MLB News & Moments You Should Know 5/18/24

Skenes! Waldron! Javy Báez!

Stay updated on everything baseball with our morning MLB News & Moments articles. We’ve got you covered to keep you in the know.


Today’s Headlines


Skenes Dominates Cubs

Paul Skenes‘ performance in his first start career start could’ve likely been characterized as just okay. He threw four innings, allowed six hits and three runs, and struck out seven. His second one on Friday at Wrigley Field was something else entirely:

Every superlative you’ve ever heard to describe Skenes was on display against a heavily-injured Chicago lineup. He struck out the first seven hitters he faced, casually throwing 100 MPH with significant run. He was pulled after six innings & 100 pitches but didn’t appear to lose much at that point:

Six no-hit innings, 67 strikes on 100 pitches, and 22 whiffs generated. Outrageous! With a lighter schedule for Pittsburgh next week, it appears Skenes’ third start will come against Toronto next weekend. A Toronto team that just struggled with hitlessness in its own right.

Lee Done for Season

The San Francisco Giants have had a rough go of it in 2024. Unfortunately, they’ll now be without one of their few bright spots for the rest of it:

Jung Hoo Lee wasn’t posting eye-popping numbers in his rookie year but was serving as one of the game’s better contact hitters out of the gate. Only Luis Arráez and Steven Kwan feature lower K% than Lee’s minuscule 8.2 percent mark. Those are also the only two qualified players to post a better Contact% than Lee’s 91.5. Given the Giants’ below-average offensive output, losing an elite contact hitter won’t do them any favors in the longer term. Luis Matos figures to take the bulk of the time in center in his absence.

Can’t Touch Waldron

San Diego starter Matt Waldron has seemed like more of a novelty than an actual weapon at points this season. At first glance, an ERA over five and an above-average walk rate aren’t promising factors for a Padres team trying to hang in the National League wild card race. But after his worst start of the year on May 5th (7 ER), Waldron has settled down in the two subsequent starts. Friday night was a particularly effective night against one of the league’s best:

Waldron ended up striking out 10 Atlanta hitters across just 5.2 innings of work. He generated 13 whiffs overall, six of which came on the knuckleball. He’s the first knuckleballer with double-digit strikeouts since (unsurprisingly) R.A. Dickey. The Padres have the offense and a solid backend of their bullpen. Waldron stabilizing the end of the rotation could be massive.

Here Come the…Astros? And Marlins?

It’s hard to be out of a race by mid-May. The Houston Astros & Miami Marlins each tried their best. The circumstances were obviously quite different. Houston’s been decimated by pitcher injuries. The Marlins decided to scale back a fringe playoff team. But both are trending in an interesting direction, at least as of Friday.

For the Astros, it was their sixth straight win on the strength of a Jeremy Peña homer:

While they’re still five games under .500, they’re also only four games back in the AL West.

As for the Marlins, they are…not close. A win on Friday put them 18 games back of the first-place Philadelphia Phillies, at 14-32. But it’s going to be small stretches like this that give fans at least a little fun in which to take solace:

It’s a cool feat, at least, as Jesús Luzardo set the tone across six shutout innings. There won’t be many of them, but it’s only fair to at least acknowledge the successful moments for the Miami club.

We’re lumping them together here because of their status as early scufflers. But the trajectory still remains quite different.

Fletcher Implicated in Betting Scandal

David Fletcher was in the news earlier this week for throwing a knuckleball in a minor league game. Fast forward a few days, and he’s in the news again for an entirely different reason:

No other notes here, other than this thread from ESPN’s Tisha Thompson. Therein, she notes that Fletcher has been referred to as one of Shohei Ohtani’s closest friends in baseball. What are we even doing here?


Best Moments From Yesterday


Shohei Day

Thankfully, we finally have some positive off-the-field news for Shohei Ohtani. Ahead of the Dodgers’ Friday night tilt against Cincinnati, he had a stop to make: LA City Hall.

The City of Los Angeles declared each May 17th “Shohei Ohtani Day” for the duration of his tenure with the club. Dodgers president Stan Kasten said “Since becoming a member of the Dodger family in December, Shohei has been everything we’ve hoped for and more. We are grateful for his accomplishments on the field, his warmth in the clubhouse and his character in all respects – and we congratulate him on this well-deserved honor” (MLB.com). Add it to the list of accolades. And here the Angels went through all that trouble to get the Los Angeles added to the front of their name and couldn’t even get him his own day.

Oh yeah, he added his 13th home run for good measure.

Guardians’ City Connect Debut

The Cleveland Guardians became the most recent team to feature a City Connect uniform in the rotation. Here’s the result:

Honestly…these play. They look even better on the field. While safe choices were made throughout, it’s a solid uniform that serves as an effective alternate. And it brings in shades of an old school look while being super clean at the same time. If you’re not going to take chances, this seems like the best outcome in the City Connect game.

It helps that José Ramírez did this:

Clay Holmes Gets a Closer’s Entrance

Yes, the Yankees’ violent swingers in Giancarlo Stanton Aaron Judge each demonstrated their obscene power. But the coolest moment of the evening belongs to closer Clay Holmes, who took his first run onto the field with the new brand of closer’s entrance:

It’s a neat concept that we’ve seen grow pretty quickly this year (though the odd one has been to a mildly dangerous effect). Holmes closed out the Chicago White Sox in New York’s 4-2 win.

Javy’s Back! (For At Least One Night)

It’s been a while since we saw prime Javier Báez. Even his most fervent of defenders has likely abandoned him altogether at this point. A byproduct of sitting as the league’s worst hitter by a number of metrics. But for at least one night, we had the old Javy back:

It was Báez’s first multi-RBI night since last September. FanGraphs now has his wRC+ up from 18 when the evening began to…32. At least we have nostalgia.


Injuries and Other Moves


⚾ Cubs placed RP Colten Brewer on 15-day IL (low back tightness) & recalled RP Porter Hodge.

⚾ Padres released P Matt Festa.

⚾ Guardians traded P Anthony Banda to the Dodgers in exchange for cash considerations.

⚾ White Sox outrighted OF Rafael Ortega to Triple-A Charlotte.

⚾ Dodgers placed 3B Max Muncy on 10-day IL (oblique strain), optioned OF James Outman & P Nick Ramirez to Triple-A Oklahoma City, recalled IF Miguel Vargas & P Ricky Vanasco, and activated OF Jason Heyward from the 10-day IL.

⚾ Giants placed P Keaton Winn on the 15-day IL (forearm strain), optioned IF Casey Schmitt to Triple-A Sacramento, activated DH/OF Jorge Soler, and recalled P Mason Black.


Articles You Should Read


A High-Velocity Usage Tax: A Proposal To Protect Pitchers – Kiri Oler (FanGraphs)

Andrew McCutchen Is Flipping Patient – Davy Andrews (FanGraphs)

Buy-low candidates: The 5 struggling starting pitchers most likely to rebound – Eno Sarris (The Athletic)


Fantasy Baseball Coverage


Starting Pitcher Roundup

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Randy Holt

Randy Holt is a staff writer for Pitcher List & a depth charts analyst for Baseball Prospectus. He's a self-identified Cubs fan who has become more agnostic, instead obsessing about quality defensive baseball wherever he can find it. Randy has a sport management degree from the University of Florida, as well as degrees from Embry-Riddle & Arizona State. When not wasting away on the husk of Twitter/X, Randy is a high school English teacher & a baseball and golf coach.

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