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Former No. 1 Draft Pick Mark Appel Is Stepping Away From Baseball At 26

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He was drafted number one overall by the Houston Astros in 2013.

Now, he’s walking away from baseball after failing to throw a single pitch in the majors.

For 26-year-old Mark Appel, this is his reality. In an in-depth interview with the Bleacher Report’s Joon Lee, Appel revealed he’s taking an “indefinite break” from baseball.

“I’m 26, I have a Stanford degree, I have many interests beyond baseball, which I still love, but I have a lot of things I care about,” said Appel.

If this is indeed the end of Appel’s baseball career, he’ll be just the third number one pick to fail to reach the majors, joining Steve Chilcott (1966, New York Mets) and Brien Taylor (1991, New York Yankees).

In five Minor League seasons for seven different teams, Appel recorded a 5.06 ERA in 81 games (78 starts).

Appel will now seek a different career, and he has no problem being labeled as perhaps the greatest baseball bust of all-time.

“I don’t know what the future holds. I’m pursuing other things, but also trying to become a healthy human.

“I had high expectations. I didn’t live up to those for a number of reasons. If you want to call me the biggest draft bust, you can call it that.”

We at Home Run Daily wish Appel luck in whatever he chooses to pursue in life from here on out.

American League

2018 HR Daily First Half MLB Awards

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Hard to believe, but the first half of the 2018 MLB season is officially in the books. Tuesday’s All-Star Game in Washington was a wild and appropriate ending to a first half that has been full of surprises. As per tradition, HR Daily is here to give you our picks for the MLB Awards of the first half. Like we did last fall at season’s end, we’ll show you each member’s pick and then proclaim the winner by majority. Let’s start with the Senior Circuit:

National League:

Comeback Player of the Year:

Top Contenders: Matt Kemp- Dodgers, Jason Heyward- Cubs, Jon Lester- Cubs

Darkhorses: Starling Marte- Pirates, Lorenzo Cain- Brewers

Votes: Mike (@MikeAddvensky): Matt Kemp, Seth (@MrMac91): Jon Lester, Matt K (@MattKrysz): Starling Marte, Me (@Flat_Manigen74): Matt Kemp

Your winner, with two of four votes is Los Angeles’ Matt Kemp.

Image result for matt kemp

USA Today.

It has been a remarkable bounce-back season for the 33-year-old Kemp. After spending the last four seasons journeying from San Diego and then Atlanta, Kemp returned to Dodger Stadium this year and instantly turned back into the player that finished as NL MVP runner up in 2011. Named an All-Star this year, for the first time since 2012, Kemp’s efforts have almost single handedly kept the struggling Dodgers in contention in the NL West. He is batting .309 with 15 HR and 60 RBI.

Cy Young Award:

Top Contenders: Jacob deGrom- Mets, Max Scherzer- Nationals, Jon Lester- Cubs, Aaron Nola- Phillies

Darkhorses: Zack Greinke- Diamondbacks, Patrick Corbin- Diamondbacks, Mike Foltynewics- Braves

Votes: Mike: Jacob deGrom, Seth: Jacob deGrom, Matt K: Jacob deGrom, Me: Jacob deGrom

Your winner, unanimously, is New York’s Jacob deGrom.

Image result for jacob degrom

USA Today.

No surprise at all here. Despite the train wreck that the Mets have been, Jacob deGrom is having the year of his career, and doing it with very little run support, which is reflected in his 5-4 record. Don’t be fooled by that at all, though, because The deGrominator boasts an MLB best 1.68 ERA, is tied second in strikeouts (149) and WHIP (.97) and is fourth in BAA (.202). The speculation of the Mets trading their golden goose has been rampant and the chances of deGrom calling someplace else home by season’s end are quite high. A trade to the American League may ruin his Cy Young hopes, but deGrom is having the best season of any pitcher when you consider the circumstances.

