It’s the MLB Game Day Recap Day 5, so that means it’s time to discuss the DH. I’m a baseball ‘purist’ who doesn’t like the DH. It’s not that I’m proud of it per se, but it’s what I am. I say play offense and defense, it’s not that hard. Yet I’m also obsessed with big taters like this behemoth, this moonshot, and this laser show. Heck, I’ll even take this opposite field blast that missed just foul. None of these bombs would be possible without the DH. Today was Nelson Cruz’s first start of the year since MIN opened at Milwaukee. These sweet, sweet moonshots would be obsolete without the DH. Baseball is better with Nelson Cruz, full stop. That means baseball is better with the DH.
Michael A. Taylor is known as a failed prospect. He is a career .239/.293/.400 hitter over 8 years. This accounts for an 81 OPS+. He strikes out in 31.21% of his plate appearances. These are all the bad things, but the good things? Taylor is 7 for 16 with 1 double and 2 homers through 4 games. Kansas City does not have a clear center fielder and the job is Taylor’s to lose. Jarrod Dyson isn’t taking his job and the team is far better defensively with Whit Merrifield at 2B as opposed to CF. Taylor isn’t going to walk, it’s never been his M.O. Kansas City is a spacious outfield and not only can Taylor cover ground out there, he can hit into those gaps as well. 2021 should be a career year, and Taylor should put together enough streaks to justify a fantasy add when he heats up.
Frankie Montas vs. Dustin May was my match of the day. Dustin May lived up to his end, but Frankie Montas certainly didn’t. 7 earned over 2.2 IP is the definition of a letdown. 23.63 ERA and 3.75 WHIP is, how would you say, terrible? Horrendous? Letdown. Montas was well on his way to becoming a star in 2019. However a steroid related suspension halted both short term and long term optimism. A 2020 ERA of 5.60 and FIP of 4.74 could be written off as small sample size. That said, continued starts like today will change that perception real quick. I’m not selling Montas yet, LA is the best team in baseball, but this type of performance lead to Montas holding a roster spot for long. In conclusion, be worried, just not too worried.
Akil Baddoo has a 5×5 of 2 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI slashing .429/.429/1.286 over his first two games. Unbelievably, this is clearly the second best start for a rookie in the AL Central. We see you Yermin Mercedes. Even with Baddoo’s performance, the Tigers still are expected to be a poor team over 162. That projection led the Tigers to select Baddoo in the Rule V draft this offseason, and play him. Mercedes is definitely the more popular add, but Baddoo is the savvy one. The White Sox will not give Mercedes playing time when he struggles. Conversely, the Tigers will give Baddoo plenty of playing time if he struggles. Baddoo is the buy, Mercedes is the sell. Baddoo might not play daily, but if he continues to play at this level that will change in short order.
Fernando Tatis Jr. entered today hitting .188 and went 0 for 2 before leaving the game with what appeared to be some serious hand, shoulder or elbow injury, which was non-contact on a swing. Wow. Mr. 340 million has had an awful season at the plate and in the field with 4 errors. Should this injury result in some IL time, and it certainly looks that way, Tatis Jr. will be in the ‘Not’ category for awhile. This stinks for baseball fans and we sure do hope he’s back in the lineup tomorrow.
The Emilio Bonifacio Award
The MLB Game Day Recap has its first repeat award winner, although it’s on a technicality. Today’s winners are the hybrid of Willians Astudillo and Luis Arraez. Arraez won this award yesterday and continued his hitting streak and offensive tear to start the year, going 1 for 1 with 1 walk and 2 runs scored. Unfortunately for Arraez, he left the game in the bottom of the 2nd with a digestive issue that is non-COVID related. 100% believe he ate something wrong in Greektown. Astudillo replaced Arraez going 3 for 4 with 2 doubles, 2 RBIs and 1 run scored, and looked every bit the part that Arraez would have played. Astudillo is C-1B-3B eligible in many leagues and if he ever finds solid playing time, watch out. For now, we will declare Arraez a 1.5 winner of the Bonifacio.
The James Shields Award
Steven Matz, that’s it, that’s the list. If this was 2020, it would be a list of the worst pitchers in baseball. Since it’s 2021, this is a list of all the pitchers who went beyond 6.0 IP on April 5th, 2021. Matz shut down one of the many awful teams in the American League, the Texas Rangers. 6.1 IP allowing 2 hits, 1 walk, and 9 K’s surrendering 1 run is modern pitching excellence. However, there is a huge issue. 6.0 IP allowing 2 hits, 1 walk, and 7 K’s surrendering 1 run was also Matz first start of 2020. He finished 2020 with a 9.68 ERA across 30-2/3rds innings. That’s a 7.76 FIP. That’s a 45 ERA+. Congratulations to Steven Matz as the only Shields winner today, but Blue Jays fans need to continue to be weary. I made this paragraph as optimistic as possible, I swear.
The Brad Lidge Award
Chris Mazza was supposed to be the long man who held the game close. He entered in the bottom of the 6th down 5-0. The Rays desperately tried to use Mazza as the only arm out of the pen, but 6 runs and 2.2 innings later they had to pull him. When your job is ‘provide length’ and you can’t do that for the 3 innings your team needs, you won’t be in the big leagues very long. The Rays are a team designed to maximize length for each pitcher in their own unique Rays way. We will see Mazza get optioned because the Rays option 50% of their roster, but unlike the majority of those being optioned he might find a path back to the bigs.
Baseball is the perfect sport. It’s the proper mix of athleticism and game. There is so much strategy, yet pure skill can destroy said strategy on one pitch. Did you look at those bombs? The removal of any strategy that is present due to pitchers hitting doesn’t remove all of the underlying layers of strategy. Big dongs are awesome. Strategy is equally as awesome. Both of these can and do exist simultaneously. It’s okay to be a fan of NL baseball and the DH. It’s not a contradiction, it just loving everything about baseball. In the end, I’ll leave you with the beautiful 2017 Topps league leader card of today’s two main mashers. That’s it for today’s MLB Game Day Recap.