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Michael Conforto
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Baseball Daily Dose

Mets Fillet Fish, Enter Playoff Picture

by George Bissell
Updated On: August 8, 2019, 12:43 am ET

Here come the Mets. After a turbulent four-month stretch to open the regular season, when it seemed at multiple junctures like they were on the precipice of a total collapse; New York has ripped off an impressive six-game win streak, emerging victorious in 19 of 25 contests since the All-Star break. They now trail the Phillies by a single game for the second Wild Card spot in the National League. The Mets’ formidable starting rotation has done the heavy lifting in recent weeks, but it was the offense, highlighted by a trio of youngsters, that stole the spotlight in Wednesday’s series finale against the Marlins. Burgeoning slugger Michael Conforto homered twice, rookie sensation Pete Alonso launched his 37th round-tripper of the season, and table-setter Jeff McNeil, who boasts a major league-leading .339 batting average this season, also went deep to help the Mets’ complete a four-game series sweep against the bottom-feeding Marlins with a lopsided 7-2 victory on Wednesday.

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Alonso set the set the tone right out of the gate with a two-run homer off Marlins starter Jordan Yamamoto in the first inning. The 24-year-old masher has left the yard in three consecutive games and trails only Christian Yelich (39 home runs) and Mike Trout (38) for the major-league lead this season. He owns a .260/.364/.595 triple-slash line with 70 runs scored, 37 home runs, 83 RBI and one steal in 484 plate appearances. No matter how you slice it, Alonso has compiled one of the most impressive rookie seasons in recent memory. Meanwhile, Conforto’s evolution into the middle-of-the-order masher fantasy owners have envisioned for years, has largely flown under the radar this season. He served as the Mets’ main offensive catalyst in this one, recording the fifth multi-homer effort of his career. He launched a two-run dinger to right field -- his 100th career round-tripper -- in the third inning and lifted an opposite-field solo shot in the seventh. The 26-year-old slugger appears to be finally putting it all together at the plate, hitting .261/.370/.512 with 65 runs scored, 25 home runs, 64 RBI and five stolen bases in 451 plate appearances this season. He’s gone deep a whopping nine times since the All-Star break and has shown no signs of slowing down. There’s a chance that the Mets fizzle out and fail to make a significant playoff push, but they certainly possess enough raw talent to emerge as serious contenders in October. If they’re going to compete against proven postseason powerhouses like the Dodgers, Braves, Cubs and Brewers, they desperately need Alonso, Conforto and McNeil to stay hot over the remainder of the 2019 campaign. So far, they’re delivering.     


 

Fantastic Fried, Albies Heroics Fuel Braves 

While the Mets’ recent hot streak is deservedly garnering plenty of media attention, the Braves continue to run away with the National League East Division.  Ozzie Albies homered twice and notched his second consecutive four-hit performance to spearhead the Braves’ 11-7 victory over a powerhouse Twins squad in an interleague contest on Wednesday. The 22-year-old second baseman clobbered a 444-foot line-drive solo shot to left-center off Minnesota lefty Martin Perez in the opening frame. He also singled in the third and fourth innings, respectively, before capping off a monster four-hit effort with his second round-tripper of the contest, another solo blast off Perez in the sixth. It was the fourth multi-homer performance of his major-league career and the third time he’s accomplished the feat this season. Albies wasn’t the only Braves’ superstar to leave the yard in this one. Sophomore sensation Ronald Acuna, who has a realistic shot at recording the fifth-ever 40-homer, 40 steal campaign in major-league history, blasted his 29th round-tripper of the season in the eighth inning. Freddie Freeman also went deep, socking a towering solo homer -- his 29th long ball of the season -- to left-center field in the opening frame. The 29-year-old first baseman collected three hits and is now up to 92 RBI. He trails only Eduardo Escobar for the major-league lead in that department this season. Meanwhile, Max Fried recorded a season-high 10 strikeouts and limited a formidable Twins’ lineup to just three runs on six hits over 5 1/3 innings to record his 13th win of the year. The 25-year-old left-hander pounded the strike zone, throwing 61 of 94 pitches for strikes, while also generating 12 swinging strikes in a dominant performance.   

 

Ramirez Rocks Rangers, Tribe Sweep Twin-Billing

It’s been a tale of two remarkably different halves for Jose Ramirez, who homered in both games of a doubleheader against the Rangers to power the Indians to a sweep of the afternoon twin-billing on Wednesday. The 26-year-old infielder walloped a mammoth two-run homer and stole a base in the opening game and drilled a go-ahead solo homer -- his 16th round-tripper of the season -- in the nightcap. His seemingly unexplained ineptitude at the plate over a frosty three-month stretch to begin the 2019 campaign was well-documented at the time. He was hitting .217/.310/.327 with five home runs and 18 stolen bases on July 1. Since that point, he’s seemingly re-discovered the line-drive approach that enabled him to blossom into a fantasy superstar earlier in his career and has enjoyed a remarkable turnaround at the dish. He’s hitting .328 (41-for-125) with 26 runs scored, 11 home runs, 30 RBI and five stolen bases in 31 games since the start of last month. He's collected an extra-base hit in six straight games and is one of the hottest hitters in baseball over the last month. Ramirez is yet another textbook example of why it pays to bet on raw talent and track record, especially if that hitter is still in his physical prime, when it comes to prospective mid-season trade acquisitions in fantasy baseball.      

