Exactly one year ago, Shane Bieber was an unheralded rookie armed with pinpoint control (and a penchant for somehow being around the zone too much) coming off the worst performance -- a seven-run implosion against the Pirates in which he recorded only five outs -- of his brief major-league career. It’s amazing how quickly things can change. Bieber struck out 10 batters in a dazzling complete-game, one-hit shutout against the Blue Jays on Wednesday. The 24-year-old right-hander, who took home the MVP Award at the 2019 MLB All-Star Game a few weeks ago, carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning before giving up a ground-rule double to Eric Sogard. It was the only hit he allowed in the contest. He generated a whopping 18 swinging strikes and needed only 102 pitches (68 strikes) to go the distance. It was the second complete-game effort of his career and fifth double-digit strikeout performance of the season. [[ad:athena]]
“He just pitched like a veteran. He’s maturing so fast,” Indians manager Terry Francona told reporters after the game. “He’s barely got a year under his belt. It seems like he’s going to get better and better. It’s fun to watch.” With the victory, Bieber improved to 10-3 with a 3.44 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and a pristine 166/29 K/BB ratio across 21 starts. Among qualified starters, he ranks 23rd in ERA, sixth in WHIP, seventh in strikeouts and seventh in batting average allowed (.209). He’ll face a much tougher test in his next start against a formidable Astros’ lineup on Tuesday. It may feel too early to look ahead to the impending 2020 campaign, but there is an extremely high degree of probability that Bieber is selected as a top-10 starting pitcher in fantasy drafts next spring.
Hiura Hype Machine Revving Up
Brewers’ rookie sensation Keston Hiura clobbered his 10th homer -- a 415-foot moonshot to center field in the fifth inning -- in a 5-4 win over the Reds on Wednesday. The 22-year-old second baseman has been one of the league’s hottest hitters since the All-Star break, hitting an absurd .469 with three homers and 12 RBI over 49 second-half at-bats. According to FanGraphs leaderboards, Hiura’s .445 wOBA (entering play on Wednesday) ranked 12 out of 194 qualified hitters since his recall from Triple-A San Antonio on June 28. We may not have enough of a sample size to draw any definitive conclusions regarding Hiura’s long-term potential, but given his lofty prospect pedigree and stellar production so far, it doesn’t feel like a stretch to suggest that he could out-produce every other second baseman in fantasy over the final two months of the 2019 campaign. He’s already up to 10 homers and six steals in just 40 games and has an outside shot at recording a 20-homer, 20-steal campaign, a feat accomplished by only 10 big-league hitters last season.
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Puig Your Trade Target
Is there a mystery team willing to pony-up a prospect package big enough to land a wild horse? We’re about to find out. According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Reds’ outfielder Yasiel Puig “appears a particularly strong candidate to be moved” in a trade by next week’s major-league trade deadline. While Reds president of baseball operations, Dick Williams, said at the All-Star break that the team planned to be buyers, they’ve lost eight of their last 13 games since that statement and find themselves seven and a half games out of a Wild Card spot less than a week away from the trade deadline. At this point, it may make more sense for them to explore selling off some of their veteran assets on expiring deals. Easily the most intriguing name among their plethora of trade chips is Puig, who is slated to hit free agency this offseason. In addition to performing his best Jack Sparrow impression and bizarrely electing to shave his mustache between at-bats, the 28-year-old outfielder has been tearing the cover off the ball lately. After a frosty two-month stretch to open the season, he’s hitting a rock-solid .312 (49-for-157) with 12 homers and six stolen bases in 42 game since June 1.
