Sixto Sanchez burst onto the big league stage last Saturday, earning a victory over the Nationals by allowing three runs on six hits over his five innings of work. He flashed signs of brilliance though -- effortlessly firing triple-digit fastballs while keeping the Nats’ flailing at nasty changeups and sliders. You just knew he was capable of more.
Marlins’ manager Don Mattingly came out after that start and did the right thing, he made it clear that the 22-year-old hurler -- and prize of the trade that sent J.T. Realmuto to the Phillies -- was going to get the ball every fifth day for the remainder of the season (and probably the decade).
So he went out on Friday fully relaxed -- knowing that he wasn’t pitching for a spot in the Marlins rotation -- and thoroughly dominated the Tampa Bay Rays.
Though he had to settle for a no-decision, Sanchez was simply outstanding in this one. He racked up 10 strikeouts over seven shutout innings -- scattering just six hits and a walk along the way.
He needed only 92 pitches to record 21 outs in the game -- firing 63 of those for strikes. A whopping 17(!) of those were swinging strikes. He threw 13 fastballs at 99 mph or higher -- three of those hitting triple digits.
In addition to the 10 strikeouts, Sanchez also recorded nine ground outs. One of those was a double play ball. The other of his outs was on a runner that was caught stealing. That means that none of the outs that he recorded in the game were hit in the air. Zero. That’s a good way to limit home runs.
If all eyes in the baseball world weren’t on him on Friday -- they certainly will be his next time out.
The Marlins wound up falling to the Blue Jays 2-0 on Friday, dropping their record to 14-13. That still puts them in the driver’s seat for a potential playoff spot, as they sit two games ahead of the Mets for second place in the National League East.
Their offense continues to get reinforcements as they get healthy, and don’t look now but their starting rotation may be among the best in baseball. A top-four of Sergio Alcantara, Pablo Lopez, Sanchez and Elieser Hernandez can certainly compete with any club in the National League.
The Marlins aren’t just a great story any longer. They’re a fun team to watch and there’s a very real chance that you could be seeing them play into October this season.
Astros’ 23-year-old slugger Yordan Alvarez has experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows during his brief MLB career.
He burst onto the scene in 2019, homering in each of his first two ballgames -- and crushing seven home runs while driving in 16 runs in his first 12 big league contests. He didn’t slow down much after that, slashing a ridiculous .313/.412/.655 with 27 homers and 78 RBI over 87 games with the Astros. And that was after he had hit .343/.443/.742 with 23 homers and 71 RBI in 56 games at Triple-A Round Rock before he was recalled.
So naturally, expectations were sky-high for Alvarez heading into his sophomore campaign.
Then there were reports during spring training that he was experiencing knee soreness and needed to sit out a couple of Grapefruit League games. Then his availability for Opening Day was in doubt.
Many figured that the shutdown would allow his knees to heal and that he would resume punishing American League pitching once the season eventually started. Alvarez was then held out of the team’s summer camp due to undisclosed reasons.
Even once the MLB season did get started, Alvarez was slowly being brought along at the team’s alternate training site. It wasn’t until August 14 that he was finally activated from the injured list and ready to help fantasy players who were holding out hope that he’d make an impact.
The early returns were just as hoped -- Alvarez crushed a three-run homer in his first at-bat of the 2020 season as the Astros routed the Mariners. He was also hit by a pitch in that game with the bases loaded, finishing 1-for-4. He went 1-for-4 the following day as well. The next day, he was scratched from the Astros’ lineup due to right knee discomfort.
The first word provided was that he was considered day-to-day. He underwent an MRI exam which came back negative -- ruling out any structural damage. The following day, he landed back on the injured list.
Then there were rumblings from Dusty Baker that Alvarez would miss the remainder of the season. Ultimately, Alvarez underwent arthroscopic surgery on both knees on Wednesday. He had a partially-torn patella tendon repaired in his right knee, and had the left one cleaned up as well.
The Astros expect him to be fully healthy and ready to go for the start of spring training next season.
