Mets rookie starter Zack Wheeler was on point tonight against the Padres, holding them to one run on seven hits and a walk over six innings. He eclipsed his previous career-best seven strikeouts, set in his Major League debut on June 18 against the Braves, getting number eight with a fourth-inning punch-out of Jedd Gyorko. He finished with 12 on the night, the 36th 12-strikeout or better game this season. Wheeler lowered his ERA to 3.43 in the effort.
The game was locked at 1-1 through seven innings. In the top of the eighth with two outs, Mike Baxter stole second base after being hit by a Luke Gregerson slider. Rather than pitch to the left-handed Daniel Murphy, Padres manager Bud Black opted to intentionally walk him to face Marlon Byrd. Byrd promptly made the Padres pay, driving a 1-1 cutter over right fielder Chris Denorfia’s head for a two-run double, putting the Mets up 3-1.
Reliever Gonzalez Germen pitched a scoreless eighth, dancing out of some two-out trouble. John Buck added some insurance with a solo home run to left in the top of the ninth. Without LaTroy Hawkins, the Mets asked German to come back out for another inning. The right-hander promptly retired the side in short order for a 4-1 Mets victory, notching the first save of his career and becoming the fifth different Met to record a save on the season.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.
There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.
Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.