Yuli, Yuli, Yuli, Yuli!
Yuli Gurriel often gets overlooked, and under-appreciated in baseball circles, perhaps due to the fact that he spent the majority of his professional career playing in Cuba and didn’t debut in the big leagues until his age-32 season in 2016.
He has always posted solid, if unspectacular numbers at the dish, though his power numbers had never quite progressed as the Astros had hoped. Entering this season, he had slugged just 34 home runs in his 311 career ballgames. He has certainly been flexing his muscles lately though.
On Saturday, Gurriel tagged Angels’ right-hander Trevor Cahill for a solo shot leading off the sixth inning -- marking the fourth consecutive game in which he has left the yard. Since he also began that streak with a two-homer game in Colorado on Tuesday, it was his fifth home run in his last four games.
Through his first 71 games this season, Gurriel had clubbed five home runs in 304 plate appearances. Over his last 10 games (including Saturday), the 35-year-old has crushed eight homers in only 43 plate appearances.
We have seen players go on stretches like this before, where they are completely locked in at the plate and smash home runs in unprecedented bunches. While you’d probably be buying in on the tail-end of the streak, Gurriel should be owned and started in all mixed leagues until he shows signs of cooling off.
The Astros as a team also made a bit of history with Gurriel’s home run on Saturday. According to STATS, they’re the first team in MLB history to have three different hitters have a four (or more) game consecutive home run streak before the All-Star break. Jose Altuve accomplished the feat when he left the yard in five straight games in April, and George Springer belted long balls in four straight contests in June.
Mark Zuckerman of MASN reported Saturday that the Nationals are currently discussing a long-term contract extension with All-Star third baseman Anthony Rendon.
Rendon's agent, Scott Boras, was on hand at Nationals' Park on Saturday, meeting with principal owner Ted Lerner and other executives and members of the family.
It would certainly be wise for the Nats' to lock up the impending free agent before he hits the open market, but to date there had been no inclination that the two sides were anywhere close to an agreement.
By all accounts, Rendon is reportedly seeking a contract in the neighborhood of the seven-year, $234 million contract extension that Rockies’ star Nolan Arenado signed prior to the 2019 campaign. While he’s a terrific player, he doesn’t have anything close to the accolades that Arenado does though, and isn’t likely to approach that stratospheric contract.
The 29-year-old is having another outstanding season, slashing .304/.388/.612 with 20 homers and 61 RBI. He was also named to his first National League All-Star team, though he won’t travel to Cleveland to participate in the game, opting instead to stay home and rest his ailing left hamstring and quadriceps.
The Future is Near
In a bit of an under-the-radar move that didn’t get nearly the hype that it should have, the White Sox announced Saturday that top prospect Luis Robert will join Triple-A Charlotte following the Futures Game.
The 21-year-old top prospect has been destroying the ball in the minors this season, slashing .349/.401/.618 with 16 homers, 53 RBI and 29 stolen bases in 75 games between High-A Winston-Salem and Double-A Birmingham.
A true five-tool talent, Robert has the skills to make an immediate impact -- both for the White Sox and for fantasy owners -- should he garner a promotion to the big leagues this season. If he continues to mash minor league pitching upon his promotion to Triple-A, it’ll only be a matter of time.
If you have a roster space available in deeper mixed leagues and are able to stash Robert for a couple months, it could turn out to be a very savvy investment.
Bumgarner Gets Drilled
Madison Bumgarner, a popular name that has been swirling around in trade rumors, was forced to leave Saturday’s start against the Cardinals after he was drilled by a line drive off the bat of Jose Martinez in the first inning.
To say drilled may actually be an understatement, as the ball whizzed off the bat at 98.3 mph, striking the left-hander on his elbow. Bumgarner was able to talk manager Bruce Bochy and the team’s training staff into letting him remain in the game for the remainder of the inning.
It then appeared as if he would be lifted prior to the second inning, but again the star southpaw seemed to talk his way into continuing, working a scoreless second inning. He was even able to hit for himself in the bottom half of the inning.
However, after throwing his warm-up pitches prior to the third inning, the decision was made to pull him as a precautionary measure. Fortunately, X-rays would later come back negative for any fractures and Bumgarner was diagnosed with an elbow contusion.
He’s considered day-to-day and should have no issues being ready to make his first start following the All-Star break. The injury also shouldn’t affect his trade value at all.
Arcia Carted Off
Rookie second baseman Hiura checked out alright afterwards and was able to remain in the game. Arcia wasn’t so lucky. He needed to be carted off the field and was sent for additional evaluation.
Brewers’ manager Craig Counsell said after the game that his shoulder was the biggest area of concern and could require additional testing.
