MLB monthly progress report

MLB monthly progress report

The month of May is reaching its final acts. We have seen some squads turn things around after slow starts. But we have also seen teams still struggling to catch fire. In this monthly progress report, we will take a look at some of the teams on hot streaks, cold streaks and those heating up after adjustments made from April.

Yes, there is plenty of baseball to go and anything can happen in a full season. But these past few weeks will be instrumental in what to do for over 100 games yet to come. While some teams look to take over their divisions, others are finding ways to stay in the race. Of course, some teams have steeper mountains to climb than others.

monthly progress report: American league

The hot

The race for the AL West has become a tight one, with the Houston Astros winning eight of their last 10 outings and the Seattle Mariners winning seven of their last 10. The Astros hold the lead in the division by only 2.5 games. The standout component to Houston’s success is their starting rotation. The Astros boast the only pitching staff in the big leagues to yield a team ERA less than 3.00.

MLB monthly progress report

Gerrit Cole of the Houston Astros. (Photo from foxsports.com)

The Mariners, however, are not making it easy for Houston to just run away with the West. Seattle has made its strides primarily through the batter’s box. Though their numbers do not scream, “best in the AL,” the Mariners have found a high note, along with new ways to keep hitting it.

The cold

In the AL Central, the Kansas City Royals have won just three of their last 10 games. KC’s pitching staff holds the highest ERA in all of baseball. Not to mention the Royals’ bats have hit only 42 home runs so far this year, the fewest by any AL squad.

The Chicago White Sox are not fairing well either. They are right behind Kansas City with the second worst ERA. On top of that, Chicago’s batting order has driven in the fewest RBIs in the AL. The White Sox and Royals have two of the three worst regular season records in the AL.

The heating up

The Red Sox and Yankees are currently neck-and-neck for the AL East, but the Tampa Bay Rays are starting to turn it up. Only three games below .500, Tampa Bay has won six of its last 10 games. Currently, the Rays boast the second highest team batting average in the AL, along with a rapidly improving defense. But improvements in pitching will be needed if the Rays want to continue catching fire.

monthly progress report: national league

The hot

In the next part of this monthly progress report, the Atlanta Braves are making their presence felt around the league. Along with leading the NL East, Atlanta leads the NL in batting average and RBIs this season. Though the pitching rotation stands strong, a few adjustments could help the young Braves squad pull away from the pack.

MLB monthly progress report

Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves. (Photo by John Bazemore/Associated Press)

In the NL Central, the Milwaukee Brewers remain scorching in recent weeks. Leading the NL Central somewhat comfortably, The Brewers have made their way to the top with their pitching. Milwaukee’s pitching staff boasts the lowest ERA in the NL.

The cold

The Miami Marlins have not found many high notes this season. Offensive production has proved scarce for the Fish. The Marlins rank last in the NL in home runs and RBIs. Their pitching staff is not any brighter, yielding the worst ERA in the NL. On top of that, the attendance at Marlins Park is just as dismal, barely breaking 10,000 attendants per game on average.

To be fair, the Marlins are bulling through a massive rebuilding process, along with new ownership. Things cannot get better before it gets worse first. But some are questioning if there is a method to the rebuilding madness, or if it is just madness like the Jeffrey Loria days.

The heating up

The Washington Nationals are looking to take back the NL East. Though they still have a way to go, they have help. Washington’s pitching staff holds a 3.42 ERA as a unit, among the best in the NL. Plus, its batting lineup has tallied over 60 home runs this season. But with division rivals as imposing as Atlanta and Philadelphia have been, the Nationals will need to pick up the pace.

The Colorado Rockies have taken the lead in the NL West, with the Arizona Diamondbacks hitting a slump. The Rockies’ defense has become one of the best units in baseball this season. But if they are to remain at the top, Colorado needs to improve in both batting average and pitching. If they can do that, the Rockies can increase the gap between themselves and the rest of the division.

in closing

At the end of the day, everyone will have their ups and downs. Hopefully in the next monthly progress report, we can showcase new teams turning things around. The lessons each team learns from May can spell out solutions to pending problems. With June around the corner, the race for the playoffs continues.

 

Featured image from wikipedia.org

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MLB best hitters

MLB update: League’s best hitters

When they were children, today’s MLB players dreamed about hitting a home run in a sold-out ballpark. Now, those same children have made their marks as household names, along with snagging Gold Gloves and Silver Slugger awards along the way. Here is a look at some of the league’s best batters of 2018 so far.

Some of these players have also showcased exceptional fielding prowess. But it is from inside the batter’s box they have shown to be the most dangerous. Both the American and National Leagues host plenty of formidable batters. There is still plenty of baseball in store, but these hitters have become leaders of their respective packs.

