Dodgers' Max Muncy: Bashes 27th homer

Dodgers' Max Muncy: Bashes 27th homer

Muncy went 1-for-4 with a two-run home run in the Dodgers‘ 11-1 rout of Seattle on Friday.

He had just one hit in his last 12 at-bats coming into this contest but Muncy broke out of that with yet another home run, continuing what has been one of the more unexpected power showings in baseball to this point in the season. The 27-year-old now has 27 long balls in 100 games in 2018, and he’s been far from a one-trick pony, as the .255/.377/.575 slash line he’s posted is also phenomenal.

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Dodgers' Manny Machado: Launches two homers against Mariners

Dodgers' Manny Machado: Launches two homers against Mariners

Machado went 2-for-5 with a pair of home runs and three RBI to help the Dodgers to an 11-1 romp over the Mariners on Friday.

Machado continues to rake for his new club, as he now has two multi-hit efforts in his last three games including his 27th and 28th homers of the season that helped pace the Dodgers to the big victory in this contest. The 26-year-old star was putting up huge numbers on a bad Baltimore team before he was traded to the Dodgers, and it looks like he’s poised to provide even more robust across-the-board contributions now that he’s afforded more protection in a much-improved lineup.

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Puig takes swing at Hundley before Giants rally past Dodgers

Puig takes swing at Hundley before Giants rally past Dodgers

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San Francisco Giants catcher Nick Hundley, left, and first base coach George Lombard, right, fall to the ground while Hunter Pence stands over them after Hundley and Yasiel Puig scuffled during the seventh inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Yasiel Puig took a swing at Giants catcher Nick Hundley during a benches-clearing scrap in the seventh inning, then Alen Hanson hit an RBI single in the ninth to lift San Francisco over the Los Angeles Dodgers 2-1 on Tuesday night.

The fracas starter when Puig swatted his bat in frustration after fouling off a pitch from Tony Watson, and Hundley said something to the mercurial slugger while still in his crouch. Puig turned around and walked toward Hundley, the catcher stood up, and they stood face to face and argued for a moment before Puig shoved Hundley twice.

That brought players out of the benches and bullpens. Puig and Hundley were momentarily separated, but Puig ducked around teammates, coaches and manager Dave Roberts before reaching back to hit Hundley. He smacked Hundley with an open hand across the front of his catcher’s mask.

The players were then separated again for good. After discussing with both managers, the umpires ejected both Puig and Hundley.

It was the fourth career ejection for Puig, who had also got into a skirmish with Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner in 2014.

Hansen’s single in the ninth came off Kenta Maeda (7-8), making his first relief appearance of the season, and gave the Dodgers their fifth consecutive loss, all against the bullpen. The Dodgers had a play at the plate, but catcher Yasmani Grandal dropped the throw home.

The Giants led 1-0 most of the game after Hanson’s RBI single in the second inning.

The Dodgers tied it with two outs in the eighth on Justin Turner’s third double and Manny Machado‘s base hit off Sam Dyson (3-2). It was Machado’s first RBI this month.

Will Smith threw a scoreless ninth to earn his 10th save.

Andrew Suarez started for the Giants and threw six scoreless innings, allowing only two hits. He walked three and struck out four.

Left-hander Alex Wood was coming off the disabled list for the Dodgers but missed only one turn with a sore hip. He threw 92 pitches over five innings, allowing one run, three hits and a walk while striking out six.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Giants: SS Brandon Crawford was out of the lineup Tuesday as he continued his concussion protocol following a collision with OF Gorkys Hernandez on Monday. Manager Bruce Bochy said he may be available off the bench. … 1B Brandon Belt (hyper extended right knee) rejoined the team following a Monday rehab start and entered the game at first base in the seventh after Hundley was ejected. He singled and scored on Hanson’s single in the ninth.

Dodgers: 2B Brian Dozier was back in the lineup after leaving Monday’s game due to dizziness. The Dodgers said an EKG showed abnormalities, but Dozier said he’s long had an irregular heartbeat. A cardiologist ran a battery of tests Tuesday and he was cleared to play. ”When you’re talking about the ticker, you want to make sure everything is OK, so we went through it all,” he said. ”And everything was muy bien.” Dozier blamed the dizziness on taking a sinus medication. … Former phenom Julio Urias (shoulder surgery) was scheduled to throw two-plus innings for Class A Rancho Cucamonga on Tuesday. The Dodgers hope to bring him back this season as a reliever. … RHP Ross Stripling‘s move to the bullpen may be delayed by a sore back. … RHP John Axford was placed on the 10 DL with a fractured fibula.

