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Al Melchior’s 2019 Bold Predictions – A Review

The good news…I didn’t get all of my 2019 Bold Predictions wrong. But I came pretty close. Let’s take a look and see what exactly went wrong.

1. Gary Sánchez will set the major league single-season record for home runs by a catcher.

This prediction was inspired by a bold prediction made by my wife, Mary Beth Melchior — that J.T. Realmuto would break the single-season record of home runs hit by a catcher. In his first season with the Phillies, Realmuto set a career-high with 25 home runs, but only 23 were hit with him in the lineup as a catcher. That total fell 19 home runs short of tying Javy Lopez’s record. Sánchez came a little closer, hitting 27 of his 34 home runs as a catcher. Despite some likely assistance from the rabbit ball, Sánchez probably would not have broken the record, even if he managed to stay healthy all season.
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Heading in Opposite Directions: Paul Goldschmidt and Christian Walker

The day after the regular season ended, MLB.com’s (and FanGraphs alum) Mike Petriello posted the following tidbit on Twitter.

Like Mike, I was surprised by the similarities between the Diamondbacks’ former and current first basemen. I was well aware that Paul Goldschmidt had taken a step back this season, and I also knew that Christian Walker had acquitted himself well as Goldschmidt’s replacement in Arizona. Even so, it didn’t occur to me that this pairing could create a dilemma on draft day in 2020.
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Streaming Starters: September 28, 2019

Down the stretch, we’ll be covering the probable starters and highlighting our favorites to stream as you chase down your fantasy titles. The pitcher in question must be available in 50% or more of leagues according to FantasyPros.com, which combines ESPN and Yahoo! roster rates (sometimes exceptions just over 50% will be mentioned if they are really good and should have a much higher roster rate). I’ve listed the players in order of interest.

Note: * denotes that ESPN ownership rates were used, as rates on FantasyPros were unavailable.

Must-Start

John Means (11-11, 3.54) at BOS |42%

Means has been a master at inducing soft contact this season, both on flies and liners (90.7 mph EV) and grounders (82.5 mph EV). Now he gets to face a Red Sox offense that ranks in the bottom third in ISO and wOBA for September. They may also still be adjusting from playing in high-80s temperatures in Texas to cool, damp weather in Boston. Means is a must-add and must-start.
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Bullpen Report: September 25, 2019

Saves had been scarce for the Nationals in September, but heading into Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Phillies, Daniel Hudson had both of the team’s saves this month. By the end of the twin bill, Hudson had doubled the Nationals’ saves total — and his own — for September by closing out both games of the sweep. Hudson tossed 1-2-3 innings in both games, even though he did not get a strikeout in either outing. That has been his norm this month, as he has pitched 8.2 inning while allowing three unearned runs on eight hits and a walk but with only three strikeouts. Hudson’s 4.8 percent SwStr% is the third-lowest among 209 qualified relievers in September.

Nonetheless, Davey Martinez says he trusts both Hudson and Sean Doolittle to take on high-leverage situations. Doolittle has been inconsistent in getting swings-and-misses since returning from right knee tendinitis earlier this month, but he has allowed one run over six innings over seven September appearances. He pitched a perfect eighth inning in the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader, and Martinez said that he plans on using Doolittle and Hudson as his eighth and ninth inning relievers. It was not completely clear if Martinez meant that Doolittle would pitch the eighth and Hudson would get the ninth, but given their recent usage patterns, it seems safe to assume that those will be their respective roles over the season’s final five games.
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Bullpen Report: September 23, 2019

In Sunday’s edition of the Bullpen Report, Ben Pasinkoff covered some of the key happenings from Sunday afternoon’s games, and the most notable of those was Justin Wilson getting the save in the Mets’ 6-3 win over the Reds. This is a hard move to interpret, as not only was Seth Lugo available, but he set up for Wilson in the eighth inning. It was also not a matter of Mickey Callaway using Lugo in a high-pressure situation in which the Reds’ best hitters were due up. Lugo entered the game with a three-run cushion and Tucker Barnhart, José Iglesias and José Peraza coming up. These were the Reds’ 5-6-7 hitters. Lugo gave up a leadoff home run to Barnhart but nothing else. It was the first home run yielded by Lugo since Juan Soto went yard against him on Aug. 10.