American League’s Best Batters

In the AL, a race for the Triple Crown is picking up heat. The amazing part is the three players in the lead play in the same division, and two of them play for the same team. The first player swinging for the title is Boston’s Mookie Betts.

MLB best hitters

Mookie Betts (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

For someone to win the Triple Crown, that player needs to lead his league in batting average, home runs and RBIs. Betts reigns supreme in two of those categories. He shares the lead for most home runs with 15, along with a .365 batting average.

However, the 25-year-old stands 10th in the AL in RBIs with 32. This does not take anything away from what he has accomplished this season. We will be seeming him break the 100 career home runs mark well before the All-Star Game in July.

His teammate, J.D. Martinez, is the other player Betts shares the home run lead with. Martinez has tallied 15 home runs and 41 RBIs, along with a .343 batting average. In his last seven games, Martinez has gone yard five times and driven home eight on a .346 average. If he continues picking up steam, the 30-year-old could take over the AL MVP debate, as well the Triple Crown.

The third candidate for the coveted hardware is Manny Machado of the Baltimore Orioles. Machado currently stands as the current American League leader in RBIs. His .343 batting average and 14 home runs are nothing to sneeze at either.

Unfortunately, the All-Star shortstop is one of very few bright spots for Baltimore this season. He is almost certain to return to the All-Star Game after missing it last season. Hopefully, the Orioles can turn things around in the upcoming games.

National League’s best batters

There may not a very tight battle for an NL Triple Crown, but some players have commanded more than respect from the batter’s box. Odubel Herrera of the Philadelphia Phillies is one of them.

MLB best hitters

(Photo by Brett Davis, USA TODAY Sports)

Herrera currently leads the National League in batting average this season. He has also cashed in seven home runs and 30 RBIs. As for the rest of Philadelphia, they have won seven of their last 10 games and are fighting for the NL East with Atlanta. If Herrera and company can continue this momentum, we will be seeing them in October.

Speaking of Atlanta, first baseman Freddie Freeman is taking names from the batter’s box in 2018 too. Freeman boasts a .321 batting average, along with nine home runs and 35 RBIs. Though Freeman has struggled a bit in recent games, the Braves are still running hot this season. Atlanta holds a slim lead over the rest of the NL East, but if the Braves wish to expand their lead, Freeman and company will have to bring more pain than ever before. Not to mention the Phillies are right on their tail.

Arizona Diamondback, A.J. Pollock, has made noise with his bat as well. Pollock has brewed up a .293 batting average with 11 home runs and 33 RBIs. However, he has hit a small slump in recent outings, as well as the rest of the Diamondbacks. But with some well-advised adjustments, Pollock and the gang could get back to dominating the NL West.

moving forward

Of course, these are merely a handful of the league’s best batters. There are plenty of names around the league making impacts this season. Now the question is, can these players continue their strides for the months of baseball still yet to play? Confidently, fans and experts will watch for what these players can do, in addition to whoever begins to appear on the radar.

 

Featured image from Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

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Cincinnati Reds 2018 MLB Draft

Cincinnati Reds: Potential pitching draft picks

The MLB Draft does not receive the same amount of fanfare as the NBA or NFL. Small market teams like the Reds, however, live or die by how their first-round picks turn out. The last two years have given the Reds a shot at elite talent, drafting Nick Senzel in 2016 and Hunter Greene in 2017. 2018 should be no different, as the talent pool at the top of the draft has a ton of upside. This Reds draft may be the most important, as it could be the final piece to the World Series puzzle.

This year’s draft is anybody’s guess as to how it will unfold. The latest reports have Casey Mize out of Auburn as the consensus first pick, with conflicting reports for every pick after that. Mize’s latest start was not too strong though, so he may be picked second or third behind a couple college bats. College arms will help the major league team sooner, whereas high schoolers fit the high-risk, high-reward mantra.

Today, we will outline the most commonly seen pitchers floating at the top of MLB mock drafts from industry experts. Each expert has their own ranking for the pitching talent, so any of these names could be selected by the Reds at pick No. 5.

High School Pitchers

Cincinnati Reds 2018 MLB Draft

Will the Reds take left-handed ace Matthew Liberatore with the No. 5 pick in the draft? (Photo from azcentral.com)

The high-risk gamble of prep arms has made MLB evaluators weary, with less being drafted in the first-round annually since 2014. Kyle Glaser of Baseball America wrote an article detailing this. It is a good read if you want to make yourself scared of high school pitchers.

In 2017, there were only two high school pitchers taken in the first round. There is a lot of talent in this year’s class, which could push down some of the high school pitchers.