UP NEXT

Giants: LHP Derek Holland (6-8, 3.97 ERA) is scheduled to start Wednesday against the Dodgers. Holland won his last start Aug. 10 vs. the Pirates, earned his first win since June 20 at Miami.

Dodgers: LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (3-0, 2.12) is scheduled to come off the disabled list and make his first start since going down with a badly strained groin on May 2.

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Astros edge Dodgers in World Series rematch

Astros edge Dodgers in World Series rematch

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Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander, center, is congratulated after being taken out of the baseball game during the eighth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday, Aug. 3, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Justin Verlander struck out 14 Dodgers and George Springer had a two-run double as the Houston Astros appeared to pick up where last fall’s World Series left off in a 2-1 victory over Los Angeles on Friday night.

Verlander won his first career regular-season start at Dodger Stadium, giving up one run on four hits over 7 2/3 innings. He pitched well in last year’s World Series but had a loss and a no-decision in his two starts.

Springer was the unquestioned star of last year’s World Series against the Dodgers. He had five home runs, including homers in games 4, 5, 6 and 7. It appeared to be more of the same Friday when he worked a walk in the first inning and ripped a two-run double to left in the second off Dodgers starter Alex Wood.

The Dodgers’ Joc Pederson led off in the first inning with a home run off Verlander. It was his second straight game he’s led off with a homer and fifth time this season. He has eight in his career.

Offense was hard to come by after that for the Dodgers. Chris Taylor had singles in the third and eighth innings off Verlander. Cody Bellinger had a single in the fourth.

Verlander struck out the side in both the second and fourth innings and set down Pederson in the eighth ining for his 14th and final strikeout before he was removed. Astros reliever Hector Rondon recorded the final four outs for his 11th save.

Wood (7-6) went six innings, but after a visit from a member of the Dodgers medical staff, he was removed as he came out to warm up in the seventh inning. Wood gave up two runs on four hits with four strikeouts and three walks.

Springer was playing for the first time since being removed from Tuesday’s game at Seattle with a shoulder injury.

It was the second time in three seasons the teams in a World Series met the following regular season. In 2016, the Kansas City Royals and New York Mets played each other after also meeting in the 2015 World Series.

RETIREMENT ‘DRE

Dodgers OF Andre Ethier, who drove in Los Angeles’ only run in Game 7 of last year’s World Series defeat, officially announced his retirement with an on-field ceremony Friday.

Ethier, who has not played with any team this season, hit 162 home runs with a .285 batting average in 12 seasons, all with the Dodgers. He was limited to just 38 regular season games the past two years because of multiple injuries.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: SS Carlos Correa (lower back soreness) played seven innings on a rehab assignment with Double-A Corpus Christi, was given a day off Friday and is scheduled to play both Saturday and Sunday. … 2B Jose Altuve (right knee soreness) is eligible to come off the disabled list Tuesday, but manager A.J. Hinch said he is not confident Altuve will play in Tuesday’s game at San Francisco. … C Brian McCann (arthroscopic knee surgery) got into a catcher’s squat Friday for the first time since his early July surgery and will start working to build up his strength.

Dodgers: RHP Erik Goeddel (right lat inflammation) was placed on the 10-day disabled list opening a roster spot for RHP John Axford, who was acquired in a trade from the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday. … LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (left groin strain) will have another rehab outing next week, possibly at Triple-A Oklahoma City, after throwing four scoreless innings for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga on Thursday. … LHP Tony Cingrani (left shoulder strain) received a cortisone shot after a setback in his recovery, but is expected to resume activity next week after a new MRI showed no significant damage in his shoulder.

UP NEXT

Astros: RHP Lance McCullers (10-6, 4.06 ERA) will pitch Saturday, coming off his fourth career 11-strikeout performance Sunday against the Rangers.

Dodgers: RHP Kenta Maeda (7-6, 3.48) will make his first career regular-season appearance against the Astros on Saturday.

