If you needed further proof that the Dodgers are back to their winning ways, look no further than the second inning of their set against the Nationals on Saturday. Cody Bellinger crushed an 0-1 fastball from A.J. Cole to lead off the inning, sending it hurtling over the scoreboard in right field to give the Dodgers an early lead.
Oh, and he made history, too. The home run, Bellinger’s 38th of the season, tied a National League record for most rookie home runs. Only the 1930 Braves’ centerfielder Wally Berger and 1956 Reds’ left fielder Frank Robinson produced as many dingers in their rookie campaigns, with Mark McGwire holding the all-time record, at 49 homers.
Bellinger didn’t stop there, returning to add an RBI single in the third inning. Justin Turner supplied the go-ahead run in the fifth, a sac fly that plated Chase Utley, while the Nationals fell short after rallying in the eighth. With the win, the club now sits 96-52 with five wins still needed to clinch the division. Barring any obstacles, Bellinger will get 14 more games to beat the league home run record.
The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.
Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.
Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.