Carter Stewart is the top high school arm in this draft class. He couples a mid-90s fastball with an exceptional curveball. For the advanced analytic folks, Stewart’s curveball’s spin rate is truly amazing. Stewart has a changeup as well that grades to be just an average offering in the future. The Florida native’s two above-average pitches and a velocity increase this spring has Carter sitting firmly in the top 10. Stewart has similar upside as Hunter Greene, but with a slower fastball.

Matthew Liberatore is the best left-handed high school arm in the class. His profile is the polar opposite of somebody like Greene. Liberatore has four pitches, all of them well developed for a high schooler. His fastball sits low 90s, hitting as high as 96 in one start and falling as low as 88 from the stretch.

The downside with Liberatore, however, is that none of these pitches grade elite in the long run. Liberatore is one of the safest high school pitchers to enter the draft in a long time. Is a top 5 pick worth spending on a pitcher who will never be an ace, but potentially a solid mid-rotation arm?

Honorable mention goes to Ryan Weathers (yes, son of former Reds closer David “Stormy” Weathers), Ethan Hankins, Kumar Rocker and Cole Winn, who are just some of the other high schoolers to keep an eye on as the draft looms closer. Each player would have been first-rounders 10 years ago, but could wind up as second-rounders due to the aforementioned prep school weariness.

College Arms

Cincinnati Reds 2018 MLB Draft

Brady Singer has been dominating the SEC for three years now. Could he be doing the same to the NL Central in a couple years? (Photo from gatorsports.com)

College pitchers have been all the rage lately in drafts. Top college players only require two to three years in the minors. Couple that with being cheaper since they do not have leverage and better competition than high schoolers, and it is easy to see why college arms have been more frequently drafted as of late.

This year’s crop is no different, as there are a plethora of names surfacing near the top of draft boards. Casey Mize is the consensus No. 1 pick at this time, but there are still other players the Reds could focus on instead.

Brady Singer was a little inconsistent to start the 2018 college season, but outdueled Mize when they played. He was the ace of the Florida rotation and could be a stellar selection for the Reds at No. 5 this draft.

Singer has had three injury-free seasons of strong production for an elite college program. Singer has three above-average offerings, including a fastball that hovers around the mid-90s. The Florida ace should move quickly in the farm and will look good accompanying Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle.

Shane McClanahan has the elite fastball Reds scouts drool over (see Hunter Greene and Tony Santillan). The lefty is the ace of the University of South Florida’s staff and has thrived in that role. His fastball has brushed triple digits several times this season and has a changeup with great movement on it. Some scouts have gone so far to compare him to Chris Sale, especially if his slider comes around.

Shane’s K/9 is crazy, reaching double-digit strikeouts in 50 percent of his starts (six out of 12). He has also had five walks in four of his 12 starts, hence his biggest negative. If Reds scouting thinks they can fix the walk issue, McClanahan’s upside is insane. Unfortunately that is easier said than done though.

Conclusion

This should be the last season the Reds have a top-five pick anytime soon. Hitting on these picks is what turns a Wild Card contender into a perennial playoff team. The Reds have plenty of offense already between all levels of the system, but only have a couple pitchers who are expected to make any major league impact.

Grabbing a college pitcher to join the Reds when the theoretical playoff window is open seems like the smart choice. The hardest part is deciding which one.

Make sure to check in next week as the hitters the Reds could take in the first round are outlined.

 

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David Hensley San Diego State

David Hensley does it all

San Diego State shortstop David Hensley has been making plenty of noise during his time with the Aztecs, especially this season.

Last week, Hensley came up big in a doubleheader against San Jose State. In the second game, Hensley had a career-high five RBIs with four hits and three runs.

The Aztecs are 36-17 and second in the Mountain West Conference. For the season, Hensley is currently hitting .308 with three home runs and 28 RBIs. He also had a 29-game on-base streak early in the season as well, an accomplishment Hensley said reflects all the work he has put in at San Diego State.

“It’s a big accomplishment. I think that just shows everything I’ve worked for over these past four years at school,” Hensley said. “I try to do my best to fulfill that spot at the two-hole in the batting order and get on base as much as I can and give our team a chance to get some runs in across the board.”

Along with his bat, Hensley is quite the defender. In his career at San Diego State, he has played every position except catcher. Last season he played mostly in right field. This season he switched to the team’s primary shortstop.

There are not many guys who can comfortably play every position like that. Hensley said what helped him was the fact he was always bouncing around positions when he was growing up. He usually played with kids older than him and would fill in any empty position on the field.

“I used to jump around a lot and play with guys a little bit older than I am, so I would never have a set position if that makes sense, somewhere I play all the time,” he said. “So every time I go out and see these guys, I’m always playing in the outfield, playing in the infield, going where they need me. I think that over time that helped me develop as an athlete and as a baseball player.”

Early years

Hensley grew up playing a lot of different sports, but baseball was his main one. He began playing baseball at a young age in San Diego, California. His dad also used to play and got him interested early on.