Rookie of the Year:

Top Contenders: Juan Soto- Nationals, Brian Anderson- Marlins, Christian Villanueva- Padres

Darkhorse: Seranthony Dominguez- Phillies

Votes: Mike: Juan Soto, Seth: Brian Anderson, Matt K: Christian Villanueva, Me: Christian Villanueva

Your winner, with two of four votes, San Diego’s Christian Villanueva.

Image result for christian villanueva

MLB.

Wow, do I feel bad for baseball fans in the 619. The San Diego Padres existence for the large part has been one of failure and mediocrity (with the obvious exceptions of Tony Gwynn, Trevor Hoffman and the 1998 season), and this season has been more of that. Not even the signing of superstar 1B Eric Hosmer has shaken the team’s fortunes. That being said though, this Villanueva kid has been a major breath of fresh air for the beleaguered franchise. San Diego can’t be an easy place for a first year player to break in, but Villanueva has hit a respectable 19 homers and driven in 43 with a .762 OPS. Like Aaron Judge last year, some may not consider the Mexican a true rookie due to his age (27), but he’s a first year professional none the less and one of the NL’s best right now.

Manager of the Year: 

Top Contenders: Brian Snitker- Braves, Craig Counsell- Brewers, Gabe Kapler- Phillies

Darkhorse: Torey LoVullo- Diamondbacks

Votes: Mike: Brian Snitker, Seth: Torey LoVullo, Matt K: Gabe Kapler, Me: Craig Counsell

WE HAVE A FOUR-WAY TIE! Not one of us voted for the same person, and we cannot accept this!

Just like last year when we had a tie for AL MVP between Aaron Judge and Jose Altuve, we will let you, our readers, have the final say here. Go to our Twitter (@HomeRunDaily) and cast your choice for one of these four! You have until 8:30 PM ET tomorrow!

National League MVP:

Top Candidates: Freddie Freeman- Braves, Nolan Arenado- Rockies, Javier Baez- Cubs

Darkhorses: Eugenio Suarez- Reds, Jesus Aguilar- Brewers, Paul Goldschmidt- Diamondbacks

Votes: Mike: Freddie Freeman, Seth: Nolan Arenado, Matt K: Freddie Freeman, Me: Freddie Freeman

Your winner, with three of four votes, Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman.

Image result for freddie freeman

USA Today.

Like deGrom, not much of a surprise here. Freeman was in the midst of an MVP campaign last year when he was hit on his left hand on May 17, the resulting fracture knocked him out until the Fourth of July. He still played very well after this, but the month and a half on the shelf ruined his MVP chances. It’s going to take another big injury to prevent Freeman from taking that crown this year. The Braves first baseman has been on a different level this year and helped bring his previously dormant team back to life. The American-Canadian is batting .316 with 16 HR, 64 RBI and .939 OPS. There’s no two ways around it, those are stupidly good numbers. The Braves may be destined for great things this season if they can recover from their recent slump, and Freeman will be leading that charge.

American League:

Comeback Player of the Year:

Top Contenders: Matt Duffy- Rays, Manny Machado- Orioles, Gerrit Cole- Astros

Darkhorse: Kyle Gibson- Twins

Votes: Mike: Matt Duffy, Seth: Matt Duffy, Matt K: Michael Brantley, Me: Gerrit Cole

Your winner, with two of four votes, Tampa Bay’s Matt Duffy.

Image result for matt duffy rays

CBC.

After finishing second to Kris Bryant in 2015 NL Rookie of the Year voting, it slowly started to seem as if Matt Duffy would join the group of players that peaked as rookies and then went on to mediocrity. A trade to Tampa Bay and a severe achilles tendon injury that caused him to miss all of 2017 did not help his cause. However, this year, the Duffman has returned with a vengeance, batting .317 with a .784 OPS. He was shockingly left off the American League’s All-Star Game roster, but it takes nothing away from this guy’s incredible perseverance.

