The Mariners and A's game on Friday had a postseason feel to it as the Mariners look to stay in the playoff hunt. Yusei Kikuchi and Frankie Montas were both impressive, each putting on a strikeout clinic over six innings. The two combined for 22 strikeouts and 41 swings and misses.
Kikuchi had been struggling out of the All-Star break, giving up 12 runs over his last two starts. His fastball velocity had been noticeably down nearly two miles-per-hour over those starts. He bounced back nicely against the A's as the velocity was there on the fastball, helping his changeup generate 12 whiffs. Kikuchi totaled 17 whiffs and finished with an impressive 35 percent CSW rate (called strikes plus whiffs) and a career-high 12 strikeouts.
On the other side, Montas went toe-to-toe with Kikuchi. He generated 24 whiffs, including 13 on the splitter and eight on the slider, to strike out ten batters. Montas finished with an excellent 38 percent CSW rate. Both pitchers were hurt by the long ball, giving up two home runs each.
Seattle ultimately came out on top in an exciting game two of a four-game series. The Mariners find themselves seven games back in the division and just 3.5 games out of the wild card. The following two games of the series could determine what Seattle does at the trade deadline, which comes next Friday.
The Mets acquire Rich Hill from Tampa Bay
Speaking of trades, the Mets made a move on Friday, acquiring Rich Hill from the Rays in exchange for reliever Tommy Hunter and minor league catcher Matt Dyer. With Jacob deGrom and David Peterson on the injured list and Carlos Carrasco struggling in his rehab assignment, the Mets needed to make a move for starting pitching. Hill has a 3.87 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and 91 strikeouts over 95 1/3 innings. It should be noted, since the crackdown on sticky substances, the 41-year-old left-hander has a 5.40 ERA over 33 1/3 innings dating back to June 12.
Starting Pitchers with an EDGE
6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K vs Blue Jays
Megill was impressive on Friday, holding the Blue Jays offense scoreless over six innings with five strikeouts. He tossed six scoreless frames for the second consecutive start. The 25-year-old right-hander has been a pleasant addition for New York since he was recalled on June 23, posting a 2.10 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and 33 strikeouts over 30 innings. Megill is available in 80 percent of Yahoo leagues.
7 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 8 K vs Braves
After giving up four runs in back-to-back starts, Wheeler bounced back with a strong start against the Braves on Friday. He worked around seven hits, giving up a run in the third on a single by Freddie Freeman. Wheeler generated 17 whiffs, including 11 on the slider, to strike out eight batters. The 31-year-old right-hander picked up his eighth win with a 2.37 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and 160 strikeouts over 132 2/3 innings.
Hitters with an EDGE
2-for-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 5 RBI vs Yankees
Both of Devers' hits on Friday against the Yankees left the yard for his 25th and 26th home runs of the season. He took Gerrit Cole deep for a two-run shot in the fifth, followed by a three-run homer in the seventh off of Nestor Cortes. Devers drove in five of Boston's six runs with the long ball. He's having another stellar season, hitting .281/.357/.582 with 26 homers, 79 RBI, and three steals over 398 plate appearances.
2-for-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI vs Blue Jays
Pete Alonso drove in all three runs for the Mets on Friday against the Blue Jays, leaving the yard twice. He took Steven Matz deep in the first inning for a two-run shot, then blasted a solo homer off of Ryan Borucki in the eighth. The 26-year-old first baseman is up to eight homers in July and 21 on the year to go with a .262/.339/.510 triple slash over 342 plate appearances.
2-for-3, HR, 3B, 1 R, 4 RBI vs Rays
Ramirez tried his best to carry the future Guardians to victory on Friday, driving in four of Cleveland's five runs. With two runners on base in the third inning, Ramirez took Josh Fleming deep for a three-run shot. He plated one more run with a triple in the seventh. The 28-year-old third baseman has 20 homers, ten steals, and 56 RBI to go with a .256/.346/.518 triple-slash across 361 plate appearances.
Luis Torrens, C - Milwaukee Brewers (Available in 92 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Over his first 96 plate appearances, Torrens hit just .178/.219/.300 with two homers. The slow start got him sent to Triple-A for a stint. The 25-year-old catcher was recalled on June 15 and has been on an absolute tear. Going into Friday's action, he had been slashing .278/.374/.658 with nine homers over his last 91 plate appearances since being recalled, by far better than any other catcher. Torrens added his tenth homer on Friday, his third in five games. The Mariners are finding ways to keep his bat in the lineup, starting him at first base in two of their last three games. And he's available in over 90 percent of Yahoo leagues. Given the catcher landscape, Torrens is a must-add in all formats.
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Mark Melancon recorded his MLB-leading 30th save of the season on Friday. He worked around one hit and struck out one batter in a scoreless ninth inning against the Marlins. The 36-year-old right-hander has a 2.09 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and 36 strikeouts over 43 innings while going 30-of-34 in save chances.