The real question now, is how will fantasy players approach him heading into 2021. When he’s on the field, he has proven to be an absolute force offensively. The chronic knee issues though -- for a 23-year-old -- simply can’t be overlooked. Throw in the fact that he’s utility-only, and his draft value definitely gets dinged.
Taking a glance at his NFBC draft history from this past Spring/Summer, we can get somewhat of an idea of how he’ll be valued going forward. In the spring -- prior to any of the news of the knee issue and well before he was held out of summer camp -- Alvarez was the 39th player off the board on average. That puts him in the middle of the third round in 15-team drafts.
By the time that Main Event drafts rolled around -- right before the start of the 2020 season -- Alvarez was going on average as the 127th player off the board (as high as 56, as late as 198). I think that if he is indeed fully healthy and participating in all team drills and activities and is ready for game action at the start of the Grapefruit League season, he’ll certainly rise back up the draft board from where he wound up this summer. I don’t think that he’ll climb as high as he was this past spring -- now factoring in the chronic knee risk -- but I expect that he’ll settle around an average draft position in the 60-75 range.
There will certainly be Alvarez truthers out there who will grab him in the third round and trust that he’ll stay healthy, but I think that it’s far more likely he winds up at the end of the fourth or the beginning of the fifth round in 15-team leagues.
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A’s Land La Stella
La Stella, 31, was in the final season of his contract with the Angels and set to hit free agency, so the move makes sense from their end -- flipping a valuable commodity for a potential lottery ticket in Barreto.
He’s expected to take over as the Athletics' everyday second baseman and provide consistency both at the plate and in the field. La Stella is slashing .273/.371/.475 with four homers and 14 RBI in 117 plate appearances on the season.
La Stella is also a capable defender at first base and third base -- so he adds an extra level of versatility for Bob Melvin and the Athletics.
For the Angels, they get a talented former top prospect that has been an absolute disaster in limited -- and sporadic -- chances at the big league level. Barreto is a career .180/.210/.360 hitter with a cringe-inducing 92/7 K/BB ratio over 219 plate appearances spread across four seasons at the big league level
Since he's out of minor league options though, the Angels really don't have any choice but to throw him out there every day and see if he can hack it. In 2019 at Triple-A Las Vegas, Barreto slashed 295/.374/.552 with 19 homers, 65 RBI and 15 stolen bases.
From a fantasy perspective, he’s worthy of an add in AL-only leagues, as he has a nice blend of power and speed and should find himself in the lineup on a nightly basis. If he starts to realize some of his promise, he could become a fringe middle infield option in deeper mixed leagues as well.
Yankees’ outfielder Aaron Judge was officially placed back on the 10-day injured list with a Grade 1 right calf strain on Friday.
It's the same injury that Judge just returned from Wednesday, as he didn't even get through a full game before aggravating the ailment. Judge needed just a minimum 10 days on the injured list the first time around, but general manager Brian Cashman said in a Zoom call with fans that "we'll probably have to give him twice as long as the first time."
That would put Judge's return around mid-September -- provided he doesn’t suffer any setbacks along the way. With only four weeks remaining in the season, the decision (in leagues without IL spots) on whether to hold onto Judge or to cut bait and free up the roster spot could loom large this weekend.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman gave another injury update in his Zoom call with fans on Thursday -- that Gleyber Torres (quad/hamstring) is expected to be sidelined "anywhere from 3-6 weeks."
Manager Aaron Boone said when Torres went down a week ago that he expected the shortstop to be out 2-to-3 weeks, but Cashman obviously has a more conservative timetable in mind. Torres did resume working out this past weekend and felt good, but it sounds like it will be a while before we see him again.
Even when Torres has been on the field this season, he has not been effective. The 23-year-old is slashing a miserable .231/.341/.295 with one homer, six RBI, zero stolen bases and a 17/12 K/BB ratio through his first 24 games.
Astros and Athletics Protest
Friday’s game between the Astros and Athletics was not played on Friday.
The Astros came out and took the field, wearing their #42 jerseys to honor Jackie Robinson. Both teams observed a 42-second moment of silence, and left a Black Lives Matter T-Shirt at home plate before walking off. Since they had not played since Tuesday, this was the first opportunity that the Astros had to protect. Once again, it was a powerful moment -- on the heels of seven games being postponed on Thursday in protest following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. 21 teams have now sat out at least one game in protest.
