The Sunday Brief: Top Storylines to Follow This Week

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

We almost had a no-hitter to talk about this week, but since there were two no-no’s last week, it only makes sense that the hitters get their turn right now. Zach Plesac took a no-hitter into the eighth inning this week, before getting tagged for a couple of runs and coming out of the game. It’s cool, Zach, you’re almost ready to go outside without your mask!

The theme this week is health and safety, with a couple clubs dealing with the pandemic, players dealing with injuries, and the Nationals removing their broadcaster for sexual misconduct. If you’ve got a news item you want to chat about, let me know down in the comments!

Yankees Finally Catch Something


The New York Yankees became somewhat of a scientific and national phenomenon this week when eight members of the New York Yankees tested positive for breakthrough Covid-19, which is what researchers are calling a Covid infection that comes after an inoculation.

Although the Yankees reached the 85% vaccinated status early in the season — reaching the team-wide goal that MLB officials deemed necessary to loosen pandemic protocols — the Yankees took the Johnson and Johnson va0ccine, which has a higher likelihood of permitting breakthrough infections but does an excellent job of preventing severe infections. Public health officials knew that there would be situations like this, and Zach Binney — an epidemiologist at Emory University — broke down in this Twitter thread what the implications are for the general population. In short, get jabbed.

Gleyber Torres is the only player affected on the Yankees; the other cases are staff members and coaches. In addition to the Bronx Bombers, the San Diego Padres also had some Covid issues, with Fernando Tatis Jr. and Wil Myers testing positive for Covid-19. The players, coaches, and staff are all reported to be doing well, with one symptomatic case among the Yankees players.


Jacob deGrom visits the Mets trainers


Jacob deGrom — who is basically the best pitcher in the world if we’re not counting Bruce Chen — struggled with right lat inflammation and missed a start early in the week. In true Mets fashion, the training staff gave deGrom the go-ahead to make his start last Sunday, where he lasted five innings and threw an uncharacteristic three walks.

For most pitchers, that’s a dream start, but for deGrom, that’s a sign that things just aren’t right. After five innings, deGrom left the field with the trainers and ultimately ended up on the IL with “right side stiffness.” A Monday morning MRI showed that there was no structural damage, but there’s no point in rushing the league’s best pitcher back to the mound.

Or maybe because it’s the Mets, they’ll do that anyway.


Gilbert and Kelenic


Jarred Kelenic is one of the top prospects in MLB, and this week he got his first taste of big-league action on the Seattle Mariners. After the big league club decided to let Kelenic “season” in the minors for a grand total of [checks notes] 29 at-bats in 2021, they brought him up to the majors and let him bat leadoff. On Friday night, he got his first MLB hit: a beautiful dinger.

Meanwhile, Logan Gilbert — a consensus top-40 prospect — also got his first MLB call-up with the Mariners after extended “seasoning” in the minors for a grand total of [checks another set of notes] 5 innings. Yup! Service time manipulation all across the board! Gilbert went 4 innings in his debut while striking out five and walking none. Unfortunately, Gilbert gave up two dingers as well, finishing the day with a 9.00 ERA and a 7.10 FIP. He’ll get another chance to pitch early in the week.


 Belligerent Bauer


Trevor Bauer’s no stranger to yelling at people, and in fact, he makes his online presence so toxic that many speculated the massive delay in clubs pursuing his services was because he has no qualms about attacking fans.

Bauer turned his anger toward his peers this week, when he called out his teammates for “sleepwalking” through the season. Bauer lambasted his team, saying, “I’m pissed…I freaking hate losing.” But Bauer — a known fan of analytics — should also look to himself. He’s allowing 1.43 HR/9 so far, basically tied for the worst in his career. He’s also allowing a career-worst 9.2% barrel rate and a 41.3% hard hit rate while his BABIP is a ridiculously low .188.

For being the most expensive player per year in MLB, Bauer could certainly stop sleepwalking his own way through the season. We’re not far off from spring training, when Bauer decided he was going to pitch with one eye closed, ultimately hitting a batter. At least he’s getting more hits this year than he did as an aspiring rapper.


F.P. Santangelo Removed


Trigger Warning / Content Warning: Sexual Assault.

The TV broadcaster for the Washington Nationals on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN), F.P. Santangelo, was removed from broadcasting duties after The Athletic reported a woman alleged Santangelo had sexually assaulted her. In an article early this week, Britt Ghiroli enumerated the case, and the Nationals revoked their permission to allow Santangelo to serve as a broadcaster for the baseball team.

The news somewhat quieted after MASN announced they would be investigating the situation, with no new updates on the report in recent days. But given the context of many high-ranking MLB officials being caught up in their mistreatment of women — most recently Roberto Alomar, who was removed from MLB and Hall of Fame duties two weeks ago for sexual misconduct — it shows the drastic need for system-wide change in MLB for its employees and the constellation of workers around the sport to treat women equitably and equally.

Athletics Away?


John Fisher, the owner of the Oakland Athletics, threatened this week to move the club away from the city of Oakland after the city council remained reticent to vote on several plans for multi-billion dollar stadiums near the waterfront. Jeff Passan of ESPN reported that Fisher indicated his team’s financial viability required a new stadium.

Meanwhile, the Oakland city council fired back that the Athletics and MLB had changed the terms of negotiations, and the council demanded MLB come to the table to negotiate in good faith. With California swept by wildfires, the coronavirus pandemic, and a problem with providing people housing, it would seem that Fisher isn’t in a position to make demands to build sports stadiums to provide his club with even more money.

The impetus for moving is likely Fisher’s realization that the Athletics are the club with the slowest value growth in MLB. However, analysts have pointed out that the Athletics’ threat of moving to Las Vegas doesn’t exactly seem to be a real threat, as clubs that relocated to Las Vegas aren’t exactly thriving financially.

Stats and Slates


I’m calling the batter of the week Yuli Gurriel, who knocked three homers, had eight runs and 10 RBI, and batted .400 over the past week. Meanwhile, I’m giving the pitcher of the week honors to Kevin Gausman, who finished the week with a 1.29 ERA and 0.61 FIP, while striking out 19 and walking one over 14 innings.

There aren’t a lot of rivalry games this week, but there are some dominant pitcher matchups coming up. Most notably, Jack Flaherty faces off against the weak-hitting Pirates, Tyler Glasnow goes against Baltimore, and Yu Darvish faces off against the Rockies…in Petco.

Have an awesome week everybody, and see you down in the comments!


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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