Cy Young Award:

Top Contenders: Justin Verlander- Astros, Luis Severino- Yankees, Gerrit Cole- Astros, Chris Sale- Red Sox

Darkhorses: Blake Snell- Rays, Charlie Morton- Astros, Trevor Bauer- Indians

Votes: Mike: Luis Severino, Seth: Chris Sale, Matt K: Chris Sale, Me: Chris Sale

Your winner, with three of four votes, Boston’s Chris Sale.

Image result for chris sale

Boston Globe.

Sale has yet to disappoint since changing his Sox from white to red and continues to establish himself as Boston’s ace and one of the AL’s best. Don’t get me wrong, I know that Sale was the front-runner for the award at the half, last season, but ran out of gas down the stretch, he wound up finishing second behind Corey Kluber. The Condor’s performance in the first half of this season has been just as good however, and it also appears that the new Red Sox manager Alex Cora is taking more efforts to reduce his innings than John Farrell did last season. His first half line of 10-4, 2.23 ERA, 188 Ks, .90 WHIP and .184 BAA earned him a third consecutive All-Star Game start, something that hadn’t happened for a pitcher since Hall of Famer Robin Roberts’ trifecta from 1953 to 1955. If Sale can hold it together in the second half this time around, he will earn a well deserved first Cy Young Award after finishing in the top six for the past six seasons in a row.

Rookie of the Year:

Top Contenders: Gleyber Torres- Yankees, Shohei Ohtani- Angels

Votes: Mike: Gleyber Torres, Seth: Gleyber Torres, Matt K: Gleyber Torres, Me: Gleyber Torres

Your winner, unanimously, New York’s Gleyber Torres.

Image result for gleyber torres

NY Post.

2018 hasn’t been that big a year for rookie action. After we were spoiled last season by Aaron Judge, Cody Bellinger, Andrew Benintendi and Trey Mancini, this season has been plain dull. Everyone in the world was intrigued to see what Shohei Ohtani was going to do, and while he’s been good, he hasn’t lived up to the hype (not his fault though, the hype was too big for anyone). The Yankees’ Gleyber Torres emerged from underneath Ohtani’s shadow and has been quite impressive, showing us just why fans in the Bronx have been so excited since he was acquired from the Cubs as part of the return for Aroldis Chapman. The future superstar is batting .294 with a .905 OPS, earning him an All-Star appearance. Not bad at all for a guy who turned the drinking age last December.

Manager of the Year:

Top Conteders: Bob Melvin- Athletics, Scott Servais- Mariners, Alex Cora- Red Sox

Darkhorse: , Kevin Cash- Rays, Mike Scioscia- Angels

Votes: Mike: Alex Cora, Seth: Scott Servais, Matt K: Scott Servais, Me: Scott Servais

Your winner, with three of four votes, Seattle’s Scott Servais (try saying that three times fast).

Image result for scott servais

Seattle Times.

There are many deserving candidates in the AL for this award, and like the NL, the voting for it at season’s end is likely to be very tough for the BBWAA. Servais’ Mariners have been one of the stories of the year in the American League and are fighting for contention in a very tight AL West, with the similar surprise of the Oakland Athletics also adding to the intrigue. Even with the Mariners losing their biggest piece, Robinson Cano, to a half-season PED suspension, they haven’t missed a beat and are only five out of the division leading Astros, thanks to the continued consistency of Nelson Cruz and Jean Segura’s breakout. Servais should be commended for holding his team together through the trials they’ve faced. Seattle inherited North American professional sports’ longest playoff drought from the NFL’s Buffalo Bills this past winter. Will they break it on their first attempt?

American League MVP:

Top Contenders: Mike Trout- Angels, Mookie Betts- Red Sox, Jose Ramirez- Indians, JD Martinez- Red Sox

Darkhorse: Jose Altuve- Astros

Votes: Mike: JD Martinez, Seth: Mookie Betts, Matt K: Jose Ramirez, Me: JD Martinez

Your winner, with two of four votes, Boston’s JD Martinez.