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Dodgers activate Justin Turner, place Chase Utley on disabled list

Dodgers activate Justin Turner, place Chase Utley on disabled list

“They’re a very good ballclub,” Roberts said. “We faced them here in the World Series, so when you get the opportunity to play them again, we know we’ve got to be at our best to beat them. We’re going to run into some very good pitching. For what that’s worth, each game is one game, but you do want to bring your best, playing against a championship team.”

Fantasy Baseball: Biggest trade deadline winners and losers, from Kirby Yates to Chris Archer to Brian Dozier

Fantasy Baseball: Biggest trade deadline winners and losers, from Kirby Yates to Chris Archer to Brian Dozier

The biggest winner of all Tuesday wasn’t anyone who changed hands, though Hand had a hand in his newfound handiness.

By Hand, I mean Brad Hand, and by the biggest winner, I’m referring to Hand’s replacement for the ninth-inning role in San Diego, Kirby Yates. To put it bluntly, he’s good.

How good? So good that he may be even better than Hand was during his half-season in the role. Just compare the numbers:

Among relievers with at least 30 innings, Hand has the 10th-lowest FIP at 2.05. His splitter has become one of the game’s elite pitches. He has all the makings of a shutdown closer.

So what makes him a winner now, as opposed to when the Hand trade went down July 19?

It’s a good question in part because it helps clear up exactly what time period we’re talking about here. For winners and losers, I’m considering only the trades made in the week leading up to Tuesday’s deadline and not any that came before.

But back to Yates: He’s a winner precisely because he stayed put Tuesday. I think a big reason Fantasy owners were hesitant to buy into him despite his obvious upside is because they expected him to follow Hand out the door, but the Padres naturally wanted a return just as strong for a reliever who has been just as good. He’s not making a ton of money yet, so there’s not much downside to holding on to him.

And there’s not much chance he passes through waivers either, which is a requirement for August trades. Nope, Yates is the Padres’ closer to the bitter end, which should be all the incentive you need to rush to the waiver wire and pick him up. He’s still available in nearly 40 percent of CBS Sports leagues, more than Fernando Rodney, Shane Greene, Seranthony Dominguez, Hector Rondon and Jeurys Familia, to name a few. Those last three aren’t even true closers.

Think the Padres will limit Yates’ potential? Think again. Hand was a top-five reliever in Fantasy at the time of the deal, tying for third in the NL in saves.

Now let’s look at some of the other winners and losers from the week leading up to Tuesday’s trade deadline.

Winners

1. Newly anointed closers

Yup, nothing will take a player from irrelevant to relevant in Fantasy faster than becoming that one guy in the bullpen who’s entrusted with save opportunities. Yates was a winner because he retained the role at the deadline, but Jose Leclerc and Ken Giles are the fresh-faced newbies … sort of.

Giles obviously has a history in the role but also piles of unresolved baggage — he was actually with the Astros‘ Triple-A affiliate, where he had an 8.44 ERA, at the time the Blue Jays acquired him, which tells you most everything you need to know. But manager John Gibbons has already said the right-hander will get a look in the ninth-inning role, especially since Roberto Osuna was the player sent back to Houston. And, given that Giles has a 2.28 FIP in his 34 appearances in the majors this year, he’s not without hope.

The more exciting pickup to me, though, is Leclerc, a 24-year-old with all the bat-missing ability you’d want in the ninth inning. The Rangers haven’t officially named him the closer, but the other main candidate for the role, Jake Diekman, ended up following Keone Kela out the door just before the deadline.

2. Starting pitchers rescued from the AL

It’s hard to choose which is the biggest winner between Cole Hamels, Chris Archer and Kevin Gausman since they all suffered from more or less the same problem. In short, they were victims of their environment.

Hamels was a more direct case. Globe Life Park in Arlington has rated as the most hitter-friendly environment in baseball this year, so it shouldn’t be so surprising he had a 6.41 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 8.1 strikeouts per nine innings and 2.4 home runs per nine there compared to 2.93, 1.23, 9.9 and 1.1 on the road. He still had a FIP near 4.00 on the road, so it’s not like he’ll recapture ace standing. But if he’s pitching deep into games with more than a strikeout per inning for a contender, he’ll be close to must-start.

