Daily Dose: Reyes Ready to Return?

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Jose Reyes went 1-for-3 with two steals in an extended spring training game Monday and followed that up by going 2-for-5 with two walks in another extended spring game Tuesday night. Perhaps just as importantly, Reyes played all nine innings at shortstop, possibly signaling that he could be cleared to return from his thyroid disorder when eligible to come off the disabled list this weekend.
He hasn’t played a regular season game since May 20 and coming back from hamstring surgery made him a question mark even before the thyroid situation surfaced. No one seems quite sure what type of impact the thyroid condition could have once he returns and the hamstring problems could mean fewer steal attempts, but I still wouldn’t be surprised if Reyes ends up as a top-three fantasy shortstop. He’s still just 27 years old.
While the Mets hope to put Alex Cora back on the bench soon, here are some other notes from around baseball …


* After a visit with Dr. James Andrews and an MRI exam the news on Huston Street’s right shoulder is relatively positive. No structural damage was found, but he’s been diagnosed with inflammation and will need to do additional strengthening exercises before throwing again. There’s no timetable for Street’s return and he’s already had setbacks, so Franklin Morales should have closer value for at least the rest of April.
* If there was no such thing as a “save” the Twins probably would’ve left Matt Guerrier in to pitch the ninth inning Tuesday after he breezed through a 1-2-3 eighth inning on 11 pitches, but instead they brought in new closer Jon Rauch. And just like most quality relievers will do about 90 percent of the time, he was able to protect a two-run lead for one inning versus the bottom of the Angels’ lineup. So far so good replacing Joe Nathan.
* Rotoworld’s award-winning Season Pass product has subscriber-only columns, daily waiver wire and starting pitcher advice, extensive prospect coverage, detailed bullpen and rotation databases, frequently updated projections and rankings, and much, much more. If you’re not satisfied simply putting your teams on cruise control after draft day, Season Pass can help you make the most of this season.
* Out since breaking his thumb early in spring training, Alex Gordon is scheduled to begin a minor-league rehab assignment Thursday at Single-A. He’s eligible to come off the disabled list Saturday, but will need a little more time than that. Willie Bloomquist started in Gordon’s place on Opening Day, but thankfully for Royals fans’ remaining sanity Alberto Callaspo will be the primary fill-in once his own oblique injury clears up.
* If you do just one thing to enable someone’s addiction today, make it following me on Twitter.
AL Quick Hits: A.J. Burnett struggled Tuesday night against the Red Sox, so expect more rumblings about his compatibility with Jorge Posada … Gil Meche (shoulder) tossed five shutout innings in a minor-league game Tuesday and could be cleared to face the Red Sox this weekend … Mike Gonzalez blew a win for Kevin Millwood when Carl Crawford delivered a walk-off single Tuesday … With left-hander Jon Lester on the mound, the Yankees benched Brett Gardner for Marcus Thames and moved Curtis Granderson to the ninth spot Tuesday … Ken Griffey Jr. also sat against a left-hander Tuesday, with Eric Byrnes replacing him in the lineup and Milton Bradley moving to designated hitter … James Shields served up three solo homers in a no-decision Tuesday and faces the Yankees next … Jeff Mathis started Tuesday over Mike Napoli for the second straight game … Dioner Navarro started over Kelly Shoppach in the Rays’ opener Tuesday.
NL Quick Hits: Lance Berkman received a cortisone shot and had his surgically repaired knee drained, but there’s no timetable yet for his return … Corey Hart rejoined the Brewers’ lineup Tuesday after sitting in favor of Jim Edmonds on Opening Day … Ian Stewart missed the cycle by a single Tuesday and is sporting a nifty 2.357 OPS through two games … Barry Zito shut out the Astros for six innings Tuesday, winning his season debut for the first time since 2003 … Jeff Supppan (neck) is hoping to rejoin the Brewers’ rotation after making one minor-league rehab start later this week … Aroldis Chapman will make his pro debut Sunday at Triple-A … Jeff Francis (armpit) played catch Tuesday and is aiming for a rehab assignment next week … Chris Young looked like his old self Tuesday with six one-hit innings against his namesake in Arizona … Fred Lewis (ribs) is slated to begin a rehab stint Thursday at Triple-A and soon the Giants will have a decision to make on the out-of-options outfielder.