Image result for jd martinez

NESN.

Martinez has lived up to the hype in Boston, and then some. Signed as a counter move to the Yankees’ acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton, Martinez’ remarkable first half has ensured that the Red Sox haven’t fallen behind their storied rivals. What makes Martinez so valuable to Boston is that he’s done exactly what was expected of him. He’s sparked the Red Sox offense and taken pressure off other key bats. The end result? Only the Sox being in first place in a season where nobody though they would. In fact, Boston has led the AL East for a majority of the year.  It more than likely won’t happen, but the 30-year-old player currently has a shot at the Triple Crown with his .325 AVG (third), 29 HR (second) and 80 RBI (first). For those of you who believe primary designated hitters shouldn’t win MVP, he’s played left field a good number of games and his defense has been solid. Martinez’ all-around production has helped propel the Red Sox past the powerhouse Yankees. He’s been an MVP in every sense so far during his tenure in Beantown.

What are your choices? Be sure to let us know on Twitter!

 

 

 

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American League

2018 MLB All-Star Game Rosters Unveiled

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The favorite night of the summer for baseball fans is coming up rapidly. The 2018 MLB All-Star Game is a week from Tuesday in Washington DC. Before this week’s edition of Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN, the All-Stars of both leagues were revealed. Whether by fan, player or managerial vote, the following players have earned the honor of going to the Midsummer Classic:

National League

Manager: Dave Roberts- Dodgers

Starting lineup:

  • C- Willson Contreras- Cubs (first appearance)
  • 1B- Freddie Freeman- Braves (third appearance)
  • 2B- Javier Baez- Cubs (first appearance)
  • SS- Brandon Crawford- Giants (second appearance)
  • 3B- Nolan Arenado- Rockies (fourth appearance)
  • OF- Nick Markakis- Braves (first appearance)
  • OF- Matt Kemp- Dodgers (third appearance)
  • OF- Bryce Harper- Nationals (sixth appearance)

Notable: LA’s Matt Kemp, who is singled-handedly keeping the Dodgers in contention, is back for the first time since 2012, the longest stretch between appearances for any All-Star this year.

Starting pitchers:

  • Jacob deGrom- Mets (second appearance)
  • Mike Foltynewicz- Braves (first appearance)
  • Patrick Corbin- D-Backs (second appearance)
  • Aaron Nola- Phillies (first appearance)
  • Miles Mikolas- Cardinals (first appearance)
  • Max Scherzer- Nationals (sixth appearance)
  • Jon Lester- Cubs (fifth appearance)

Notable: Arizona’s Patrick Corbin returns tfter being tagged with the loss in 2013 at New York’s Citi Field. Jacob deGrom is the sole representative of the aforementioned Mets and is the favorite to get the starting nod at this point, but don’t rule out Lester.

Bullpen:

  • Brad Hand- Padres (second appearance)
  • Sean Doolittle- Nationals (second appearance)
  • Kenley Jansen- Dodgers (third appearance)
  • Felipe Vazquez- Pirates (first appearance)
  • Josh Hader- Brewers (first appearance)

Notable: Doolittle, Jansen and Hand are amongst the game’s best closers, while Vazquez and Hader are quickly approaching that conversation. Bullpen advantage goes to the NL.

Reserves:

  • C-Buster Posey- Giants (sixth appearance)
  • C- JT Realmuto- Marlins (first appearance)
  • 1B- Paul Goldschmidt- D-Backs (sixth appearance)
  • 1B- Joey Votto- Reds (sixth appearance)
  • 2B- Ozie Albies- Braves (first appearance)
  • 2B- Scooter Gennett- Reds (first appearance)
  • SS- Trevor Story- Rockies (first appearance)
  • 3B- Eugenio Suarez- Reds (first appearance)
  • OF- Charlie Blackmon- Rockies (third appearance)
  • OF- Lorenzo Cain- Brewers (second appearance)
  • OF- Christian Yelich- Brewers (first appearance)

Notable: Six players on the NL’s bench make their debuts this year, while Posey, Votto and Goldschmidt each make their sixth appearance.

