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What’s on Tap: Previewing Monday’s action

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Did you know that the Indians are in first place in the AL Central? The club just swept the Royals in a four-game series at home. Meanwhile, the White Sox were swept by the fourth-place Tigers, continuing a trend of Pale Hose incompetence dating back to nearly a month ago. And the Twins are, well, the Twins. So, the Central is thoroughly mediocre and seemingly up for grabs.

The Indians, seven games above .500, are slightly above average across the board. Their .324 weighted on-base average (wOBA) as a team ranks 10th in baseball despite Yan Gomes and 169 plate appearances of .578 OPS and Juan Uribe (155, .634). This is also despite Michael Brantley taking only 43 PA this season, and carrying Michael Martinez on the active roster.

Their rotation ERA of 3.98 is 11th-best in baseball, thanks in large part to Danny Salazar, whose 2.24 ERA over 11 starts isn’t quite representative of how he’s pitched thus far. And their bullpen ERA of 3.43 is 10th-best even with closer Cody Allen and set-up man Bryan Shaw owning mediocre ERA’s of 3.70 and 4.70, respectively.

In a tougher division, the Indians might not even be at .500 and could very well be in last place. But they’ve lucked out thus far as the Central has been a hot mess and the Twins have been siphoning wins to everybody. (To the White Sox and Tigers, six; to the Royals, five; to the Indians, two.)

Tonight, the Indians will match up with another surprisingly-good team in the Mariners. Trevor Bauer will face off against James Paxton at 10:10 PM EDT.

The rest of Monday’s action…

Chicago Cubs (Jon Lester) @ Philadelphia Phillies (Adam Morgan), 7:05 PM EDT

Kansas City Royals (Danny Duffy) @ Baltimore Orioles (Mike Wright), 7:05 PM EDT

Los Angeles Angels (Matt Shoemaker) @ New York Yankees (Masahiro Tanaka), 7:05 PM EDT

New York Mets (Steven Matz) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Jonathon Niese), 7:05 PM EDT

Toronto Blue Jays (J.A.  Happ) @ Detroit Tigers (Michael Fulmer),  7:10 PM EDT

Houston Astros (Mike Fiers) @ Texas Rangers (Colby Lewis), 8:05 PM EDT

Tampa Bay Rays (Chris Archer) @ Arizona Diamondbacks (Robbie Ray), 9:40 PM EDT

Atlanta Braves (Williams Perez) @ San Diego Padres (Christian Friedrich), 10:10 PM EDT

Colorado Rockies (Tyler Chatwood) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (Mike Bolsinger), 10:10 PM EDT

Bryce Harper is on paternity leave

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Several years ago, Bryce Harper made news when it was revealed that he thought the word “meme” was pronounced “may-may.” That may be my favorite Bryce Harper moment ever.

As it was announced by the Phillies a little while ago that Harper has been placed on paternity leave, I’m wondering if he pronounces the word “baby” “bébé.”

I wouldn’t think less of him if he did, actually. One of my favorite people in the world does that.

Anyway, congratulations to Bryce Harper on becoming a dad. And it’s good news not just for him but for the Phillies and their fans as well. Why? Because as Bill noted earlier this week, Harper seems to hit better when he’s being taunted and mocked. For now that’s not very important, as the child won’t be talking for some time. As a father of teenagers, I can tell you that eventually the little monsters live to disrespect their dear old dads. If Harper’s current motivational patterns hold, by the time that kid is ten Harper will be winning the dang Triple Crown every year.

But again, congratulations to the Harpers.