Nathan Grimm

Baseball Daily Dose

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Daily Dose: The Beat Goes On

Sunday, September 16, 2018


It's hard to tell when things got out of hand in the American League Central, but somewhere along the line it became a question of when, not if.

 

The when came Saturday, and like the AL Central race, it wasn't much of a sweat.

 

Francisco Lindor and Michael Brantley went back-to-back to lead off the game, the Indians scored six runs in the first inning and five more in the second and Mike Clevinger threw six scoreless innings as the Tribe coasted to a 15-0 win Saturday against the Tigers, clinching the AL Central title in the process.

 

"We've earned our right to play into October, which is not to be taken lightly," Indians' all-time saves leader Cody Allen said after the game. "But, we want to play a lot of baseball."

 

That the Indians did it with big-time offense and stout pitching is no surprise. The team has two players, Lindor and Jose Ramirez, who will garner MVP votes this fall, and their starting pitching -- Clevinger, who owns a 3.06 ERA in 30 starts, is arguably the teams third-best starter, behind Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco -- will match up with any postseason rotation.

 

It won't be easy, though. Despite the Tribe clinching their division earlier than anyone, the other four teams in the American League that will be playing in October all have 90 or more wins, as compared to the Indians' 83 victories. That includes the Astros and Athletics, with 93 and 90 wins, respectively, one of which will almost certainly face the Tribe in the divisional round.

 

For now, though, the club will focus on readying for October. That likely means frequent off days for regulars and possibly tweaking their rotation as the regular season nears its end. Fantasy owners in daily leagues, and of course DFS players, should pay attention to those machinations to make sure the Indians' luxury doesn't become a fantasy downfall.

 

Dodgers Make Moves in NL Playoff Push

 

Things are less carefree in the National League, where a handful of teams still have postseason aspirations.

 

Two of those teams, the Dodgers and Cardinals, are currently going head to head for the second Wild Card spot, and Saturday's result saw those teams switch places in the standings with just over two weeks left to play.

 

On the strength of three Yasiel Puig home runs and six RBI from Cody Bellinger, the Dodgers thumped the Cards 17-4 Saturday to take over sole possession of that final postseason spot in the NL. With the Rockies' loss to the Giants a few hours later, the Dodgers did one better, taking over the National League West lead by a half-game.

 

“We knew all along we controlled our own destiny,” manager Dave Roberts said.

 

Control their own destiny they certainly do. After Sunday's series finale against the Cards -- a chance to sweep the four-game series -- they'll play a big three-game set with the Rockies where the NL West lead will hang in the balance. They'll close with the other three NL West foes, facing the Padres, Diamondbacks and Giants to end the regular season.

 

For the Cardinals, the road is more daunting. After Sunday, they'll face three playoff-hopeful teams among their final four opponents. They'll travel to take on the Braves, then host the Giants and Brewers before closing with the rival Cubs in Chicago, all while needing to play better than the Dodgers (and Rockies, possibly) over the final two weeks.

 

It's gonna be fun.

 

Yanks to Call Up Top Prospect Sheffield

 

Most teams have shown their cards by now regarding September reinforcements.

 

The Yankees, though, still have one (potential) ace up their sleeve.

 

Justus Sheffield, the Yankees' top prospect and one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, will join the team Sunday after getting the call Saturday, per multiple reports. The team didn't make anything official Saturday, with manager Aaron Boone declining to confirm or deny the reports after their loss to the Blue Jays, but Sheffield was less coy when speaking with reporters.

 

"I am still at a loss for words," Sheffield said Saturday after the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders' season ended. "I'm super excited. I just can't believe it."

 

Sheffield was on prospect lists heading into the season, and he justified those expectations with a strong season in the minors. The southpaw owned a 2.48 ERA between Double-A and Triple-A, striking out 123 batters in 116 innings.

 

The organization moved him to the bullpen late in the year, a move made with an eye on him helping the major league club down the stretch and possibly into October. Sheffield is expected to work in relief with the Yankees upon activation.

 

That limits his fantasy appeal, but he could be a fantasy-relevant starter as early as the 2019 season. The final few weeks of the 2018 season could whet the appetite of fans and fantasy players.