The two sides will play a doubleheader on Saturday.
American League Quick Hits: Friday’s doubleheader between the Tigers and Twins was postponed due to rain. They’ll make up one game with a doubleheader on Saturday -- the other with a doubleheader next weekend in Minneapolis… The White Sox acquired speedster Jarrod Dyson from the Pirates in exchange for international bonus pool money… To clear a spot on the 40-man roster they designated Nicky Delmonico for assignment… Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that Mike Clevinger "is definitely being talked about in trade scenarios," but the Indians' asking price has been “ridiculous.”... Eno Sarris and Brittany Ghiroli of The Athletic report that the Cubs and Tigers have been in "active" talks that have included the discussion of Cameron Maybin… Eno Sarris and Brittany Ghiroli of The Athletic report that the Rays have interest in Christian Vazquez… The Rays acquired Cody Reed from the Reds for minor league right-hander Riley O’Brien… Royals manager Mike Matheny on Friday indicated that Salvador Perez's (eye) return from the injured list is not imminent… Nick Heath (hamstring) has resumed playing at the Royals’ alternate training site… The White Sox activated Nick Madrigal (shoulder) from the 10-day injured list, though he did not start Friday’s game against the Royals… Gio Urshela is dealing with bone spurs in his right elbow and is considered day-to-day… Astros manager Dusty Baker said in an interview on SportsTalk 790 in Houston on Friday that Jose Urquidy (undisclosed) is probably around 10 days away from a return… Baker also said that Justin Verlander (forearm) "is a little further away than we would like, but he’s closer to reality than it appeared like when he first went down.”... Aledmys Diaz (groin) could be activated from the injured list on Saturday… The Rays added Brent Honeywell (elbow) to their 60-man player pool, though he’s an extreme long shot to crack the big leagues this season… Pedro Severino (hip) returned to the Orioles’ lineup on Friday… Taijuan Walker will make his Blue Jays’ debut on Saturday against the Orioles… Nate Pearson (elbow) played catch from 60 feet on Friday, though he’s still a longshot to return this season… Bo Bichette (knee) took swings off a tee and played catch Thursday. The Jays are still optimistic that he’ll be able to return before the end of the regular season… Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke said Friday that "it's still going to be a while" before Andrew Benintendi (ribs) returns… George Springer (elbow) would have returned to the Astros’ lineup on Friday had they played… Alex Bregman (hamstring) has resumed running at the team’s alternate training site… Danny Santana was placed on the injured list with a right elbow strain… The Angels optioned struggling left-hander Patrick Sandoval to their alternate training site… The Mariners are hopeful that Evan White (shoulder) will be able to return to the lineup within the next couple of days… Jordan Romano was pulled from his outing against the Orioles with an injury to his right middle finger. He’s considered day-to-day…
Clint Frazier homered, doubled and drove in three runs as the Yankees dropped the first game of Friday’s doubleheader to the Mets… Aroldis Chapman served up a walk-off homer in the second game as the Yankees were swept in the doubleheader... Ryan Yarbrough fired 6 ⅔ innings of shutout baseball against the Marlins before leaving with a tight groin… Yandy Diaz delivered a go-ahead RBI single in the eighth to lead the Rays in that one… Hanser Alberto went 4-for-5 and drove in the go-ahead run in the 10th inning in a loss to the Blue Jays… Teoscar Hernandez clubbed his 12th homer in a win over the Orioles… Randal Grichuk blasted a two-run walk-off homer to sink the O’s in the 10th inning… Martin Perez was lit up for six runs on eight hits over four innings in a loss to the Nationals… Carlos Santana smacked a two-run homer and scored four runs as the Indians routed the Cardinals… Franmil Reyes homered and drove in five runs to help the cause there… Derek Dietrich crushed a go-ahead solo homer in the seventh inning to beat the Dodgers… Mike Minor fired six shutout innings in a tough-luck no-decision there… Jorge Soler launched his eighth home run as the Royals fell to the White Sox… Eloy Jimenez swatted his 11th dinger there while Yasmani Grandal blasted a walk-off solo homer off of Ian Kennedy in the ninth… Andrew Heaney fanned 10 over 7 ⅔ innings of one-run baseball in a victory over the Mariners… Mike Trout smacked his 11th home run to help the cause there… Nick Margevicius pitched well in a losing effort there, striking out five while allowing just two runs over six innings.
