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Baseball Daily Dose

Daily Dose: Just Dingers

by David Shovein
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Just Dingers

While Mookie Betts has been drawing many well-deserved accolades for his scorching-hot start at the plate this season, J.D. Martinez has been swinging a bat that’s full of hot fire as well.

The J.D. in his name stands for Julio Daniel by the way, not Just Dingers as has on-field play would lead you to believe.

In the second inning on Sunday, Martinez tagged Orioles’ starter David Hess for an opposite-field solo homer that just wrapped around the Pesky pole in right field. He got the rookie right-hander again in the fifth inning, that time for a massive 443-foot two-run blast to center field. That was after he was walked intentionally in the third inning.

Martinez now has 15 home runs on the season, tying him with his teammate Betts for the major league lead. It also marked the first time in Red Sox’ franchise history that they have had two different players club 15 or more home runs in the team’s first 50 games.

Since the All-Star break last season, no player in baseball has clubbed more home runs than Martinez. He has blasted 46 dingers in that span. Yankees’ outfielder Giancarlo Stanton is next on that list with 44. In that same time frame, he also leads all of baseball in RBI (113), slugging percentage (.713) and OPS (1.093).

Of his 15 home runs this season, eight of them have gone to the opposite field, four have gone to center and only three have been to the pull field.

Martinez got off to a slow start with the Red Sox, hitting .222/.275/.417 with one homer in his first nine games. Since then, he has hit .371 (52-for-140) with 14 homers and 35 RBI in his next 36 contests.

Martinez and Betts have been far and away the best 1-2 punch in baseball this season. Between them, they have 30 home runs. Through 47 games last season, the Red Sox had a total of 37 home runs as an entire team.

On the season, he’s now hitting .343/.397/.680 with 15 homers and 41 RBI. Frank Thomas of Fox Sports recently called him the best hitter in all of baseball. There’s certainly a strong case that can be made that the Big Hurt was correct in that assessment.

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Bye Bye Bautista

The Atlanta Braves pulled the plug on the Jose Bautista experiment at third base on Sunday, releasing the 37-year-old slugger after just 12 games.

Bautista graded out well below average defensively at third base, which isn’t a surprise given it had been nearly eight years since he played the position regularly. Where he was expected to provide a lift for the Braves was with his bat, but he hit just .143/.250/.343 with two homers, five RBI and a 12/5 K/BB ratio in 40 plate appearances.

This could unfortunately be the end of the line for Bautista in the big leagues. Even if there is another club out there willing to give him a shot, he’ll likely have to prove his meddle in the minor leagues first before getting a real shot. He can safely be dropped in all fantasy formats.

The Braves will now turn to Johan Camargo as their everyday third baseman. The 24-year-old is much better defensively than Bautista, but has struggled with the bat in his sophomore campaign. He’s slashing .226/.368/.403 with two long balls and 13 RBI through 76 plate appearances. The Braves also have Ryan Flaherty as an in-house option, though neither he nor Camargo are appealing from a fantasy perspective.

What could be intriguing, is if the Braves continue to ride their sensational youth movement and give top prospect Austin Riley a shot. The 21-year-old, and first round selection (41st overall) of the Braves in the 2015 draft, has been terrorizing minor league pitching this season. He’s hitting .324 with nine homers and 32 RBI in 39 games between Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett. The future continues to look unbelievably bright in Atlanta.

Another potential option, as reported by Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe on Sunday, could be Mike Moustakas. According to Cafardo, "there’s a growing feeling among talent evaluators" that the Braves will attempt to acquire Mike Moustakas from the Royals before the trade deadline.

Even without an answer at third base, the Braves have been a force to be reckoned with this season, They did it again on Sunday, scoring six times in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Marlins, the last two on a two-run single by Dansby Swanson, to secure an improbable 10-9 walk-off victory.

With the win, the Braves improve to 28-17 on the season and sit ahead of the Nationals atop the National League East. They’re only 11-9 at home this season while they’re a staggering 17-8 away from SunTrust Park.

Fire Up Flaherty

If Jack Flaherty was looking over his shoulder at what Alex Reyes has been doing in his minor league rehab starts, he knew that he couldn’t fall on his face or else his spot in the Cardinals’ rotation could be in jeopardy.

Reyes’, who is in the process of returning from Tommy John surgery, racked up 13 strikeouts over 7 ⅔ shutout innings in his most recent minor league rehab start at Double-A Springfield on Saturday. The plan seems to be for him to pitch out of the Cardinals’ rotation upon his return, but once Carlos Martinez returns there’s only one spot available for  Reyes or Flaherty.

Challenge accepted.

The 22-year-old right-hander delivered the finest start of his young career on Sunday, limiting the Phillies to just on run on two hits and a walk over 7 ⅔ innings. Flaherty struck out a career-high 13 batters in the dominant win. The only blemish on his day came on a solo homer off the bat of Rhys Hoskins in the fourth inning.

The victory, was the first of his career and came in his ninth career start at the big league level.