Astros vs. Dodgers is a match made in heaven

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A lot of people who work at the league office or who take paychecks from the Fox network probably wanted to see the Yankees and the Cubs in the World Series. They won’t admit it, of course, but I suspect that many did, as the ratings for a Cubs-Yankees Series might’ve broken modern records. If they are at all disappointed by the Astros and Dodgers winning the pennant, however, they should let that go because they’ve been gifted by a wonderful matchup from a purely baseball perspective. Indeed, it’s one of the best on-paper matchups we’ve had in the Fall Classic in many years.

Before the Dodgers went on their late-August, early-September swoon, this was the potential World Series pairing most folks who know a thing or two wanted to see. At least I did, and I don’t think I was alone. It was certainly the matchup which represented the teams with the two best regular season records and storylines at the time. While Cleveland ended up winning more games than Houston did, for the first time since 1970 we have a World Series pitting two 100-win teams against each other.

Like that Orioles-Reds series in 1970, which featured Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Tony Perez, Jim Palmer, Brooks Robinson and a host of other All-Stars, the Dodgers-Astros provide us with an embarrassment of big names and future Hall of Famers. Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw and Astros DH/OF Carlos Beltran are destined for induction already. Astros ace Justin Verlander may very well join them, especially if his late 2017 surge is evidence of a second career peak. Houston second baseman Jose Altuve‘s first seven years and Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen‘s first eight are the stuff upon which Cooperstown resumes are made as well. People will be arguing Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley‘s Hall of Fame case for years once he retires.

Youth is served as well in this matchup, with each club featuring a handful of the game’s best young players to accompany their big name veteran stars.

The Dodgers will bat their no-doubt N.L. Rookie of the Year first baseman Cody Bellinger second or third in the lineup every game. 2016 Rookie of the Year Corey Seager, who sat out the NLCS with a bad back, is expected to be activated for the Series where he’ll be the Dodgers shortstop. The Astros are actually an old team on paper — Verlander, catcher Brian McCann, starter Charlie Morton, first baseman Yuli Gurriel, outfielder Josh Reddick and DH Evan Gattis are all over 30 while Beltran is 40 — but young players are essential to their attack as well. Shortstop Carlos Correa just turned 23 and he’s one of the game’s brightest stars. Third baseman Alex Bregman, also 23, made the play that may very well have broken the Yankees’ back during Saturday night’s pennant clincher. Age aside, the Astros are the product of a major, multi-year rebuild and many of their players are making their first national splash this postseason.

Beyond just the names and resumes, though, the Dodgers and Astros represent a fantastic strategic matchup. The Dodgers attack this postseason has featured admirable plate discipline, with third baseman Justin Turner, right fielder Yasiel Puig and center fielder Chris Taylor all letting balls out of the zone pass them by while abusing pitches left out over the plate. Astros pitchers not named Justin Verlander, however, have lived by getting the opposition to chase bad balls. Game one starter Dallas Keuchel did this by relying on his very fast sinker. Lance McCullers pitched well starting Game 4 of the ALCS and pitched spectacularly closing out the final four innings of Game 7 mostly by virtue of his curveball, which Yankees pitchers could simply not lay off. Indeed, his final 24 pitches of Game 7 were all curves, many of them low and away. Who will give in first in this series?

On the side of things, Dodgers relievers have made a living by pumping in strikes. Particularly strikes high in the zone from Jansen and Brandon Morrow. There may be no better fastball hitter in all of baseball than Jose Altuve, however, and the team as a whole was one of the best in the bigs in dealing with gas in the zone. This was a big reason why the Astros struck out less than any team in baseball this year while simultaneously boasting the best offense in the game. The Dodgers throw strikes. The Astros make you pay when you throw them strikes. Again, something’s gotta give.

Maybe the suits in New York wanted the Yankees and Cubs. But everyone else is getting exactly what we want: a matchup of the two best teams in the game. A matchup of strength against strength. What is, from a purely baseball perspective, the best World Series we could’ve possibly hoped for.