Jose Martinez needs to hit a lot in order to make up for his poor defensive work at first base. He’s doing just that.
Martinez stayed scorching hot Monday, going 3-for-4 with a two-run home run and a pair of runs scored in the Cardinals’ victory over the Padres. It was his 10th three-hit game of the season, which is the most in the National League. After ending May with four consecutive hitless games, Martinez is batting .531/.583/1.156 with five dingers and 11 RBI over his first nine contests in June.
The longball was Martinez’s 10th of the season, which leads the Cards. He also leads St. Louis with his .327 average, .397 on-base percentage, .531 slugging percentage and 42 RBI. In 582 plate appearances dating back to his cup of coffee with the Cardinals late in the 2016 season, Martinez is batting .321 with 24 homers and 89 RBI.
There’s little question at this point that Martinez can hit. The only real question surrounding him, especially for fantasy purposes, was whether he would hit enough balls in the air to tap into his power. Going into Monday’s game, Martinez’s flyball rate was at just 25.1 percent, which ranked 154th out of 160 qualifiers. He had just five longballs over his first 56 games this season before doubling his 2018 total with his recent red-hot stretch.
While he might not ever put up a gaudy home run total, Martinez has combined excellent plate discipline (10.1 percent walk rate, 13.2 percent strikeout rate) with the ability to barrel the ball consistently (40.8 percent hard-hit rate in 2018 coming into Monday, 39.2 percent for his career). He’s a terrific bet for average and RBI from the No. 3 spot in the batting order.
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The bad news on Shohei Ohtani came down last Friday when he was placed on the disabled list with a Grade 2 sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. On Monday, varying reports came out on the 23-year-old’s long-term prognosis.
The first report on Ohtani came from ESPN’s Pedro Gomez, who said on SportsCenter that “everything I’m hearing is that the reality is, he probably will need Tommy John surgery” and that if he does go under the knife he likely wouldn’t return until 2020.
We then heard from Angels general manager Billy Eppler, seemingly as a direct refute of Gomez’s report. “There have been no changes in Ohtani’s diagnosis and neither our physicians nor medical staff have recommended (Tommy John surgery) or said it’s likely,” Eppler said.
Finally, MLB.com’s Jon Morosi reported that the Angels were “cautiously optimistic” Ohtani will play again this season “at least as a hitter and possibly in both roles.”
The reality is that no one has a good idea at this point as to what will ultimately come of Ohtani’s rehab. He was given platelet-rich plasma and stem cell injections last Thursday and will be re-evaluated at the end of the month. We will surely know more about his condition at that point.
As Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan outlined in a column last week, there is little incentive for Ohtani to rush into Tommy John surgery now. Even if he would go under the knife tomorrow, he would probably be out until the start of the 2020 season. However, if he rested and rehabbed for the next few months and it didn’t work and he had to eventually have surgery, he’d still probably be ready in time for Opening Day in 2020.
If the rehab of Ohtani’s elbow for pitching purposes didn’t work, could the Angels bring him back just to serve as a designated hitter? Manager Mike Scioscia said it’s possible they would use Ohtani to hit before he’s cleared to pitch, although whether they might consider that a long-term solution isn’t known.
We’re still over two months away from Robinson Cano being eligible to return from his steroid suspension, but the Mariners are already making plans on what they’ll do when the second baseman returns. It might not be what you think.
General manager Jerry Dipoto on Monday indicated that Cano will not be the team’s everyday second baseman when he returns. Why? Because he’s ineligible for postseason play should the Mariners make it (they’re currently leading the American League West) and the club understandably late in the regular season would want to use the lineup they would carry into the playoffs. Dee Gordon has moved in from center field to his more familiar second base position to fill in for Cano.
"That could allow for a time-share, so to speak, where we keep everybody sharp,” Dipoto said. “But we do know Dee is going to have to play second base as we come down the stretch. Because if we want to be in the postseason -- which we do -- then we know who our second baseman is going to be. And it's going to be Dee Gordon.''
Now, we should still expect Cano to play a lot when he does make it back on August 14. After all, he’s one of the Mariners’ best players and the team is trying to win baseball games. However, Dipoto mentioning the word “time-share” isn’t encouraging for those thinking about stashing Cano as we get closer to his return date. As of this writing, the 35-year-old is available in 57 percent of Yahoo leagues and 75 percent of ESPN leagues.
American League Quick Hits: Carlos Carrasco struck out 11 batters over seven scoreless innings Monday in the Indians' blanking of the White Sox … Nelson Cruz slugged a pair of home runs Monday in a victory over the Angels. Mike Trout popped two longballs of his own in a losing effort … Chris Archer has been shut down following a setback with his left abdominal strain … Mookie Betts (abdomen) was a surprise activation from the DL on Monday … Dylan Bundy struck out seven batters over eight scoreless innings Monday in a no-decision versus the Red Sox … Zach Britton (Achilles) was activated from the DL on Monday and the plan is to ease him back into closing opportunities … Jake Bauers homered, doubled, walked twice and scored three times to lead the Rays to a win over the Blue Jays on Monday … Steven Wright tossed 6 2/3 scoreless frames Monday in a no-decision against the Orioles, fanning five … Teoscar Hernandez went 2-for-4 and hit a two-run homer Monday against the Rays … Edwin Encarnacion (ankle) remained out of the Indians' lineup Monday, missing his third straight game … Manny Machado was not in Monday's lineup against the Red Sox due to illness … Elvis Andrus (elbow) began a rehab assignment Monday … The Indians recalled top prospect Francisco Mejia from Triple-A Columbus on Monday … The Rays recalled top prospect Willy Adames from Triple-A Durham on Monday and he drove in a couple runs with a single and sac fly against the Blue Jays … Daniel Robertson (hamstring) landed on the DL Monday but he expects to return when eligible …
National League Quick Hits: J.T. Realmuto went 3-for-4 with a homer, a double and three runs scored as the Marlins topped the Giants on Monday … Jack Flaherty whiffed six across 6 1/3 frames of one-run ball Monday against the Padres … Eric Thames (thumb) was activated from the DL on Monday … Kenta Maeda (hip) has officially been cleared to rejoin the Dodgers’ rotation on Wednesday against the Rangers … Robbie Ray (oblique) is on track to begin a rehab assignment with High-A Visalia on Thursday … Yu Darvish (triceps) played catch Monday and will throw a bullpen session Tuesday … Francisco Cervelli (head) remained out of the Pirates' lineup Monday but went through a series of tests pregame and is expected back soon … Marcell Ozuna singled and slugged his seventh home run of the season Monday in the Cardinals' win over the Padres … Brian Anderson finished with a homer, two doubles and three runs scored Monday against the Giants … Jeff Samardzija (shoulder) is expected to begin a rehab assignment on Thursday or Friday … Mets manager Mickey Callaway expects Asdrubal Cabrera (hamstring) to avoid a stint on the disabled list … Jason Heyward stayed hot with three hits and three RBI Monday against the Brewers … The Mets recalled Dominic Smith from Triple-A Las Vegas on Monday, replacing Adrian Gonzalez, who was released … Paul DeJong fielded some light grounders while wearing a soft brace on his fractured left hand Monday and the hope is he’s ready to return before the end of the month … Austin Hedges (elbow) will resume a rehab assignment with High-A Lake Elsinore on Tuesday … Luke Gregerson had arthroscopic knee surgery to repair his meniscus on Monday and is expected to be sidelined for 4-6 weeks … Josh Harrison was lifted from Monday's game versus the Diamondbacks with left shoulder blade discomfort following a hit by pitch …