National League Quick Hits: Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports that the Reds "are planning to go for it," so Trevor Bauer "is likely to stay put."... Robert Murray, formerly of The Athletic, reports that the Padres are "among the teams to check in on" Josh Hader… Eno Sarris and Brittany Ghiroli of The Athletic report that the Astros have interest in Robbie Ray… Braves manager Brian Snitker said Friday that Ozzie Albies (wrist) is at least another week away from a return… Madison Bumgarner (back) is set to throw a simulated game on Saturday. If all goes well, he’s expected to be cleared to rejoin the D’Backs’ rotation next week… The Marlins returned Rule 5 pick Sterling Sharp to the Nationals… Andres Gimenez rejoined the Mets after spending time on the COVID-19 injured list… The Mets placed Corey Oswalt on the injured list with right biceps tendinitis… The Mets also designated Juan Lagares for assignment, feeling he was expendable with the return of Jake Marisnick… David Robertson (elbow) has been shut down following a setback in his recovery from Tommy John surgery… The Mets claimed Guillermo Heredia off of waivers from the Pirates… The Marlins got more reinforcements with Garrett Cooper and Yimi Garcia returning from the COVID-19 injured list. Sandy Alcantara is also ready to return and rejoin the Marlins’ rotation… The Brewers placed Manny Pina on the injured list with a torn meniscus in his right knee. Jacob Nottingham was recalled from the team’s alternate training site and will share the load with Omar Narvaez behind the plate… Wade Miley landed on the 10-day injured list with a left shoulder sprain… Austin Slater (elbow, groin) has started his hitting progression and is continuing his throwing progression… Adam Duvall is considered day-to-day after leaving Friday’s game with an Achilles injury… Justin Turner won’t play on Saturday after leaving Friday’s game with a hamstring injury that he incurred while stealing a base.
Pete Alonso swatted a game-tying three-run homer in the sixth inning as the Mets rallied to beat the Yankees in the first game of Friday’s twin bill… Dominic Smith delivered the go-ahead homer in that one… Edwin Diaz struck out the side in the seventh to earn an impressive save… Amed Rosario then came through with a pinch-hit two-run blast to walk off the Yankees in Game two… Garrett Cooper went 2-for-4 with a double in his return to the lineup as the Marlins were shut out by the Rays… Juan Soto smacked his ninth home run as the Nationals crushed the Red Sox… Max Scherzer punched out 11 over six innings of one-run baseball to cruise to a victory in that one… Austin Riley smacked his fifth home run as the Braves fell to the Phillies in extra innings… Scott Kingery delivered the final blow in that one, with a three-run walk-off blast in the 11th off of Mark Melancon… Jesse Winker smacked his ninth home run, powering the Reds past the Cubs… Tyler Mahle struck out 11 over 6 ⅔ innings of two-run baseball to earn a win there… Jason Heyward went deep and drew a pair of walks in a losing effort there… Corey Seager went 2-for-3 with an RBI double as the Dodgers fell to the Rangers… Corbin Burnes punched out a season-high 10 batters over six shutout innings in a victory over the Pirates… Jedd Gyorko smacked a pair of home runs to lead the Brewers’ offense in that one… J.T. Riddle smacked his first home run of the season to account for the Pirates’ only run in the loss… Daniel Ponce de Leon was bounced after just ⅔ of an inning in a loss to the Indians… Zac Gallen fanned five over seven innings of one-run ball in a win over the Giants. He has yet to allow more than three earned runs in any big league start (22 starts)... Brandon Crawford had two hits including a two-run homer in a losing effort there… Wil Myers and Eric Hosmer each had four hits and scored three runs as the Padres routed the Rockies… Matt Kemp crushed a three-run homer for the losing squad.