Author: Matthew Pouliot

Jordan Zimmermann

Dodgers-Nationals game suspended after lighting problems


Nationals Park just wasn’t able to handle all of the electricity generated by right fielders Yasiel Puig and Bryce Harper facing off. Friday’s game had to be suspended following three lighting delays, and it will be picked up on Saturday.

The problem was with a bank down the left-field line. Play was initially halted for 82 minutes in the fourth, with subsequent delays in the fifth and sixth.

The Nationals were up 3-2 in the sixth when play was officially halted for the night. Both starters had already exited because of the delays. Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann allowed two runs in four innings, while Dodgers starter Mike Bolsinger gave up one run in four innings.

Yunel Escobar, not Puig nor Harper, was the offensive star of the contest to date. He had a two-run homer and a double in three at-bats. Adrian Gonzalez homered for the Dodgers.

The marginalization of Oswaldo Arcia

Oswaldo Arcia

There are currently seven major leaguers 24 and under with a career OPS+ over 100 in at least 500 at-bats.

167 – Mike Trout
135 – Bryce Harper
108 – Manny Machado
105 – Christian Yelich
104 – Oswaldo Arcia
103 – Avisail Garcia
101 – Nolan Arenado

Six of those guys are considered building blocks by their teams. The other, Arcia, seems to be at a career crossroads already, even though he’s hardly tasted failure at any point in his career.

Arcia arrived in the majors before his 22nd birthday, debuting in April 2013. He was demoted a few times that season, even though his numbers were decent, if unspectacular, throughout. He finished up at .251/.304/.430 with 14 homers in 351 at-bats.

The next spring, Arcia was penciled right in as the Twins’ right fielder, only to develop wrist troubles very early on. He was placed on the DL on April 9. He went on to excel in his rehab assignment, hitting .308/.349/.487 in 12 games, yet the Twins optioned him to Triple-A for a spell anyway. He came back in late May and played regularly the rest of the way, finishing up at .231/.300/.452. Despite the low average, he had a 108 OPS+, largely because of his 20 homers (second on the Twins).

After last season, the Twins took away Arcia’s position by signing Torii Hunter, but he was still seemingly assured the left field job. However, weird things happened right off the bat. The left-handed-hitting Arcia started Opening Day against lefty David Price, only to find himself on the bench against a righty three days later. Arcia went on to sit three times in the first nine games. He slumped. He only started to pull out of it at the end of April, going 7-for-13 with a homer in four starts. That’s what a hip injury put him on the disabled list.

Despite that promising surge, it was apparent right away that Arcia might not immediately reemerge in Minnesota’s plans following his return. For one thing, the team needed a break from playing three liabilities in the outfield, as it often was with Arcia in left, Jordan Schafer in center and Hunter in right. Arcia’s struggles against lefties and his strikeout rate were also problems, even though he didn’t fan overly much during April (15 K’s in 65 PA).

Sure enough, Arcia was sent down after going hitless in the first four games of his rehab assignment. It’s the third time in three years he’s been optioned out. Whether it’s the hip, his frustrations over being buried or something else, he’s continued to slump since the demotion, hitting .214/.227/.310 in 12 games.

Arcia is a flawed player. The troubles against lefties aren’t going away, and he’s a poor outfielder perhaps best suited to DH duties. That seemed like a big problem at the start of the year, following Kennys Vargas’s emergence. But with Vargas also struggling to find his way with these 2015 Twins, there’s plenty of room for Arcia at DH should the team decide to go that route. Obviously, it hasn’t happened yet.

Still, it’s not at all reasonable that the Twins are so down on him. Beat writers have speculated that he’ll be traded. One writers suggested this spring that he should begin the season in the minors. Of late, there’s been more talk about prospect Miguel Sano becoming the Twins’ DH than Arcia. Oddly enough, Arcia is playing regularly in right field in Triple-A, even though the team surely won’t ask Hunter to change positions this year. It makes little sense. Right-handed power is difficult to come by these days, and young hitters as productive as Arcia rarely prove to be flops.

Maybe all of this turns around if Arcia turns it on in Triple-A over these next few weeks. After all, the Twins have given Shane Robinson two starts and Eduardo Escobar one start in left field over these last five games. Vargas has slumped since his return from Triple-A and has no sort of handle on the DH job. It’s not hard to imagine Arcia spending the final three months of the season as one of the Twins’ best hitters. Unfortunately, it’s also not hard to imagine him getting traded for a veteran security blanket as the Twins try to gear up for a playoff run.

The red-hot Blue Jays have gone 18 straight wins without a save

Brett Gardner, Brett Cecil

It’s one of those things that simply doesn’t seem possible these days: the Blue Jays, despite having now won eight straight games, don’t have a single save since May 4.

After beating the Marlins 7-2 on Wednesday, the Jays are 18-16 since closer Brett Cecil (or anyone else on the team) last picked up a save. 14 of those 16 losses have included saves by the opposition. But none of the 18 wins. Let’s look at the scores of those wins.

