Here’s a look at Dusty Baker’s new idea to break the Reds out of their offensive swoon (they’ve scored fewer runs than every team in baseball besides the Pirates):
SS Zack Cozart
CF Drew Stubbs
1B Joey Votto
2B Brandon Phillips
RF Jay Bruce
3B Scott Rolen
LF Chris Heisey
C Devin Mesoraco
I actually really like this one, expect for the odd choice to put Stubbs behind Cozart. Cozart was batting second behind Brandon Phillips and doing an outstanding job, hitting .341/.400/.561 in the early going. He’s also got that whole prototypical NL No. 2 hitter thing going on: middle infielder, makes contact, modest power, decent runner but not exactly speedy.
Stubbs is none of those things. He’s hitting .175 this season and has struck out 13 times in 40 at-bats. Stubbs, though, is an experienced leadoff hitter, and for all the grief he takes over his strikeouts, he’s scored 123 runs in 171 games there. That’s an average of .72 runs per game. To put it in perspective, Jose Reyes has averaged .71 runs per game hitting leadoff in his career. It seems to me that if you’re going to have both Cozart and Stubbs hitting at the top of the order, it’d make a lot more sense to have them the other way around.
That’s not really so important, though. That Heisey and Mesoraco are playing are better signs, and getting Rolen out of the cleanup spot should help. It’s the best lineup the Reds have used this season.
The Mets traded centerfielder Curtis Granderson to the Dodgers for cash considerations or a player to be named later, the teams announced late Friday night. Granderson was rumored to be drawing interest from teams earlier in the week, and found a landing place after slashing .256/.360/.721 since the start of the month. In a corresponding move, the Dodgers designated right-hander Dylan Floro for assignment to clear roster space for the outfielder.
As a whole, the 36-year-old’s 2017 campaign has been a tad underwhelming. Granderson entered Saturday batting .228/.334/.481 with 19 home runs and an .815 OPS through 395 PA, and accrued 1.7 fWAR to the 5.1 fWAR he produced during his pennant-winning, MVP-contending season in 2015. Still, with under $4 million remaining on his contract, another 20+ homer season around the corner and the defensive chops to man center field, it looks like a prudent deal for the Dodgers as they continue to bulldoze their way to the playoffs this fall.
The club has yet to outline their plans for Granderson, but his addition to a crowded outfield could displace centerfielder Joc Pederson, who turned in a meager .214/.329/.415 batting line through 292 PA in 2017. It could also have ramifications for fellow veteran Andre Ethier, assuming he’s healthy enough to compete for a starting role when he comes off the 60-day disabled list in September. The Mets, meanwhile, are expected to lean more heavily on rookie outfielder Brandon Nimmo, who’s made just five starts this season after struggling to get consistent playing time on the field.
Indians’ right-hander Corey Kluber was removed from the sixth inning of his start on Friday night, bringing a streak of 14 starts with 8+ strikeouts to an unfortunate end after he sprained his right ankle. Kluber stumbled off the mound while trying to field a base hit from Eric Hosmer and was seen visibly limping as he moved to cover first base. He was allowed to stay in the game for one more batter, but quickly yielded a three-pitch single to Melky Cabrera and left the mound with head athletic trainer James Quinlan.
It was a poor ending to another strong outing by the right-hander, who delivered 5 1/3 innings of one-run, four-strikeout ball and took his 12th win of the season after the Indians amassed a nine-run lead. Postgame comments by Cleveland skipper Terry Francona suggest that Kluber isn’t facing a serious setback after sustaining the sprain, however, and might even be good to go by the time his next start comes around on Wednesday.
While the Royals escaped Friday’s loss without injury, the 10-1 drubbing pushed them 6.5 games back of the division lead and half a game behind the Twins and Angels for the second AL wild card berth. They’ll host a rematch on Saturday at 7:15 ET, with left-hander Jason Vargas set to face off against Indians’ righty Trevor Bauer.