News and notes by Tom Krasovic
“You hear people singing the same songs over and over again. Everybody gets into it. … It’s just the little things like that that are making it a lot of fun.” Diamondbacks catcher Chris Herrmann, on the team’s good-luck music that accompanied a 13-game win streak within which Arizona went 97 innings without trailing. The Padres ended the streak Sept. 8.
The outlook was encouraging for first baseman Paul Goldsch
midt in his recovery from elbow soreness. Goldschmidt hit a home run Sept. 10 in his second game back since having an MRI exam and missing some time.
Manager Torey Lovullo has a few options to relieve Goldschmidt, including surging slugger
J.D. Martinez, who is the regular right fielder.
Martinez entered the week with 21 home runs in 45 games since joining Arizona. Newly promoted Christian
Walker was MVP of the Class AAA Pacific Coast League this season.
Walker, 26, hit .309 with 32 home runs and 114 RBI for Reno. He batted .148 in his previous crack at the big leagues in 2014-15, when he had 27 at-bats with the Baltimore Orioles.
“If I can just limit the strikeouts and put the ball in play, good things happen,” Walker said. “Just trying to keep it simple and stay consistent with it.”
Behind Walker is another older prospect and first baseman who won his league’s MVP award this year. Kevin Cron, a Diamondbacks draftee in 2014, hit .283 with 25 home runs and 35 doubles in the Class AA Southern League. He’s 24.
uLovullo called on Archie Bradley to get the save Sept. 10, but the manager said Fernando
Rodney is still the closer. Rodney was coming off a 28-pitch outing.
The Rockies appeared to put themselves on a playoff track by ending a recent funk while also extending the Dodgers’ hard times with a four-game sweep.
A potential source of October helium if the Rockies make the playoffs is Ian Desmond. Can he regain his power? Desmond, a first baseman/left fielder with serviceable shortstop skills, has become a singles hitter this year despite the move to Coors Field.
He had only five home runs and nine doubles through 280 at-bats. The 31-year-old’s slugging percentage was about 50 points below his career average.
That’s not what general manager Jeff Bridich had in mind when he committed $70 million to Desmond last offseason and forfeited a first-round draft pick.
Hand fractures can sap a hitter’s power, and Desmond sustained one in March when he was hit by a pitch. Recurring calf injuries also have contributed to a frustrating season in which he has missed close to 70 games.
Shortstop Trevor Story, meanwhile, was showing signs of no longer being an easy out. He hit .262 with 10 doubles over a recent 17-game stretch.
The nine-game stretch that starts Sept. 15 looks inviting. The Rockies are 8-4 against San Diego and 12-5 against San Francisco this season.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Amid all the Dodgers’ troubles in recent weeks, this question emerged: Will they be able to get the ball to closer Kenley Jansen in October if they get a lead?
Their set-up candidates include several right-handers with highoctane stuff.
Brandon Morrow seems to have found a timely groove as a reliever after being a starter much of his career. He recently hit 100 mph with his fastball and threw wipeout sliders clocked at 90-91. Recently promoted rookie
Walker Buehler, 23, was an extreme longshot candidate until recently, when he showed poise adjusting to both a new role and the big leagues. However, he gave up a grand slam Sept. 10.
Pedro Baez is a veteran reliever. He struggled in recent games, but manager Dave Roberts defended him publicly and criticized fans for booing the fourthyear Dodger as he entered a game last week. Josh Fields could draw consideration, too. He was averaging a strikeout an inning but also had allowed 10 home runs. Having Adrian Gonzalez
on the playoff roster would retain a shrewd observer of pitchers, but Gonzalez, 35, had a meager .250 on-base percentage since his return Aug. 18 and plays only first base. That’s Cody Bellinger’s main position.
San Diego Padres
Former New York Yankees prospect Jose Pirela is working his way into the Padres’ 2018 lineup as a left fielder and top-ofthe-lineup presence.
A high-energy performer, Pirela has compiled numbers that project to 50 doubles and 20 home runs over a full season. The right-handed hitter earned frequent occupancy in the lineup’s first and third spots.
A man in search of a position for much of his career, Pirela seems to have found a home in left field. Though not the smoothest defender, he has improved and can fill in at second base or first base.
Pirela plays with enthusiasm. For a club headed to its seventh straight losing season, he thrills fans by charging from the batter’s box and legging out extra bases.
With the Yankees, he wasn’t the answer as a would-be successor to All-Star second-baseman Robinson Cano. With the Padres, he has developed into a competent big leaguer.
Padres lead investor Peter Seidler reiterated that fans’ patience will be rewarded. “It’ll be soon when we start clinching playoff spots,” he told 1090 AM. In the five full years under Seidler and control owner Ron Fowler, the team hasn’t contended.
San Francisco Giants
A rotten season might bear fruit in June. The Giants began this week in the No. 2 spot for the 2018 amateur draft.
The last time they had the No. 2 pick, in 1985, they made good use of it: They chose first baseman Will Clark, who went on to hit .303 in his big-league career.
Impact talent is much needed for a farm system that provided few exciting developments this year, either in the minor leagues or through the performance of its prospects who joined the Giants.
Baseball America named outfielder/first baseman Chris Shaw the system’s best player. Shaw, who’ll turn 24 next month, hit .292 with 24 home runs in 125 games between Class AA Richmond (Va.) and Class AAA Sacramento (Calif.).
“We're trying to get him as prepared for left field as we can,” general manager Bobby Evans said. Baseball America’s choice of best pitcher in the Giants organization was Andrew Suarez. The durable lefty, 25, has a career ERA of 3.24 and a strikeout rate of 7.9 per nine innings.
San Diego left fielder Jose Pirela appears to have found a home with the Padres. The former New York Yankees prospect has been impressive at the plate for San Diego.