Soler Power Royals to Another Win

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Typically, Jorge Soler’s home runs come in bunches, and he’s been bunching together some dingers of late.

Soler posted his second two-homer game in as many days on Monday, launching a pair of solo shots as the Royals hung on to defeat the White Sox 4-3. The win was the sixth straight for Kansas City and spoiled the return of Eloy Jimenez, who went hitless in his season debut for the Pale Hose.

Both long balls for Soler came off of left-hander Dallas Keuchel and were absolute blasts. The first one went 449 feet and came off the bat at 110.7 mph, hitting the batter’s eye in center field at Kauffman Stadium. The second one was measured at 413 feet, was 107.6 mph off the bat and landed in the White Sox’ bullpen in left field.

The back-to-back two-homer games were the first two multi-homer contests for Soler this season. He had one two-homer game in 2020 after having four in 2019 when he slugged an American League-leading 48 bombs.

After hitting only six home runs over his first 80 games this season, Soler has now clubbed seven over the boards in his last 11 tilts. He’s hit six in his last six games.

Soler has always hit the ball hard when he makes contact, and that’s been no different this season as he entered Monday’s game with a 92.3 mph exit velocity and 51.2 percent hard-hit rate which both rank in the 91st percentile. However, the 29-year-old has experienced some bad luck with a wOBA (.288) that’s 44 points lower than his xwOBA (.332) that gap is the 10th-largest in baseball.

Soler also has his strikeout rate at a more digestible 26.7 percent in 2021, which is right along with his 26.2 percent mark from his breakout year in 2019 and a big improvement from his disappointing showing in 2020 (34.5 percent). The potential for him to go ice-cold at any moment is there, but Soler is certainly capable of a power binge which can carry a fantasy squad.

Starting Pitchers with an EDGE

Shohei Ohtani vs. COL – 7 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 0 BB, 5 K

It was another big night from the two-way sensation. Ohtani not only tossed seven innings of one-run ball on the mound, he also contributed an RBI single, a stolen base and a run scored as a hitter. The 27-year-old will finish July having allowed just three runs over three starts covering 20 innings of work, and he walked just two batters in those three outings.

Michael Pineda vs. DET – 6 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 0 BB, 6 K

Making what could be his final start as a Twin, Pineda limited the Tigers to a Miguel Cabrera two-run homer and that’s it Monday. Unfortunately, he lost out on what would have been his fifth win when the bullpen blew the save. Pineda’s six innings and 85 pitches were both his highest marks since May.

Mike Minor vs. CWS – 6 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 2 BB, 7 K

The White Sox entered Monday’s game with the third-highest wOBA (.335) in baseball versus lefties this season and were getting Eloy Jimenez back into the fold, so Minor’s terrific showing was no small task. Not only did Minor fan seven batters, he also induced an impressive 20 swinging strikes. It’s been an uneven season for Minor overall, but he’s posted back-to-back quality starts and could draw some interest at the deadline.

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Hitters with an EDGE

Andrew McCutchen vs. WAS – 2-for-4, HR, 2B, BB, 3 RBI

McCutchen followed a leadoff double by Jean Segura and one-out walk by Bryce Harper with a walk-off, three-run homer to the opposite field against Nationals closer Brad Hand. He had also doubled and scored on Rhys Hoskins’ three run shot in the sixth. ‘Cutch has been terrific since the beginning of June and now has his overall OPS up to a season-best .815.

Alex Verdugo vs. TOR – 2-for-4, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R

Verdugo got the scoring going in the bottom of the second inning with an RBI single and a run scored, and he provided the big blow with a go-ahead solo homer in the bottom of the eighth in the Red Sox’ win. The long ball broke a 30-game homerless drought for Verdugo, who posted just a .619 OPS during that stretch.

Josh Donaldson vs. DET – 2-for-4, HR, 2 RBI, BB, 2 R

After Brent Rooker put the Twins ahead with a mammoth 460-foot home run to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning, Donaldson extended the lead with a two-run shot of his own which traveled 446 feet. It was home run No. 16 on the season for Donaldson, who has reportedly drawn some trade interest from the Brewers.