The Mets got the run back in the top of the ninth inning on Brandon Nimmo’s solo shot off Sal Romano. Wilson protected the 6-3 margin, allowing only a walk to Joey Votto. It was the lefty’s fourth save of the season, and given that there is no clear alternative explanation for this pattern of reliever usage, one can only assume that Wilson and Lugo will be splitting whatever save opportunities come the Mets’ way over the final week.
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Streaming Starters: September 21, 2019

Down the stretch, we’ll be covering the probable starters and highlighting our favorites to stream as you chase down your fantasy titles. The pitcher in question must be available in 50% or more of leagues according to FantasyPros.com, which combines ESPN and Yahoo! roster rates (sometimes exceptions just over 50% will be mentioned if they are really good and should have a much higher roster rate).

Note: * denotes that combined ESPN/Yahoo! ownership rates were unavailable on FantasyPros.com, so ESPN’s rate was used.

Pick Him Up!

Zac Gallen (3-6, 2.81) at SD | 51%

Gallen and his 28.7 percent strikeout rate take on the Padres at PETCO Park? It’s a matchup made in Strikeout Heaven. He’s a must-start and a must-add wherever available.
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Bullpen Report: September 20, 2019

The Cubs activated Craig Kimbrel on Thursday after he spent two weeks on the IL with right elbow inflammation. With the Cubs never holding a lead in Thursday night’s game against the Cardinals and trailing 4-1 heading into the ninth inning, it did not appear they would need Kimbrel to pitch, at least as a closer. Pedro Strop took the mound for the top of the ninth, so it looked like Kimbrel would have to wait at least another day to make his return.

Carlos Martínez came in for the bottom of the ninth, and with him riding a streak of 11 straight scoreless appearances and having a three-run buffer, the Cubs’ chances of winning or at least forcing extra innings looked slim. Over those 11 outings, Martínez had struck out 14 batters and allowed only two hits over 10.2 innings.
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NL Lineup Analysis (9/19/2019)

For the final time this season, let’s see who’s movin’ and shakin’ in National League lineups.

Arizona

Wilmer Flores continues to hit and keep his bat in the lineup, starting four of the last six games. Conversely, Jarrod Dyson’s epic slump (3 for 41 prior to Wednesday’s game against the Marlins), has meant a reduction in playing time, as he has started two of the last five games against righties. The most recent of those starts was on Wednesday, when Ketel Marte was out of the lineup. With Marte’s back issues possibly keeping him out for the rest of the season, Dyson could get an opportunity to work his way out of his slump. He did go 2 for 4 on Wednesday, though he was dropped to the eighth spot in the batting order.
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Bullpen Report: September 18, 2019

As Greg Jewett noted in Tuesday’s Bullpen Report, Felipe Vázquez was arrested on Tuesday morning. Subsequent to his arrest on charges of computer pornography, solicitation of a child and providing obscene material to a minor in Florida, the Pirates placed him on the restricted list. Vázquez is also facing charges in Pennsylvania for statutory sexual assault, unlawful contact with a minor, corruption of minors and indecent assault of a person less than 16 years old.

In pitching two scoreless innings to wind up the Nationals’ 6-2 win over the Cardinals on Tuesday night, Daniel Hudson collected his fourth save of the season. It was also the first save for any Nationals reliever since Aug. 16 and the team’s first ninth-inning save situation since Aug. 30. Hudson’s performance snapped a string of six consecutive blown saves by the Nationals’ bullpen. During the time since their last save, the Nationals’ relievers have collectively compiled a 5.49 ERA, which is the third-highest for any team over that period. Hudson (2.61 ERA) is the only Nationals reliever to pitch at least 10 innings over this stretch and post an ERA below 3.50.
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Bullpen Report: September 16, 2019

On Sunday, we saw Kenley Jansen and Kyle Gibson in unfamiliar roles, though in neither case was it necessarily a sign of things to come.

Given Jansen’s recent struggles, one could be forgiven for thinking that his appearance in the eighth inning of the Dodgers’ 3-2 win over the Mets on Sunday night could have been the first sign of a demotion from being a full-time closer. He entered the bottom of the eighth inning with the game tied, 2-2, and Jansen kept it that way. He needed only 10 pitches to retire Juan Lagares, Jeff McNeil and Pete Alonso, finishing up the inning by striking Alonso out on three pitches. In a break from his recent pattern, Jansen showed sharp command and control, demonstrating the latter by throwing six of his ten pitches in the strike zone.
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