MLB Game Day Recap Day 9: No Hitter

April 10, 2021

It’s the MLB Game Day Recap Day 9, that means it’s time to talk about a no hitter and pitch counts. The Padres have never thrown a no hitter. Heading into the 9th inning in Arlington, San Diego’s Joe Musgrove had allowed 0 hits on 103 pitches. In 2005 there would be no suspense, it would be impossible to see Joe get pulled. 15 years later, all of baseball was hoping, begging, and pleading with Jayce Tingler to keep Musgrove in the game. Thankfully he came back out and finished what he started earning the Padres their first no-hitter in franchise history. Why was there suspense? Baseball’s upper management would say “we have to think big picture”. That answer by management is really saying a no-hitter is not as important maintaining health for the playoffs. No one watching tonight would agree.

Climbing Up

Joe Musgove’s no-hitter was not his first elite start of the season. In his only other start of the season, Musgrove went 6.0 innings and gave up an astronomical 3 hits, all singles, while striking out 8. Every season there is a middle aged starter who breaks out into the upper echelon. Last year we saw Brandon Woodruff and Dinelson Lamet, this year we are seeing Joe Musgrove. Unlike Woodruff and Lamet last year, Musgrove is on definitively one of the best teams in baseball. There are so many signs to buy here, managers who own Musgrove will surely be bullish to sell him. Would I move a Zack Greinke, Lance Lynn, Luis Castillo, or Stephen Strasburg for Musgrove? Absolutely. If you need pitching sell whatever you can to get him, he is the real deal. Buy early while you still can.

Letdown

Corey Kluber has not been able to keep runners off base. Two starts on the season against the AL East, two starts with WHIPs over 2.00. The idea behind the Kluber signing was if he could stay healthy, the Yankees were going to have a front of the rotation starter. The reality looks like if Kluber can stay healthy they have a 5th starter who won’t make the playoff roster. Kluber’s achilles heel beyond health has been base runners. It’s been small sample size, but he is looking far more like 2019 Kluber than Cy Young winner Kluber. It stinks, but I’m fine with cutting ties for a better option on the waiver wire. Sometimes it’s just gone.

Who’s Hot

Ronald Acuña Jr. entered today with a .304/.360/.652 slash with 2 doubles, 2 homers, and 2 steals over his first 6 games. Today he simply went 4 for 5 with a run, double, homer and 2 RBIs. He’s only 23 and yet he’s entering Mike Trout territory, as in he’s so consistently good his eliteness is forgotten because it’s sustained. Every decade there is a generational player, and this decade it’s Ronald Acuña Jr. Nothing more to say other than he’s really, really, really good.

Who’s Not

Dansby Swanson is 3 for 24. He is the opposite of Ronald Acuña Jr. in that he has the same lofty expectations as a former #1 overall pick, but he hasn’t produced like a top player. Swanson has been solid, a good defensive player on a great team. For the past 3 years, Swanson has been seen a post-hype fantasy candidate. For the past 3 years, Swanson has been a marginal shortstop at an extremely deep position. I’m not saying cut Swanson, I’m saying be ready to cut him. He is everything that Acuña Jr. is not. Ronald is elite everywhere offensively and Swanson is mediocre everywhere offensively. Luckily he is tied to an elite offense, so if a hot streak occurs managers can get max profit [and then sell].

The Emilio Bonifacio Award

Franmil Reyes technically qualifies at two positions, OF and DH so he is eligible for this award. Today was that one day per week where Franmil goes off. He hit an absolute rope for one of his two blasts on the night. There is so much tantalizing potential here, which is why Franmil has so many believers. I want to believe in him, but truthfully I don’t. Maybe once he will put it together for a year, but only maybe. The true likely scenario is he continues to hit amazing home runs while failing to be an elite all around player. Likely outcome, Chris Carter. If you can sell him today, or tomorrow, I recommend it.

The James Shields Award

Johnny Cueto, Zach Plesac, Austin Gomber and Joe Musgrove all pick up a Shields today. Naturally Musgrove and his no hitter is the main topic to talk about, but Johnny Cueto looked like his 2013 self today. He nearly got the CG, missing it after allowing the tying run to the plate in the 9th. As discussed in my offseason review, the Giants are a team will likely be sellers at the deadline. Cueto is auditioning for new teams, and starts like today make him a very nice option for a team like the Yankees. If Johnny can give length, he will find himself on a contender in September, either with or without a Giants uniform.

The Brad Lidge Award

Nick Nelson followed Corey Kluber’s rough start by adding his own misery to the game. 1.2 innings allowing 4 runs on 4 hits and 1 walk is not the way to pick up your starter. Nelson, like a few other Lidge award winners, is a long man who gave up too many runs while failing to provide length. The core value to a long man is to provide length, hence the “long”. When these types of players are unable to perform well, they often find themselves out of a roster spot. Nelson is tied to a team in New York that expected to win on the backs of their bullpen, so like many others I expect an option to the alternate site coming.

Conclusion

The MLB Game Day Recap is all about baseball. Baseball is all about the love of the sport. Unlike football or basketball or hockey or any other sport, baseball can build a narrative solely by being played. There is no equivalent to a no-hitter in any other sport. It’s a game of perfect defense, where one side is completely shut down in every attempt. There are no games without a made basket in basketball. There are no games without any yards in football. Baseball is the sport that highlights defense and can build a story simply by executing the probable outcome for every at bat. Baseball is perfect.

Goodnight.