All posts by TheNaturalMevs

A Cubbies-Redlegs Summer Matinee

Today I went with three friends to see the Reds host the Cubbies on a getaway day. The Cubs won this game 9-2. The seats and weather were great, and we saw a bunch of cool stuff. It was the first time I’ve made it to a game this season, and I just got a new camera.

Click through the jump to see too many photos from today.

Continue reading A Cubbies-Redlegs Summer Matinee

Happy Lucas Giolito Day!

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We had to wait to see if this game was going to get underway to get this post up and make it official. Today is Lucas Giolito’s much-anticipated MLB debut. He just struck out his first batter in Major League Baseball. He’s going to be a good one folks.

As always, the scouting report on the newest member of the MLB fraternity:

Scouting: As Jeffrey Paternostro noted in a recent piece, in the four seasons we’ve been posting Eyewitness Reports from the prospect team, exactly five live reports have been filed at an 80 OFP, and all five were on Lucas Giolito. This accurately reflects his upside, and with the midseason recall of a tall righty with a prototypical pitching frame, clean mechanics, and an array of potentially dominant pitches, it’s hard not to be reminded of the arrival of aces like Strasburg and Noah Syndergaard.

Pitching from a high-three-quarters arm slot, Giolito will mix in both a four-seam and two-seam fastball. His velocity has recently sat anywhere from 91 to 97, and he’s topped out as high as 98 to 100 in the past. As impressive as those velocity figures are on their own, the fastball plays better than the raw velocity because of incredible downward plane that’s noted by nearly everyone who has seen him.

When needed, Giolito will cut his four-seamer and run his two-seamer; altogether, the fastball is far from a lifeless pitch showing just one look, which will serve him well at the major league level. His curveball has the single highest ceiling of any pitch thrown by a current pitching prospect—all five of those Eyewitness Reports referenced above graded it as a future 80 pitch, and I concur in that upside judgment. It’s got the potential to be the type of beautiful and dominating out-pitch that gives hitters quite a lot of trouble, but it was less consistent than that in recent viewings by Craig Goldstein and Adam McInturff. The changeup is a work-in-progress, but already flashes as a passable major-league third offering. He’ll need to rely on it more to get major-league hitters out multiple times through the order.

It’s not totally roses, twin pitches potentially peaking at an 80 grade, and comps to aces, though. Giolito’s command has always been a bit worse than you would hope for given his stuff and overall polish. Shaky command is the most common negative on a top pitching prospect and can definitely be overcome—for example, Syndergaard’s command concerns were more significant than Giolito’s, and have completely dissipated in the majors. But if there’s a skill-related factor that limits Giolito from reaching his top-of-the-rotation upside, command is probably going to be it. After reports emerged early this year that Giolito didn’t look right, sitting towards the lower band of his velocity range with diminished effectiveness, ESPN’s Keith Law noted that the Nationals had made some mechanical changes that have since been reversed. Between that and the managerial hire of Dusty Baker, there’s an easy joke to be made about the Nationals screwing up a sure thing—whither Mark Prior—though Baker’s days as an accused young arm shredder are long since in the past.

Since joining the Nationals’ system, Giolito’s workload has been handled with extreme care. He was limited to 98 innings in 2014 between skipped starts, low pitch counts, and a healthy shutdown in August. In 2015, Washington held a healthy Giolito back in extended spring training until May, and while he pitched on a regular schedule with loosened pitch counts, he only totaled 117 innings on the season. The Nationals are strong believers in innings limits, famously shutting a healthy Strasburg down in 2012 on the doorstep of the playoffs. It’s hard to see Giolito going much over 150 innings this year—he’s already thrown 71 in the minors—so even if he performs to his potential immediately, he may end up in the bullpen or inactive later in the season, playoff hunt or not. And despite his prototypical build and delivery, there’s always going to be a durability red flag on a Tommy John survivor who hasn’t approximated a major-league starting workload over the course of a full season yet.

A special thanks to Stephen Strasburg for making this all a possibility with yet another DL stint. Giolito could be up for good, and a lot of fun to watch going forward.

Kris Bryant makes MLB History in Cincinnati

Kris Bryant is just a helluva young power hitter. Last night in Cincinnati, the Cubbies dropped the hammer on Dan Straily and the Reds rascals of the bullpen for an 11-8 victory.

Bryant made history, becoming the first player in the history of baseball to hit three home runs, and two doubles in the same game. He now sports an OPS of 1.080 in Cincinnati. He kills the Reds in Cincinnati.

So, as you watch these; you’ll notice they weren’t cheapies. Bryant didn’t just kill the buffalo. He used ALL of the buffalo. He used the ivory bones for jewelry, the hide for a blanket. The skull will hold bullets.

We get the chance to actually see Bryant live and in the flesh tomorrow. We have a brand new camera we’ll be testing out. We should be able to get some decent shots. It’s too bad we couldn’t have been on hand for this performance of a lifetime.

