It’s the MLB Game Day Recap Day 42 which means it’s time to talk about Jackie Robinson. Today is this specific series day to talk about Jackie Robinson. The MLB has its own specific day where they honor Jackie Robinson, April 15th. That doesn’t mean that’s the only time we can talk about Jackie Robinson. It just means it’s a day designated to definitely talk about him. Baseball was far more definitively America’s pastime when Jackie Robinson debuted and frankly having only one date during the MLB season to devote to praising Jackie Robinson and what he did and meant to so many marginalized Americans is underselling what Jackie Robinson meant to America. Simply put, Jackie is bigger than baseball. He used baseball to become so much more.
John Gant is not a household name, but he is starting to look like he should be. Tonight he went five innings, allowing zero earned runs. That now drops Gant’s ERA to 1.83 which is, undeniably, extremely impressive. Never a pitcher who was supposed to perform like this, Gant has found the right juju in the St. Louis rotation. Forever a member of the funky delivery club, Gant also should be a member of the ‘most recently added’ club as he belongs on your roster now. Make the add.
Dallas Keuchel was a hot add heading into his start against the Twins today. Unfortunately, he allowed six runs on eight hits and a walk over 5.2 innings. The Twins have been lost as a team, and coming off a scoreless outing against the Reds in Cincinnati, Keuchel seemed like an excellent candidate to have another great start. Whoops! He did not. It’s hard to remember at times that Keuchel is actually a former Cy Young winner. Today though, he’s just another pitcher. He has some amazing outings, then he has some poor ones. He’s a good starter, not a great one. He was a letdown today, but we knew he could be a letdown if we are comparing him to his Cy Young year. That Dallas Keuchel is never coming back, just like that Jake Arrieta isn’t. It’s okay. It’s just something you have to remember.
Brandon Woodruff smoked the Cardinals today. He allowed only three hits and a walk across 7.2 innings while striking out 10. The only mistake he made was an eighth-inning opposite-field dinger to Tyler O’Neill. With Corbin Burnes on the IL, Woodruff has become the clear ace of the Brewers staff. While that statement may seem obvious, he’s actually doing an excellent job of catching Burnes as the team leader in ERA and WHIP. Now sitting at an absurd 1.64 ERA and 0.73 WHIP, Woodruff is a superstar. Fantasy managers need to treat him as such because if they don’t, it’s missed opportunity and value.
Juan Soto is now 5 for his past 25 after going 1-for-4 today against Philadelphia. That’s a perfectly acceptable non-hot streak for most players. Juan Soto is not most players. Drafted as a top three outfielder in nearly all leagues, Soto has struggled to put up MVP level numbers just as the entire Nationals roster has struggled to put up winning numbers since their World Series win. Soto is extremely likely to turn it around and put up a top 10 month or two before the end of the season. It’s just surprising to see him earn a “Who’s Not” at any time this year. Some fantasy managers might panic and try and offload Soto for a subpar trade package. Don’t be that manager, instead be the one that acquires Soto via trade. Be that guy.
The Emilio Bonifacio Award
Padres backstop Victor Caratini helped carry the San Diego offense with a timely grand slam today. With multiple players out for Covid related reasons, Caratini actually needed to be the power in this lineup. The first Slam Diego grand slam this season, it’s nice to see the C and 1B eligible Caratini get into one. With Austin Nola back (and playing second base today), Victor’s time behind the plate should hover right around 50% for the rest of this season. A very fun player who was included in the Yu Darvish trade simply because he was Yu’s personal catcher, Caratini has fantasy value should Nola once again get hurt. He might also hold fantasy value if half the team misses time due to Covid.
The James Shields Award
Gerrit Cole made Tampa Bay hitters want to opt out of playing today. 8.0 innings, 12 strikeouts, 4 baserunners. It’s shocking that two of those baserunners were doubles, but then you remember one of them was a cat-walk assisted double, and the other was Randy Arozarena and it makes a bit more sense. Cole’s really good, really, really good. We already mentioned Brandon Woodruff’s 7.2 innings, so let’s talk about our 7.0 guys: Taijuan Walker, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Julio Urias. All three allowed one run. All three earned the victory. Oh yeah, all three earned multiple Shields already this year. These three are also still relatively cheap trade targets, so acquiring them in your league would be an excellent strategy.
The Brad Lidge Award
Brad Hand took the loss again for Washington as he gave up three runs, two earned, in the 10th inning today. Dinked-and-dimed like he always is, Hand allowed three RBI singles to Rhys Hoskins, Nick Maton, and Andrew Knapp. These outings are the ones that make Hand managers pull their hair out, but it’s worth remembering Brad still has an ERA under 3.00. This alarm has already been silenced once this season, but Brad is not in danger of losing his closer job. It’s okay. These outings happen and they just happened to Hand twice in recent memory. Move on and forget. Or move on by trading for Hand. Either option is the correct move.
The MLB Game Day Recap is all about baseball. It’s hard to grasp how a baseball player is bigger than the game itself, but battling racism in a more direct and public way than anyone had in history showed the blueprint on how to do it. Jackie Robinson means so much to me, a suburban white man who on my worst day never had to put up with anything close to what the average black person has to deal with on daily basis today. Jackie Robinson had to deal with so much more than that. He really did transcend sports by publicly reminding Americans that this place was not designed for everyone. He did the best he could to overhaul the system as one man to make it more inclusive. We should all try and do our part to do the same.