After holding the Mets scoreless last Sunday in his first major league start since July 19, 2010, Ben Sheets kept on trucking this afternoon.
Sheets tossed six scoreless innings against the Nationals as part of a 4-0 victory in the first game of a doubleheader at Nationals Park. The 34-year-old right-hander gave up just five hits while walking three and striking out six.
After missing all of last season recovering from two major elbow operations, including Tommy John surgery, Sheets now has 12 scoreless innings over his first two starts with the Braves. Just how long he’ll hold up is a legitimate question, but he’s provided quite a lift to Atlanta’s rotation already.
Edwin Jackson suffered the tough-luck loss for the Nationals, giving up just one run over seven innings while striking out nine. His only mistake came on a solo home run by Brian McCann in the top of the second inning. Michael Bourn scored on a wild pitch in the eighth inning while Chipper Jones added a two-run pinch-hit home run in the top of the ninth inning for some insurance.
The Braves have taken the first two games of the weekend series to move to within 1 1/2 games of the first-place Nationals. Randall Delgado will start for the Braves in the nightcap while John Lannan will make his first major league start of the season for the Nationals.
The Yankees appear to have moved on from free agent Manny Machado this winter, but could they be turning their attention to Rockies superstar Nolan Arenado? That’s the idea floated by Andy Martino of SNY, who hears that GM Brian Cashman has been involved in recent discussions concerning the third baseman. No official comments have been made to the press yet, though, and it’s not clear whether the Yankees would prefer to pursue Arenado prior to the 2019 season or partway through it.
The 27-year-old infielder earned his fourth consecutive All-Star nomination, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove award in 2018 after slashing .297/.374/.561 with 38 home runs, a .935 OPS, and 5.7 fWAR across 673 plate appearances. There’s no question he’s provided immense value to Colorado’s lineup over the last half-decade, and his consistency and incredible power at the plate helped form the basis of the record $30 million arbitration figure he presented to the team last week. The Rockies countered at $24 million, however, and in doing so may have jeopardized their chances of convincing the infielder to forego free agency in 2020 and take a long-term deal instead.
Assuming he declines to negotiate an extension with the Rockies, Arenado’s decorated résumé and career-best 2018 numbers should attract plenty of interest around the league — a reality that could put considerable pressure on the Yankees (or any other interested party) to finesse a deal sooner rather than later. For now, the club is prepared to enter the 2019 season with hot-hitting third baseman Miguel Andújar, whom Martino speculates would be the “centerpiece” of any trade with Colorado.