- Robbie Ray has a rehab start Thursday for Class-A Visalia (Calif.). Ray says he feels fine after being hit in the head by a liner.
- Andrew Chafin lost a crown when he chomped down too hard on his gum after giving up a double to Kiké Hernandez, reported AZCentral.com. After putting what was left of the tooth in his back pocket, he walked two straight before getting out of the inning.
- They like J.R. Murphy, acquired from the Twins, as a defensive catcher and particularly a pitch framer.
- Ketel Marte has provided a spark, as he’s providing the kind of at-bats D-Backs people were looking for when they traded for him. Marte has continued to play well even after the devastating loss of his mother in a traffic accident in the Dominican Republic.
- R.A. Dickey has cleared waivers, and one rival GM says, “They should be able to trade him the way he’s pitching.” But to this point at least, the Braves aren’t showing much interest in trading him. In fact, they are considering even picking up his $8-million option for next year — not a done deal, but thinking about it, anyway. They like the innings he provides, and the leadership.
- Brandon Phillips’ numbers would suggest that there’d be interest in him; but perhaps clubhouse considerations has limited his value (the Braves are paying only $1 million of his $14 million salary and still have yet to find a taker; he cleared waivers, as reported here first). When he complained to a Cincinnati magazine about Joey Votto making much more than him, that might have been the beginning of the end of his good reputation. This is a sign he’s going to have trouble in free agency.
- Ronald Acuna continued to rake. The 19-year-old is dominating in Triple-A. “Incredible talent,” one rival exec says.
- The Braves have quite a stash of young pitchers. The entire Class-A Rome team has been dominant. Wentz, Wilson and Anderson all have looked very good.
- Touki Toussaint, who has a special curveball, recently was promoted to Double-A. Luiz Gohara looks good, too.
- They are counting on Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies as their double-play combination of the future, with Swanson at short and Albies at second.
- With Willson Contreras out, Kris Bryant is taking over. Bryant had an .810 on base percentage over five games, Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) reported.
- Jake Arrieta attributed his resurgence to improved mechanics. It came at just the right time for him and the team.
- The Cubs never came close to a Justin Verlander deal; while the Tigers were willing to pay a bit down (an estimated $5 million per year), that wasn’t going to work.
- They “got the jump” on Jose Quintana and Justin Wilson, though, acquiring the very two players who may have fit the Astros best.
- RIP Gene Bennett. He was a Reds scout extraordinaire and a fine gentleman.
- Joey Votto has reached base twice for 20 straight games.
- Joe Maddon’s four-man outfield vs. Votto was interesting. Kris Bryant played left center field rather than third base. Votto foiled the plot by lining a double down the right-field line.
- The Reds have gone from a historically bad bullpen of last year to a historically bad rotation this year. The rotation ERA is 6.03, a half run worse than even the Orioles.
- On the plus side, Luis Castillo, obtained from the Marlins in the Dan Straily trade, looks like a potential star.
- Hard to believe, but Scooter Gennett, Zack Cozart and Eugenio Suarez are all having career years, and the Reds are still buried in last place in a division with mostly mediocrity.
- Devin Mesoraco (broken foot) must feel jinxed at this point.
- Hunter Greene, the No. 2 overall pick as a right-handed pitcher, is only DHing at Billings, and is 5 for 14.
- Outfielder Stuart Fairchild, the Reds’ third pick, has 10 stolen bases and is hitting .310, also at Billing.
- Nick Senzel is hitting .348 at Double-A Pensacola (Fla.)
- The Chad Bettis return was one of the best stories of the year. And here are two of the better stories leading up to the return, one from Danny Knobler of Bleacher Report and another from Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. And yet another from Tony DeMarco of FanRag Sports after Bettis’ boffo return.
- Charlie Blackmon is an under-the-radar MVP candidate.
- Jeff Hoffman and Tommy Kahnle are both products of Latham Shaker High in the Albany (N.Y.) area, Gary Cohen of SNY pointed out. Amazing to have two 100-mph-throwing pitchers on the same high school staff.
Los Angeles Dodgers
- Scouts absolutely love top right-handed prospect Walker Buehler. But one said he didn’t look ready for Triple-A to him. The Dodgers have held out some hope he could possibly help the team in October.
- The Dodgers are now 51 games over .500. Amazing. Now it’s a matter of whether they are the 1998 Yankees or ’01 Mariners.
- It was interesting to see Yu Darvish praise Yasmani Grandal for his pitch framing. That skill could also be defined a strike stealing, so maybe it’s not something to speak about, at least not publicly. In any case, Grandal is a great pitch famer. And Darvish was a perfect pickup.