Hensley’s dad saw some abilities in his son early on and encouraged him to stick with it and take things more seriously. Hensley credits his dad for helping him develop a love for the game.

David Hensley San Diego State

Hensley has played every position except catcher with the Aztecs. (Photo by Kelly Smiley)

“I think him letting me know that early, sticking with me, making sure I was on track to be where I needed to be and have the preparation I needed at that time to compete and excel, I think it built me up to have a real love for the game and a passion,” Hensley said.

Hensley enjoyed a great high school career at Patrick Henry High School in San Diego. He earned three varsity letters and served as team captain in all three of those seasons. In his senior year, he hit .320 with two home runs, 26 RBIs and 22 runs scored. He also hit .370 as a junior and .350 as a sophomore.

He attracted some attention from big schools like UCLA and Arizona. However, he did not receive many offers, and his grades in school were not the greatest either. Hensley said a lot of people believed he was looking to be drafted in the MLB rather than play in college.

“I didn’t really have a lot of offers coming out of high school. I had a lot more draft opportunities I guess than I did actual scholarship opportunities,” he said. “I don’t think a lot of people thought that I wanted to go to college out of high school because of the position I was in. And not being the best student, I think that a lot of people passed on me.”

San Diego State coach Mark Martinez saw the potential in Hensley and came to his house one day to talk and give him an offer. Hensley said being able to play in his hometown meant a lot to him.

“It wasn’t until my senior year that I got a call from coach Mark Martinez,” Hensley said. “I came home one day from school, and they were sitting in my living room. He asked me if I wanted to be an Aztec. I guess that’s something I worked for my whole life, and being able to stay in my hometown, nothing meant more to me than that.”

College life

Hensley saw some action in his freshman season, appearing in 24 games, including 19 starts. He batted .257 with eight RBIs and 12 runs.

David Hensley San Diego State

Hensley hit a career high .357 in his junior year. (Photo by Kelly Smiley)

Hensley was much more involved in his sophomore season, as he became a full-time starter on the Aztecs. He batted .276 with a home run, 20 RBIs and 20 runs. Hensley also enjoyed a team-high 13-game hitting streak that season where he hit .386.

Henley’s junior year was even better. He led the team in batting average at .357, which also ranked 12th in the Mountain West that season. He also hit three home runs, drove in 31 runs, scored 36 more and stole seven bases.

In his senior year, Hensley is hitting .308 with three home runs, 28 RBIs and 37 runs. He has also seen action as a pitcher this year. In five appearances, he has thrown six scoreless innings and allowed just one hit. He also has four strikeouts, a walk and a save.

The future

Hensley has definitely made a great case for why he should be drafted into the MLB. In his four years at San Diego State, he has proven he can pretty much do it all. He is a great contact hitter at the top of the order and can play almost anywhere a team would need him.

Hensley said his versatility is one of his greatest strengths.

“That is a positive for me in the draft because you get somebody who is available to do multiple things instead of just a one-position player or a pitcher only,” Hensley said. “Kind of give them a little bit of a utility. Not a lot of guys get in as utility I don’t think too much nowadays.”

As far as what he still needs to work on, Hensley said he needs to continue to get stronger and keep his body in the best shape possible.

“Physically, I think I need to get stronger,” he said. “Just putting on some weight, sticking to it, making sure I keep my body healthy and give myself the best opportunity to succeed.”

The 2018 MLB draft will take place June 4-6. It will be interesting to see where Hensley lands. He definitely brings a lot to the table at the plate and on the field.

After life in baseball, Hensley would like to get involved in marketing and promotions in the music industry.

 

Featured image by Kelly Smiley

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2018 MLB All-Star Game

2018 All-Star Game: Player watch

Every year, the MLB All-Star Game showcases the best the big leagues have to offer. Fans gather around for the yearly festivities to not only enjoy the show, but also to root for their favorite players on the rosters. Several household names are finding their ways to the break. But several lesser-known names are presenting their cases for a spot in the lineup.

Here is a very early look at some unfamiliar faces looking to get into Washington D.C. as a 2018 All-Star. Whether it is a rookie off to a hot start or a veteran finding a big break, these are the ones to watch out for as July 17 approaches.

All-Star Game: American League

There are several players looking to get on the AL roster for this year’s All-Star Game. One that should not be overlooked is Seattle Mariners right fielder Mitch Haniger.

2018 MLB All-Star Game

American League All-Star roster potentials

This season, Haniger currently boasts 10 home runs and 32 RBIs, along with a .288 batting average. Though he has yet to go yard in the month of May, the 27-year-old presents a sound case for a spot on the AL lineup.