May 6: 5-1
May 8: 7-0
May 9: 7-1
May 12: 10-2
May 18: 10-6
May 21: 8-4
May 24: 8-2
May 25: 6-0
May 26: 10-9 (walkoff victory)
May 29: 6-4
June 2: 7-3
June 3: 8-0
June 4: 6-2
June 6: 7-2
June 7: 7-6 (walkoff victory)
June 8: 11-3
June 9: 4-3 (walkoff victory)
June 10: 7-2

14 of the 18 wins came by four or more runs, with three of the remaining four being decided in the Jays’ final at-bat. The only real chance for a save was on the May 29 game against the Twins, when the Jays scored twice in the top of the ninth to take a 6-4 lead. Under normal circumstances, that would have been Cecil time. Manager John Gibbons, though, decided to let Mark Buehrle finish it, which he did with a flawless final frame.

It rates as quite the oddity. I know of no way to find out the last team to go 18 wins without a save, but I’m guessing it’s been a long while. Last year, AL teams earned saves in 619 of 1,228 victories, so just over half of the time. The Jays had 45 saves in 83 victories then. If we just go with 50 percent of wins as being frequency of saves, then it’s a 1/524,288 chance that a team would go 18 straight wins without one.

With the winning streak, the Jays are 31-30 for the season. Because of the abundance of lopsided wins and close losses, they have the AL’s best run differential, having scored 325 runs and allowed 266.

2015 MLB Draft: Rounds 3-5 notes – Rangers grab Michael Matuella

michael matuella

– The Rangers made Duke right-hander Michael Matuella the third pick of day two and the 78th selection overall. The 21-year-old entered the year as perhaps the favorite to go first overall in the draft, but a back condition (spondylolysis) dropped his stock even before he required Tommy John surgery in April. There was still some thought he might go in the first round anyway, but after falling this far, it’s quite possible he’ll return to Duke and try to improve his stock prior to next year’s draft. It could hinge on what kind of offer the Rangers can make him.

– Right-hander Jacob Nix was the Astros draftee ripped off last year when the team couldn’t sign No. 1 overall pick Brady Aiken and then lost most of its draft pool, including the $1.5 million they had committed to their fifth-round pick. Nix ended up getting his most or all of his money anyway through a grievance, and now he should get to start his pro career with the Padres after being drafted 86th overall. It’s actually a bit lower than he was expected to go (he was considered a second-round talent last year, but he fell to the fifth because of his asking price).

– Mariners’ third-round pick Braden Bishop is probably a better fantasy prospect than an actual prospect. He stole 36 bases in 410 at-bats over the last two years for the University of Washington, so if he can hit enough to make it as an everyday center fielder, he’ll be a fantasy target in time.

– The Giants hope to have their double-play combination of Brandon Crawford and Joe Panik long into the future, but they landed one of the better prep shortstops available in Jalen Miller at pick No. 95.

– After playing it safe and picking college shortstops with their first two picks, the A’s chose high school right-hander Dakota Chalmers in the third round. It seemed worry about his rather slight build and taxing delivery took him out of the first, but he’s one of the drafts top arms. He throws in the mid-90s and already has four pitches he can use in games. If the A’s can get their top two picks signed for less than slot money, it’d help a bunch in getting Chambers to forgo his commitment to Georgia.

– The Red Sox selected outfielder Tate Matheny, son of Mike, with their fourth-round pick. He was drafted by the Cardinals out of high school three years ago, but Mike asked the team not to take him this time around. The Red Sox certainly aren’t looking at him as a nepotism pick. His tools don’t stand out, but his bat and ability to handle center might make him a fourth outfielder in time.

– Outfielder Demi Orimoloye was the second Canadian taken, following the surprise pick of Josh Naylor from the Marlins at No. 12. Orimoloye, a right fielder with big power potential, went 121st overall to the Brewers. Baseball America had him ranked 41st going into the draft, so he could be a steal if the Brewers get him signed.

– Mariano Rivera Jr. went to the Nationals in the fourth round after seeing his stock climb as a junior at Iona. He went 5-7 with a 2.65 ERA and a 113/27 K/BB ratio in 85 innings against modest competition. Like his dad, he’s probably looking at a move to the pen. What he really needs is someone who can teach him a cutter.

– Outfielder Joe McCarthy had a chance to be a first-round pick before back surgery ruined his junior season at Virginia. The Rays picked him 148th overall and will try to convince him to sign now rather than go back and try to boost his stock.

– Michigan State outfielder Cam Gibson, son of Kirk, was taken by his dad’s old team in the fifth round, going 160th overall to the Tigers. Three years ago, the Diamondbacks picked him in the 38th round while his dad was still managing the team. He declined to sign then. Gibson lacks power, but he should be able to last in center field.