 

Yelich Remains Sidelined in Milwaukee 

After sitting out a pair of contests on Tuesday and Wednesday due to lingering back issues, Christian Yelich told reporters that he could “feel something in his back” during Monday's game against the Pirates. He also told reporters that he won't be back in the lineup again until this issue clears up. The 27-year-old outfielder, who owns an extra-terrestrial .336/.428/.705 triple-slash line with a major league-leading 39 home runs this season, dealt with back issues earlier in the season and it sounds like this could potentially be a recurrence of that previous injury. He's considered day-to-day for now, but if he doesn't recover quickly, it seems likely that he will be forced to make a trip to the injured list. Meanwhile, the Brewers didn’t have any trouble taking care of business, logging a blowout victory over the division-rival Pirates in his absence on Wednesday. Electrifying rookie second baseman Keston Hiura went 3-for-4 with a pair of home runs and three RBI to pace the Brewers’ offense. It was the first multi-homer effort of his big-league career. Given what we’ve seen so far from the 23-year-old, it certainly won’t be the last either. 

 

AL Quick Hits: Giancarlo Stanton (knee) has resumed baseball activities. … Gleyber Torres (core) is day-to-day after tests came back negative on Wednesday. … Blake Snell (elbow) will travel with the Rays to Seattle and start a throwing program soon. … Ryon Healy underwent season-ending debridement surgery on his right hip Wednesday. … Gio Urshela and Kyle Higashioka each homered twice as the Yankees launched five home runs in a lopsided win over the Orioles. … James Paxton whiffed seven batters over 6 2/3 innings to pick up the win in that contest. … Gerrit Cole fanned 10 batters over six innings of two-run ball in a win over the Rockies. … Yuli Gurriel spearheaded the Astros’ offensive explosion, going 2-for-4 with a three-run home run and a career-high eight RBI. … Miguel Sano went 2-for-5 with a three-run homer and four RBI in the Twins’ loss to the Braves. … Yusei Kikuchi whiffed eight batters over five innings on one-run ball in a no-decision against the Padres. … Tim Anderson collected four hits, scored three runs and reached base safely in all four of his plate appearances to lift the White Sox to a blowout win over the Tigers … Jose Abreu went 3-for-5 with a pair of RBI in that victory as well. … Ivan Nova fired eight scoreless frames to pick up the win in that one. … Brendan McKay whiffed eight batters over five innings in a loss to the Blue Jays. … Zach Plesac tossed six shutout frames with seven strikeouts in a no-decision against the Rangers. … Lance Lynn registered eight strikeouts over seven innings in a loss to the Indians … Willie Calhoun went 2-for-3 with a solo homer in that one. … Dellin Betances (shoulder, lat) is scheduled to throw a bullpen on Monday. … Blue Jays claimed Zack Godley off waivers from the Diamondbacks. 

NL Quick Hits: Javier Baez exited Wednesday’s game against the Athletics after fouling a ball off his leg. … Anthony Rendon was removed from Wednesday’s game against the Giants due to a sore toe. … Austin Riley is expected to land on the 10-day injured list after sustaining a knee ligament injury on Tuesday during a workout. … Alex Dickerson (oblique) won't be activated off the injured list on Sunday. … Jack Flaherty struck out 10 batters over seven scoreless innings in a no-decision against the Dodgers. … Dustin May recorded seven strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball in a no-decision against the Cardinals. … Fernando Tatis Jr. went 2-for-4 with a solo home run in the Padres’ loss to the Mariners. … Francisco Mejia collected three hits and slugged a solo shot in that one. … Gerardo Parra drilled a three-run homer to lift the Nationals past the Giants. … Ian Happ launched a grand slam to power the Cubs to a lopsided win over the Athletics. … Jose Quintana punched out seven batters over seven innings of one-run ball to pick up a win in that contest. … Zac Gallen fired five scoreless innings against the Phillies in his Diamondbacks debut. … Marlins placed Miguel Rojas on the 10-day injured list with a right hamstring strain. … Diamondbacks designated Greg Holland for assignment. … Miles Mikolas will make his next start on Sunday against the Pirates. … Steven Duggar has been diagnosed with a strained left shoulder. … Chris Taylor (forearm) has resumed hitting in the batting cage. … Cubs signed Jonathan Lucroy. … Giants released Joe Panik.

George Bissell

George Bissell is a baseball writer for NBC Sports EDGE. He previously wrote for Baseball Prospectus. You can follow him on Twitter
@GeorgeBissell.