- Giancarlo Stanton couldn’t possibly be hotter. He had 11 homers in 12 games and a team record six straight games with a homer, to set a club record at 44. Sixty doesn’t not look out of the question at this point. Stanton was two shy of the MLB record, held by his manager Don Mattingly, and others.
- Stanton has cleared waivers, and a winter trade is not exactly a long shot.
- Even after getting the deal and the Marlins for $1.2 billion, the winning Derek Jeter-Bruce Sherman team is looking for investors, sources say.
- One mistake the Marlins have made is not taking advantage internationally, specifically in Latin America. It’s “crazy” that they haven’t taken that advantage, one rival said.
- Neil Walker is a nice pickup, and he’s showing it already. Walker was “just starting to rake,” in the words of one Met. Walker was hitting well enough that the Mets had to pay half or less of the remaining $4.4 million to go on his $17.2-million deal.
- It’s interesting to ask about the future of Jonathan Villar after the Brewers opted to replace him with Walker.
- First-round pick Keston Hiura is hitting .382 so far in the minors. Many felt the UC-Irvine product was the best college hitter in this year’s draft.
New York Mets
- The Mets are still working hard to trade more pieces.
- Curtis Granderson would help a contender. It’s been a rough market for outfielders, but he’s been hot since the middle of May after a rough start.
- The Mets saved $3 million from the Neil Walker trade, the Associated Press first reported.
- Wilmer Flores should be playing more, and Jose Reyes less.
- Dominic Smith looks cool under pressure, but he’ll have to watch his weight.
- Amed Rosario’s defense is something to behold.
- Seth Lugo’s injury is just the latest blow to the Mets’ beleaguered staff.
- Michael Conforto’s had a terrific year.
- Seth Lugo is on the DL with a shoulder impingement. He was originally out with a UCL issue.
- Aaron Nola is on some streak, having allowed no more than two runs in 10 straight starts. “He knows when to throw a strike and when to throw a ball,” one opposing coach marveled. “He’s got a little rise on his fastball, like Max Scherzer, though obviously not quite as firm.”
- 2B Cesar Hernandez is highly underrated.
- Phillies’ tribute to Walk of Fame inductees was very nice. Mike Schmidt’s kind words about how Darren Daulton was about “love,” made us forget why Pete Rose wasn’t there.
- The Phillies put on a good job at Citizens Bank Park. Gotta say the Phillie Phanatic is still a hoot.
- Josh Bell has had a very nice rookie year (though of course he’s been overshadowed by Cody Bellinger).
- Francisco Cervelli wasn’t too happy sitting on the bench with a left hand/wrist injury. “Hate it. Hate it. Hate it,” Cervelli told Pirates writers.
St. Louis Cardinals
- The entire Cardinals team seems to have bonded after they all went to the famous Cincinnati steakhouse The Precinct, as Jesus Ortiz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Yadier Molina, Adam Wainwright and Matt Carpenter arranged the get together.
- Paul DeJong, the former pre-med student and walk-on at Illinois State, continues to impress.
San Diego Padres
- It was a bit surprising to see manager Andy Green receive a three-year extension. While he’s beloved by his front office, and certainly has potential, he hasn’t fulfilled it yet. From here, the more obvious move would have been just to promote Dave Roberts from within. Roberts looks like he’s on his way to a second straight Manager of the Year award.
- Mackenzie Gore, the No. 3 overall pick, has a 0.56 ERA, as Bill Center of the Padres notes.
- Congrats to Jered Weaver on his retirement. Very nice career. We forget how good he was, winning at 92 mph.
San Francisco Giants
- Rivals say they doubt Jeff Samardzija will get claimed on waivers when he’s put out there, but one notes that “he’s throwing really well” and teams would consider trading for him.
- Johnny Cueto is throwing on the side.
- So is Mark Melancon, but he still feels something in his elbow, reports Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News.
- Joe Panik joined Brandon Belt on the concussion D.L. It’s Panik’s second visit to the DL for a concussion.
- Pablo Sandoval said he feels like he’s home again. He is lockering next to Hunter Pence, one of two Giants Panda said he liked (along with Bruce Bochy – though he can’t have his locker next to Bochy, as he’s in a separate room). Regardless, friends describe him as “super happy.”
- Brandon Kintzler was used in six of eight games, and for practically the first time he asked for a day off. Smart move. They need him in October, not now.
- Too many players have injured themselves on the bags, either slipping on them when they are wet or more commonly jamming a finger against them. So something should be done.
- Howie Kendrick is hot since coming to the Nats.
- I still say Gio Gonzalez should have made the All-Star team.
- Dusty Baker has earned an extension. His contract is up after the year.