Baseball Daily Dose

The Wild Wild NL West

by Jorge Montanez
Updated On: May 29, 2021, 9:45 am ET

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The Giants have been one of this year's biggest surprises, starting the season with a 31-20 record and in the middle of the race for the NL West. After sweeping the Reds last week, San Francisco found themselves at 28-16 and in first place for the division. Then came their first meeting against the Dodgers. The Giants hosted Los Angeles for a three-game set last weekend and were handily swept. Could the Giants actually compete with the big dogs in the division? After all, it was supposed to just be a two-team race between the Dodgers and Padres. Those two teams have already had their fair share of dramatics over the first two months of the season. The Giants had something to prove coming into their second series against the Dodgers. Friday night brought more of the late-night west coast drama. 

With the game tied at two runs apiece in the eighth inning, it was none other than Buster Posey -- who is having a heck of a resurgent season -- who came through with a three-run home run off of Blake Treinen to put the Giants ahead by three runs. Former Dodger Jake McGee pitched a scoreless eighth to send the game into the ninth. The Dodgers wouldn't just go down that easily though. With two on and two outs, Tyler Rogers gave up a game-tying home run to pinch hitter Austin Barnes. Then came Albert Pujols. Pujols hit a rocket off of Rogers to left field. The 41-year-old future Hall of Famer gave it a stare as he and everyone else in the stadium thought that Pujols just hit number 669 to end the game until Mike Tauchman made an incredible catch over the wall to send the game into extra innings. The Giants would take the lead with two hits and a walk against Kenley Jansen in the tenth, including a two-run double by Evan Longoria. San Francisco would hold on to win the game. 

Meanwhile, in Houston, the Padres outlasted the Astros, scoring seven runs in the 11th inning to win 10-3 and hold a 1.5 game lead in the division over San Francisco and Los Angeles. With four months left, this is shaping up to be one of the more exciting division races between three rival teams. 

Four Games Rain Out

What a crazy day for the weather. Friday saw four games postponed and two others called final before the ninth inning due to rain. The Rockies/Pirates, Brewers/Nationals, and Orioles/White Sox are all on tap for double-headers on Saturday. So, we'll have a jam-packed day of baseball with 18 games. The Mets and Braves also had a game postponed, but the makeup game will be scheduled for a later date. 

Starting Pitchers with an EDGE

Sean Manaea -- 6 2/3 IP, 1 ER, 6 H, 3 BB, 8 SO against Angels

Manaea had one of his better outings of the season, generating 17 whiffs -- seven on the changeup -- to strike out eight batters on Friday against the Angels. He's been solid overall, posting a 3.86 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, and 62 strikeouts over 60 2/3 innings. The strikeout rate of 9.20 is in line with what he did in 2019 over just 29 2/3 innings. If he can keep the strikeouts up at this pace and stay healthy, he could be in line for his best season as a pro. 

Kris Bubic -- 6 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 5 SO against Minnesota

Bubic has put together three strong starts in a row now after holding the Twins to just one run over six innings. The one-run game brings his ERA to 1.52 with a 1.11 WHIP and 22 strikeouts over 29 2/3 innings. Bubic has walked 14 batters, so the K:BB ratio presents some regression risk going forward, but the 23-year-old southpaw is making some real strides on the mound. 

Hitters with an EDGE

Joe Panik -- 4-for-4, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI
Lourdes Gurriel -- 2-for-2, 2 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB
Randal Grichuk -- 3-for-5, 2 2B, 3 R, RBI against Cleveland

On a day where Toronto scored 11 runs against Cleveland, it was the 5-8 hitters that did all the damage. Grichuk and Gurriel collected two doubles each. Gurriel reached base once more with a walk and drove in three runs. Panik had a perfect day at the plate, going 4-for-4 with a home run. The Blue Jays could be in for another big day on Saturday when they fave Sam Hentges and his 6.20 ERA. 

Tommy Pham -- 2-for-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB

Pham has been hot at the plate, reaching for times on Friday against the Astros and hitting his third home run of the season. It was Pham's third consecutive game with two hits. This is a much-needed stretch for the 33-year-old outfielder as he's hitting just .213 on the season. Although, he has done a great job of getting on base with a .356 OBP. Pham has been hitting leadoff with Trent Grisham on the injured list. 

