This is the first slow Monday of the season, with just seven games on the docket. That gives us an opportunity to reflect on the week that was. Thankfully, the first six weeks of the season were mostly injury-free, at least from a macro level. There were, of course, bumps and bruises, but there were few serious injuries, and fewer still to big name players. All that came to an end last week.
The week started and ended with horrible injury news for the Dodgers. First, the team announced that Corey Seager would undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the remainder of the year. On Sunday, it announced that Clayton Kershaw would go to the DL with biceps tendinitis. In between, Jacob deGrom (elbow) and Mookie Betts (shoulder) avoided injury scares, that deGrom will miss at least one start while he rests on the DL. Yadier Molina will be out for the next month, requiring emergency surgery after taking a foul ball off the groin area. His teammate, Tommy Pham, left Saturday’s game with groin tightness, and didn’t play on Sunday. Miguel Cabrera landed on the DL with a hamstring strain, while a calf issue knocked Yoenis Cespedes out of Sunday’s loss to the Rockies.
In short, the injury bug made up for mostly taking April off. Let’s put that behind us and get to this week’s Table Setter.
Hitters to Watch this Week
Matt Adams, 1B/OF, Nationals
Adams has hit his way into the Nationals’ everyday lineup, slashing .296/.412/.676 with eight homers and 18 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He started the year as a backup to Ryan Zimmerman. At best, it seemed he could get on the short side of a righty-lefty platoon at the position. Instead, manager Dave Martinez has no choice but to find a spot for him in the everyday lineup, typically in left field. Adams is one of the hottest hitters in baseball after going 9-for-25 with five homers last week.
Francisco Lindor, SS, Indians, Jose Ramirez, 2B/3B, Indians
Speaking of the hottest hitters in baseball, Cleveland’s double-play combo is doing a ton of damage at the plate. First there’s Lindor, who is 17-for-40 with four homers, 10 RBI and 11 runs in the last week. Only to be slightly outdone, Ramirez is 11-for-30 with two homers, seven RBI, nine runs and a steal in that same time. Their exploits have translated into just a 2–6 record for the Indians, but their fantasy owners have likely been put in much better position. The Indians play just five games this week, with off-days Monday and Thursday.
Gleyber Torres, 2B/SS, Yankees
Torres is off to a great start in his MLB career, hitting .327/.357/.500 with a pair of homers and three doubles in his first 56 plate appearances. He has driven in 11 runs, scored seven more and added a steal for good measure. The Yankees lineup was already an embarrassment of riches before he arrived, and the team and its fans have to be awfully excited about a foursome of Torres, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez leading the way for the next decade or so.
Corey Dickerson, OF, Pirates
Few players have benefitted from the launch angle revolution as much or as clearly as Dickerson. Two years ago, he slogged his way to a .245/.293/.469 slash line, with his power keeping him just barely afloat. Since then, he has hit .288/.330/.497 with 32 homers in 764 plate appearances. He has been great in his debut season with the Pirates, racking up a .315/.356/.532 slash with five homers in 135 trips to the plate and has been hot of late, with three of those five homers coming in the last week.
Pitchers to Watch this Week
Sean Newcomb, SP, Braves
Newcomb was excellent in his last trip to the mound, throwing seven shutout innings while striking out eight batters in a win over the Mets. This is what the 24-year-old can be when he is at his best, giving the Braves yet another exciting young player. The offense is already an asset, and if the rotation can come anywhere near matching it, the Braves are going to make a lot of noise this summer. Newcomb is a key player in that effort. He’s also somehow still available in just more than 50% of Yahoo leagues. He’ll start twice this week against a couple of weak offenses, taking on the Rays Tuesday and Marlins Sunday.
Miles Mikolas, SP, Cardinals
Mikolas shut down the Cubs in his most recent start, shutting them out for seven innings while allowing seven hits and striking out four. As has become his signature, he didn’t walk a batter in the outing, and has now issued just two free passes in 40 innings. The stuff may not be overwhelming, but Mikolas doesn’t get himself into trouble; he induces plenty of weak contact, and, thanks to his masterful control, is very efficient with his pitches. In short, he’s the antithesis of almost every other pitcher who takes the mound in the modern game, and that makes him a lot of fun to watch. He’ll make one start this week, facing the Padres on Thursday.
Dallas Keuchel, SP, Astros
Keuchel has been no better than Houston’s fourth-best starter this season, and while that invariably means three pitchers—in this case, Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander and Charlie Morton—are throwing the heck out of the ball, it would still be encouraging to see Keuchel get it going. He’ll get two opportunities this week with the Astros taking a spin through the AL West. First, he’ll take the ball on Monday in Oakland, facing a dangerous offense with a ton of right-handed power. From there, he’ll face the Rangers at home on Sunday. Keuchel has faced both of those teams once this year, and while he cleared the lowest threshold for a quality start against Texas, he coughed up six runs on seven hits—including three homers—against the A’s at the end of April.
Chris Sale, SP, Red Sox
Sale hasn’t done anything recently that requires special notice and compels us to watch specifically this week. He’s just going about his typical business, but we haven’t checked in on him in this space at all this season, so it was about time one of the best pitchers in the league got his due. He was electric in his last start, fanning 12 Rangers in seven innings in a 6–1 Red Sox victory. He’s scheduled for one start this week, opposing the Blue Jays in Toronto. He actually had one of his blandest starts of the year in his lone outing against the Blue Jays, surrendering three runs on four hits and two walks, with four strikeouts in six innings. The bet here is he improves on this numbers this time around.