Not long after that, Robert Murray of The Athletic reported that Brewers’ prospect Mauricio Dubon from Triple-A San Antonio. While it’s not a certainty, that could mean that Arcia is heading for a trip to the injured list.
Dubon has swung a hot bat at Triple-A this season, slashing .306/.343/.487 with 14 homers, 42 RBI and eight stolen bases. He could be worth a look in deeper mixed leagues in the event that Arcia is forced to miss an extended period of time.
American League Quick Hits: Shane Bieber and Liam Hendriks were added to the American League All-Star squad in place of Mike Minor and Charlie Morton… Masahiro Tanaka will take the place of Marcus Stroman. … The Indians optioned left-hander Zach Plesac back to Triple-A Columbus. … Justin Upton sat out his third straight game with a quad issue. … LaMonte Wade was removed from Saturday’s game -- and subsequently placed on the 10-day injured list -- with a dislocated right thumb. … Jose Alvarado was pulled from Saturday’s game with an oblique injury and is expected to miss two-to-six weeks depending on the severity of the strain. … Michael Brantley sat out Saturday’s game due to a sore right hamstring… Sean Manaea (shoulder) will begin his minor league rehab assignment with High-A Stockton on Monday. … Jharel Cotton (elbow, hamstring) will begin his rehab assignment there on Tuesday. … Michael Pineda struck out nine over six innings of one-run baseball in a dominant victory over the Rangers. … Taylor Rogers recorded the final seven outs (five via strikeout) to pick up his 13th save there. He has clearly established himself as the main man in the Twins’ bullpen. … Andrew Cashner struck out four over seven innings of one-run ball in a victory over the Blue Jays. … Shane Bieber punched out eight while allowing two runs over eight innings in a win over the Reds. … Aaron Hicks clubbed a game-tying solo homer with two outs in the ninth inning on Saturday… Travis d’Arnaud then smashed a walk-off solo shot in the home half of the inning. … Gerrit Cole racked up nine strikeouts over seven shutout frames in a dominant victory over the Angels. … Yoan Moncada doubled twice and scored twice in a losing effort against the Cubs -- extending his hitting streak to a career-best 12 games. … Andrew Benintendi went 4-for-6 with a double, triple and stolen base in a victory over the Tigers. … Mookie Betts had three hits, including a double and a triple, with two runs scored and two RBI in that win. … Jeimer Candelario blasted a pair of home runs for the Tigers in a losing effort. … Kyle Seager homered and drove in three runs as the Mariners dispatched of the Athletics... Francisco Lindor smashed a pair of home runs, leading the Indians past the Reds...
National League Quick Hits: Max Muncy was added to the National League All-Star team in place of Anthony Rendon. … Sonny Gray was named as a replacement for Max Scherzer. … Brandon Woodruff will take the place of Josh Hader. ... Felipe Vazquez will fill in for Zack Greinke who will miss the game to tend to a personal matter. … Dansby Swanson sat out his second straight game with a quad injury. He’s still considered day-to-day. … Garrett Cooper was pulled from Saturday’s game with a right leg cramp. He’s day-to-day. … David Freese (hamstring) will be activated from the injured list on Friday. … Max Scherzer delivered another masterful outing in Saturday’s win over the Royals, striking out 11 over seven shutout innings. … Caleb Smith logged a quality start and struck out six in a victory over the Braves in his return from the injured list. … Ronald Acuna Jr. blasted a leadoff home run in a losing effort there -- his 21st round-tripper of the season. … Kevin Newman went 4-for-5 with a homer and three RBI as the Pirates routed the Brewers. … Colin Moran also went 4-for-5 and plated three runs in that win. … Javier Baez had a pair of doubles and two RBI, leading the Cubs past their cross-town rivals. … Craig Kimbrel picked up his second save with a scoreless ninth inning against the White Sox. … Jeff McNeil went 4-for-5 with a run scored and an RBI in a win over the Phillies. He’s hitting a league-leading .356. … Edwin Diaz added to his job security with a scoreless ninth inning against the Phillies to protect a one-run lead. … Manuel Margot slugged a go-ahead two-run homer in the eighth inning to lead the Padres past the Dodgers. … Kirby Yates worked a scoreless ninth inning there to collect his league-leading 29th save. … Chris Paddack fanned six over 5 ⅔ shutout innings in a no-decision. … Jake Lamb blasted his first home run of the season -- a go-ahead two-run shot to lead the Diamondbacks past the Rockies. … Austin Slater crushed a pinch-hit grand slam, powering the Giants to victory over the Cardinals. … Paul Goldschmidt homered and drove in four runs in a losing effort.