Three up, three down: Angels’ 2009 draftees have big week; Mets’ Dark Knight has dark days
Who had a good week, and who had a bad week in MLB?
Angelic draft: What might be the best draft class in recent memory — the Angels’ class of 2009 — had quite a week. Tyler Skaggs delivered seven shutout innings against the World Series champion Astros. Garrett Richards had an 11-strikeout win over the Giants. Patrick Corbin, since traded to Arizona, had an 11-strikeout win over the Padres. And two-time MVP Mike Trout homered in four of five games, taking the major league lead with 10. Trout and Washington’s Stephen Strasburg rank first and second in wins above replacement (WAR) among the 2009 first-rounders. In third: outfielder A.J. Pollock, drafted by Arizona with a pick forfeited by the Dodgers for signing infielder Orlando Hudson.
Showtime: Trevor Richards, 24, played two years for the Gateway Grizzlies of the Frontier League, one of the last-chance independent leagues that dot America. After two seasons in the Marlins’ minor league system, and after working as a substitute teacher last winter, the Marlins included him on their major league roster. He never had traveled west of Oklahoma before this week, so he made sure to take pictures at Dodger Stadium. “It’s kind of cool, older than I thought,” he told the Miami Herald. Then he started against Clayton Kershaw, who had more Cy Young awards than Richards has major league victories at the same age. The Marlins won, Richards struck out 10 and gave up one hit — to Kershaw.
“Heading home:” Team Israel’s Cinderella run in last year’s World Baseball Classic gets the documentary treatment in a film packed with light moments and triumphant action. But the most compelling scenes come before the tournament starts, when the team of Jewish Americans — most of whom grew up playing ball rather than praying on Saturdays — travels to Israel to learn about the country they are about to represent. In a particularly gripping exchange, two players engage in friendly baseball banter with a Palestinian merchant in Jerusalem, but the laughter stops when they ask whether he could support their team. The Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival screens the documentary Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at the Laemmle Town Center, 17200 Ventura Blvd., Encino.
Dark days for Dark Knight: Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and Kershaw are the headliners eligible for free agency this fall. Matt Harvey is eligible, too, but his stature has fallen since his star turn in 2015, when he told Mets manager Terry Collins that he would take the ninth inning in the last game of the World Series. The shutout collapsed into defeat, and Harvey is 9-19 with a 5.79 ERA since then. The Mets moved him to the bullpen this week, and he did not take the news well. “On a scale of one to 10,” he said, “obviously I’m at a 10 with being pissed off.” In 2013, Harvey started the All-Star game at Citi Field ahead of Kershaw, who has yet to start an All-Star game.
Tank jobs: The latest unintended consequence of mass tanking is about to hit. It’s bad enough that April is not yet over and nine teams have less than a 2% chance of making the playoffs, according to Friday’s Fangraphs odds. It’s worse that fans of those teams — the Marlins, Orioles, Padres, Rangers, Rays, Reds, Royals, Tigers, White Sox — already must endure speculation about when their best players might be auctioned and shipped elsewhere. Here’s the worst: There are so many tanking teams that the strategy of signing veterans and flipping them for prospects is doomed this year. Supply and demand has tilted in favor of good teams. Machado might command a nice return, but Mike Moustakas might not.
Missing Yu: The Dodgers said they could not fit Yu Darvish into their budget, so he signed with the Cubs for $126 million, the largest contract awarded to any free-agent pitcher last winter. Darvish, last seen in this locale in the second inning of Game 7 of the World Series, did not win any of his first four starts for the Cubs. He did post a 6.86 ERA and, when he blew up in the fifth inning for the third time, catcher Willson Contreras called him out: “It got us (expletive) up.” Darvish pitched six innings without giving up an earned run on Friday. But, en route to what would have been his first major league triple, he slipped rounding second and fell face-first. “Not doing a lot here to help us dispel the pitchers aren’t athletes thing,” Justin Verlander tweeted.
Follow Bill Shaikin on Twitter @BillShaikin
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