

How rare is the HR cycle?

On just the strength of those home runs alone, Redmond already had 10 ribbies. He finished his night with 11 in total. Only twice have MLB players finished with four home runs and double-digit RBIs. In 2016, Gennett finished with 10 runs batted in, but not all of them came from his dingers. His first RBI, much like Redmond’s, came on a single. After that, it was all home runs: a grand slam in the third, a two-run shot in the fourth, a solo shot in the sixth, and another two-runner in the eighth. Oof! Gennett got so close! In fact, earlier in the inning, Cardinals’ second baseman Greg Garcia made a nice play on the Reds’ leadoff man for the inning Arismendy Alcantara, ranging to his right and making a throw across his body to get Alcantara out. If that ball gets through, Gennett would’ve made history that day.

Advertisement

The only other time a player has reached double-digit ribbies with four home runs was September 7, 1993, by Mark Whiten, centerfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals. Yeah, I don’t know what it is about the Cardinals and their affiliates, but they always seem to be involved in these four-homer games. Whiten finished with 12 runs driven in, but unlike Gennett and Redmond, all 12 came from his big flies. He had a grand slam in the first, a three-run homer in the sixth, another three-run homer in the seventh, and a two-run blast in the ninth.

One could argue that Whiten had a better day at the plate because of this. I’d argue that it’s much less memorable though. I mean, raise your hand if you remembered who Mark Whiten was prior to me mentioning him in this paragraph. If you have your hand up, I don’t believe you. The man was never an All-Star, was a career .259 hitter with a career 102 OPS-plus, only played in one playoff series for his career, and only played for one team (the Cleveland Indians) for more than two seasons. Oh, and in the final three seasons of the five years he played for Cleveland, he only appeared in 101 games. Whiten had 105 homers across parts of 11 seasons in MLB. Four of them came in that one game.

Advertisement

While the home run cycle has never happened in MLB, it has happened once before in the minors. On July 27, 1998, Cardinals’ prospect (THEY’RE EVERYWHERE!), Tyrone Horne, playing for the Cards’ then-Double-A affiliate, the Arkansas Travelers, hit a two-run homer in the first inning, a salami in the second, a solo shot in the fifth, and a three-run dinger in the sixth. To my knowledge, this is the only other time this has happened in the history of Minor League Baseball, and both players were playing for the Double-A affiliate for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Even more of a coincidence, both players were playing on the road in Texas. Redmond was facing Amarillo, and Horne’s historic night occurred in San Antonio. This got me thinking, “Is playing on the road a more suitable circumstance for attempting to hit four home runs?” The obvious answer is yes. If you’re on the road, your team is guaranteed to come to the plate nine times. If somebody on your team has hit four home runs, you’re almost guaranteed to be leading in that game, so doing so as the home team would give that hot bat one less opportunity to come to the plate.

Advertisement

Of the 16 times an MLB player has hit four home runs in a single game, 12 came on the road. In seven of those 12 contests, the player with four home runs hit their fourth in the ninth inning or later (Mike Schmidt hit his fourth home run in extras). My hypothesis has been confirmed. Don’t you love the scientific method?!

Let’s look even deeper, shall we? Redmond is the only player to hit four home runs in a single game while hitting in the seven-hole. As you might have guessed, all 16 times this happened in MLB, the player in question was hitting in either the third, fourth, fifth, or sixth hole for their team.

Advertisement

After the game, Redmond had bumped his average up to .242 for the season. That is the lowest average of anyone to ever hit four home runs in a game. The next closest was Pat Seerey, who finished his four-homer night with a .246 batting average. Redmond’s .813 OPS would be the second-lowest ahead of only Whiten’s mark of .754.

But professional baseball isn’t the only avenue an athlete has to hit four home runs in one game. In May this year, the Pfeiffer University Falcons became the first college baseball team to hit for the home run cycle in a single inning. However, that was four home runs by three different players. The most recent home run cycle by a single player happened in a 2019 softball game between Arkansas and Southern Illinois. It took Arkansas sophomore Danielle Gibson just four innings to accomplish the feat. The game ended after five. It was, and still is, the only time in Division I softball history an athlete has hit for the home run cycle.

