Matt Holliday is emerging as an NL MVP candidate

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It’s time Matt Holliday starts getting his due as one of the game’s very best hitters.

Holliday went 4-for-5 with a double, a triple and four RBI as the Cardinals topped the Reds 8-2 today to move within six games of the NL Central lead. The Cardinals are currently in position as the No. 2 wild card, with the Dodgers and Pirates nipping at their heels.

Holliday upped his RBI total to 89, wrestling the NL lead away from teammate Carlos Beltran and the Brewers’ Ryan Braun. With an average 37 points higher that Beltran’s, he’s probably going to be recognized as the Cardinals’ best MVP candidate at season’s end. Yadier Molina also has a case, but even though he’s the league’s premier defensive catcher, it’s going to be hard for him to catch the voters’ attention when his power numbers are likely to come in well below Holliday’s and fellow catcher Buster Posey’s.

Holliday is currently batting .309/.384/.527. If the season ended today, he’d be the only player in baseball to post a .900+ OPS in each of the last seven years. Albert Pujols has also done it six in a row and may well make it seven, but he’s sitting at .877 right now. Miguel Cabrera has done it every year but one: he barely missed in 2008, coming in at .887.

Holliday did go to a sixth All-Star Game this year, but he’s finished in the thick of the MVP race just once; a 2007 season in which he hit .340-36-137 for the Rockies and ended up in second place. If he leads the league in RBI, he’s destined for a top-five finish this year, and rightly or wrongly, he’ll probably have a good chance of winning it if his Cardinals reach the postseason and Andrew McCutchen and Posey stay home.

Red Sox place Nathan Eovaldi on 10-day injured list

Nathan Eovaldi
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The Red Sox have assigned right-hander Nathan Eovaldi to the 10-day injured list after finding a loose body in his right elbow, per a team announcement. In a corresponding move, left-handed reliever Bobby Poyner was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket to take Eovaldi’s spot on the 25-man roster.

While the move is retroactive to April 18, there’s little reason to believe that Eovaldi will be back on the mound anytime soon. The veteran righty has a history of elbow issues and missed over two months of the 2018 season when he underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove loose bodies from his elbow last spring. For now, however, any definite recovery timetable or pending surgical procedures have yet to be announced.

After struggling through his first few outings of 2019, Eovaldi looked like he finally hit his stride during his last start against the Yankees on Wednesday. He tossed six quality innings, allowing just one unearned run, three hits, and three walks, and striking out six of 23 batters in the Red Sox’ eventual 5-3 loss. He currently holds a 6.00 ERA, 4.7 BB/9, and 6.9 SO/9 across 21 innings.

The Red Sox have not formally announced a replacement for Eovaldi in the rotation, but will turn to Poyner as they seek to strengthen a bullpen that currently ranks eighth-best in the AL. The 26-year-old lefty reliever presented well for Triple-A Pawtucket in his first five appearances of 2019, issuing three runs, five walks, and 13 strikeouts through 6 1/3 innings.