 

National League Quick Hits: Madison Bumgarner hurt his side on a swing during Saturday's win over the Rockies, but isn't expected to miss his next start. The Giants removed him after just six innings despite his throwing only 64 pitches and carrying a shutout, and that explains why. Giants manager Bruce Bochy said the move was strictly precautionary and that he could have stayed in if the circumstances were different. Bumgarner is expected to make his next scheduled start as planned ... Brandon Belt (knee) remains day to day after an MRI on his right knee showed no change. Belt won't be shut down for now, but his playing time will likely be determined on a daily basis, depending on how he feels. That's a bad proposition for fantasy owners and one not worth the headache for a guy who's seen his numbers plummet in the second half after a stellar start to the year. Belt is hitting just .155/.216/.223 since the All-Star break ... Christian Yelich went 2-for-4 with a solo homer in Saturday’s loss to the Pirates. Yelich has now reached 30 homers for the first time in his career. 19 of those homers have come since the All-Star break. Only Oakland’s Khris Davis has hit more in that time ... Jon Lester struck out nine Reds and held them scoreless for seven innings to earn a win on Saturday. He surrendered only a pair of singles and a pair of walks in the brilliant outing. The nine punchouts set a new season high for the veteran left-hander. He improves to 16-6 with a 3.43 ERA and 1.31 WHIP in 30 starts.

 

American League Quick Hits: Edwin Encarnacion left Saturday's game against the Tigers with a mild right ankle sprain. Encarnacion turned the ankle rounding second base in a one-sided game, but the good news is it doesn't sound overly serious. He might miss a day or two -- considering the Indians clinched the AL Central Saturday, it's almost certain he and some other regulars will be under the weather Sunday anyway -- but Encarnacion shouldn't be out for any extended period ... Michael Fulmer was removed from Saturday's start against the Indians on Saturday due to right knee inflammation. Fulmer threw just five pitches on Saturday, serving up back-to-back homers to Francisco Lindor and Michael Brantley, before departing with the team's head athletic trainer. The good news, is that the injury isn't to his pitching arm. The bad news, for fantasy owners, is that this will probably end his tumultuous 2018 season ... Tyler Skaggs (groin) said he's hoping to rejoin the rotation sometime next week. Skaggs completed a 48-pitch bullpen session Thursday and said he'll throw another one Sunday. Assuming that goes off without a hitch, he'll return to the rotation a few days later. Skaggs has been out since early August with a left adductor strain ... Lance McCullers (forearm) hit 94 mph in a bullpen session Saturday. McCullers also faced at least one hitter in the session in West Palm Beach, Florida. The bullpen came four days after he threw 40 pitches on Tuesday. He'll throw another bullpen session next Tuesday, and certainly seems to be trending toward getting into a game before the year's out. He'll return as a reliever, if he is able to return this year at all ... Sean Reid-Foley struck out 10 Yankees while shutting them out for five innings in a win on Saturday. The 23-year-old rookie improves to 2-3 with a 5.54 ERA in his first five major league starts ... Didi Gregorius slugged a pair of solo home runs against the Blue Jays but it wasn't enough as the Yankees lost on Saturday. The 28-year-old shortstop continues to get better at the plate each season and is now a fantasy stalwart years after being considered an all-glove, no-stick infielder as a prospect with the Reds. For the season he is batting .269/.335/.502 with 26 home runs, 83 RBI and 83 runs. He's stolen 10 bases in 16 tries ... Reynaldo Lopez rattled off seven shutout innings to get a win over the Orioles in a tight ballgame on Saturday. For the season as a whole he is 6-9 with a 4.05 ERA in 30 starts ... Randal Grichuk went 3-for-5 and slugged two home runs off CC Sabathia to lead his team over the Yankees 8-7 on Saturday. Overall he is batting .247/.305/.497 with 23 home runs and 53 RBI in 112 games ... Alex Gordon knocked in a season-high five runs in Saturday’s 10-3 victory over the Twins. Gordon went 3-for-5 on the night.



Nathan Grimm is a baseball writer for Rotoworld. He can also be found on Twitter (@Nate_Grimm).
Email :Nathan Grimm



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