David Shovein

Baseball Daily Dose

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Daily Dose: Gray Skies Looming

Saturday, July 15, 2017


 

Sonny Gray has been no stranger to trade rumors. It seems like this year, more than ever though, there is an increasing likelihood that he’ll be wearing a new uniform in August.

 

The 27-year-old right-hander has pitched for no organization other than the Athletics, where he was drafted as a first round selection (18th overall) in 2011.

 

He debuted 23-year-old in 2013, posting a 2.67 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 67/20 K/BB ratio across 64 innings. His career trajectory continued to take off, where in 2015 he was named to his first All-Star squad and finished third in the voting for the American League Cy Young Award.

 

After a miserable and injury-plagued 2016 campaign, Gray looks like he’s back to his previous form. He has delivered quality starts in each of his last four outings, allowing four total runs in 27 innings (1.33 ERA) with a 21/5 K/BB ratio.

 

There were plenty of scouts on hand on Friday night as he systematically dominated a dangerous Indians’ lineup over six shutout innings. Gray scattered just two hits and a walk while racking up five strikeouts.

 

He wouldn’t be a typical rental player on the last year of his contract either. Gray still has two years of arbitration remaining, so any club acquiring him would be getting a top of the rotation starter for the stretch run and two additional seasons. While that will undoubtedly raise his asking price, it also makes him an extremely attractive commodity.

 

The Athletics aren’t in a position where they are going to seriously contend for a World Series title in the next two seasons, and won’t be in a position to meet Gray’s lofty demands once he hits free agency following the 2019 season.

 

Striking while the iron is hot and getting the best package of prospects that they can right now seems to be the most prudent path for Billy Beane and company. The fact that Gray looks healthier than he has in years and has been pitching out of his mind over his last four starts only adds fuel to the fire.

 

There were even unsubstantiated rumors prior to Friday’s game that Gray had been scratched from his scheduled start due to a pending deal. The rumors ran rampant enough that the Athletics’ P.R. department had to make an official announcement that Gray was still starting.

 

The Cubs, even after acquiring Jose Quintana this week, are one club that has maintained interest in acquiring Gray. The Yankees are another big market team that has expressed interest. There are a host of others that could certainly use him.

 

Gray is next scheduled to take the ball on Wednesday against the Rays. It’ll be interesting to see if they pull the trigger on a deal before then, or let it ride for one more start while waiting out the best possible offer.

 


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Dodging Defeat


The Dodgers have the best record in all of baseball at 62-29. They have been getting massive contributions from up and down their lineup and have been seemingly finding new ways to win every night.

 

No lead is safe against them. Even when they are down to their final strike.

 

That was the case on Friday night, as A.J. Ramos was tasked with protecting a 4-3 lead. He quickly retired Cody Bellinger and Logan Forsythe without any difficulty and got ahead of Joc Pederson 1-2.

 

Pederson wasn’t rattled though, and after taking ball two to even the count, he singled into right field, putting the tying run on base.

 

That brought up Yasmani Grandal. Again, Ramos was within one strike of victory, as he had Grandal 2-2 before eventually losing him to a walk.

 

Ramos then got to within one strike of victory for a third time, quickly getting ahead of Yasiel Puig 0-2. He then uncorked a wild pitch that advanced the runners to second and third. The very next pitch, Puig crushed a go-ahead three-run homer which would propel the Dodgers to yet another victory.

 

The home run was Puig’s second of the game and 18th of the season.

 

Kenley Jansen then came on, showing what a truly lock-down closer looks like, retiring the Marlins in order to record his 22nd save.

 

Not to be overlooked, was the tremendous contribution from the rest of the Dodgers’ bullpen in this one. Brandon McCarthy struggled through 4 2/3 innings of this one, but the trio of Ross Stripling, Brandon Morrow and Josh Fields followed with 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. That allowed the Dodgers to stay in the game and eventually secure the dramatic comeback victory.

 

 

Problems for Pineda

 

The Yankees’ were dealt a major blow to their pitching staff on Friday when they announced that Michael Pineda was diagnosed with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament.