Final Vote candidates:

  • Jesus Aguilar- Brewers (no appearances)
  • Brandon Belt- Giants (one appearance)
  • Max Muncy- Dodgers (no appearances)
  • Trea Turner- Nationals (no appearances)
  • Matt Carpenter- Cardinals (three appearances)

Turner is the odds-on favorite to be the last man on the Senior Circuit side. His Washington Nationals are this year’s hosts and their fans will vote in troves to get him there so they’ll have one more guy to go crazy for when Joe Buck does his traditional introductions.

American League

Manager: AJ Hinch- Astros

Starting lineup:

  • C- Wilson Ramos- Rays (second appearance)
  • 1B- Jose Abreu- White Sox (second appearance)
  • 2B- Jose Altuve- Astros (sixth appearance)
  • SS- Manny Machado- Orioles (fourth appearance)
  • 3B- Jose Ramirez- Indians (second appearance)
  • OF-Aaron Judge- Yankees (second appearance)
  • OF- Mike Trout- Angels (seventh appearance)
  • OF- Mookie Betts- Red Sox (third appearance)
  • DH- JD Martinez- Red Sox (second appearance)

Notable: The American League’s starting lineup is almost identical to last year’s. Judge and Betts will once again patrol the outfield, joined by Trout, whom Betts replaced in 2017 due to a thumb injury.

Starting pitchers:

  • JA Happ- Blue Jays (first appearance)
  • Corey Kluber- Indians (third appearance)
  • Justin Verlander- Astros (seventh appearance)
  • Trevor Bauer- Indians (first appearance)
  • Luis Severino- Yankees (second appearance)
  • Blake Treinen- Athletics (first appearance)
  • Chris Sale- Red Sox (seventh appearance)
  • Gerrit Cole- Astros (second appearance)
  • Jose Berrios- Twins (first appearance)

Notable: AL skipper Hinch is Verlander’s manager, and he has already announced that his ace will not play in the game, Bauer is his replacement. Verlander was the favorite to start; now that his participation is ruled out the choice will likely come down to Luis Severino or Gerrit Cole, who has been a revelation.

Bullpen:

  • Joe Jimenez- Tigers (first appearance)
  • Edwin Diaz- Mariners (first appearance)
  • Aroldis Chapman- Yankees (fifth appearance)
  • Craig Kimbrel- Red Sox (seventh appearance)

Notable: Chapman and Kimbrel find themselves on the AL side this time after being teammates for the NL from 2012 to 2014. They are the AL’s best, but the NL boasts one more reliever and Hinch will have to choose wisely should the American League have the lead late.

Reserves:

  • C- Salvador Perez- Royals (sixth appearance)
  • 1B- Mitch Moreland- Red Sox (first appearance)
  • 2B- Gleyber Torres- Yankees (first appearance)
  • SS- Francisco Lindor- Indians (third appearance)
  • 3B- Alex Bregman- Astros (first appearance)
  • OF- Michael Brantley- Indians (third appearance)
  • OF- Mitch Haniger- Mariners (first appearance)
  • OF- George Springer- Astros (second appearance)
  • OF- Shin-Soo Choo- Rangers (first appearance)
  • DH- Nelson Cruz- Mariners (sixth appearance)

Notable: A feel-good moment comes here for Texas’ Choo, who gets his first selection at the age of 35 after being in the game for 13 years. According to ESPN, he is the first Korean batter selected to the MLB All-Star Game. Former Ranger Moreland is a similar case, getting his first selection at 32.