Priority Pickup

Touki Toussaint, SP, Braves – available in 55 percent of Yahoo leagues

Toussaint’s first start for the Braves this season didn’t come until last week after he missed significant time with a shoulder issue. He’s making up for lost time, though, posting back-to-back superb outings against the Padres and Phillies. In his start Sunday in Philadelphia, Toussaint limited the Phils to just one run on five hits over seven innings, striking out 10 while not issuing a single walk. He had a ridiculous 41 percent CSW rate. If Toussaint can keep the walks to a reasonable rate, his upside is immense. The right-hander is slated to face the Brewers at home this weekend.

Closing Time

Brad Hand served up a walk-off, three-run home run to Andrew McCutchen on Monday as the Nationals lost a heartbreaker to the Phillies. It continues a bad trend for the closer, as Hand has allowed seven runs – six earned – over his last three appearances and has been scored upon in five of his last eight outings. Hand would figure to be a trade chip if the Nats wind up selling like it appears they will, but his recent performance won’t help his market.

Edwin Diaz struck out the side in a dominant outing versus the Braves to pick up a save as the Mets split a doubleheader Monday. Diaz has now bounced back with three straight stellar efforts after he had blown a save in each of his three showings prior to that. He has recorded 61 strikeouts over 40 2/3 innings this season.

Scott Barlow gave up a couple hits and a run but hung on to notch a save on Monday versus the White Sox. Barlow’s six saves are second on the Royals to Greg Holland’s seven. Holland was warming up when Barlow managed to get out of trouble when Adam Engel was doubled off first base on a lineout to end it.

Paul Sewald tossed a perfect ninth inning to lock up his fourth save of the season Monday as the Mariners finished off an epic comeback win over the Astros. Kendall Graveman – who has generally been the 1A to Sewald’s 1B as far as closer options for the M’s go – pitched a scoreless eighth inning with Seattle trailing by one at the time.

Tuesday’s Matchup of the Day

Julio Urias (LAD) vs. Logan Webb (SF)

Urias will be looking to move into sole possession of the major league wins lead as he guns for his 13th victory on Tuesday in San Francisco. The left-hander had a bit of a rough stretch from late May to mid-June but has rebounded with a 2.61 ERA in his last five outings, which includes seven innings of one-run ball against the Giants his last time out. Webb also pitched well in the same game, giving up two runs over five frames. The righty has been getting stretched back out as he comes back from a shoulder issue, but he should be prepared for close to a regular workload in this one.

 

American League Quick Hits: The Athletics acquired Andrew Chafin from the Cubs for a pair of prospects … Jared Walsh had to leave Monday’s game against the Rockies due to discomfort in his side … Taylor Rogers was removed from Monday’s game against the Tigers with a sprained left middle finger … Jake Fraley (COVID-19) will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma on Tuesday … The Yankees acquired Clay Holmes from the Pirates for two prospects … Alek Manoah (back) threw a simulated game Monday without issue and is expected to rejoin the Blue Jays' rotation on Saturday against the Royals … Francisco Lindor (oblique) is expected to be sidelined until mid- to late-August … Dylan Moore hit a go-ahead grand slam in the bottom of the eighth inning as the Mariners completed a stunning comeback over the Astros.

National League Quick Hits: Anthony Rizzo homered for the second straight game while also adding a single and a walk against the Reds on Monday … Max Scherzer (triceps) threw a 40-pitch bullpen session Monday without issue … Kyle Farmer homered, tripled and drew a walk Monday versus the Cubs … Joe Ross tossed five shutout innings versus the Phillies in his return from the IL Monday … Kyle Muller went five shutout frames Monday in the first game of a doubleheader against the Mets … Ian Anderson (shoulder) is expected to resume throwing off a mound later this week … Huascar Ynoa (hand) will begin a rehab assignment on Tuesday … Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post has reported that the Nationals are "getting a lot of interest" in Trea Turner and "haven't ruled out" trading the shortstop.

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