White Sox

Mets rookie makes record-setting debut

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Mets rookie makes record-setting debut

From Comcast SportsNet

PHOENIX (AP) -- Matt Harvey gave the Mets a brilliant ray of hope Thursday night.

The heralded 24-year-old dazzled in his major league debut, holding Arizona to three hits and striking out 11 over 5 1-3 innings in New York's 3-1 win over the Diamondbacks.

"When I was warming up I looked around and kind of took everything in," Harvey said. "At that moment I really did believe that I was meant to pitch in the big leagues. It was everything I could have imagined. I just wanted to do everything I could to keep the team in a winning distance."

Harvey, the Mets' top pick in the 2010 draft, set a franchise record for strikeouts in a debut. He also doubled and singled to become the first pitcher since 1900 to strike out more than 10 and collect a pair of hits in his first game.

"If things don't work out as a pitcher he should become a hitter," said Miguel Montero, who had one of the Diamondbacks' three hits against the rookie.

Harvey allowed only Jason Kubel's soft single through the third base hole, vacated on an infield shift, a double to Montero on a changeup in the second and Aaron Hill's one out single in the third.

Harvey threw 106 pitches, 65 for strikes -- including his first two.

"He lived up to exactly what everybody has talked about him," said Mets manager Terry Collins. "Now I want him to go out the next time and be a little more comfortable yet pitch as effectively as he did today. He is a different cat."

Gerardo Parra, who reached base on a wild pitch after striking out, was the only Arizona hitter to reach third against Harvey.

While the Diamondbacks praised Harvey's poise, catcher Rob Johnson could see some adrenaline at work.

"I think he was pretty amped up," Johnson said. "The good thing about it was he was amped up down in the zone. It felt like he felt like he belonged here."

Scott Hairston hit a two-run double and Andres Torres tripled and scored for the Mets, who snapped a six-game losing streak.

New York, which is beginning an 11-game road trip, won for only the second time in 13 games since the All-Star break, narrowly avoiding the fate of the 1962 club that went 1-14 to start the second half.

"It's been a tough stretch," Hairston said. "Then to start a long road trip, it was good to get the win."

Bobby Parnell pitched around a pair of walks in the ninth for his third save.

Arizona starter Wade Miley (11-6), the third straight 2012 All-Star the Mets have faced, gave up three runs on nine hits in 5 1-3 innings, his shortest outing since going 3 2-3 innings on June 30.

"I was just pitching behind guys early," Miley said. "I was getting into 2-0, 2-1 counts -- fastball counts -- and they took advantage of it."

The Diamondbacks, who struck out 16 times and stranded 11 runners, have lost two straight after running off five wins in a row.

With Harvey keeping the Diamondbacks in check, the Mets looked like an entirely different club than they had been since the All-Star break.

Ruben Tejada led off the game with a single to center, went to third on Daniel Murphy's single to center and scored on Hairston's two-run double off the right field wall.

"It's a boost for everybody," Collins said. "But he's only going to pitch every five days. We need to do a lot more things to win games."

Torres made it 3-0 in the fourth when he tripled to center and scored on Johnson's sacrifice fly to center, barely sliding under a strong throw from Parra.

"You've got to try and minimize the damage and for the most part I was able to do that," Miley said.

Kubel scored the Diamondbacks' run in the eighth when he was walked by Jon Rauch, went to third on a double by Paul Goldschmidt and scored easily on Justin Upton's sacrifice fly.

Tim Byrdak came on for Rauch and, after hitting Montero with a pitch, struck out pinch-hitter Lyle Overbay with the tying runs on first and second.

NOTES: Harvey became the first Mets pitcher to get a pair of hits in his debut since David West on Sept. 24, 1988. Harvey is the 20th player from the 2010 draft to appear in a major league game, and joined Josh Edgin as the second Mets player from that draft to make his debut. ... Torres' triple snapped an 0-for-14 streak. . New York had allowed four or more runs in each of their past 13 games, the second-longest streak in franchise history. ... Montero has hit safely in 15 of his past 18 home games. ... Arizona CF Chris Young, who has hit .294 since the All-Star break to raise his average to .218, was given the night off in favor of the left-handed Parra. ... Before the game, the Mets recalled Johnson from Triple-A Buffalo to take the place of Mike Nickeas, who was optioned to Buffalo after Wednesday's loss. ... LHP Jonathan Niese will take the mound for the Mets on Friday against RHP Josh Collmenter. Niese gave up three earned runs in five innings in his only previous start at Chase Field.

Less heralded than prospects White Sox acquired with them, it's Dylan Cease and Luis Basabe starring in Futures Game

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USA TODAY

Less heralded than prospects White Sox acquired with them, it's Dylan Cease and Luis Basabe starring in Futures Game

WASHINGTON, D.C. — You don’t need to be a headliner of one of the White Sox major trades to make an impact on the ongoing rebuilding effort.

The White Sox two representatives at Sunday’s Futures Game had one very big thing in common: Neither was the most talked-about player in the trades that brought them into the organization.

Luis Alexander Basabe was the No. 3 piece in the Chris Sale deal, overshadowed by Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech. Dylan Cease was the No. 2 player in the Jose Quintana trade, overshadowed by Eloy Jimenez.