Priority Pickup

Merrill Kelly - SP, Arizona (available in 92 percent of Yahoo Leagues) 

Kelly was off to a great start in 2020 before he was shut down to undergo thoracic outlet surgery. Kelly had posted a 2.59 ERA through 31 1/3 innings over five starts with 29 strikeouts and an 0.99 WHIP. This season, he got off to a rocky start, allowing 15 runs over his first three games. Since then, he's posted a 3.46 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and 42 strikeouts over 41 2/3 innings. Kelly struck out six batters over six scoreless innings in his last start against the Giants. This after a 12 punchout performance over seven innings against the Dodgers. Next week, he's in line for two starts, begging with a matchup against the Mets. New York is dealing with a long list of injuries to their everyday regulars. Kelly's second start will come against the Brewers, who are posting a 78 WRC+ against right-handed pitchers, second-worst in the majors. 

Closing Time 

Craig Kimbrel struck out one batter in a scoreless inning to record his 12th save of the season for the Cubs on Friday against the Reds. Kimbrel now has a 0.82 ERA with 36 strikeouts over 22 innings in what has been his best season since saving 42 games for the Red Sox in 2018. 

Adam Ottavino recorded his second save of the season for the Red Sox after he pitched a scoreless sixth inning. The game was called and ended short due to the rain, so Ottavino was credited with the save. He walked three, but no base-runners would come in to score. 

With Kendall Graveman on the injured list, Erik Swanson recorded his first save for the Mariners. He entered the game in the eighth for the four-out save and allowed one hit and one walk in a scoreless ninth to protect the 3-2 lead for Seattle. 

After Alex Reyes pitched on back-to-back days, Daniel Ponce de Leon locked down his second save for the Cardinals on Friday against the Diamondbacks. 

Lou Trivino was called upon to protect a two-run lead in the ninth inning. He's been sharing save chances in Oakland with Jake Diekman in a matchup-based committee. 

Jarlin Garcia locked down the save for the Giants in the tenth inning. Tyler Rogers pitched the ninth but surrendered a game-tying three-run homer. 

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Matchup of the Day

John Means (BAL) vs Lance Lynn (CHW) 

John Means has been one of 2021's biggest breakouts. The 28-year-old left-hander has posted a 1.79 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, and 64 strikeouts over 65 1/3 innings. Oh, and he's thrown a no-hitter. Means and the Orioles are in Chicago for a series against the White Sox, who will send Lance Lynn to the mound. Lynn has been one of the most consistent pitchers over the last couple of seasons. He'll bring a 1.51 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and 50 strikeouts over 47 2/3 into this one. 

American League Quick Hits: Giancarlo Stanton was activated from the injured list on Friday ... Kenta Maeda threw a light bullpen session on Friday ... Michael Brantley was placed on the 10-day injured list with hamstring tightness ... Trey Mancini was out of the lineup for the Orioles after he was hit by a pitch on Thursday ... Luis Severino threw batting practice on Wednesday ... Hunter Dozier was activated from the injured list ... Josh Staumont was placed on the 10-day injured list with a left knee sprain ... Oakland activated A.J. Puk and optioned him to Triple-A ... The Angels placed Jose Iglesias on the injured list with a hamstring strain ... Victor Reyes was scratched from the Tigers lineup with pectoral stiffness ... Grayson Rodriguez was promoted to Double-A ... Ryan O'Hearn was optioned to Triple-A ... Tyler Nevin was recalled from Triple-A ... The Astros called Robel Garcia from Triple-A ... Garrett Stubbs was recalled from Triple-A ... The Angels recalled Jose Suarez

National League Quick Hits: Cody Bellinger will be recalled on Saturday and start in center field against the Giants ... Marcell Ozuna was placed on the injured list with fractured left middle and ring fingers ... Anothony Rizzo remained out of the lineup on Friday with a lower back issue ... Eric Hosmer was removed from Friday's game after he was hit by a pitch on the shouler ... Sixto Sanchez threw a 20-pitch bullpen on Friday ... Adam Duvall was scratched from the lineup on Friday with soreness in his left side ... Elieser Hernandez made his third rebab start on Friday ... Joey Votto took batting practice on Friday ... Mike Soroka will be shut down for the remainder of the season ... Garrett Cooper returned to the Marlins lineup on Friday ... Austin Nola was placed on the 10-day injured list with a knee sprain ... Miles Mikolas (elbow) will be re-evaluated in 4-6 weeks ... Johan Oviedo was recalled from Triple-A and started Friday's game for the Cardinals ... Junior Fernandez was optioned to Triple-A ... Vladimir Gutierrez was recalled and start Friday's game for the Reds ... Johan Camargo was recalled from Triple-A ... Lewin Diaz was optioned to Triple-A ... Lewis Brinson will begin a minor-league rehab assignment ... Jake Marisnick (hamstring) ran the bases at Wrigley Field on Friday 

Jorge Montanez

Jorge is a baseball writer for NBC Sports Edge and FantraxHQ. You can follow him on twitter @Roto_Nino.