Final Vote candidates:

  • Eddie Rosario- Twins (no appearances)
  • Jean Segura- Mariners (one appearance)
  • Andrelton Simmons- Angels (no appearances)
  • Andrew Benintendi- Red Sox (no appearances)
  • Giancarlo Stanton- Yankees (four appearances)

Based on name value alone, Stanton is the favorite here. But Simmons, Benintendi, Segura and Rosario all have worthy numbers, Yankee fans will have to vote aggressively to get their prized acquisition to his fifth appearance.

Information on injury replacements and pitching fill-ins to come. Which side is more stacked in your opinion? Be sure to let us know and check back to HR Daily as the Midsummer Classic gets closer and closer!

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American League

5 Biggest Stories Of The 2018 MLB Season After 2 Months

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Believe it or not, the 2018 MLB season is at the two month point and the Midsummer Classic is not far off. Each MLB season has its own intrigue for one reason or another, but 2018 in particular has been a wild ride so far for both the National League and the American League. Here are the five biggest stories we’ve seen in baseball thus far this year.

World Series hangover… for the loser?

Image result for dodgers struggling

AP.

The proverbial World Series hangover is a unique phenomenon in baseball because it doesn’t occur to the reigning champs every year. The Cubs suffered something similar to it last season, but regained themselves and finished with a third consecutive NLCS appearance. This year, however, it’s the runner-up that’s feeling the so-called affliction. The Los Angeles Dodgers were a force to be reckoned with in 2017 and tore up the NL enroute to 104 wins, but fell to the equally dominant Houston Astros in Game 7 of the Fall Classic.

This year, Houston hasn’t slowed, but the Dodgers certainly have. Thanks in large part to an array of injuries to key players like Clayton Kershaw, Corey Seager and Justin Turner, and a major sophomore slump from reigning Rookie of the Year Cody Bellinger, Dave Roberts’ squad is currently 28-30 and sits at third in the NL West behind Arizona and Colorado. The team is by no means out of contention, thanks largely to Matt Kemp, but Los Doyers are scuffling and may continue to do so until their roster finally gets healthy. If it doesn’t sooner or later, the team could be in trouble.

Bravo, Bravos

If there is a favorite for National League Manager of the Year at this point, it’s safe to bet that it’s Atlanta’s Brian Snitker. Once thought of as just a fill-in skipper for a rapidly declining franchise, Snitker suddenly finds himself at the helm of a young Braves squad that is turning heads at a rapid rate. Lead by cornerstone Freddie Freeman and a resurgent Nick Markakis, the Braves currently lead the NL East ahead of perennial champ Washington, and their young guns have been the story.

See the source image

SportNews Magazine.

The aforementioned Markakis has been at the crux. Thought of as a castoff since he came to Atlanta in 2015, the aging right fielder has put together a stellar season, batting .328 with 39 RBI and an NL leading 77 hits. Freeman has been doing business as usual and proving further that he may have been MVP last year had he not suffered a fractured hand vs. Toronto in May. One of the game’s most underrated players, Freeman is currently third in the Senior Circuit with a .335 AVG while his .432 OB% is first. 21-year-old Ozzie Albies has also been a spark with a leading 50 runs scored, whilst Ender Inciarte’s 18 stolen bases are tied for the major league lead as well.

It could just be massive overachievement, but the Braves look very good right now and show no signs of slowing.

Red Sox lead the renewed Rivalry

Image result for jd martinez

USA Today.

After laying dormant for the better part of the past ten years, the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry was given new intrigue this past offseason. The Yankees made the biggest trade in the MLB since their own 13 years prior, acquiring Giancarlo Stanton, the game’s most feared power hitter, from the Marlins in a blockbuster deal. Not to be outclassed, the Red Sox responded with the signing of JD Martinez. That set the gears for “The Rivalry” to be renewed, and boy was it. The two hated foes had a major bench clearing fracas in just their second meeting of the season, erupting after Red Sox fireballer Joe Kelly pegged New York’s Tyler Austin after the first basemen hit Brock Holt with a questionable slide at second base. With the bad blood seemingly back, fans cannot wait for the next time the two super heavyweights square off.