Following three consecutive blown saves, Edwin Diaz got the job done in the ninth against the Blue Jays on Friday. He tossed a perfect inning with one strikeout for his 20th save of the season. The 27-year-old right-hander has struggled of late, giving up seven runs over his last three outings. He has a 4.19 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and 55 strikeouts over 38 2/3 innings 20-of-24 converted saves.
Heath Hembree struck out the side against the Cardinals on Friday for his seventh save of the season. Six of those saves have come in July. He appears to have taken hold of the closer job in Cincinnati. Hembree is available in 56 percent of Yahoo leagues for any teams in shallower leagues needing saves.
Keegan Thompson tossed three innings with a four-run lead to close out the game for the Cubs against the Diamondbacks on Friday, picking up his first save. Thompson allowed one run on one hit and one walk with two strikeouts over the three frames.
The closer roulette continued in Kansas City on Friday as Greg Holland was summoned to protect a two-run lead in the ninth. Holland struck out two batters in a perfect inning for his seventh save of the season. Scott Barlow recorded the previous save for the Royals as the two have worked as part of a committee.
Taylor Rogers allowed one hit while striking out two batters in a scoreless ninth inning against the Angels on Friday for his ninth save. Rogers has worked in tandem with Hansel Robles for closing duties in Minnesota. The 30-year-old left-hander has a 3.35 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and 59 strikeouts over 40 1/3 innings while going 9-for-13 in save chances.
Richard Rodriguez allowed one run in the ninth against the Giants but held on to secure his 14th save of the season. The 31-year-old right-hander has a 2.82 ERA over 38 1/3 innings and should be one of the more sought-after relievers on the market with one week until the trade deadline.
Kendall Graveman worked around a walk, striking out the final two batters in the ninth inning against the A's to record his tenth save of the season. Graveman has been excellent all season, posting a 0.87 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, and 31 strikeouts over 31 innings.
Lucas Gilbreath tossed a perfect inning in the tenth to close out the game against the Dodgers for his first career save. Daniel Bard had walked in the game-tying run in the ninth before Colorado took back the lead in the top of the tenth.
Matchup of the Day
Oh yeah, we're getting a great matchup on Saturday between two breakout potential Cy Young candidates. Rodon is coming off a ten-strikeout performance over seven scoreless innings against the Astros. The 28-year-old left-hander is having the best year of his career as he heads into free agency this winter. Rodon brings a 2.14 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, and 140 strikeouts over 96 2/3 innings. On the other side, Burnes if fresh off of his best start of the season as he held the Reds scoreless into the ninth inning with 12 strikeouts. The 26-year-old right-hander has an eerily identical 2.16 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, and 140 strikeouts over 96 innings. Get the popcorn ready.
American League Quick Hits: Eduardo Rodriguez was pulled from Friday's start with migraine symptoms... The Rangers optioned Nick Solak to Triple-A and purchased the contract of Curtis Terry... The Blue Jays recalled Alejandro Kirk from Triple-A and placed Danny Jansen on the 10-day injured list... Michael Taylor missed another game on Friday with wrist soreness... The Twins recalled Brent Rooker from Triple-A to replace Nelson Cruz... Alex Kirilloff underwent successful surgery to repair his injured wrist on Friday... Chad Pinder has been participating in baseball activities but has yet to resume running... The Red Sox plated Hirokazu Sawamura on the 10-day injured list with triceps inflammation... Phillips Valdez was recalled from Triple-A... The Mariners designated Rafael Montero for assignment... Darren O'Day was transferred to the 60-day injured list... The Rangers activated Jose Trevino from the 10-day injured list and designated John Hicks for assignment... The Rays recalled Louis Head from Triple-A... Nick Nelson and Brooks Kriske were optioned to Triple-A by the Yankees... Casey Sadler was activated from the 60-day injured list... The Royals recalled Domingo Tapia from Triple-A...
National League Quick Hits: Mookie Betts remained out of the Dodgers lineup with a hip injury on Friday... Kris Bryant returned to the Cubs lineup on Friday... Max Muncy was placed on the paternity leave list... The Nationals backed off Stephen Strasburg's throwing program after he reported an "uncomfortable" feeling in his neck... Kyle Schwarber took batting practice before Friday's game... Alec Bohm was activated from the COVID-19 injured list... Josh Rojas is still being evaluated after dislocating his pinkie on Wednesday... Lorenzo Cain is expected to return next week in Pittsburgh... Matt Duffy was activated from the injured list... MLB extended the administrative leave for Starlin Castro through July 29... Cincinnati will go back to a five-man rotation and move Jeff Hoffman to the bullpen... The Dodgers recalled Brusdar Graterol from Triple-A... Eric Sogard was designated for assignment by the Cubs... Brad Wick was transferred to the 60-day injured list... The Cubs claimed outfielder Johneshwy Fargas off waivers from the Mets... The Reds released Jose De Leon... The Mets transferred Robert Stock to the 60-day injured list... Sam Coonrod has been shut down from throwing for three days due to elbow soreness...