But as their selections to the Futures Game show, these guys weren’t just throw-ins. Cease is having a sensational season, the best campaign of any of the White Sox highest-rated pitching prospects. Basabe had a hot start to the season and showed his potential with a two-run homer on a 102 mph pitch in the third inning Sunday.

Rick Hahn’s talked all during this rebuild about his desire to make the White Sox farm system as deep as possible. Moncada, Kopech and Jimenez brought star power to the rebuild. Cease and Basabe have helped bring the depth.

“I love the fact that Dylan and Basabe are the two down there at the Futures Game, in part because — through no fault of their own — in their own transactions, publicly, they got a little bit overshadowed by the headliners, so to speak, in those deals,” Hahn said last week. “But the Quintana trade doesn’t happen without Dylan Cease being part of it. He was a very important part of that for us, and we’re thrilled to see him getting some recognition for his ability and his accomplishments, and the Futures Game honor is very fitting.

“Basabe, obviously, was overshadowed in the Sale trade by Moncada and Kopech, and they’re bigger names, but our scouts felt very strongly about his upside and what his tool set presented. And you saw it at Winston-Salem, the way he was able to perform at an All-Star level there.

“It’s nice to see guys who might not be at the top of mind for people when they think of our system being recognized in that way and certainly for those two guys, who were important parts of big trades for us but perhaps not perceived previously to the recognition they deserve.”

Until recently, Cease has been the fourth name mentioned when discussing the White Sox fleet of starting-pitching prospects, behind Kopech, Alec Hansen and Dane Dunning. And that’s typically after mentioning guys already in the majors like Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez. But Cease has certainly moved to the front of that conversation with his big 2018.

Basabe is still buried, in conversation, behind Jimenez, Luis Robert and Micker Adolfo. Blake Rutherford is ranked ahead of him, too. But he’s shown himself worthy of consideration for a spot in the White Sox future plans. His performance at the Futures Game will keep him in that discussion.

Down in the minors, these guys are going about their business. And as headlining names like Jimenez and Kopech have either dealt with injuries or gone through struggles, “under the radar” guys like Cease and Basabe have produced.

Of course, the descriptors of “headliner” and “under the radar” don’t mean much to them.

“Eloy Jimenez is such a good player. That’s nothing, necessarily, against me, it just happens to be the way it is,” Cease said Sunday. “With Basabe, Kopech and Moncada are really studs, too. You’ve just got to be grateful for the opportunity you have. That doesn’t upset me by any means.”

Projecting lineups and depth charts of the future has become one of the favorite pastimes on the South Side during this rebuilding period. And while it’s easy to pick the highest-rated guys for the starting spots, rebuilds have a way of surprising. And maybe the emergence of guys like Cease and Basabe count as the surprises that awaited the White Sox effort.

Getting to the big leagues is obviously the end goal, and starring in the big leagues would mean usurping the projected place of one of the more-heralded prospects ahead of them. That’s not how Cease is looking at it, though, just sticking to that old baseball axiom of controlling what he can control.

Which is really the only way to get to where he and all these prospects want to be.

“It’s easy to dream on it,” Cease said of getting to the major league level. “It’s just that baseball’s such a difficult game that if you take your focus away from what you’re doing right now, it’s very easy to snowball away. So you can sit and dream about it, but you’ve got to do it and let it happen.”

Is Jordan Howard underrated in fantasy football?

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USA Today

Is Jordan Howard underrated in fantasy football?

Jordan Howard has accomplished some pretty amazing things to start his career. Most notably, he's the only running back in Chicago Bears franchise history to finish his first two seasons with more than 1,000 rushing yards, including 1,313 yards as a rookie, good for a team rookie record.

Still, Howard has been the target of criticism this offseason because of his questionable set of hands. He was plagued by a case of the drops last season and he's been labeled as a guy who can't catch the ball heading into 2018. Combine that with the player nipping at his heels -- Tarik Cohen -- and the overwhelming theory advanced by analysts is that he'll give way to Cohen on passing downs.

This presumption has made its way into the world of fantasy football, too. Howard is rarely if ever mentioned as one of the first running backs that should be drafted this summer and in a recent player vs. player showdown on Pro Football Focus, 49ers starter Jerick McKinnon was selected as a more appealing fantasy starter in 2018.

It’s close, but I give the nod to Jerick McKinnon. Howard’s troubles in the passing game are very real and it’s clear the Bears want to focus on that more this year. Meanwhile, McKinnon was handed a fat contract and has little competition when it comes to carries.

McKinnon, a career backup, was signed by San Franciso to be Kyle Shanahan's feature running back. He has a real chance to be a stud in fantasy circles, but should he be valued over a guy like Howard who's proven to be a contender for the NFL's rushing crown?

All of this offseason chatter will serve as great motivation for Howard who has to prove, first and foremost, that he can be a three-down back for coach Matt Nagy in the Bears' new offense. If he has a consistent training camp as a receiver and carries that momentum into the preseason and regular season, those fantasy players who draft McKinnon or another less-proven player over Howard will long for a redo.