 

While he is awaiting a second opinion, Tommy John surgery has already been recommended and will be the likely course of action. If that is indeed the case, the impending free agent will be sidelined for most of, if not all, of the 2018 season.

 

The Yankees are already a club that was in the market for upgrades to their starting rotation. You would have to imagine that they’ll be even more aggressive now in pursuing such arms.

 

For now, they’ll roll with Luis Cessa as the interim option to fulfill Pineda’s spot in the rotation. He has proven to be at least a capable big league hurler, posting a 4.31 ERA and 1.17 WHIP across 94 innings with the Yankees.

 

Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman also wouldn’t rule out top pitching prospect Chance Adams getting a look in that spot.

 

The 22-year-old right-hander owns a 1.94 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 96/37 K/BB ratio across 92 2/3 innings in 17 starts between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He’s the type of impact arm that could be a major contributor in mixed fantasy leagues in the second half of the season and could be worth stashing now in deeper formats.

 

 


American League Quick Hits: Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports that multiple teams have been talking to the Orioles about Zach BrittonKevin Kiermaier (hip) is progressing in his recovery and set to resume all baseball activities on July 21… Matt Duffy (Achilles) is also expected to resume baseball activities on July 21… Andrew Triggs underwent successful season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left hip… White Sox pitching prospect Zack Burdi has been diagnosed with a torn UCL and is likely to undergo Tommy John surgery… James Paxton fanned nine over six innings of two-run ball to beat the White Sox… Robinson Cano slugged a three-run homer off of James Shields to lead the Mariners… Kennys Vargas left Friday’s game with a left foot contusion and could be DL-bound…Byron Buxton was pulled from Friday’s contest due to left groin soreness… Aroldis Chapman was saddled with his third blown save after an ugly ninth inning against the Red Sox… Yonder Alonso clubbed his 21st home run in a victory over the Indians.. Mike Trout went 1-for-5 and swiped a base in his return from the disabled list… Marwin Gonzalez had three hits and a homer as the Astros crushed the Twins… Charlie Morton fanned 10 over five innings in a victory there… Jacob Faria delivered another strong start in a no-decision, allowing just on run over 6 2/3 innings against the Angels…


National League Quick Hits: Aaron Altherr is considered day-to-day after leaving Friday’s game with a mild right hamstring strain… The Nationals released veteran reliever Francisco Rodriguez after throwing  just five innings in the minor leagues for them… Hyun-Jin Ryu (foot) threw a successful bullpen session without issue on Friday… Edinson Volquez underwent an MRI due to the continued discomfort in his left knee… Hunter Renfroe landed on the 10-day disabled list with a strained neck… Jayson Werth (foot) has been slow to recover and won’t be activated from the disabled list next weekend as had originally been anticipated… Ian Desmond (calf) is expected to be activated from the disabled list prior to Saturday’s game… The Nationals are still awaiting the MRI results on the right elbow of Joe RossVince Velasquez (elbow) could rejoin the Phillies’ rotation on Tuesday… Stephen Piscotty was removed from Friday’s game due to a right groin strain… Ryan Braun (calf) returned to the Brewers’ lineup in grand fashion on Friday, slugging his franchise-record sixth grand slam in a victory over the Phillies… Gio Gonzalez struck out six over 8 1/3 scoreless innings in a victory over the Reds… Bryce Harper crushed a pair of home runs to pace the offense in that victory… Michael Conforto homered and plated four in a win over the Rockies… Jacob deGrom struck out 11 over eight innings of one-run ball to beat the Rockies… Addison Russell swatted a go-ahead solo homer in the ninth, one of five Cubs’ homers, in a win over the Orioles… Paul Goldschmidt clubbed his 21st homer in a loss to the Braves… Freddie Freeman blasted his 17th homer in a win against the D’Backs… Maikel Franco went 4-for-5 with two RBI in a losing effort against the Brewers.



Dave Shovein is a baseball writer for Rotoworld. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveShovein.
Email :David Shovein



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