The Sunday Brief: Top Storylines to Follow This Week

All the stories you need to follow this week in the MLB.

All right! What is up good people? I have cleansed the timeline from last week’s article and we’re heading into the summer slumber, where less fancy players take a break with their families and more fancy players hit dingers into the stands at Coors Field. Everybody looking forward to the All-Star break? Let’s hop in here and see what the stories of the week have for us:


All-Star Game


The 2021 Major League All-Star Game will be held in Denver, Colorado on Tuesday of this week. What’s that? Dingers all around? Absolutely! The Home Run Derby will be a smashing success in the thin air of Coors Field. With the disappointing Rockies offense this year, this will be the most offense Denverites have seen since the Padres came to town.

This year, the All-Star Game festivities feature a bracketed home run derby competition, where Shohei Ohtani takes the #1 seed and faces off against Juan Soto, the #8 seed. The winner of that bracket will face the winner of the #4/#5 seed brackets, where Salvador Pérez and Pete Alonso face off. In the #2/#7 bracket, Joey Gallo faces off against Trevor Story, who hopes to use the home-field advantage in his favor. The winner of that bracket faces off against the #3/#6 bracket winner, either Matt Olson or Trey Mancini.

A number of players have opted out of the All-Star game this year due to injuries or the need to recuperate, including 10-time all-star Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals. Molina, who was awarded a spot on the all-star roster as a replacement himself, won’t attend the game because he would prefer to recuperate a sore foot. Although Fernando Tatis Jr. and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. are some of the leading sluggers in the league, they each chose not to participate in the Home Run Derby to help preserve their health. Lastly, the Houston Astros — who feature one of the strongest offenses in the league in 2021 — will have no representatives in the game after Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Michael Brantley, and Ryan Pressly all opted to recuperate or spend time with their families.

Enjoy the break from baseball!


Ronald Acuña Jr. 


Atlanta Braves superstar outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. injured himself on Saturday night while jumping to catch a ball the was over his head. Acuña immediately fell to the field and was unable to rise again, while batter Jazz Chisholm circled the bases for an inside-the-park home run. With teammates and trainers at his side, Acuña was visibly shaken, as if he knew the injury was severe. He was carted off the field, and around midnight media announced that he Acuña was diagnosed with a torn ACL in his right knee. The recovery from surgery will take him out of the lineup for the remainder of the 2021 MLB season.  Best wishes to Acuña for a speedy recovery.


Slammin’ Relief


Readers who know me, know that I’m a big fan of the DH. OK, Shohei Ohtani can hit, and you’re seeing vids of him every day. But the other pitchers? Well, they’re batting about .100 and striking out nearly 50% of the time as a group. Sheesh. So when Yu Darvish got chased from his start earlier this week by a potent Washington Nationals offense, reliever Daniel Camarena found himself at-bat against one of the best pitchers in the league, Max Scherzer. At 28 years old, Camarena had spent nearly a decade in the minor leagues before getting his first call-up this year, and he was making just his second major league at-bat. And it was quite the plate appearance, with the Padres down by a ton and the bases loaded and the starting pitcher chased from the game, Camarena had to stand in the box and face off against one of the league’s best aces. And the result? It sure was grand!

Although the video of Camarena hitting the grand slam was popular, it paled in comparison to the video of Camarena’s father, who was cheering joyously in the stands for his son’s improbable bases-clearing homer.

Camarena is still with the Padres at the time of writing, hoping to make a case for the MLB club. Unfortunately, he gave up 2 runs in his appearance that day, and his MLB ERA stands at 9.64 at the time of writing. Here’s to hoping Camarena gets another at-bat in a big situation soon.


Clayton Kershaw


The Los Angeles Dodgers‘ ace Clayton Kershaw hit the Injured List this week with forearm inflammation. This is newsworthy because so many forearm injuries in pitchers can become precursors of Tommy John surgery, which sidelines the player for nearly 16 months of rehab. Kershaw’s injury comes on the heels of police and MLB-level investigations of Trevor Bauer, and follows teammate Dustin May’s Tommy John surgery earlier in 2021. The Dodgers, who often start the year with a plethora of starters, are now running short of starters. David Price — a long-time starter who had moved to the bullpen after struggling early in the season — has returned to the starting rotation and hopes to center the Dodgers’ season as the team manages both internal and external struggles.

All right, friends! Let me know what you’re reading down in the comments. Be a beacon of loving-kindness for yourself and the world right now, and we’ll check in next week. Enjoy the All-Star Break!


Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Blair Williams

Blair holds a PhD in Japanese history and is the author of "Making Japan's National Game: A Cultural History of Baseball." He's a fan of sci-fi, prog metal, and sipping rums.

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