Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported Monday that the appeal hearing for Yankees’ left-hander Aroldis Chapman has been pushed back to next season due to an issue involving the availability of witnesses.
You read that right. Despite nearly everything going down via Zoom in 2020, somehow this is still an issue. Still, with only six days remaining on the regular season calendar, the decision will be pushed back to next year.
Chapman was handed his three-game suspension by Major League Baseball back on September 2 for throwing at Mike Brosseau of the Rays.
While it’s good news for fantasy players that they’ll have Chapman for the final week of the regular season, overall he has been a massive disappointment this season. Since he was dealing with an injury and was expected to miss the first week or two of the season, Chapman slid on draft day -- but he was still the ninth closer off the board on average if NFBC Main Event drafts -- behind only Josh Hader, Kirby Yates, Liam Hendriks, Kenley Jansen, Taylor Rogers, Ken Giles, Roberto Osuna and Brad Hand.
While he has outperformed a few of the closers drafted ahead of him -- mainly due to injuries -- Chapman has recorded only three saves on the season with a 3.72 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 18/4 K/BB ratio over 9 2/3 innings of work.
In the spring, prior to his injury, he was routinely the fourth closer off the board. Even with his struggles in 2020, my expectation is that he’ll rise back into that range heading into the 2021 season. At a quick glance, the only closers that I’ll have ranked ahead of him for sure will be Liam Hendriks, Josh Hader, Nick Anderson and potentially ::gulp:: Edwin Diaz.
Clinching the West
The Oakland Athletics didn’t even play a ballgame on Monday, but they still had plenty to celebrate. With the Astros loss to the Mariners, the A’s officially clinched the American League West division title for the first time since 2013.
In doing so, they became the first team in baseball to officially clinch their division this season.
The prize for winning their division is that it guarantees the Athletics one of the top three seeds in the playoff bracket for the American League for the postseason which begins next week. That ensures that they’ll be hosting the Wild Card series in Oakland.
As things currently stand -- if the season ended today -- the Athletics would take on their long-time division rival the Astros in the Wild Card round. The A’s still have seven games left this week though against the Dodgers and Mariners to try to pass the Rays or White Sox to improve their playoff seeding.
With plenty left to play for, it's unlikely that we'll see the Athletics rest their starters over the final week of the regular season.
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Kirk Goes Deep
Blue Jays’ 21-year-old catcher Alejandro Kirk doesn’t fit the body type of the prototypical major league player. In fact, at 5’ 8” and 265 pounds, he almost looks out of place on the diamond. That is, until he steps into the batter’s box.
All he has done is hit in his first three minor league seasons, slashing a combined 315/.418/.500 with 17 homers and 101 RBI over 151 games between Rookie Ball, Class-A Lansing and High-A Dunedin. He also boasted an extremely impressive 60/89 K/BB ratio.
With the Jays short on depth behind the plate, he’s getting a chance to test his chops in the big leagues over the final week and a half of the regular season.
He had been just 2-for-10 (.200) with a pair of singles through his first five big league games, but on Monday he definitely had a night to remember. Kirk singled in his first at-bat and came around to score on an RBI single by Bo Bichette. He then led off the fourth inning with a double and again was driven in by Bichette.
With two hits already under his belt, Kirk lined a single into right field leading off the fifth inning, though this time he was stranded. He then strode to the plate to lead off the seventh inning and smacked his first career home run off of Yankees’ right-hander Chad Green.
Kirk finished the day 4-for-4 and in doing so became the first big league catcher since Joe Mauer in 2004 to record a four-hit game at age-21 or younger. Pretty impressive.
Though Danny Jansen has struggled at the plate again this season, it’s unlikely that the Blue Jays will roll with Kirk behind the plate as their full-time starter once the postseason begins. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him work his way into the lineup as their designated hitter though.
From a fantasy perspective, his outlook in dynasty leagues is very bright. It’ll be a gamble though in redraft leagues next season, as we just won’t have anything close to a legitimate sample size to see if Kirk can successfully make the jump from High-A to the big leagues without a stop in between.
American League Quick Hits: Blue Jays closer Ken Giles announced via his Instagram on Monday that he’ll undergo Tommy John surgery. He’ll miss the entire 2021 season. … Tim Anderson (hamstring) returned to the White Sox lineup on Monday after exiting Sunday’s game. … Indians manager Terry Francona will miss this week’s series against the White Sox due to health issues. Sandy Alomar will continue to serve as the acting manager in his absence. … Jorge Soler (oblique) was activated from the IL and returned to the Royals lineup on Monday. … Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke officially announced that Nick Pivetta will make his team debut on Tuesday against the Orioles, which also lines him up to pitch in Sunday’s season finale. A mighty intriguing two-step for fantasy players chasing strikeouts. … Aaron Bummer (biceps) pitched in a simulated game on Monday and could rejoin the White Sox bullpen before the end of the week. … Nate Pearson threw 25 pitches in a live batting practice session on Monday. He could return to the Blue Jays bullpen this week. … Rowdy Tellez (knee) is unlikely to return this season. … Jordan Romano (finger) is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Tuesday and could return to the bullpen before the end of the week. … Yankees manager Aaron Boone announced that Domingo German will not return in 2020, as there’s not enough time for him to ramp up before the playoffs. … Jose Alvarado (shoulder, lat) threw a 26-pitch bullpen session on Monday. He’s unlikely to return before the end of the regular season, but could be an option for the Rays’ bullpen in the postseason. … Anthony Rendon was tossed from Monday’s game against the Rangers for arguing balls and strikes. … Yasmani Grandal was pulled from Monday’s game with a bruised hand. He’s considered day-to-day… Cal Quantrill will make a spot start for the Indians on Tuesday against the White Sox.
