It’s the MLB Game Day Recap Day 43 which means it’s time to talk about modest expectations. These are specifically the type of expectations that do not get a fan base’s hopes up too high but also don’t put them too low. We are over 20% complete with the season, and that means it’s no longer too soon to recalibrate expectations. Was your team expected to be elite but has struggled? Well, if you’re a New York Yankees fan, it’s now modest expectations times. Was your team expected to be poor but has played hot? Well, if you’re a San Francisco Giants fan, it’s now modest expectations time. Modest expectations are for fools being sold snake oil. Do not settle for anything less than a World Series. Spending time and energy on a team not spending time and energy back is foolish. Expect more than modest. Demand greatness.
Garrett Richards has suddenly bound his arm that appeared lost in the great injury spike of the 2020s. In my mind often mixed up with Josh Johnson, it appears Richards will have the second act Johnson could never make it to. The flamethrower shut out the Athletics across six shutout innings and saw the most action all game from being upset at Mark Canha. Being the good firestarter that he is, Richards threw a flame right at Canha on his next pitch. Still not someone I trust at all moving forward, I am now in the stage that I am understanding if you do. There are worse pitchers you can add than guys putting up frontline numbers on first-place teams.
Sean Manaea really shat the proverbial bed as he allowed seven runs to score across just 2.0 innings in Boston. The opposite of Garrett Richards tonight, Manaea let Red Sox hitters blast away on all of his pitches. Ultimately, Manaea’s ERA jumped from 3.07 to 4.40 which is indicative of a horrible performance when it’s your eighth start of the season. Most fantasy managers were not expecting an elite performance out of Sean today, but they were not expecting this bomb. He should be fine moving forward, so hopefully, you were savvy enough to leave Manaea on your bench of this one.
Zach Plesac just keeps getting talked about in this space. He thoroughly shut down the Seattle Mariners in Washington today, allowing only the second hit of the game to be a two-run homer to Dylan Moore. It was in the eighth inning. Plesac is someone many pundits were down on after two rough starts against the White Sox, but not this Cleveland fan. The pitching factory that is the Indians just keeps spitting them out and Zach is well on his way to being a top pitcher in the game. I’m not sure how or why it keeps happening, but the trio of Bieber-Plesac-Civale mirrors anything that this team had in the past decade. That is really saying something.
Jameson Taillon just cannot stop opposing teams from scoring runs. He does the fantasy thing well, always recording strong K numbers including nine tonight. The problem is he cannot go deep into games and does things like pitch 4.2 innings while allowing four runs. Some pitchers just cannot pitch in New York for whatever reason and it certainly looks like Jameson hasn’t scratched himself off that list just yet. A 5.40 ERA through his first eight starts in the Pinstripes, and he is absolutely someone to touch with kid gloves until he shows otherwise. Yes, he can get your strikeouts, but so can middle relievers. With this type of length and this amount of runs allowed? Pass.
The Emilio Bonifacio Award
Josh Fuentes went 3-for-5 with a home run and four runs driven in Thursday against the Reds. Dual eligible at 1B and 3B, the cousin of Nolan Arenado has definitely looked the part in Colorado. Physically, that is, as replacing Nolan’s bat is impossible. Still, Fuentes has done well enough with his playing time putting up the occasion performance like this one tonight. Definitely not someone to rush out to the waiver wire to grab, Fuentes is someone to keep an eye on for a hot streak leading up to a lengthy homestand. Not all players are full-season buys, but some players are full-season watches.
The James Shields Award
We already touched on Zach Plesac’s amazing night, so let’s also give a nod to two pitchers who struggled their last times out: Patrick Corbin and Cristian Javier. Corbin shut down the Phillies for one run and nine (!) K’s across seven innings. Javier went the same distance but allowed three runs against Texas striking out six. For Cristian, this start was fine but gave much-needed length after only going 3.2 innings his last time out. For Corbin, this start is a mirage that he is back. Don’t buy it! Chi Chi Gonzalez (!) and Rich Hill combined for zero runs across 13.2 innings. Spencer Turnbull gave up one run in 6.1 innings while Merrill Kelly gave up 4. None of these are full-season guys, but Hill and Turnbull belong on rosters right now and for the foreseeable future.
The Brad Lidge Award
Whoopsies! Will Smith blew the fuck up allowing four runs while recording a lone out as he imploded and cost the Braves a much-needed win against the Blue Jays. These types of outings happen, but when they are paired with a scoreless, hitless, and walkless outing from Chris Martin earlier in the game, they get me super scared. Smith was avoided in my draft lobby before the season and subsequently, there are more shares of the Coldplay singer than I want to admit. When it comes to “Miami” or “Yellow”, I pick Coldplay every time.
The MLB Game Day Recap is all about baseball. Baseball is all about winning. It’s understood and accepted that only one team wins every year. That’s why we play the games, to crown who is the best over that sample of days. It’s also widely understood and accepted that settling for modest results is okay. That should not be the case. Do not let ownership dictate your expectations. Expect your team to perform well, because that’s what sports are. You don’t watch and care while expecting never results. You don’t go to work and expect to owe the company money. Complete the transaction, get what you want. Do not settle for modest expectations.