Anthony Rizzo probably isn’t going to get a chance to go after the Pacific Coast League Triple Crown after all. The Cubs, seemingly preparing for his arrival, have Bryan LaHair in right field and David DeJesus in center field in Monday’s game against the White Sox.
It’s the first outfield start for LaHair this season. Expectations were that the veteran minor leaguer would simply fade away once Rizzo was ready to take over at first base for the Cubs, but given his .297/.380/.560 line and 12 homers in 182 at-bats to date, that’s clearly not going to happen. Putting Rizzo at first, LaHair in right (where he started nine games after his callup last year) and DeJesus in center would seem to give the Cubs their best possible lineup, though it comes at the price of outfield defense.
The 22-year-old Rizzo is hitting .364/.426/.745 with 23 homers and 59 RBI for Triple-A Iowa. He ranks sixth in the league in hitting, first in homers and second in RBI. While the PCL is certainly an offense-heavy league, Rizzo has an OPS a full 161 points higher than anyone else in the circuit, and Iowa isn’t nearly as hitter friendly in some of the parks. In fact, Rizzo has a 1.239 OPS in road games. He’s also hitting .400 with six homers in 50 at-bats during June.
Assuming all goes well with the new outfield, don’t be surprised to see Rizzo up as soon as Friday. That would give him three games in Arizona before the Cubs return home for six games next week.
Albert Pujols kicked things off for the Angels in dramatic fashion on Friday night, cranking a two-RBI home run off of the Orioles’ Jeremy Hellickson to give the club an early lead in the first inning. The 350-footer was his 18th home run of the year and No. 609 in his 17-season career, tying Sammy Sosa on the all-time home run list for eighth overall and most home runs hit by a player born outside of the United States.
With the home run, Pujols sits just three homers shy of tying Jim Thome’s 612-home run record for seventh on the all-time list. That figures to be the last major milestone still ahead of the designated hitter this season, with Ken Griffey Jr.’s 630-home run mark still a distant 21 blasts away.
The Angels, meanwhile, ran with Pujols’ lead, collecting home runs from Kole Calhoun, C.J. Cron, Kaleb Cowart and Mike Trout. It wasn’t quite enough to quash the Orioles, however, who surged to a 9-7 finale after Manny Machado went 3-for-5 with three home runs and struck a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth.
The Nationals placed right-hander Max Scherzer on the 10-day disabled list with left neck inflammation, the team announced Friday. Scherzer was scratched from his scheduled start against the Padres and replaced by left-hander Matt Grace, though an official roster move has yet to be made to fill his spot on the roster. The assignment is retroactive to August 15.
Scherzer experienced a similar pain on the right side of his neck at the start of the month, though this is the first official stint he’ll serve on the disabled list in 2017. While comments from club manager Dusty Baker suggest that the injury wasn’t caused by any particular trauma, it seems likely that the ace right-hander will be sidelined for at least one more start.
It’s a terrible time to lose a star pitcher, especially with the Nationals positioned to make a deep run in the postseason, but their 14-game cushion in the NL East should buy them some time while Scherzer’s on the mend. Prior to his bout of inflammation, the 33-year-old looked remarkably healthy this season. He pitched through his fifth consecutive All-Star campaign and currently boasts a 12-5 record in 24 starts, complete with a 2.25 ERA (good for second-best among qualified starters), 2.2 BB/9 and 12.3 SO/9 in 160 1/3 innings.