Diamondhoggers is the Gentleman’s Game Palindrome

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We mentioned last week that it seemed like Diamondhoggers (us) finished first or last in every Gentleman’s game lately. Since last week was a poor 5th place finish in the contest, this week was due to be a jackpot.

That was only half true, starting on April 25th though, this is what Diamondhoggers’ result has been: Fifth, First, Fifth, Fifth, Fifth, First, Fourth, First, Fifth, and now First. That’s almost remarkable. It’s so weird. I could not finish second or third if my life depended on it.

Friday was a strange night in baseball. Of course we had the Coors slate in play which always serves to fuck things up a fair amount and lose all the money for everyone. It started slow but business picked up there as it always does and rewarded the buttplugs who just stacked that game.

I want to give strong mention to Phil Gosselin for being the worst ever. He was ‘the perfect punt’, hitting clean up at Coors. Three gentleman including me took this bait hook, line and sinker. Of course, in a game where 19 runs were put on the board, Phil Gosselin found a way to zero out. He qualifies as one of the biggest turds in Gentleman’s game history, without a doubt.

No real shakeup in the yearly standings, with things staying close to the same as they have been as we head towards the All Star Break.

Yearly Standings:
DStars45 – 50 points
t3bird04 – 44 points
Diamondhoggers – 36 points
Jsquad34 – 35 points
Swindaman3 – 29 points

Here is a copy of the winning lineup from Diamondhoggers. The Gents Game MVP was a luckbox play of Shin-soo Choo, who homered off David Price and scored 19 points. Masahiro Tanaka managed not to get blown up on a night when basically no one was safe.

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We’re skipping the fantasy players we would like to seize with a guillotine chokehold this week because we’re just too busy to make the post longer. That means double duty for next week’s column.

Please continue to follow the Gentleman’s Game Cup Series this summer presented by Julie’s Movers and Java Central Coffee Shop of Westerville.

The Astros are bludgeoning teams to death

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The Houston Astros were on FOX Saturday baseball last evening taking on the World Champs. It’s been high time to extract a little revenge.

I didn’t get to see the game because I was at a wedding. The Astros hung nine runs on the Royals in the first inning on Friday evening and won 13-4. Once you click through the jump, you’ll see that George Springer had a triple AND a grand slam in the first inning alone. Then on Saturday with much of the nation watching, they put seven on the board in the second inning and won 13-5.

Continue reading The Astros are bludgeoning teams to death

Your Saturday Baseball Post

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It’s a summer Saturday, maybe the nicest day of the summer. I move into my first real house with my wife and daughter in two days, so I’m busy as Hell. It’s funny, when you buy a house you think you’re set. Then you have about 1,000 other odd items you need to buy for it.

But you have to love a Saturday. We have a wedding to go to tonight, so I’ll miss most of the good action. Every team is in play, and the standings are starting to tilt so that we have some semblance of what’s really going on in this game. This is a time of year when people who don’t really love baseball seem to get bored with it. For me, this is the time of year I appreciate it most and start to fear it’s end. It’s the only game in town right now, and there’ something great about that.

Your 80’s song of the week that should be blared on a ballpark loudspeaker near you is Huey Lewis and the News. A classic.

Thank you for your continued support of Diamond Hoggers. Enjoy your Saturday.

Michael Taylor has the worst game in baseball history

There was a time I thought Michael A. Taylor was such a toolsy player. He reminded me of a Reggie Sanders type player. Michael Taylor is still toolsy. Sometimes, “toolsy” guys go 0 for 5 with a platinum sombrero, and then this happens:

There are a lot of elements in play here. Again, second straight night that the Bums have a wild walk-off win in the magic of Dodger Stadium. What a magical, mystical place in that far off land.

Corey Seager homered earlier in the game. And of course, Yasiel Puig is back kicking out stable car windows like the Puig of old; the crazy sumbitch. He’s just the type of player who ends a game with a Little League home run of sorts.

Dodgers win 4-3. These really are the types of things that happen to Dusty Baker teams over and over again.

Tommy Lasorda knew Spanish really well!

This is an old clip from a series called ‘Beisbol ’86’. You can find these laying around the internet in the deep dark corners.

The only reason(s) this video made my blog:

  1. I am so damn bored right now.
  2. It starts off (and ends with) an Eddie Money tune.
  3. I am a sucker for Tommy Lasorda shit. The old grouch gets me every time.
  4. I am a sucker for 80’s baseball stuff.

So enjoy yourself. Tommy Lasorda is good at the Spanish. Who knew?

Is Noah Syndergaard headed for Tommy John Surgery?

Today could be the last time we see Noah Syndergaard in uniform for 18 months or so.
Today could be the last time we see Noah Syndergaard in uniform for 18 months or so.

