Magadan: D’backs hitters need better approach
Hitting coach Dave Magadan told The Arizona Republic the team’s hitters need to take a more consistent approach to hitting, given all the information they are provided. Arizona ranked low in several offensive categories, and Magadan said an inability to adjust to pitchers led to long dry stretches.
Home-field advantage in October might not mean much to the Braves, who have played better on the road this season than they have at SunTrust Park. The Braves clinched the National League East on Sept. 22 by winning their fourth straight home game, but before that they had lost 14 of their last 18 at home.
Javier Baez was moved from second base to shortstop after Addison Russell was placed on administrative leave by Major League Baseball on Sept. 21 following fresh allegations of domestic violence from his exwife. Russell was investigated last year by MLB but received no punishment after Melisa ReidyRussell declined to talk to investigators. It was unclear if MLB would conclude its investigation before postseason play begins.
Cody Reed is making a lateseason case to be in the rotation next year. The left-hander is 1-1 with a 3.65 ERA in five starts since being moved into the rotation from the bullpen, including five scoreless innings against the Chicago Cubs on Sept. 15, then six scoreless innings five days later vs. the Miami Marlins. Reed made a combined 11 starts for the Reds in 2016-17 and was 0-8 with a 8.34 ERA.
Right-hander German Marquez will try to build on his 11-strikeout performance Sept. 21 against Arizona when he faces the Philadelphia Phillies on Sept. 26 in Denver. Marquez allowed the Diamondbacks two runs in the first inning but then dominated over the next six.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Right-hander Walker Buehler has become increasingly important but also has gone way past his career high in innings. Dodgers executive Josh Byrnes told USA TODAY Sports Weekly the starter’s workload is a little concerning but noted Buehler logged significant innings when he was at Vanderbilt University.
Among the many changes owner Derek Jeter has planned for the Marlins is a renewed emphasis on signing players from the international market. “It’s a priority for us,” Jeter said. “We’ve acquired some international money through trades, and we’ll continue to do that.”
Josh Hader’s dominant season out of the bullpen has landed him in the record book. Hader raised his season strikeout total to 136, a major league record for a left-handed reliever, in 77 innings when he struck out three of the five batters he faced in a win over the Pirates on Sept. 21 at Pittsburgh. John Hiller had 134 strikeouts in 1974 for the Detroit Tigers but pitched 150 innings.
New York Mets
As brilliant as Jacob deGrom was for the Mets this season, the development of Zack Wheeler could be just as or even more important for the team’s future. Wheeler’s second-half ERA of 1.68 was even better than deGrom’s 1.89. Wheeler’s improvement came at a crucial time — he will be eligible for free agency after the 2019 season. The Mets shut down Wheeler after 29 starts and 1821⁄3 innings because both totals were big jumps over 2017, when he was recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery. They also shut down infielder Wilmer Flores because of early onset arthritis in both of his knees.
While the Phillies will miss the playoffs for a seventh straight season, they’ll have a pitcher top 200 innings for the first time since 2014. Right-hander Aaron Nola went past 200 Sept. 23 against the Braves, in his next-to-last start of an outstanding season. “It was one of my goals this year,” Nola said. “I want it to be my goal every year.”
Right-hander Chad Kuhl will miss the 2019 season after undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery Sept. 19. He was placed on the disabled list because of soreness in his forearm June 26 and did not pitch after that.
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals set a franchise single-season record with their eighth walk-off home run Sept. 22 when outfielder Tyler O’Neill connected off the San Francisco Giants’ Mark Melancon in the 10th inning. Despite the late-game heroics, the Cardinals were just 42-35 at home compared to 44-34 on the road.
San Diego Padres
Rookie reliever Robert Stock and his trainer plan to build on the hard-throwing right-hander’s impressive season. Stock is averaging 97.5 mph with his fastball, and The Athletic reported that his camp believes he could register up to 105 mph next year.
San Francisco Giants
Team CEO Larry Baer promised changes this offseason, and the first one was big: Bobby Evans was removed from his general manager role and reassigned. Manager Bruce Bochy and executive vice president Brian Sabean were expected to be retained.
Max Scherzer probably won’t win his third straight National League Cy Young Award, but he could finish with 300 strikeouts in a season for the first time in his career. Scherzer fanned 13 Sept. 20 against the New York Mets to reach 290.
Contributing: Danny Knobler, John Perrotto, Tom Krasovic, wire reports