Another player from the AL West turning heads this year is Jed Lowrie. The 34-year-old Oakland A has cashed in 36 RBIs and nine home runs. He also holds a .329 batting average, the best of his career. Lowrie has no doubt found his big break in 2018. But to gain a spot on the list, he will need to keep swinging.

He may be a 29-year-old rookie, but Hector Velazquez is turning into one of this season’s most ferocious pitchers. He currently stands undefeated on the mound, in addition to a 2.10 ERA. Though he is currently on the disabled list, Velazquez will no doubt continue to light it up for the Boston Red Sox.

Nicholas Castellanos of the Detroit Tigers is another name to keep a lookout for. He is posting career bests in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Castellanos also leads the Tigers in RBIs over future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera.

All-Star Game: National League

Though many players are deserving of recognition, the NL roster can only fit so many players. The first player making his case to return this season is A.J. Pollock of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

2018 MLB All-Star Game

(Photo from wikipedia.org)

Pollock has not enjoyed the All-Star perks since 2015, which is his only selection. But he is definitely a strong candidate for a roster slot in 2018. Pollock has belted 11 home runs and 33 RBIs, plus a respectable .293 batting average. Pollock will need to step it up if he wants to get votes for the roster.

Aaron Nola of the Philadelphia Phillies could be a favorite for the NL Cy Young Award. That is definitely a sound enough argument for an All-Star Game appearance as well. He boasts a 6-1 record in his nine starts. He also holds a 1.99 ERA, the fourth best in the NL. As Philly looks to take over the NL East, Nola will also look to continue dominating.

Colin Moran of the Pittsburgh Pirates is another player looking for his first All-Star selection. Moran currently leads all NL rookies in batting average and on-base percentage. He may not be a known home run hitter, but underestimating him in the batter’s box will cost one dearly. Not to mention he has also tallied 21 RBIs this season.

Moran and the Pittsburgh Pirates look to keep bringing the pain as they look to take hold of the NL Central.

Until Then

Keep in mind, these are only a handful of names looking to hit the field in the All-Star Game in Washington D.C. Not to mention that the game does not start for another two whole months. Surely, there will be more players making a case at a slot on the roster.

Unfortunately, space on the lineup is limited. Until that day comes, we will look forward to those stepping up and presenting their cases to be on this year’s All-Star team. Until that day comes, play ball!

 

Featured image from federal baseball and USA TODAY Sports

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Boston Red Sox slump

The fall of the Boston Red Sox

A little over a month ago, the Boston Red Sox were the best team in baseball. They were sitting over four games ahead of the AL East and rolling on both sides of the ball. But since April 20, they are 11-12 and have fallen a game back of the mighty New York Yankees.

The Red Sox are 5-5 in their last 10 and just cannot seem to beat the Oakland Athletics (1-4 this season). The quality starts and the offense have not slowed down, but the bullpen has had a tough time nailing down close games.

The situation

Prior to April 20, the Boston Red Sox were 17-2, playing some of the best baseball in the league and sitting comfortably atop the AL East. Since then they have free fallen. David Price, Hector Velazquez and Carson Smith have all been in and out of the disabled list, hitters have gone cold and besides Craig Kimbrel, it seems like the back end of the bullpen is more than struggling.

There is not really one true problem to point to with the Red Sox so far. Although it was impossible for them to keep up their early season torrid pace, no one had them going 11-12 following a 17-2 start.

David Price

Boston Red Sox slump

David Price (Photo from Boston Sports Journal).

Well here we are with David Price again. Price has a 4.89 ERA with just two quality starts out of his eight. He is averaging the lowest total amount of pitches thrown per start of any Red Sox starter this season. He is averaging a walk every two strikeouts.

He is on pace to have the highest ERA of his career and is already rapidly approaching his season averages for runs allowed, and he has only pitched 42.1 innings.

Obviously it is early in the season, but Price has yet again struggled for the Boston Red Sox. He is on pace to have his worst statistical season of his career.

Hector Velazquez

One of the best pitchers on the staff might not be one that casual baseball fans have heard of. Hector Velazquez is quietly going about his work and has a 2.10 ERA through 25.2 innings.

He has started two games and appeared in eight others. He has given Boston’s offense a chance to shine. He is 5-0 this season, has kept the ball in the ballpark and also has not handed out free passes. He has quietly been one of the best pitchers on staff, and the Red Sox cannot get him back fast enough.

The top of the lineup: The good

1. Mookie Betts, 2. Andrew Benintendi, 3. Hanley Ramirez, 4. J.D. Martinez, 5. Xander Bogaerts.

The top five of the Red Sox order has been the most consistent thing there is.