Walker Buehler, SP, Dodgers
Buehler already wasn’t going anywhere once Hyun-jin Ryu hit the DL, and now that Clayton Kershaw will be out for at least a few weeks, the Dodgers need even more out of their talented rookie starter. The good news is that he’s already delivering. He has made three starts this season, totaling a 1.13 ERA, 2.09 FIP and 1.06 WHIP, with 19 strikeouts in 16 innings. He started, and did most of the heavy lifting, in the team’s combined no-hitter over the weekend, allowing three walks while striking out eight in six frames. Buehler’s MLB ceiling is legitimate ace, and that makes all of his starts intriguing. His next outing is slated for Wednesday against the Reds.
Matchups to Watch this Week
Max Scherzer vs. Zack Greinke, Friday
This is easily the headliner of the week. Scherzer has been the best pitcher in baseball thus far this season, totaling a 1.74 ERA, 1.74 FIP and 0.85 WHIP with 80 strikeouts—80!—in 51 2/3 innings. He has fanned at least 10 batters in five of his eight starts, no fewer than seven in any of them, and whiffed 15 in his last outing. He makes the Nationals the favorite in every game he starts, even against an offense as good as Arizona’s. Greinke, meanwhile, has pitched better than his 4.10 ERA suggests, indicated by a 3.66 FIP, 3.00 xFIP and 1.10 WHIP. As good as these lineups are, there might not be a ton of offense to go around at Chase Field on Friday.
Shohei Ohtani vs. Fernando Romero, Sunday
By time Romero takes the ball against the Angels on Sunday, he will have made the second start of his MLB career. If it’s anything like the first, there will be plenty of hype around this matchup. Romero held the Blue Jays off the scoreboard for 5 2/3 innings in his MLB debut, allowing four hits and three walks while striking out five. The 23-year-old cracked top-100 prospect lists for the first time this season, and his potential was on display last week. As for Ohtani, he took the ball over the weekend, allowing two runs on six hits and two walks, striking out six in a win over the Mariners. An ankle injury sustained while hitting kept him off the mound for two weeks, but he showed no signs of wear or rust.
Stephen Strasburg vs. A.J. Pollock, Saturday
The day after Scherzer and Greinke square off, Strasburg will take the hill for the Nationals against the Diamondbacks. In years past, his showdowns with Paul Goldschmidt would have drawn the most attention, but it’s Pollock who has been the best hitter in the desert this season. The 30-year-old outfielder is hitting .306/.362/.669 with 10 homers, nine doubles, three triples and 29 RBI this season. Strasburg is coming off one of his best starts of the season, allowing two earned runs on seven hits with 11 strikeouts in seven innings, beating the Pirates for his third win of the season. The two have faced each other nine times in their respective careers, with Pollock holding the decided advantage, going 5-for-9 with a homer and a triple.
Noah Syndergaard vs. Rhys Hoskins, Saturday
It’s always fun to get players from the same division in these matchups because we know it likely won’t be the first or last time they face one another this season. In the case of veterans, they could have long histories against one another, as well. That isn’t in play here, with Syndergaard and Hoskins both at the start of their careers, but they have already faced each other this season. Syndergaard took the ball against the Phillies back on April 4, leaving the game after allowing two runs on four hits and two walks in four innings. Hoskins went 1-for-1 with a double and walk in his two plate appearances against Syndergaard that day. With Syndergaard out for most of last season, the two faced each other just once during Hoskins’ rookie year, with the hitter earning a walk.
Luis Severino vs. Boston Red Sox, Tuesday
Even if the shoulder injury Mookie Betts suffered on Sunday keeps him out of the lineup, Severino against the Red Sox is appointment television. No matter what happens Monday, the Yankees and Red Sox will go into their three-game series in New York with the two best records in the majors. Severino has been absolutely filthy this year, pitching to a 2.11 ERA, 2.33 FIP and 0.85 WHIP with 52 strikeouts in 47 innings. He’ll take on a Boston lineup that, through Sunday, ranked second in runs, second in batting average, fifth in OBP, first in slugging, first in wOBA and tied for third in weighted runs created plus. Severino faced the Red Sox once this year and they got the better of him, scoring five runs on eight hits and three walks in five innings.
Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco vs. Milwaukee Brewers, Tuesday and Wednesday
After adding Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain to an offense that surprised the entire league last year, the Brewers were supposed to hit their way into playoff contention this season. The bats haven’t lived up to their end of the bargain, ranking no better than 20th in any pertinent offensive statistic. Milwaukee has been hit by the injury bug, with Yelich and Eric Thames both spending time on the DL this season, but the offense still hasn’t clicked. Domingo Santana has been a massive disappointment, and Travis Shaw and Ryan Braun have both come up slightly short of expectations. After an off-day Monday, they won’t exactly get an easy start to the week, taking on Kluber and Carrasco in a short two-gamer with the Indians. Carrasco has struggled in his last two starts, allowing 10 earned runs in 8 1/3 innings, so something will have to give in the series finale on Wednesday.
GIF of the Week
Carlos Correa highlights typically happen at the plate, but he’s pretty good in the field, too. Just for the record, Gleyber Torres is not slow.
Pretty good, right?