Danielle Gibson Hits For The Home Run Cycle

Redmond’s feat is legendarily rare. Not only does it require a tremendous amount of power from the hitter, but it requires an insane amount of luck and help from your teammates as well. After all, in order to hit a grand slam, you need three batters in front of you to get on base. With that said, it’s only a matter of time before we see this happen at the Major League level.

The Dodgers care not for your newest superteam

Advertisement

It was his second start in a year.

There’s just something different about deGrom. There are plenty of aces around, and they all can look unhittable at times. Except when they’re on, it just feels like they’re one step ahead of the hitters. When deGrom is on, it looks like he’s armed with something from a different planet that MLB just forgot to rule on. It’s like he’s harnessed the power of a far-away star. The hitter is ancillary to the whole process.

Advertisement

It seems that October is a bit mapped out, though funny things could happen. Remember when the owners told us they needed a luxury tax and revenue sharing that artificially held down salaries for everyone but the cover story was that it would allow all teams to compete? Well, your LCSs very well may be the two teams from the biggest market, one from the second, and one from the fourth. Good work all around. 

I’d wreck my Subaru to be on the Patriots, too

The first ever Slippery Stairs world championship | ESPN 8: The Ocho

Even if it seems like a knockoff of Wipeout, which was a knockoff of a Japanese game show, I can respect the hustle. It’s at least something to laugh at while eating wings, drinking beer, and trying to formulate a story on your break.

Advertisement

I mean, anything that gives me an opportunity to quote Cotton McKnight, White Goodman, and Co. is fine by me.

“Necessary? Is it necessary for me to drink my own urine? Probably not. No, but I do it anyway because it’s sterile and I like the taste.”

Advertisement

No, not the quote you were thinking of. Sorry, since I was so overt I thought I’d go with a B-side.

Aaron Judge is in a one-man race for home run immortality

Breaking Down Aaron Judge’s Historic Season

I bet it’d be the new divisive issue around steroids. Judge’s unblemished record when it comes to performance-enhancing drugs, combined with the tainted résumés of the tainted sluggers with 62 home runs or better, will be on the table for continued discussions unless he hits 31 more home runs this season to best Bonds. It won’t be too different from whether those same admitted steroid users deserve induction into Cooperstown. McGwire, Bonds, and others timed out on the ballots before but still have the chance to get elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame through the veterans committee.

Advertisement

By no means do I think Judge, the AL MVP favorite, is taking any banned substance, far from it. I truly believe it won’t come out later that the Yankees’ best player is gaining an unfair advantage. In between this season and the home-run chases at the turn of the century came baseball’s reckoning with steroids. Judge would be an idiot to even consider going down the lane that got so many greats in trouble over the last two decades, especially doing so in New York, where the spotlight couldn’t be bigger. 

That’s what makes No. 99’s chase for individual glory beyond appetizing. He plays home games in the Bronx. The Yankees are one of the most beloved and hated teams in North American sports, no doubt holding the top spot in baseball. Even the Astros horrid on-field cheating and off-diamond treatment of women doesn’t top the long-standing visceral hate for the Steinbrenner enterprises. The best and most marketable athlete playing for a franchise based in the largest media market in the country is trying to have one of the best power-hitting seasons ever.

Advertisement

There’s no team in baseball with the pedigree of the Yankees. Hopefully, Judge’s greatness gets recognized as the overall New York record, and therefore he’ll be atop all of MLB minus the juicers, not separated by an old-or-new modifier to denote the difference in stadiums or how far the game has grown in the six decades since Maris set the record.

As Judge gets deeper into the season, especially if his clip of home runs doesn’t slow down, every at-bat will matter more. It’ll be like the chase for a no-hitter or perfect game with live look-ins every time the Yankees play. And nothing like Judge’s chase, with 60-plus home runs easily in the ballpark of possibilities, has happened since baseball’s steroid crackdown. Buckle up. 

Joey Gallo’s best baseball is ahead of him… that's right I said it!

Advertisement

But here’s the real reason he’ll improve — call it the Dodger Effect.