Jared Walsh crushed a grand slam as the Angels topped the Rangers. … Kyle Gibson was torched for eight runs (seven earned) in the loss there. … Eloy Jimenez belted his 14th homer as the White Sox fell to the Indians. … Jose Ramirez crushed a three-run homer in the first inning to lead the charge there for the Indians. … Brad Hand worked a scoreless ninth inning there to secure his 14th save. … Nate Lowe homered off of Jacob deGrom to lead the Rays to victory. … Nick Anderson worked a scoreless ninth there to secure his sixth save. … Matt Shoemaker allowed only one run on three hits over three innings in his return from the injured list. … Vladimir Guerrero doubled twice and tripled as the Blue Jays beat the Yankees. … Mike Tauchman delivered a pinch-hit, three-run double for the Bombers in that one. … Adalberto Mondesi swiped his league-leading 20th base as the Royals topped the Cardinals. … Marco Gonzales improved to 7-2 on the season, striking out six over eight scoreless innings in a dominant victory over the Astros. … Evan White’s three-run homer provided the punch for the Mariners... Lance McCullers did not allow an earned run and struck out seven over 6 2/3 in the loss.
National League Quick Hits: The Rockies officially put an end to Nolan Arenado’s season -- placing him on the 10-day injured list with left AC joint inflammation and a left shoulder bone bruise… The Rockies also released veteran closer Wade Davis after he passed through waivers unclaimed. … The Braves placed Cole Hamels back on the injured list with left shoulder fatigue. … Cardinals left-hander Andrew Miller triggered his $12 million salary for 2021 with his 14th appearance of the season Sunday against the Pirates. … J.T. Realmuto (hip) did not return to the Phillies lineup on Monday, though he could return during Tuesday’s doubleheader. … Joc Pederson returned from the family medical emergency list. … The Pirates claimed right-hander Carson Fulmer off of waivers from the Orioles. It’s the fourth time he has changed teams this season -- and his second stint with the Pirates. … Nationals manager Dave Martinez said Monday that Tanner Rainey (flexor strain) is "probably" done for the season. … James Bourque will go for an MRI on Monday about feeling some pain in the back of his arm during Sunday's appearance against the Marlins. … The Nationals are also expected to be without Aaron Barrett (triceps) and Dakota Bacus (flexor strain) for the remainder of the season. … Sonny Gray (back) said Monday that he'll have no limitations in his return Tuesday against the Brewers. … Phillies’ right-hander Heath Hembree landed on the injured list with a strained right elbow. … Howie Kendrick (hamstring) hopes to return to action this week. … Mets manager Luis Rojas said Monday that they hope to get Dellin Betances (lat) back this week. … The Giants designated Justin Smoak for assignment. … Alex Dickerson returned from the paternity leave list. … The Cardinals got Dexter Fowler back after missing a month with a stomach issue. … Giants manager Gabe Kapler officially announced Drew Smyly as his starter for Tuesday, which also lines him up for Sunday’s season finale. … Jake Marisnick’s season -- and perhaps his tenure with the Mets -- came to an end on Monday as he was placed on the injured list with a hamstring issue. … Jose Quintana (lat) will start for the Cubs on Tuesday against the Pirates, though he’s expected to be on a limited pitch count. … Jeff Samardzija (shoulder) is a candidate to start one half of Friday's doubleheader against the Padres. … Michael Conforto was held out of Monday’s game due to a tight hamstring. He’s considered day-to-day. … Kris Bryant was removed from Monday’s game due to right lower oblique tightness. It sounds like he could miss most of -- if not all -- of the final week of the regular season. Expect to see more of David Bote in his absence. … Carter Kieboom was lifted from Monday’s game with a bruised left hand. His availability for the remainder of the week is in doubt. … Bryse Wilson will start for the Braves on Tuesday against the Marlins.
Zack Wheeler was handed his first loss of the season, allowing three runs (two earned) over 5 2/3 innings against the Nationals. … Asdrubal Cabrera reached three times and scored two runs to lead the Nationals to victory over the Phillies. … Jon Lester hurled six shutout innings in a victory over the Pirates. … JT Brubaker fanned nine over 6 2/3 innings of two-run ball in a losing effort there. … Jacob deGrom matched his season-high with 14 strikeouts in a tough-luck loss against the Rays. … Miguel Rojas stole a pair of bases and scored a run as the Marlins fell to the Braves. … Ozzie Albies had two hits and drove in a run to lead the Braves’ attack. … Mike Moustakas smacked a three-run homer in a victory over the Brewers. … Luis Castillo punched out nine over 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball in the victory. ... Brandon Woodruff struck out nine over 5 2/3 innings in a losing effort. … Matt Carpenter blasted a solo homer as the Cardinals fell to the Royals. … Alex Dickerson went 3-for-4 and swatted his ninth homer as the Giants were defeated by the Rockies. … German Marquez hurled six innings of one-run ball to earn a victory in that one while Kevin Pillar went yard for the Rockies.