Tonight is Round 2 of Bryce Harper vs. Cole Hamels as the Nationals and Phillies square off in Philadelphia, but both sides are trying their best to downplay the situation that resulted in endless headlines and a suspension for Hamels the first time they met.
Hamels has declined to comment other than to now claim that his hitting Harper on May 6 was actually unintentional–sorry Cole, that ship has long since sailed–and Harper told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post that he doesn’t expect another incident:
I don’t even think about that. It’s a new series, a new day. I have a lot of respect for everybody in that other dugout. They’re an All-Star team … guys who are All-Stars who have been in this league for a long time.
Earlier this week Harper also praised Phillies fans while joking about their battery-throwing past and Philadelphia added extra ballpark security in the outfield to avoid any issues, so on paper at least Round 2 might end up being just another matchup between one of baseball’s best left-handers and one of baseball’s best young hitters.
Assuming, of course, that no one feels the sudden urge to be “old school.”
Newsday’s Marc Carig reports that the Mets may move Asdrubal Cabrera to second base when he returns from the disabled list. Cabrera has been on the disabled list since June 13 with a sprained left thumb, but he’s expected to be activated on Friday.
Cabrera, 31, last played second base in 2014 with the Nationals. He has played shortstop exclusively as a Met the last two seasons. Jose Reyes would continue to play shortstop if the Mets were to go through with the position change. Cabrera would displace T.J. Rivera, who has been playing second base in place of the injured Neil Walker.
In 196 plate appearances this season, Cabrera is hitting .244/.321/.392 with six home runs and 20 RBI. He has made 11 defensive errors, which is tied for the third-most among shortstops behind Tim Anderson (16) and Dansby Swanson (12).
Brewers closer Corey Knebel set a modern major league record for relievers to start a season, as Thursday’s appearance marked his 38th consecutive appearance with a strikeout. He set down the side in order in the ninth inning, striking Josh Bell out to start the frame.
Aroldis Chapman held the record previously, recording a strikeout in his first 37 appearances of the season in 2014 with the Reds.
Knebel, 25, has flown under the radar despite having an incredibly good season. He moved into the closer’s role in mid-May when Neftali Feliz, now a free agent, struggled. After Thursday’s appearance, Knebel is 12-for-15 in save chances with a 0.96 ERA and a 65/17 K/BB ratio in 37 2/3 innings.