It was weird, today at work I had this premonition that I needed to go watch Noah Syndergaard’s start. I began my day pretty early today so I gave myself a free pass and knocked off at about 2:00 so I could come home and see a bit of this flamethrower.

I don’t really like pitchers. I can count on two hands over the last 15 years the guys who I liked enough to actually make sure I’m around a television to see them pitch. Hitters, sure. But a pitcher has to bring something special.

Thor was beginning to give me that feeling of Pedro in 1999 or 2000 almost. I liked him that much. But it was weird that I was sitting at my desk when I had this urge to go see him throw.

So I did it. And sure enough, Syndergaard had the elbow issue today during his start and he’s not going to see a doctor. With the way things go with pitchers; and moreover, pitchers that I like, Syndergaard is going to follow this up with a visit to Dr. James Andrews and he’ll have Tommy John Surgery. We won’t see him for like 18 months.

This absolutely sucks. I think I’m going to be sick. I am sick. I can’t move.

Throwing it Around

It’s a lazy midweek Wednesday afternoon. I’ve had a good week and I’m feeling a little under the weather so I decided to knock off early to watch Syndergaard. Here are the baseball offerings on the web today:

-Michael Saunders has been the Blue Jays’ best hitter. [Fangraphs]
-Update yourself on the National League all-star vote [Hardball Talk]
-The Yankees had to scrap a Joe DiMaggio bobblehead giveaway due to a lawyer’s demands. [CBS Sports]
-The Mets are thinking about adding Jose Reyes. [Amazin’ Avenue]
-The Mets beat the Royals in a World Series re-match, even with Bartolo Colon leaving the game in the first inning. [Faith and Fear in Flushing]
-For Gods sake, Erik Kratz had to throw last night for the Pirates. [Deadspin]
-Alex Bregman update. [Houston Chronicle]
-Some good detail on Jay Bruce’s approach. [Red Reporter]

Jay Bruce destroys Colby Lewis, continues tear

Man, who is this guy?

This guy who looks like the 23-year old kid again with power to all fields, with 16 homers and 55 RBI. This .282 average, .921 OPS bat?

Reds win 8-2 in Arlington in a game that Colby Lewis was supposed to handle their lineup easily, in a game where the Rangers and people around baseball were chalking this up to be a ‘gimme’.

I can’t believe now that Bruce is in the midst of a career year and probably the best offensive player on the roster; that the Reds are going to just move him. Say it ain’t so!

Bryce Harper hits home run 15 at Dodger Stadium

Here’s Dodger Stadium in all it’s glory. This is a series I really wanted to try to be at for my first trip to LA; but my wife shot that down because we move into a new home next week and we’re having our second child in about two months. Timing just isn’t good. Oh well.

So, I watched a lot of this one on television. No Vin Scully for the viewers, Scully wasn’t feeling well so Charlie Steiner and Orel Hersheiser took the reigns for a game.

In the first inning, Bryce Harper hits a rapier laser the other way to left field off Scott Kazmir. This would give the Nationals a 1-0 lead which eventually grew to 2-0. I was actually tired and went to bed.

But when you go to sleep on Dodger Stadium, you chance missing the magic.

Yasmany Grandal who is still probably hitting .181 hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the 8th inning off Tanner Roark, and that would be the last say the Nationals would have in it. Dodgers win 3-2 in a game in which Bryce Harper hits his 15th home run of the 2016 season and the 112th of his career.

The Houston Astros are back to .500 on the strength of Carlos Correa’s Alligator blood

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I sat in my mom’s 90 degree house last night and watched the entirety of this one – the Astros have been red hot – and they’ve pulled back to .500 for the first time since they were at 1-1 the first two games of the season. The story obviously is Carlos Correa. He’s getting his season back on track and he had another big night last night.

Correa hit his 11th home run of the season, an impressive bomb; off a decent Hector Santiago to make it 2-1.

By the time Huston Street had loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth for Correa again, you knew they were going to get theirs. Correa had a nice at-bat to battle the count full and then used right field as he loves to do. It was down for a two-run game winning single that won Houston the game 3-2.

Correa drove in all three Astros runs. He’s up to .263 on the season with 11 homers and 39 RBI. Houston is three games out of the AL Wildcard with a 36-36 even record.

Tiny Tim Anderson hits his first Big League Home Run at Fenway Park

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[White Sox 3, Red Sox 1]

I’ve taken a little interest in Tim Anderson, shortstop for the Chicago White Sox. I snagged Anderson off the waiver wire in my keeper fantasy league; it’s been a rough year. I’m looking for him to round out my last keeper spot for next season (middle-infield thins out quickly in that league).

Last night, Tim Anderson was probably a little fired up to be playing at Fenway Park and leading off. First batter of the game, first big league bomb:

Anderson had two hits, including this one and is at .292 to start his career.

In other news, Chris Sale is still Chris Sale. He improves to 12-2 while striking out nine over seven innings of work. He silenced the powerful BoSox Bats.