The Sunday Brief: Top Storylines to Follow This Week

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

We had about a half-week break from baseball, and when it came back, we sure had some drama! News broke on Saturday night at the Washington Nationals / San Diego Padres game, and information is still coming out at the time of submission. That means you’ll need to keep an eye on the news and catch the rest of the story from the other writers on this awesome site.


Refuge in the Clubhouse


Gunshots rang out on the premises of Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., on Saturday night in the middle of the Nationals/Padres games. When players got word that there was a shooting outside of the park, they quickly brought fans and even some crowd members into their respective clubhouses for refuge. The Nationals PA announcer asked fans to stay inside the ballpark because the shooting was exterior to the baseball game. However, frightened and concerned fans began fleeing the stadium in droves. Preliminary reports indicate that the shooting was not related to the baseball game, despite being in proximity to the stadium. One Nationals fan who was outside of the stadium at the time was injured in the shooting. Players and fans within the stadium were all reported to be OK, although many spectators were clearly shaken up. The game was postponed, and at the time of writing, it is scheduled to resume on Sunday morning. Because of the sensitive nature of some of the media surrounding the shooting, I’ve chosen not to include the videos of fans fleeing the stadium or taking the field to seek refuge in the clubhouse. If you would like to view that media, a simple web search will provide you ample options. Journalists report that the D.C. police have some of the suspects in custody, although one party of the shooting escaped and is at large at the time of writing.


Jacob deGrom


I’ve written more than once in this forum that the Mets — who at one point had an entire MLB team on the IL this year, and have seen setbacks in the recovery of Carlos Carrasco and Noah Syndergaard — might be mismanaging Jacob deGrom as well. DeGrom has left several starts this year with various injuries, from oblique soreness to shoulder and forearm soreness. Of course, those arm-related injuries are the most worrisome because they can be indicators of ligament tension and damage. For example, Tyler Glasnow felt forearm soreness one start before he partially tore his UCL earlier this year. Glasnow has opted for rest and rehabilitation and has missed nearly a month worth of starts so far. On Saturday, deGrom felt tightness in his forearm and reported it to trainers, who decided to delay his next scheduled start. Yet, at the time of writing, deGrom still isn’t taking an IL stint. Last week, the Dodgers wisely put their ace — Clayton Kershaw — on the IL so he could take time to recover from his own bout of forearm soreness. With the Mets trainers lacking a solid track record on helping players recover, fans keep their fingers crossed that deGrom — who is having a majestic 2021 season — will be cared for properly and finish out the season healthy.


IP Caps


We all knew it was coming: many MLB pitchers are going to get inning caps in the second half of the season. After the shortened 2020 season that saw most pitchers throw less than 80 innings, there were expectations coming into 2021 that most starting pitchers would be capped around 150-160 inning, with the exceptions being the more notable workhorses like Lance Lynn, Clayton Kershaw, and Blake Snell. I kid! Yeah, none of those guys are going to hit 200 innings. Neither was Jacob deGrom, but that’s not going to stop the Mets from pretending that he will. Meanwhile, the Brewers announced that they’re going to take it easy with newfound ace Freddy Peralta to finish out the year. Peralta — who struck out the side in his all-star game appearance this week — is already at 100 innings, which puts him about at the same IP level that he had pitched between 2019-2020 combined. The Brewers opted to let their more veteran pitchers take another turn through the rotation while Peralta took a week off. The Brewers have Peralta under contract for several more years, so there’s no need for them to push him to his limit this year. Additionally, a rested Peralta could help ease the burden on teammates Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes, should the Brewers continue their playoff run. Meanwhile, Peralta’s teammate Devin Williams hit the IL this week with right elbow discomfort. Williams had made 37 appearances and pitched 33 innings in 2021, which was 20% more than his previous MLB high for innings pitched. We’ll keep you updated as more pitchers reach their team-imposed caps throughout the season. Fans should expect more AAA-style players to come to the majors and get their cup of coffee in the coming weeks to help ease the burden on tired MLB arms.

Derby Pete


Let’s admit it: the All-Star Break has become the Homerun Derby break. Yeah it’s fun to watch Adam Frazier in the starting lineup for the NL All-Stars, but it’s even more fun to watch Shohei Ohtani hit dingers into the Denver night. It’s probably the only time of the year that it’s advantageous to have nose bleed seats in the third deck of right field at Coors, right? The home run derby was another great piece of entertainment this week, with the likes of Joey Gallo, Juan Soto, Shohei Ohtani, Trevor Story, and Pete Alonso vying for the title of derby champion. With Pete Alonso the defending champion in 2019 — with the 2020 Derby postponed due to coronavirus —  many people wondered if he could hold off the field of contenders. Luckily for Alonso, sluggers like Fernando Tatís Jr. and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. chose not to participate, knowing that there are many famous hitters who have struggled to maintain their productivity following a home run derby appearance. Alonso definitely had the tougher bracket to compete in; Juan Soto defeated Shohei Ohtani in a battle that featured nearly 60 combined homers; Soto went on to face Alonso in the second round, where Soto lost by one homer to Alonso. Meanwhile, the opposing bracket featured Trey Mancini — who returned this year after a battle with colon cancer — and Mancini defeated Matt Olson and Trevor Story before facing off against Pete Alonso in the finals. Alonso found enough energy to keep slugging dingers — he had hit 14 more homers in the combined previous rounds than Mancini — and in the end, Alonso managed to defeat Mancini by a count of 23 homers to Mancini’s 22. Alonso will likely defend his derby title next year, in the hopes to match Ken Griffey Jr.’s record 3 derby titles.

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 second half of the season!


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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