Archer’s move out of the AL East was a long time coming. Though he had a nice home environment in Tampa Bay, he put together a 4.70 ERA in the other four AL East venues compared to 3.43 everywhere else. Granted, the Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays and Orioles all had good lineups more often than not during that time, but the parks themselves had a little something to do with it. The NL as a whole should be more forgiving without the DH and the schedule a little easier to navigate. It’s an exciting development for a pitcher who has long fallen short of his ace potential.

Kevin Gausman, meanwhile, barely sniffed his potential in six years with the Orioles, coming closest to meeting it during a 19-start stretch to end last year in which he had a 3.39 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings. His pitch selection has been similar this year, but the strikeouts haven’t been there. A high swinging-strike rate is reason to hope that a more forgiving environment can push him over the top.

3. Mike Moustakas

You think Moustakas is pretty good already, right? That’s with him playing half his game at a pitcher’s park — and one that’s especially troublesome for a hitter like him whose swing is entirely geared for power. A high pull percentage and high fly-ball percentage leads to a high number of outs in an expansive outfield. But at Miller Park, he should be right at home. Over the past two years, he has 23 home runs in Kansas City vs. 35 everywhere else.

Plus, he’ll have more RBI and run-scoring opportunities than he did for the Royals, who ranked last in the majors in runs scored at the time he was traded.

4. New Rays Austin Meadows and Tyler Glasnow

Austin Meadows and Tyler Glasnow sat at the top of the Pirates prospect rankings for what felt like half a decade, and while neither would have qualified for that list next year, it’s not like the Pirates had entrusted the present to them either, instead working them in tepidly via unfamiliar roles.

Meadows actually got off to a great start when called up to fill in for for an injured Starling Marte in May, but then the Pirates tried to work him into a four-man outfield rotation and it quickly fell apart. It’s true his minor-league numbers never measured up to his pedigree, but for someone who sat atop the prospect rankings for so long and showed flashes of potential in his first look in the bigs, we should be excited at the thought of him shifting to a full-time role. It won’t happen right away — the Pirates are sending him to Triple-A to start out — but it’ll happen soon enough.

And we should be excited at the thought of Glasnow shifting to a starting role, something the Pirates weren’t going to allow him to do this year but the Rays desperately need him to do now that their rotation is reduced to zero. No, really — their depth chart listed no one at starting pitcher at the end of the day Tuesday. Sure enough, Glasnow has already been announced as Wednesday’s starter, and while the walks are clearly an issue, his fastball-breaking ball combo is electric. It’s not too unlike Archer when he was just getting started, actually.

5. Tyler O’Neill

I suppose you could put Harrison Bader here, too. President of baseball operations John Mozeliak has already said the two will split center field duties 50-50 with Tommy Pham out of the picture, but that’s presumably just for as long as the Cardinals stick with Dexter Fowler in right field or at least until one of O’Neill and Bader distinguishes himself from the other.

O’Neill has the better chance of doing so. Just look at the numbers he put up at Triple-A Memphis:

Project them over 160 games, and it comes out to nearly 70 home runs. He homered in three consecutive games with the big club during a brief stint in May, and with his blinding bat speed and high fly-ball rates, there’s little reason to doubt the power. Whether he draws enough walks and makes enough contact to get the most out of it is another matter, but he’s not a lost cause in those areas. I’d say in a deeper format, be it a 16-team league or a five-outfielder league or really any league where you need to make up ground in home runs in short order, you’ll want to keep a close, close eye on this 23-year-old.

Losers

1. Displaced closers

Jose Leclerc is only getting a chance to close for the Rangers because Keone Kela is in Pittsburgh now, where the Pirates don’t need a closer. Felipe Vazquez is doing a fine enough job already and has a fixed salary — i.e., one that isn’t going to rise in accordance with save totals through arbitration.

Joakim Soria, who was closing for the White Sox, and Zach Britton, who was closing for the Orioles, are now working as setup men for the Brewers and Yankees, respectively, and they’re leaving behind such awful situations that their replacements (Jace Fry and Mychal Givens, most likely) are hardly worth the trouble.