The Dodgers are the Yankees of the West, though they have more recently appeared in three World Series over the past five years, winning one in the COVID-shortened 2020 season. They’re high profile, in a big market. Gallo couldn’t hack it under the bright lights of New York, New York. But what about laid back La La Land where the fans’ greatest motivating factor is beating traffic.

Advertisement

But there’s a reason for hope in other struggling players blossoming once they put on Dodger blue, also known as Pantone 294. Look no further that Taylor, Chris and Turner, Justin.

Do you remember Justin Turner’s Mets tenure? Or how Chris Taylor wasted away in Seattle before a trade sent him to SoCal? What about Max Muncy’s time with the penny-pinching A’s?

Advertisement

How would you describe their pre-Dodger careers? Ugly. Disappointing. Lackluster.

What about after? They’ve become All-Stars and earned rings.

Taylor went from slashing .240/.296/.296 in three years with the hapless Mariners to .261/.339/.453 in his seven since. He hit a total of zero dingers with Seattle. ZERO. He’s slugged 85 since.

Advertisement

Turner, a key cog during L.A.’s playoff runs, was a .265 hitter with eight homers during his four years in Flushing. And that was in 814 at-bats. Now he’s a career .295 hitter with the Dodgers, having clubbed 151 long balls, hitting a career high of 27 three times. In the playoffs, Turner has hit 13 round trippers, knocked in 42, and scored 43 runs in 82 games.

The Dodgers altered Turner’s swing by adding a leg kick. With Taylor, it was a complete overhaul that included moving the barrel and a leg kick. With Muncy, a little fine-tuning with a bend and a leg kick. Whatever the case, the Dodgers knew how to fix them.

Advertisement

Muncy went from a total of five HRs in two years in Oakland to smashing 35 in each of his first two seasons in L.A. He’s up to 128 for his career.

Gallo is a bit of a different story. Before his trade to N.Y. Joey Gallo was a two-time All-Star, who had hit 145 home runs across 568 games with the Rangers. His season high was 41 in 2017, and followed that up with 40 a year later.

Advertisement

But his Yankee tenure was his lowest of lows. Though he grew up a Yankee fan, he was among a group that just can’t seem to handle the Bronx — a hitter’s version of Ed Whitson, Hideki Irabu, Sonny Gray, A.J. Burnett, etc.

“I think it’s a product of the culture we have around here, the environment. The way everyone is treated,” Turner told Bleacher Report after Muncy’s rise to stardom.

Advertisement

Maybe with less of a microscope on him, Gallo could get his groove back.

Getting Gallo is far from the splash that the Padres made by acquiring Juan Soto (and Josh Bell), but he could be one of the most important players come playoff time.

Advertisement

We’ve seen it happen before in L.A. We could certainly see it again. Who doesn’t love a good Hollywood ending?

And it's one, two, three, four strikes you're out for Yordan Alvarez

The count stood at 1-1 when Alvarez fouled off pitch number 3 from Rich Hill, which made two strikes. At that point, both the scorebug on the screen and, presumably Wolf himself appear to be on the same page. But then Alvarez takes strike three on pitch number 4, and that’s when things get weird. Because neither Wolf, Hill, or anyone else in attendance, including the players on the field, seemed to notice that Alvarez was out. So Hill kept throwing.

Advertisement

To be fair, strike three just nipped the top corner of the zone, but Wolf called it a strike and then everyone just kept playing. Alvarez grounds out to first on the next pitch, so no harm no foul, except that all our crumbling faith in the men in blue (the umps, not the Dodgers) is further shaken. Three strikes is like, the FIRST RULE you learn in baseball. You get three. Teeballers know this. Kids playing kickball at recess know this. My mother who never played or cared about baseball knows this. So how at least twelve professionals playing Major League Baseball (fourteen if you include the announcers) missed it, is a question somebody needs to answer.

Alvarez is hard enough to get out with a three-strike allowance. Giving him four is choosing violence. And that’s before we get to poor Rich Hill, who these kinds of things always seem to happen to. Do we need to make the argument for #TeamRobotUmps again? Is this the “human element” people are always so afraid to get rid of?

Advertisement

Do better, everyone involved.