Andrew Benintendi is on an eight-game hitting streak where he is hitting over .360. Mookie Betts has hit three leadoff home runs this season and is sitting squarely in the MVP conversation. Hanley Ramirez, outside of his recent woes, has been hitting around .300 and is seemingly knocking a runner in every single night. J.D. Martinez is hitting well over .300 and is proving that he is not just a power hitter, but one of the best overall hitters in all of baseball. Finally, Xander Bogaerts has been the most consistent hitter this season. The five of them account for 130 of the Red Sox 213 RBIs thus far.

The pen

There has been some good in the Red Sox bullpen. However, as the Sox are rotating pitchers in and out, the pitchers have hiccuped. Carson Smith was just recently placed on the 10-day disabled list. He was having a solid first half to the season before hurting his throwing shoulder.

The long relief pitching has struggled for the Red Sox. In 19 1/3 innings, Heath Hembree has given up 11 runs. Brian Johnson, who has been in and out of the bullpen, has given up 14 runs in 21 innings. Steven Wright, who has finally returned from injury, has given up two runs in two 1/3 innings. In other words, when the Red Sox are down in a game, they struggle to get back in it. The long relief pitchers have struggled to pick up the starters when they have struggled.

The Boston Red Sox are not a good come-from-behind team this season. In games that Rick Porcello and Chris Sale start, they have seemingly dominated this season. Due to the fact that the two starters can almost always be counted on, the Red Sox always jump out to an early lead. Just to speak the obvious, everyone is more relaxed when a lead is acquired early in a game.

 

Featured image by AP Photo/Richard Rodriguez

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2018 Cy Young Award watch

MLB: 2018 Cy Young Award watch

In the game of baseball, no position is as praised or scrutinized as the pitcher. The pitcher has to ward off batter after batter and keep as many off base as possible. The pitcher also has to work with varying amounts of run support in the process. For those few who are the coolest under this kind of pressure, the Cy Young Award awaits.

This watch will highlight some of the early favorites to win the coveted hardware in 2018. Will there be a new, young ace reigning supreme? Will there be a veteran looking to expand his trophy case? These are some notable aces making their cases this season.

Cy Young Award Watch: American League

2018 Cy Young Award watch

(Photo from Sports Illustrated)

The Houston Astros house several pitchers off to a great start, as well as the first stop of this Cy Young Award watch. Picking just one from this bunch was difficult, but ultimately, Charlie Morton takes the marginal lead here.

Yes, Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole boast lower ERAs than Morton (both below 2.00). However, Morton has more wins and an undefeated record to his name.

Morton has no doubt found his footing in Houston, rocking a 19-7 combined record in his two seasons as an Astro. As a pitching unit, the Astros lead the American League in ERA and batting average surrendered. Morton’s role has become a huge part of this feat.

Over in the AL East, Luis Severino of the New York Yankees has entered the conversation as well. The 24-year-old has tallied a 6-1 record on the mound this season. He has also surrendered a meager 2.14 ERA in his nine starts this season. Severino’s arm has more than helped the Pinstripes as they look to take over the division. If he can remain hot, he will end up in many more All-Star rosters and Cy Young Award conversations to come.

Another AL East arm to keep an eye on for the hardware is Boston’s Rick Porcello. Though Chris Sale holds a better ERA, Porcello remains undefeated this season. Porcello retains a 2.79 ERA, plus a 5-0 record in 51 2/3 innings pitched. Porcello and the rest of the Red Sox rotation will need to stay hot with their archrivals on their tail. As for Porcello, a second Cy Young Award to his name would not hurt.

Cy Young Award Watch: National League

Over in the NL East, The Washington Nationals are now on a tear. In the NL Cy Young conversation, Max Scherzer is among the first names to pop up. It is not very hard to see why.

2018 Cy Young Award watch

(Photo from SI.com)

“Mad Max” currently sports a 7-1 record, along with the second lowest ERA in the National League.

But it does not stop there. Scherzer’s ERA has been below 2.00 in each of his starts this season. The 33-year-old ace is now eyeing a third Cy Young Award in a row, which would be the fourth of his career.

Another NL East name has entered the fray, from the Philadelphia Phillies. Meet right-hander Aaron Nola.

The 24-year-old has put together a 6-1 record with a 1.99 ERA this season. Not to mention he is undefeated in the month of May with a 0.89 ERA. Nola has shown significant improvement throughout his career. It is very likely he will be at the All-Star game in D.C. But if Nola can remain this imposing from the mound, the Cy Young Award, and possibly a playoff spot, will be a sight for the sore eyes of the Phillies faithful.

Over in the NL Central, the St. Louis Cardinals are fighting for the division with Milwaukee and Pittsburgh (all within only 0.5 games of each other). Pitcher Miles Mikolas of the Cards has done his part to keep the Cards in the race. Mikolas boasts a 5-0 record with a 2.51 ERA this season. He has also yielded a mere .233 batting average in his seven starts. With pitchers like Mikolas on board, the St. Louis pitching staff has become one the most ferocious rotations in the big leagues, with the third lowest ERA in baseball.

