Gerrit Cole had an un-Cole-like outing last week against the White Sox. He seemed determined to bounce back Monday against a tougher opponent.
Cole was electric in a victory over the Cubs on Monday, tying a season high with 12 strikeouts while limiting Chicago to two runs on just three hits and one walk across six innings. Anthony Rizzo took the right-hander deep with a two-run homer in the top of the first, but Cole was virtually untouched the rest of the afternoon.
The big right-hander induced a whopping 26 swinging strikes among his 99 pitches. Many of them came from Javier Baez, who swung and missed on 13-of-14 swings Monday on his way to a platinum sombrero. The 13 swings and misses by Baez were the most by any player over the last 10 seasons.
But let’s get back to Cole. Obviously, his 4.02 ERA this season doesn’t capture what kind of year he’s having. The 28-year-old boasts an absurd 39 percent strikeout rate and has piled up a league-high 112 punchouts. He also has just a 6.3 percent walk rate. His FIP is 2.91.
Cole has already served up 12 home runs this season, which is tied for the 13th most in baseball and is just seven fewer than he allowed all of last season. However, that number should normalize in time and when it does he’ll have a shiny ERA to go along with all of those strikeouts.
Editor’s Note: Stay ahead of the competition from wire to wire with rankings, customizable projections, trade evaluator, exclusive columns and more in our Season Pass. And start using optimized lineups on Yahoo!, DraftKings and FanDuel with our DFS Toolkit!
Blackmon Lands on IL
The Rockies delayed a decision for as long as they could, but on Monday they finally relented and placed Charlie Blackmon on the 10-day injured list with a right calf strain.
Blackmon initially suffered the injury last Thursday, but the club wanted to have him rest for a couple days before testing out the calf Sunday with a workout. He felt improvement, but not enough to avoid the IL.
“It’s been getting better every day,” said Blackmon. “It feels better today than yesterday and the day before. I thought that would translate a little better out there with my agility work that I was doing, but it’s just not quite there yet.”
The timing of Blackmon’s absence is a real bummer for his fantasy owners. Not only has he has batted .333/.395/.731 with seven home runs in May, he was injured just before the start of a 10-game homestand. Blackmon has already missed three games at Coors Field against the Orioles and their league-worst pitching staff and another versus the Diamondbacks. He’ll be absent for three more against the D-backs and three versus the Blue Jays. Blackmon will be eligible to return after that on June 4 at Wrigley Field versus the Cubs, although it remains to be seen whether he’ll be ready at that time.
In the meantime, the player likely to benefit the most from Blackmon’s absence is Raimel Tapia. Tapia had already been playing a lot, but he will be an everyday guy now and also takes over as the Rockies’ new leadoff hitter. In the team’s first game Monday after placing Blackmon on the IL, Tapia delivered a walk-off single in the 11th inning against the D-backs.
Tapia has long been intriguing as a career .319/.364/.461 hitter in the minors who stole a lot of bases and hit for a little pop, but coming into this season he’d done very little with his chances in the majors. He’s put together a solid .279/.325/.497 line in 2019, with five homers and a steal over 157 plate appearances. Tapia strikes out more than you’d like (28 percent strikeout rate this season), especially for a guy with modest power. Still, he’s certainly in a great spot at least while Blackmon is out. David Dahl – who homered Monday – and Ian Desmond – who doubled and scored the winning run Monday – should also see an uptick in playing time.
Luke Weaver was showing breakout potential in the first two months of the season for the Diamondbacks, but that possible breakout has now been put on hold.
The 25-year-old had to be pulled from Sunday’s start versus the Giants due to tightness in his right forearm. He was placed on the injured list Monday afternoon and a subsequent MRI revealed a forearm strain.
Weaver will receive a second opinion before the next steps of his rehab are determined. Manager Torey Lovullo said that the team is “very hopeful” the injury will not require surgery. Of course, the skipper admitted that he also felt optimistic last season when Taijuan Walker went down with what was described as a forearm injury at the time. Walker was diagnosed with UCL damage shortly after that and had Tommy John surgery.
Even if Weaver does avoid surgery, he’s probably still looking at a fairly lengthy absence. It’s a downer, as the right-hander has posted a 3.03 ERA and 68/14 K/BB ratio over 62 1/3 innings in his first 11 starts as a Diamondback after coming over from the Cardinals in the Paul Goldschmidt trade.
Taylor Clarke will remain in the rotation with Weaver going down. He holds a 2.93 ERA over 15 1/3 innings for Arizona this season, but he’s struck out only eight and didn’t fan many guys in the minors, either. Clarke isn’t very interesting for fantasy purposes, but the D-backs have another spot to fill and it could be filled by their top pitching prospect, Jon Duplantier.
Duplantier has made five relief appearances for the Diamondbacks this season, holding a 2.25 ERA and 12/5 K/BB ratio over 12 innings. The 24-year-old has had trouble with health as a pro but when on the mound has posted a 2.01 ERA with 264 strikeouts across 224 frames in the minors. Duplantier would at least be worth keeping an eye on in fantasy leagues if he gets thrown into the big league rotation.
National League Quick Hits: Kris Bryant (head) sat out Monday and is not expected to be ready to play Tuesday. … Adeiny Hechavarria went 3-for-5 with a two-run homer on Monday in a loss to the Dodgers. … Chris Taylor went 3-for-5 with a homer and two RBI in a victory over the Mets on Monday. … Sonny Gray allowed just one run over six innings on Monday while striking out seven to pick up a victory against the Pirates in the second game of a doubleheader. … Zack Greinke tossed six innings of one-run ball and fanned six in a no-decision Monday versus the Rockies. … Max Scherzer pitched six innings of one-run ball and whiffed six in a no-decision against the Marlins on Monday. … Mitch Keller allowed six runs over four innings versus the Reds on Monday in his major league debut. … Addison Russell went 3-for-4 with a solo home run Monday against the Astros. … Austin Barnes (groin) landed on the IL and was replaced on the roster by Will Smith.
American League Quick Hits: J.D. Martinez clubbed a pair of solo home runs Monday as the Red Sox blew out the Indians. … James Paxton (knee) has been cleared to return from the injured list and is expected to rejoin the Yankees' rotation on Wednesday against the Padres. … Dustin Pedroia (knee) told the media Monday that he is "not sure" whether he'll be able to play again. … Mallex Smith stole four bases and went 2-for-3 with two runs scored in the Mariners' victory on Monday over the Rangers. … Austin Meadows went 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBI against the Blue Jays on Monday. … Lance Lynn was able to strike out 10 hitters over six innings, but took the loss while giving up seven hits and three runs on Monday versus the Mariners. … Oscar Mercado filled up the box score Monday in Boston, reaching base three times, scoring three runs and stealing two bases. … Matt Chapman went deep for the third game in a row Monday as the Athletics took down the Angels. … Mitch Garver (ankle) is headed to High-A Pensacola to begin a rehab assignment and could return this weekend. … Aaron Sanchez (finger) was lifted from Monday’s start but does not expect to go on the injured list. … Shawn Armstrong pitched a scoreless ninth for his first save as the Orioles beat the Tigers on Monday. … Clint Frazier went 2-for-3 and hit his 10th homer Monday against the Padres.