Chris Archer continues to dominate, putting together his fourth consecutive start without allowing an earned run on Sunday against a potent Blue Jays lineup. Tampa Bay’s newest ace has a gaudy 0.84 ERA and 37/6 K/BB in 32.1 innings to go along with his three wins.
Archer’s performance has come at a much-needed time for the Rays, with the team struggling through major injuries in April. Tampa Bay is starting to get healthy with Drew Smyly and James Loney coming off the DL over the weekend, and somehow sit tied with the Yankees atop the AL East.
The improvement in Archer’s control is apparent early on, and it comes as he’s showing slightly more velocity and throwing more sliders than previous seasons. Archer had a 3.1 BB/9 rate prior to this season, but it stands at 1.7 after Sunday’s start. Perhaps most impressive is that Archer has faced Toronto twice and Boston once over his last three starts, dominating impressive AL East lineups.
It’s difficult to say if Archer has turned a corner and joined the elite starting pitchers in the game just yet, but we can’t help but be encouraged by all of his early trends. His competition doesn’t get any easier with a scheduled start at Camden Yards against the Orioles his next time out.
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Puig to the DL, Dodgers Hanging In
Yasiel Puig has been nursing a left hamstring injury since mid-April, and after reaggravating the injury on Friday, the Dodgers decided to play it safe and place him on the DL. The move was retroactive to Saturday, and Puig is only expected to miss the minimum amount of time.
Andre Ethier has been his replacement in right field, also hitting second during his starts. Ethier has performed extremely well in his 38 at-bats this season, hitting .342-2-6, and five of his 13 hits have gone for extra bases. Ethier should continue to get Puig’s at-bats vs. right-handed pitching, but the Dodgers depth has also created some “good” problems elsewhere.
In particular, Cuban utilityman Alex Guerrero was been stinging the ball at an incredible rate this season, launching his fifth home run on Sunday in only 22 at-bats. Incredibly, Guerrero is hitting .500-5-13 with such limited playing time, and has likely bought himself more playing time in the short term.
The Dodgers are quite banged up and got more bad news over the weekend, with Brandon McCarthy nursing elbow soreness and part-time closer Joel Peralta on the DL with right shoulder soreness. Scott Baker and Mike Bolsinger made spot starts over the weekend, and could remain in the rotation for the foreseeable future. Yimi Garcia picked up his first career save on Friday, and looks like the closer until Kenley Jansen returns from a foot injury in May. Garcia already has 16 strikeouts in 9.2 innings.
O’s Demolish the Red Sox
Baltimore put up an 18-spot on Sunday in their rout of the Red Sox. Lefty-killer Delmon Young did much of the damage, going 3-for-6 with five RBI and three runs scored. Young is hitting .368 on the young season, with four multi-hit games in the past week.
Young arrived to spring training particularly svelte, and has earned slightly more playing time recently. Steve Pearce has struggled thus far with a .196 batting average, and Young could continue to take at-bats away from Pearce if he hits. It seems like a lifetime ago that Young was a top prospect, but he’s still only 29 and performed well as a platoon player for the O’s last season. Mixed league owners have reason to keep an eye on Young’s playing time with hitter-friendly Camden Yards giving him even more upside.
Chris Davis also starred in the game, going 3-for-5 and launching his fourth home run of the season. Davis’ batting averaged increased to .269, and the streaky home run hitter went 5-for-11 with two home runs and six RBI during Baltimore’s three-game series against Boston. The power is exciting, but Davis is already on pace for 230 strikeouts this season.
Also figuring into Baltimore’s hot hitting in the last few days is utilityman Jimmy Paredes. He went 3-for-5 on Sunday after hitting a homer in the Orioles' two previous games. Paredes is hitting .429-3-9 in only 35 at-bats this season and also earning some at-bats as an infielder and DH. However, Paredes has only 52 career homers in 2,807 minor league at-bats, so it’s unlikely that his performance or regular playing time will continue for long.
American League Quick Hits: Oakland demoted spring training darling Kendall Graveman to Triple-A Nashville, which means Jesse Chavez will remain in the rotation … The trade sending Josh Hamilton from the Angels to Texas is expected to be finalized on Monday, according to MLB.com ... Jose Bautista (shoulder) hopes to return during Toronto’s next series in Boston. He’s been out since Tuesday … Greg Holland (pectoral) played catch on Sunday. It’s still unclear if he will be ready to come off the DL for the Royals when eligible … Hanley Ramirez launched two more home runs on Sunday, giving him eight for the season and putting him one behind Nelson Cruz for the league lead … Nick Martinez threw six more scoreless innings on Sunday, lowering his ERA to 0.35. Martinez is a huge surprise for a Rangers pitching staff desperate after losing Yu Darvish and Derek Holland, but the success is unlikely to continue considering his track record and 11 strikeouts in 26 innings this season … Roenis Elias allowed two runs in 5.2 innings on Sunday in Hisashi Iwakuma’s stead. Elias will keep a rotation spot for a while with Iwakuma out at least two weeks … Desmond Jennings is day-to-day after tweaking his knee in Saturday’s game … Rajai Davis was pulled from Sunday’s game with tightness in his right groin. He’s considered day-to-day … J.J. Hardy (shoulder) is resting until Wednesday after a cortisone shot, and he will need at least 3-4 rehab games before returning. It’s clear that his return to the O’s isn’t imminent … David Robertson accumulated a win and a save in the same day, getting credited with the win when Friday’s suspended game concluded Sunday and converting the save in the full contest … Chase Whitley will make a spot start for the Yankees on Tuesday to give Masahiro Tanaka one more day of rest … Ricky Nolasco (elbow) felt good after throwing five innings in a rehab start at Low-A Cedar Rapids on Sunday. He could return in early May … Coco Crisp (elbow) could take batting practice by the end of this week, and still hopes to return by mid-May.
National League Quick Hits: Max Scherzer is still nursing a thumb injury he suffered while hitting in his last start, and is unlikely to make his next scheduled turn on Tuesday … After likely losing Adam Wainwright for a season to a major Achilles injury on Saturday, outfielder Jason Heyward left Sunday’s game with a left groin injury. However, Heyward is only considered day-to-day … Brandon Morrow is back on mixed league radars with his great start. He allowed one run in seven innings on Sunday, lowering his ERA to 2.67 … David Wright (hamstring) will ramp up baseball activities on Monday, and is hoping to return in early May … Anthony DeSclafani’s ERA remains the lowest in the NL at 1.04 after allowing four runs – one earned – in five innings on Sunday … Hyun-Jin Ryu (shoulder) threw a bullpen session on Sunday. There’s still no clear timetable for his return … Scooter Gennett resumed swinging on Sunday as he recovers from a cut on his hand. He’s able to return from the DL on May 5 … Yadier Molina (knee) remained out on Sunday with a sore knee, and the team called up Cody Stanley to serve as catcher depth … Matt Stites (elbow) will throw a bullpen session on Tuesday. The reliever hasn’t pitched yet this season.