Entering the season with Stanton, reigning Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez in their lineup, the Yankees were expected by fans and media alike to blow away the AL East this year. However, that has not come to fruition thus far and the Red Sox, somewhat shockingly, have been the better team for the most part. On top of that, also shockingly, Martinez has been better for Boston than Stanton has been for New York. Martinez is tied for the major league lead with 19 homers and was the first player to reach 50 RBI, in addition to a .321 AVG. Stanton on the other hand is batting .248 with just 12 home runs and 31 RBI. It’s still early, but since many believed that New York would be running away with the East by this point, it isn’t entirely unfair to say that Stanton has been a bit of a disappointment thus far.

Ohtani is impressive, not invincible.

MLB media hyped Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani to the moon before he even stepped onto the field at Angel Stadium for the first time. The 23-year-old native of Oshu, Iwate gained legendary status in Nippon Professional Baseball for his ability as both a pitcher and a hitter and garnered lofty comparisons to that of Babe Ruth. No pressure on the kid, right? Through the first two months of his MLB career, Ohtani has certainly impressed. Splitting time between the mound and designated hitter, He’s pitched to a 3.18 ERA and is hitting .291.He has 6 home runs on the season, which is about as many as most NL pitchers hit in one year, and a few have been of the mammoth variety.

However, impressive as he’s been, Ohtani is far from untouchable. The two-way phenom’s career got off a hot start, but the Red Sox gave him a stark reality check on April 17 in Anaheim, forcing him to throw 66 pitches in just a two inning outing whilst tagging him for three runs. The Angels tried to save face by blaming the disaster on a blister on his throwing hand, but it’s safe to say not a lot of people bought that. Ohtani was all over the zone in that game and wasn’t throwing strikes consistently at all, I don’t think a blister is to blame for that.

Image result for shohei ohtani

UPI.

It was proof that sometimes too much hype can detriment a player as much as it can benefit him because he immediately looks like a bust the first time he gets roughed up. Ohtani has the potential to turn into a legitmate MLB star, ala Ichiro and Yu Darvish, but the fans and media alike need to ease up on the youngster and allow him to transition to the American style of play more naturally.

Ace controversy in Houston?

AP.

Earlier I said that the World Series hangover hasn’t smite reigning champ Houston. Though there’s plenty of reasons for this, the biggest is by far the remarkable performance of a Pittsburgh castoff. Gerrit Cole struggled to sustain himself over the last two seasons after his breakout 2015 campaign and the rebuilding Pirates decided the time was right to move on, trading their former ace to the Astros. People didn’t think so initially, but the change of scenery has proven to be exactly what 2011’s first overall pick needed. Cole has lit up everyone in his path in the first half so far and currently boasts 6 wins, a 2.20 ERA and an AL leading 116 Ks. He is undoubtedly the front runner for AL Comeback Player of the Year right now, and might be for the Cy Young as well if it wasn’t for his teammate.

If Cole’s numbers are eye-popping, then Justin Verlander’s are just plain stupid. The 35-year-old is showing no signs of age and has picked up where he left off last October. If the Baseball Writers’ Association gave out its awards today, Verlander would collect his second career Cy Young. He currently leads the AL in ERA (1.24), WHIP (.72) BAA (.152) and IP (87.1). Just to reiterate, he’s 35.

Cole and Verlander have effectively usurped the title of AJ Hinch’s ace from Dallas Keuchel, who is a comparitve no. 3 starter now (which says a lot about their rotation). The question is, which of these two guys would get the ball in a do-or-die situation? Have fun deciding that one, Astro fans.

Did I leave any out? What narrative or new development has your attention? Be sure to let us know and check back to HR Daily for all your MLB needs.

 

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