AL Quick Hits: Yankees placed Gary Sanchez on the 10-day injured list with a Grade 1 left groin strain. … Joey Gallo will visit a hand specialist in Dallas, but is likely headed to the injured list due to right wrist soreness. … Jon Morosi of MLB Network reported Wednesday that the Phillies and Indians have discussed a potential Trevor Bauer trade. … Eloy Jimenez (elbow) was able to play catch on Wednesday and swung the bat for the first time since his injury. … Byron Buxton (concussion, teeth) remained out of the Twins’ lineup against the Yankees on Wednesday. … Charlie Morton posted 11 strikeouts over seven innings of two-run ball in a win over the Red Sox … Tommy Pham blasted his 16th homer and swiped his 11th base of the season in the victory. … David Price racked up eight strikeouts over six innings and was saddled with a tough-luck loss. … Emilio Pagan hurled a scoreless ninth inning to net his seventh save in that one … Jose Altuve went 3-for-4 with a two-run dinger -- his 15th long ball of the season -- to lift the Astros to a victory over the Athletics … Roberto Osuna notched his 23rd save in that contest. … Didi Gregorius went 3-for-5 with three RBI to lead the Yankees to a narrow win over the Twins. … Edwin Encarnacion launched his 30th round-tripper of the season in that contest … Daniel Vogelbach slugged a pair of solo homers to propel the Mariners to a victory over the Rangers. … Rougned Odor clobbered a three-run homer in the loss. … Reynaldo Lopez recorded 10 strikeouts over eight innings in a loss to the Marlins. … Brad Keller fired seven scoreless innings in a win over the Braves. … Marcus Stroman yielded one run over seven innings in a loss to the Indians. … Kole Calhoun went 3-for-4 with a solo homer to power the Angels to a win over the Dodgers. … Domingo Santana underwent an MRI before Wednesday’s game, but there’s still no update on the results. … Jose Alvarado (oblique) could resume throwing off a mound next week. … Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reported Wednesday that Rangers relievers Chris Martin and Jose Leclerc are “drawing interest” from clubs. … Brad Peacock (shoulder) will throw a bullpen session Sunday. … Twins designated Blake Parker for assignment.
NL Quick Hits: Kris Bryant told reporters after exiting Wednesday’s game against the Giants due to right knee soreness that he’ll be ready to play on Friday against the Brewers. … Jeff Passan of ESPN reported Wednesday that the Mets “have been open” to trading Edwin Diaz. … Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo told reporters that closer Greg Holland does not appear to be hurt despite his early exit in the ninth inning on Wednesday. … Nick Senzel was removed from Wednesday’s game against the Brewers due to illness. … Jon Gray was lifted from Wednesday’s start against the Nationals due to a calf injury. X-rays came back negative and he’s expected to make his next scheduled start. … Jon Lester was scratched from his scheduled start Wednesday in San Francisco due to illness. He’ll start on Saturday against the Brewers instead. … Dansby Swanson was removed from Wednesday’s lineup against the Royals due to soreness in his heel … Jameson Taillon (elbow) has been shut down from throwing and will visit with doctors next week. … Paul DeJong went 4-for-4 with three home runs, five RBI and four runs scored in the Cardinals’ blowout win over the Pirates. … Javier Baez went 2-for-5 with a solo homer and two runs scored in the Cubs’ win over the Giants. … Craig Kimbrel notched his seventh save in that one. … Zac Gallen posted a career-high nine strikeouts over seven scoreless innings against the White Sox to record his first major-league win. … Starling Marte went 4-for-5 with three RBI and two runs scored in the Pirates’ loss to the Cardinals. … Fernando Tatis Jr. went 3-for-5 with and RBI in the Padres’ win over the Mets. … Manuel Margot walked twice and stole a pair of bases in that one as well. … Vince Velasquez fanned nine over 5 2/3 scoreless frames in a win over the Tigers. … Justin Turner collected three hits and slugged his 14th homer in the Dodgers’ loss to the Angels. … Brewers manager Craig Counsell told reporters that Jhoulys Chacin is very likely headed to the injured list with a right oblique strain. … Diamondbacks activated David Peralta from the 10-day injured list on Wednesday. … Willson Contreras went 1-for-4 in his return from 10-day injured list on Wednesday. … Max Fried (blister) will return from the injured list to start on Saturday against the Phillies. … Gregory Polanco (shoulder) is beginning a “brief period of rest” in his rehabilitation. … Cubs optioned Addison Russell to Triple-A Iowa.