Jesse Pantuosco

Baseball Daily Dose

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Dose: Smith to the Majors

Friday, August 11, 2017


It’s been a turbulent year for the Mets but at long last, the clouds have parted. The future is here and guess what? It looks pretty bright.

 

The youth movement that began when Amed Rosario arrived earlier this month continued when the Mets recalled Dominic Smith from Triple-A Las Vegas on Thursday night. For Smith, it’s been a long time coming. As his gaudy stats in Vegas would attest to (.330, 16 HR, 76 RBI), the 22-year-old had nothing left to prove in the minors. The Pacific Coast League is notoriously hitter-friendly, but that shouldn’t take away from Smith’s accomplishments. He still ranks among the league’s top 10 in RBI (seventh), average (also seventh), runs scored (fourth), hits (first) and doubles (first).

 

All that was standing in Smith’s way was long-time first baseman Lucas Duda, who was dealt to Tampa Bay four days before the trade deadline. Smith’s path to playing time became even clearer Wednesday when the Mets sent Jay Bruce, a right fielder who moonlights at first base (10 starts this season), to Cleveland in exchange for minor league right-hander Ryder Ryan. Smith is slated to arrive in Philadelphia Friday and should make his big league debut later that night against fellow rookie Nick Pivetta.

 

As this is a fantasy website, we should probably address Smith’s fantasy prospects. There’s a case to be made for him—the former first-round pick figures to see regular at-bats down the stretch and obviously put up monster numbers in Triple-A. But neither of those facts ensure immediate fantasy success.

 

With rookies, it’s always a roll of the dice. Maybe Smith will exceed his considerable hype, blowing the lid off like Red Sox phenom Rafael Devers or Cardinals standout Paul DeJong. But there’s an equal if not better chance that he’ll fall flat while struggling through the same growing pains that have plagued Lewis Brinson and Yoan Moncada. To quote the great philosopher Kevin Garnett, anything is possible.

 

Handing the keys to a 22-year-old like Smith is a good way to get younger but another way is to purge your team of expensive veterans. The Mets have employed both tactics (a little column A, a little column B as Archer would say), moving aging players on expiring deals (Duda and Bruce) to open up playing time for the likes of Rosario and Smith. The execution wasn’t flawless—the return for Duda and Bruce was mediocre at best while many would argue that the Mets dragged their feet on calling up Rosario and Smith, who were both ready months ago. But even if it took a bit longer than expected, the Mets’ long-term solutions at shortstop and first base have finally arrived.

 

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Even after moving Duda, Addison Reed and now Bruce, you get the feeling the Mets aren’t done yet. Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera both cleared waivers earlier this month, inviting the possibility of an August trade. Cabrera drew interest from a handful of teams at the deadline including the Indians, who may be in the market for an infielder soon depending on the severity of Jason Kipnis’ latest hamstring injury.

 

Reports surfaced Thursday that Walker was nearly dealt to the Yankees at the trade deadline, but they backed out at the last second due to medical concerns. While the Yankees’ reluctance may have been legitimate—at that point Walker had just come back from a lengthy hamstring injury—the Mets certainly aren’t buying it. The Yankees swung a trade for Sonny Gray on the same day, a development that wasn’t lost on the Mets’ front office.

 

That left a bad taste in their mouths, though it didn’t stop the Mets from later dangling Bruce in trade discussions with their cross-town rival. Underwhelmed by the Yankees’ low-ball offer, the Mets pivoted by dealing Bruce to the Indians.

 

While the Yankees and Mets may not be natural rivals—they don’t play in the same league and the team wearing pinstripes has always had more success than its Queens counterpart—the tension seems to be bubbling at the surface. Mike Puma of the New York Post gathered this telling quote from a heated Mets official: “If they would give us something of [bleeping] value, maybe we would make a deal." Sour grapes or not, next week’s home-and-home series between the Bombers and the Amazins’ just got a little more interesting.

 

Thursday was certainly an eventful day for the Mets, who continue to occupy the spotlight even while they sit 12 games out in the Wild Card and trail the first-place Nationals by 16.5 games in the NL East. On top of Smith’s arrival and their bad blood with the Yankees, the Mets also enjoyed one of their best games of the season, clobbering the Phillies by a 10-0 margin. The win served as a much-needed morale booster for the Mets, who had dropped five of six prior to Thursday’s outburst.

 

Jacob deGrom was predictably dominant, compiling nine strikeouts over 6 2/3 shutout innings. DeGrom narrowly avoided disaster in the seventh when a Nick Williams comebacker struck him in the right triceps. Fortunately X-rays came back negative and the longhaired right-hander escaped with only a bruise. The flame-throwing 29-year-old should be able to make his next start Tuesday against, well you guessed it, the Yankees.