As the Seasons continues…

There are plenty of candidates worthy to be mentioned in the Cy Young Award conversation. At any time, unknown faces can become household names, if not take over the spotlight completely. As the season continues, the race for the playoffs, as well as yearly player accolades, will intensify with time.

 

Featured image from Baseball-Almanac.com

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For many children that have grown up playing sports, they have all dreamed of one day making it into the pros at one point. Baseball is one of the most popular destinations for this kind of journey. The rookie class of 2018 is now living out that life-long dream on the big stage.

In this rookie watch, we will be taking a look at the rookies that are making impacts in their inaugural seasons. Establishing their commanding presences, these guys have made their cases early in the “Rookie of the Year” conversations. Whether from the pitcher’s mound or the batter’s box, these rookies are looking to command the respect of the league.

rookie watch: American League

The Boston Red Sox pitching staff has established itself as among the elite in 2018. One of many names blazing on the mound is 29-year-old righty, Hector Velazquez.

MLB rookie watch

(Photo by AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)

Do not let the age fool you. Velazquez has given no quarter this season. He boasts a 4-0 record, the best of all AL rookies. He also leads the pack with a 2.38 ERA. Though only starting his MLB career, Velazquez is a can’t miss contender for AL Rookie of the Year, and potentially a Cy Young Award. Boston’s lineup is stacked, but Velazquez has become a vital asset keeping the Red Sox on top.

Speaking of stacked lineups, The New York Yankees are slugging it out with Boston for the AL East. The Pinstripes have become a batting terror this season, and home of the next name in this rookie watch. Meet Gleyber Torres.

Though he is not a home run hitting master, Torres has nevertheless made his presence felt. The 21-year-old second baseman leads all AL rookies in batting average and on-base percentage. He has also hit 11 RBI in his 16 games in the big leagues. With New York closing in on Boston, Torres can be an x-factor if he can continue this kind of batting.

You might be asking, “How come I have not mentioned Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels yet?” Relax, he is still the leading candidate for AL Rookie of the Year in virtually everyone’s book. His 3-1 pitching record and .344 batting average have definitely put him among the brightest young stars of 2018. On top of that, Ohtani has belted 14 RBIs and only yielding a .213 batting average from opposing batters. Enough said.

Rookie Watch: National League

The first player in our NL rookie watch is starting to get his name out as a Los Angeles Dodger. Meet right-handed pitcher, Walker Buehler.

MLB rookie watch

(Photo from Sports Illustrated)

Buehler is currently boasting a 2-0 pitching record this season, along with a 1.13 ERA. He has accomplished this within the 16 innings he has pitched so far. The rest of the Dodgers, however, cannot seem to break out from their slow start to the new campaign. Not to mention their legendary ace, Clayton Kershaw, is on the disabled list. Buehler and company will have to step up to keep the Dodgers’ playoff hopes alive.

In the NL East, the Atlanta Braves hold a very thin lead in their division. One rookie that has helped Atlanta to the top is a familiar name around the league: left fielder, Ronald Acuña Jr.

Acuña currently leads all NL rookies in batting average and slugging percentage. Plus, his fielding abilities are razor sharp for his age, having yet to record an error this season. Not only will he be a contender for NL Rookie of the Year but also could be a Gold Glove winner in the not-so-distant future.

Returning to the NL West, Christian Villanueva has turned into a formidable power hitter for the San Diego Padres. However, he has entered a slump in recent games, including a .040 batting average in his last seven. Despite this, Villanueva continues to lead all rookies in both home runs and RBIs. If he can get his batting average back up, the 26-year-old third baseman can help brighten up San Diego’s offense, as well as its season.

Looking ahead

Winning the Rookie of the Year Award can push a player to stardom. It can also preview a bright future for the baseball club. But let us not forget that we have seen some of the game’s greatest not win this particular honor. Not to mention that anyone can enter a cold streak at any time. For all of the new guys, we wish nothing but the best in their baseball careers.

 

Featured image by Karl L. Moore and baseballamerica.com

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Matt Harvey Traded to the Cincinnati Reds for Devin Mesoraco

After being designated for assignment on Saturday, Matt Harvey will be moving from the Big Apple to the Queen City.

The deal will be Devin Mesoraco and cash going to the Mets for Matt Harvey.

Both players have had injury plagued careers. Also they both received major contracts after a great season. Weirdly enough their careers are very similar in most respects and both teams needed upgrades at these positions.