2. Brian Dozier and his new Dodgers cohorts

This trade could turn out to be a disaster for Dozier owners, who held tight to the slumping second baseman hoping he’d pull the same trick he did the last two seasons, scuffling for the first half of the season before blowing up in the second half. And this trade wouldn’t necessarily interfere with that hope except for the fact the Dodgers aren’t beholden to him like the Twins were. Case in point:

“He’s going to play against left-handers and against right-handers, but to say every day, that’s a little extreme,” manager Dave Roberts told MLB.com. “We have a lot of good players and I feel we still need to keep them involved.”

Now, there’s probably some degree of manager-speak in there. Roberts doesn’t want his longer-tenured players to feel marginalized, and all it would take to make Dozier less than an everyday player is sitting him once a week — or less than that, even. 

But it’s clear there will be a logjam here once Justin Turner returns from a groin injury (potentially as soon as this weekend), and it’s not so clear who will bear the brunt of it. It won’t be Manny Machado or Cody Bellinger, and I doubt it’ll be Max Muncy. But everyone else would seem to be at risk, including Chris Taylor, Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson, Turner and Dozier himself.

3. Travis Shaw

I mean … maybe not. Maybe manager Craig Counsell will find a way to satisfy all of his new infield bats. But the plan after the Brewers acquired Mike Moustakas from the Royals was to shift Shaw over to second base, which was worrisome enough seeing as he had minimal experience there. And now that they’ve brought in a true second baseman in Jonathan Schoop who’s blistering hot and has an All-Star profile, that plan would appear to be over.

I say “appear to be” because Schoop has some experience playing shortstop in the minors and even a little in the majors, and that’s where the Brewers are weakest offensively. But a team willing to play two guys out of the position up the middle is giving up on defense, in which case the Brewers pitching staff might be the big loser.

Maybe it won’t be Shaw who suffers. Maybe it’ll be Schoop. Maybe Moustakas. Maybe even Jesus Aguilar. But seeing as Shaw was the one asked to change positions, he would seem to be the lowest in the pecking order. And it’s a shame because I think there’s even more to like about him than about Moustakas. Bad BABIP luck has defined Shaw’s season so far.

4. Ender Inciarte

The player who figures to cut into Inciarte’s playing time, Adam Duvall, is also one of the big losers of the trade deadline. After all, he goes from playing more or less every day with the Reds to being the lesser half of a platoon.

And that appears to be the plan for now: Inciarte will start against righties and Duvall against lefties, with Ronald Acuna shifting over to center field. It’s obvious why the Braves have elected to go this route — Inciarte is batting .207 with a .516 OPS against lefties this season — but for his career, the splits are fairly even.

Rather than divide his time with an all-or-nothing slugger who wasn’t so valuable to Fantasy owners even when he had a job of his own, I’d prefer the Braves let regression take its course and trust his numbers to come around over the final two months. He still makes tons of contact. His issue is mostly a BABIP that’s 50 points lower than normal.

So much for any hope of a late surge. And given the way Inciarte has stopped running over the past couple months, he’s not a great choice as a category specialist either.

5. Mallex Smith

Between Tommy Pham and Austin Meadows, the Rays soon won’t have room in their outfield for Carlos Gomez or Mallex Smith, and it’s the latter who Fantasy owners will miss the most. He had become something of a category specialist, stealing 18 bases, and it’s not like he was a slouch with the bat either.

It’s just not much of a power profile in an era where everybody who’s anybody hits for power, so I think even in five-outfielder Rotisserie leagues, his days of usefulness are limited, contingent on how long Meadows sticks in the minors, basically.

Winner? Loser? It could go either way

Tommy Pham

That the Cardinals could only get fringe prospects for a pre-arbitration player who was in the MVP conversation a year ago doesn’t say much about Pham’s ability to bounce back during a disappointing season.

But there are other factors at work here. Pham hasn’t been shy about his frustrations with Cardinals management, from their delaying his arrival for so long to their attempts to work out a team-friendly deal this offseason. As for his struggles, he has repeatedly made reference to a mechanical problem that he can see on video but just hasn’t been able to correct. You have to think new eyes and new insights from a new coaching staff might help with that.

There’s still the potential for a high-OBP 20-20 man, methinks, especially now that he’s with an organization that believes in him. If there’s anyone who could have used a change of scenery, it’s Pham.