 

Thursday’s lineup also featured a new wrinkle with Michael Conforto hitting out of the cleanup spot. Conforto has mostly served as the team’s leadoff hitter this season but with Bruce out the door, the middle-of-the-order figures to be his new habitat. “I think that’s where he needs to be,” said manager Terry Collins. The 24-year-old looked plenty comfortable in the cleanup spot Thursday night, punishing the hapless Phillies with a three-run homer in the seventh inning. It was Conforto’s third blast in five games and his 24th of the season.

 

For the Phillies, when it rains, it pours. Losing 10-0 on your home turf is never a good look but Thursday’s defeat was somehow made even more devastating by Vince Velasquez, who lasted only an inning before exiting with numbness in his right (pitching) middle finger. Velasquez never looked right, surrendering three runs on three hits in his lone inning of work while throwing just 17 of his 32 pitches for strikes. The usually hard-throwing Velasquez topped out at a mere 92 mph, a couple ticks down from the 94 mph he’s averaged throughout the season.

 

To make matters worse, Philadelphia just found out its best hitter Aaron Altherr, now on his second DL stint after aggravating a pre-existing hamstring injury, won’t be back until September. Luckily the Phillies have their own youth movement to look forward to and Thursday they finally got their first peek at power-hitting first baseman Rhys Hoskins. Fresh off ripping the International League to shreds (.284, 29 HR, 91 RBI in 115 games for Triple-A Lehigh Valley), the 24-year-old went 0-for-2 with a walk Thursday in his big-league debut. It wasn’t anything flashy, but you have to start somewhere, right?

 

AL Quick Hits: James Paxton left Thursday’s start against the Angels with a left pectoral strain. Paxton scattered five hits, three runs and a walk while supplying six strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings before exiting. He’ll be reevaluated on Friday … Aaron Hicks returned to the Yankees’ lineup Thursday following a six-week stint on the disabled list. To make room for him, the Yankees placed rookie Clint Frazier on the 10-day DL with a left oblique strain. Hicks drew the start in left field and went 0-for-5 in a loss to Toronto … Matt Davidson expects to resume hitting on Friday and could be ready to come off the disabled list when first eligible on Tuesday. Davidson suffered a bruised wrist when he was hit by a pitch earlier this month … Trevor Cahill has struggled since joining the Royals at the trade deadline (8.18 ERA in three starts) and now we know the reason why. The right-hander has been placed on the disabled list with a right shoulder impingement and will likely be replaced in the starting rotation by right-hander Jake JunisJay Bruce made his Indians debut in a pinch-hitting appearance Thursday against the Rays. The ex-Met popped out in his only at-bat of the night … Jason Kipnis exited Thursday’s game with right hamstring tightness, though manager Terry Francona described his exit as “precautionary.” Kipnis landed on the DL with a similar injury last month, but for now the Indians are classifying him as day-to-day … Jake Odorizzi exited Wednesday night’s game after taking a line drive off his foot but said he felt “really good” on Thursday and expects to make his next start Monday against Toronto. He’ll test his foot out during a bullpen session on Friday … Dietrich Enns made his big league debut Thursday against Milwaukee, allowing five hits and two runs (one earned) over 2 1/3 innings in a no-decision. Minnesota acquired Enns from the Yankees in last month’s Jaime Garcia trade. The Twins’ season-best winning streak is up to five … Yoan Moncada was the hero Thursday against Houston, tying the game with a solo homer off closer Ken Giles in the ninth inning and later winning it with a walk-off single in the 11th. The talented 22-year-old has cruised to a .389 average during his five-game hitting streak … Michael Fulmer could return to the Tigers’ rotation as soon as next week. The right-hander landed on the DL with elbow neuritis earlier this month but has already resumed throwing.

 

NL Quick Hits: Anthony Rendon was held out of the Nationals’ lineup due to an illness on Thursday but appeared later in the game as a pinch-hitter. Brian Goodwin lifted Washington to victory with a go-ahead eighth-inning homer off Marlins reliever Junichi Tazawa. Giancarlo Stanton’s league-leading 39th round-tripper accounted for all of Miami’s scoring … While an MRI on Willson Contreras’ injured hamstring revealed mostly good news, the Cubs’ backstop will still miss at least two weeks and could be sidelined for up to a month. Contreras has been red-hot since the break, batting a robust .311 with 10 homers and 29 RBI over 90 second-half at-bats. Alex Avila will fill in behind the plate … A day after Rally Cat worked his magic at Busch Stadium (he’s missing, by the way), the Cardinals notched another win Thursday night, defeating the Royals 8-6 to claim their sixth straight victory. Dexter Fowler led the Cards with a career-high five RBI with four of them coming on a seventh-inning grand slam. Incredibly, Cardinals starter Lance Lynn took a line drive off his head but managed to stay in the game ... Yasiel Puig sat out Thursday night’s game against the Diamondbacks due to lingering knee and hamstring soreness. Prior to that, Puig hadn’t missed a game since June 27.



Jesse Pantuosco is a football and baseball writer for Rotoworld. He has won three Fantasy Sports Writers Association Awards. Follow him on Twitter @JessePantuosco.
Email :Jesse Pantuosco



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