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May 9, 2017

What You Need to Know

You Can Never Go Home Again

by Jared Wyllys

The Monday Takeaway

Matt Wieters and Edwin Encarnacion returned to play their former teams on Monday night, and both were received loudly and warmly. At least at first. Where Wieters quietly hit an ultimately inconsequential ninth-inning RBI double in the Nationals' loss to the Orioles, Encarnacion took to the plate in the second inning to a thunderous greeting from the Toronto faithful and then proceeded to tag Marcus Stroman’s first pitch right back to him. Right back to his shin, to be specific. The ball careened to the shortstop and Encarnacion reached first base safely, and Blue Jays fans could be forgiven for dispensing with happy greetings of their former players from here on out.

It was a night of monster first innings, too. In Baltimore and Los Angeles, the home teams greeted the opposing pitchers must less kindly. In the beltway, Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez gave up home runs in the first inning to Joey Rickard, Mark Trumbo, and eventually Trey Mancini. Trumbo’s home run required a little extra effort with Gonzalez’s 1-2 fastball coming in nearly at his chin, but he sent it to left center anyway.

That appeared to be Gonzalez’s problem in the first inning, leaving the ball much too high, but he was able to settle in for two more innings before giving up another pair of runs in the fourth and then eventually leaving the game after six full frames.

The Trumbo home run was a peculiarity, at 354 feet being both the shortest home run he has hit that Statcast has tracked and also the highest pitch in nearly a decade that has been hit for a home run:

The Dodgers' hit a barrage of singles and capitalized on a throwing error to score a run and then load the bases in the bottom of the first against Pirates starter Trevor Williams. A coaching visit with the bases loaded didn’t help, either. Williams got ahead 0-2 in the count on Dodgers second baseman Chris Taylor with his slider, but he made the ill-fated mistake of attempting the pitch again, and Taylor tattooed the hapless breaking ball for a grand slam.

Yasiel Puig also hit a home run later in the inning, but Williams was already left to wear it for a few more innings until his bullpen could assume his place on the mound.

Quick Hits from Monday

The Pirates had other, much more serious bad news on Monday, sharing that 25-year-old pitcher Jameson Taillon has been treated for testicular cancer.

Taillon has already survived a crucible to get to where he is, but he shared his thoughts on Twitter, where he remains positive:

In lighter news, Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez helped his own cause on the way to a 9-4 win over the Marlins by driving in four of the St. Louis runs. Martinez went 2-for-3 with a double and scored a run while pitching six innings of three-run ball on the way to the Cardinals’ division-leading 17th win of the season.

In Queens, the Mets were in need of a pick me up, and Neil Walker delivered. His team had sat knotted up with the Giants since the sixth inning Monday, and he worked a quality at-bat—fouling off three straight after getting to 1-1 on Hunter Strickland’s curveballs—on the way to singling on the 1-2 curve and driving Michael Conforto in to score for the walk-off and a much-needed win for New York.

Defensive Play of the Day:

The Indians had two outs and runners on the corners in the top of the sixth when Jose Ramirez hit a missile to center for what would most assuredly have been a two-run double that would have cut the then four-run lead in half and completely re-framed the eighth-inning rally that Cleveland would later put together. Instead, Kevin Pillar sprinted just far enough underneath the line drive and dove to rob Ramirez and all of northeast Ohio the chance to change the course of last night’s game.

At least the Cavaliers are doing well.

What to Watch on Tuesday:

The Cubs were certainly due a day off after the 18-inning marathon on Sunday night that was preceded by a 13-inning game last Thursday afternoon, so getting the night off on Monday due to hail—yes, hail—and rain in Denver was a welcome reprieve for their bullpen. A doubleheader against the Rockies today might undo the rest they achieved in not playing Monday, but that will give them two tries to get off the schneid of losing all three games to the Yankees over the weekend.

The evening slate of games starts with what is probably the most compelling matchup of the day, as the Orioles and Nationals meet at Camden Yards for the second game of their series. It will be a pitching mismatch that favors Washington—Max Scherzer vs. Ubaldo Jimenez—but if the Orioles can put on the kind of long-ball show they did on Monday night, that starter matchup might not end up mattering.

Jared Wyllys is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jared's other articles. You can contact Jared by clicking here

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Fantasy Article Closer Report: Week 6 (05/09)
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