Mesoraco had a 2014 season where he was an All-Star, batting .273 with 25 homeruns and 80 rbi. The Reds assumed they had their catcher of the future and gave him a major contract. Sadly hip and shoulder injuries derailed his career as he hasn’t played in more than 60 games in a season. He is signed through this season and making a little over $13 million. One can assume he will take over the starting catching duties for the Mets.

As for Harvey he had Tommy-John surgery after an All-Star year in 2013 and came back and had an even better 2015 but then needed shoulder surgery in 2016 and has never really been the same since. Like Mesoraco the Mets assumed that Harvey would be a perennial All-Star and even possibly their ace for a long time to come. He is also signed through 2018 for about $5.6 million.

Unlike Mesoraco, Harvey has had his off the field issues. He became a superstar in one of the biggest cities in the world. The pressure of being famous may have gotten to Harvey as there were issues with partying and other distractions. This culminated with different arguments about his role, his managers, and his team. With the move to Cincinnati one can assume the pressure to perform and constantly be in the spotlight will be alleviated.

This trade could work out very well for all involved. The Reds have struggled developing their young pitchers and if they can get Matt Harvey to even be half of what he was then they will be happy. New York as stated before was looking for catching help and if Mesoraco can stay healthy then he could be a very valuable asset as he joins former teammates Todd Frazier and Jay Bruce.

Mesoraco will join the Mets tonight and the Harvey will join the Reds when they travel to Los Angeles.

MLB players to watch out for

MLB players to watch out for in May

As the month of May rolls onward, the MLB has beheld several players on the diamond looking to get their names out there. While some have picked up where they left off in April, others are eager to strike big this time of year. The season is still young, but already, new and familiar faces are catching fire immediately. These are some to watch out for in April.

This time around, we will not be focusing so much on the household names, such as Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and Jose Altuve. We will be highlighting some players not as popular as the previously mentioned that have been firing on all cylinders in recent weeks. These are some players who we might see in the All-Star Game this July, and potentially more in the future.

pitchers to watch out for

The Tampa Bay Rays are trying to find a consistent winning rhythm, though they have won six of their last 10. One pitcher helping the team stay in the race is Jake Faria.

MLB players to watch out for

Jake Faria of the Tampa Bay Rays  (Photo from Wikipedia)

The 24-year-old currently rocks a 3-1 record in 2018. Though his ERA is a little higher than desired, Faria has shown great improvement throughout this season. If he continues this, Faria can be the next elite arm in the AL.

As for the rest of the Rays’ pitching staff, more work must still be done. But Faria and the rest of the staff will need to keep firing to catch up with the surging Yankees and Red Sox.

Speaking of the Red Sox, Rick Porcello has shown no mercy from the pitcher’s mound. He remains undefeated this season, in addition to a 2.14 ERA. The 29-year-old ace also has an AL CY Young Award under his belt, and is a frontrunner to take the coveted hardware again in 2018.

The rest of Boston, on the other hand, is a well-oiled machine in the pitching department. But the Red Sox must keep their foot on the throttle with the Yankees hot on their tail.

Over in the National League, the St. Louis Cardinals have taken the lead in the Central Division. 26-year-old Carlos Martinez has been one of many assets to St. Louis’ success this season. He has chalked up a 3-1 record and 1.40 ERA. The Cardinals boast one of the most dominant rotations in the entire MLB. Martinez is a big reason for that.

batters to watch out for

The Boston Red Sox, as a team, lead the American League in batting average. One of several reasons why is one of the newer Red Sox players this season: J.D. Martinez.

MLB players to watch out for

(Photo from MassLive.com)

This season, Martinez has belted eight home runs and 27 RBIs. He also has a .349 batting average. Although teammate Mookie Betts has garnered more attention, Martinez has become one of the players to watch out for in the batter’s box. Fail to prepare for this left fielder, and he will make you pay dearly.

The next player making splashes at the plate is A.J. Pollock of the Arizona Diamondbacks. In his last seven games, Pollock has put up four home runs and eight RBIs, not to mention a .423 batting average.

His season numbers are 10 home runs and 29 RBIs with a .306 batting average. Pollock and the Diamondbacks will need to keep it up if they want to remain at the top of the National League.

Over in the NL East, the race for the top is very tight. One of the teams fighting for the top spot is the Atlanta Braves, where you will find Nick Markakis. The two-time Gold Glove winner is heating up in the batter’s box, with a .344 batting average. His 25 RBIs and six home runs are nothing to sneeze at either. With the NL East race neck-and-neck, Markakis and company will need to take every opportunity possible to get ahead.

Still to come

New weeks and new games await, and every player is looking for a chance to shine under the lights. As we await the upcoming games, we anticipate more players to watch out for on the radars of fans and analysts alike. Whoever it might be, we will be hopeful to see them in the All-Star Game in Washington D.C.

 

Featured image by AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

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