Cardinals’ skipper Mike Matheny was definitely impressed by what he saw, 'What Jack pulled off is one of the best starts we've seen in a long time… we pushed him and he responded. There were really no stress innings. He was extraordinary.''

Flaherty owns outstanding numbers through his first four starts with the Cardinals this season, posting a 2.31 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 27/7 K/BB ratio across 23 ⅓ innings. He’s worthy of an add in all mixed leagues where available for as long as he’s pitching in the Cardinals’ rotation. His next turn will come on Saturday against the Pirates in Pittsburgh.

American League Quick Hits: Lonnie Chisenhall (calf) will begin a minor league rehab assignment at Triple-A Columbus on Monday… Avisail Garcia received a platelet-rich plasma injection in his ailing right hamstring and isn’t expected to return to the White Sox until the end of June… The Astros called up J.D. Davis from Triple-A Fresno… The Indians purchased the contract of Melky Cabrera from Triple-A Columbus… Josh Tomlin has been bumped from the Indians’ starting rotation. Adam Plutko will start in his spot on Wednesday against the Cubs…  Daniel Mengden fired seven innings of shutout baseball in a victory over the Blue Jays… Yangervis Solarte clubbed his 10th home run in a losing effort… Eduardo Rodriguez punched out seven over 5 ⅔ innings as the Red Sox shut out the Orioles… Tim Anderson swiped his 11th base of the season as the White Sox topped the Rangers… Reynaldo Lopez whiffed eight and allowed just two hits over eight shutout innings in a dominant win over the Rangers… Sonny Gray surrendered just one run on four hits over eight frames in a win against the Royals… Tyler Austin belted a pair of home runs and drove in four as the Yankees routed the Royals… Miguel Andujar went 3-for-4 with a homer and a triple in that win… Jake Odorizzi fanned 10 in a no-decision against the Brewers… Sergio Romo started his second consecutive bullpen game for the Rays, striking out three over 1 ⅓ shutout innings… Blake Parker got the call when a save situation presented itself to the Angels on Sunday and he responded with a pair of strikeouts in a scoreless ninth inning. He looks to be the guy to own at the moment in the Angels’ bullpen for those speculating on saves… Shohei Ohtani improved to 4-1 on the season, limiting the Rays to two runs over 7 ⅔ innings while striking out nine… Francisco Liriano allowed just one hit over eight scoreless innings in a no-decision against the Mariners...Mitch Haniger clobbered a game-tying two-run homer off of Shane Greene in the ninth inning as the Mariners rallied late to beat the Tigers… Lance McCullers struck out eight over seven shutout innings as the Astros beat the Indians. He carried a perfect game into the sixth inning in that one.

National League Quick Hits: The Pirates’ optioned Nick Kingham back to Triple-A Indianapolis. He’ll have to bide his time until another spot opens in the club’s starting rotation… Joe Musgrove will make his Pirates’ debut on Friday against the Cardinals… Rich Hill landed on the 10-day disabled list with a blister on his left middle finger… Clayton Kershaw made it through another bullpen session without issue on Sunday. He’ll do one more, and if all goes well he’ll be cleared for game action… Anthony DeSclafani will need 1-2 more rehab starts before he’s ready to join the Reds’ rotation… Amed Rosario crushed a pair of home runs, leading the Mets past the Diamondbacks… Noah Syndergaard fanned seven over seven innings of one-run ball in that victory… Clay Buchholz allowed just one run over five innings in in Diamondbacks’ debut… The Nationals officially promoted Juan Soto from Double-A Harrisburg. He struck out as a pinch hitter in his MLB debut on Sunday… Yu Darvish struck out seven over six innings while allowing only one run to beat the Reds… Alex Wood was lifted from Sunday’s start due to cramps. He’s day-to-day… Christian Villanueva homered for the second straight game, and the 12th time this season, as the Padres topped the Pirates… Brad Hand secured his 14th save in that win… Austin Meadows went 3-for-4 and clubbed his first major league home run in a loss to the Padres… Lewis Brinson smashed a grand slam as the Marlins fell to the Braves… Miguel Rojas launched a pair of home runs and plated four in that loss… Yasiel Puig crushed his fourth home run in his last six games as the Dodgers defeated the Nationals… Ender Inciarte admitted he was sore after crashing into the outfield wall on Sunday, but vowed to be in the lineup on Monday… Jesus Aguilar homered for the third straight game as the Brewers lost to the Twins. He’s hitting .333/.395/.608 with seven homers and 20 RBI on the season… Tyler O’Neill homered for the second straight game as the Cardinals bested the Phillies… Odubel Herrera went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, ending his on-base streak at 45 consecutive games… Jordan Hicks threw the five fastest pitches in the major leagues this season, three of them at 104 and two that touched 105, all in a ninth-inning strikeout of Herrera… Nolan Arenado went 3-for-5 with an RBI and a stolen base in a loss to the Giants… Brandon Belt swatted a go-ahead three-run homer, his 11th of the season, to beat the Rockies.

David Shovein

Dave Shovein is a baseball writer for NBC Sports Edge. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveShovein.