And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Royals 11, Tigers 8: The Royals win their eighth in a row and pull to within a half game of the Tigers for first place. They did so here by beating the tar out of Justin Verlander, who gave up seven runs on 12 hits in six innings. Of 99 qualifying pitchers, Verlander’s ERA — 4.98 — is 91st. In other news, the five-year, $140 million extension he signed doesn’t kick in until next year.

Phillies 6, Braves 1: There was a time — oh, from about 2004 through a week or two ago — when if the Braves were down late, you knew it was over. They just had no catchup gear and their fate was pretty much sealed. The late great Mac Thomason used to call it “hibernation mode,” and while it was annoying, it was rather handy if you wanted to get to bed early or go walk the dog. Twice in the past week the Braves have found that gear and avoided hibernating, tying things up late. Both times they the gave up a crap-ton of runs in extra innings. Well, David Hale did, but he speaks for all Braves when he’s on the mound. Anyway guys, I love this newfound catchup ability, but that late collapse thing is way worse than hibernation mode ever was. Cut it out.

Red Sox 1, Twins 0:  Rubby De La Rosa one-hit the Twins through seven innings. When I first saw this guy in Dodgers camp a few years ago I was super impressed. Glad to see him doin’ thangs at the big league level like this.

Indians 4, Angels 3:  Carlos Santana snoozed for April and May, but he’s 13 for 39 with three homers and nine RBI in June, including a bomb last night. In other news, when I mentally say “Angels and Indians” as I write up the recap to these matchups, I always think “Angels and Indians” would be the name of a halfway decent indie film.

Mariners 5, Padres 1: Walking seven guys in five and two-thirds is no way to go through life, Tyson Ross. Shutting out the opposition for six innings is much better, Chris Young.

Dodgers 6, Rockies 1: Dee Gordon goes 4 for 4 with three singles and a triple, and he came all the way home on the triple thanks to Charlie Blackmon kicking the ball around in the left field corner. Gordon never stopped running so, even though the scoring wasn’t as such, it looked like an inside-the-park homer. The second highlight here has it. He just flies.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $40,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Tuesday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $6,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on TuesdayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Rangers 14, Athletic 8: Four homers — two by Donnie Murphy — and 16 his in all as the Rangers romp. This is Texas’ fourth straight win in Oakland. At least someone likes playing in that ballpark.

Brewers 9, Diamondbacks 3: It was all tied up heading into the eighth but then Milwaukee put up three-spots in each of the last two innings, spoiling a solid Brandon McCarthy start.

Rays 5, Orioles 4: For the second straight game Jerry Sands came off the bench and delivered a big pinch hit. Here a tie-breaking pinch-hit homer in the eighth. Also: periodic reminder that “Jerry Sands” is the first name every writer in need of a fictitious standup comedian and/or nightclub singer for their novel set in the 1960s and 1970s uses for their character. Most change it during revisions because it’s too obvious. Sort of like naming the lead character of your fantasy novel “Valiant Goodknight.”

Cardinals 6, Mets 2: The Cards are hot, winning their seventh of eight. Allen Craig and Matt Adams each had two RBI and four pitchers, led by Carlos Martinez, subbed for the skipped Adam Wainwright to subdue the Mets’ bats. Not that they weren’t already subdued.

Cubs 5, Marlins 4: When you play 13 innings and basically empty your bench, you have to do things like use a starting pitcher as a pinch-hitter. Travis Wood got the call for the Cubbies n the 13th and all he did was double in a run to put the Cubs ahead. Of course, he does have a line of .276/.323/.552 on the year, so he’s no slouch. Indeed, by OPS he’s the Cubs’ second best hitter.

 

 

Six of seven players decline $17.9 million qualifying offers

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Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu was the only one of seven eligible players to accept his $17.9 million qualifying offer. Bryce Harper, A.J. Pollock, Craig Kimbrel, Patrick Corbin, Yasmani Grandal, and Dallas Keuchel each rejected his, officially making them free agents. Teams that had their QO’s rejected will recoup a draft pick once the player signs elsewhere.

That Harper rejected his QO comes as no surprise, as he is expected to strike perhaps the largest free agent contract in baseball history. Though the free agent market has been less lucrative lately than in previous years, the combination of Harper’s elite talent and his age — he’s only 26 years old — makes him a primary target for more than a handful of teams. Harper reportedly turned down a 10-year, $300 million contract extension offer from the Nationals, so that would seem to be a baseline.

It is also not surprising that Kimbrel, 30, turned down his QO from the Red Sox. Despite a so-so showing during a championship run, Kimbrel is still young and talented enough to land another lucrative contract on the free agent market.

Keuchel bet on himself in turning down the Astros’ QO. He’s been solid since winning the AL Cy Young Award in 2015, owning a 3.77 ERA across 83 starts over the last three seasons. However, he turns 31 years old at the beginning of 2019, and his already mediocre strikeout rate declined even further this past season, so there may be some skepticism about his ability to perform over the course of a multi-year deal. Keuchel will still get one eventually, but his market may be slower to develop.

Pollock, soon 31 as well, will be the outfielder most coveted once Harper is off the market. When he’s healthy, he’s a dynamic five-tool player. However, Pollock hasn’t played in more than 113 games in a season since 2015, so that may be a red flag. Pollock ended 2018 batting .257/.316/.484 with 21 home runs, 65 RBI, 61 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 460 plate appearances while playing above-average defense according to various defensive metrics.

Grandal, 30, could’ve gone either way with his QO, but ultimately chose to decline. He had a disappointing postseason, both offensively and defensively. Given how humans are prone to recency bias, it stood to reason that his October performance could have hurt his market. The catching position, however, is rather weak and Grandal stands out in a market that is otherwise focused on Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto. Grandal did swat 24 home runs with an .815 OPS in 140 games for the Dodgers this past season.

Corbin, 29, was the most obvious QO decline after Harper. The lefty is coming off of a career year, finishing with a 3.15 ERA and a 246/48 K/BB ratio in exactly 200 innings. Corbin is the best free agent pitcher on the market this offseason. The Yankees have been seriously linked with Corbin even before the season ended.

Ryu likely chose to accept his QO because of his age and injury history. It would have been a gamble to pursue a multi-year deal. He did, however, make 15 starts during the regular season to the tune of a 1.97 ERA with 89 strikeouts and 15 walks in 82 1/3 innings. Those are great numbers. And most clubs would have been smart enough to look beyond his 5.21 ERA in the postseason, which has more to do with a leaky bullpen than his own personal failings. Still, it’s hard to fault Ryu for playing it safe and taking the guaranteed $17.9 million for one year.