Kendrys Morales set a new Blue Jays team record Sunday by homering in his seventh consecutive game. With one more long ball on Monday against the Orioles, Morales will tie the MLB record of an eight-game homer streak, shared by Ken Griffey Jr., Don Mattingly, and Dale Long. The streak highlights a rather remarkable turnaround to Morales’ season, one that seems directly tied to his decision to stop wearing the glasses he donned for the first six weeks of the 2018 campaign. After posting a .499 OPS over his first 109 plate appearances, Morales has quietly been one of baseball’s hottest hitters, with a .308/.380/.560 slash line over his next 284 PA. There aren’t any AL contenders with a glaring need for a DH-only player like Morales at the moment, so while a trade before the end of August is unlikely, Morales’ revival could give Toronto at least some hope of moving him in the offseason, even if the Jays have to eat some of his $12MM 2019 salary.
Here’s more from around baseball as we wrap up Players’ Weekend…
- Relievers were the only position group that seemed immune to last offseason’s stalled free agent market, as several bullpen arms scored lucrative multi-year contracts. Looking ahead to this winter, however, the New York Post’s Joel Sherman wonders if the bullpen market could also begin to suffer, in no small because so many of the relievers who signed those big contracts last offseason have struggled in the first year of their deals. This year’s free agent is headlined by such names as Craig Kimbrel, Andrew Miller, Zach Britton, and Cody Allen, though the latter three have seen their value diminish due to injuries or ineffectiveness.
- Chris Archer allowed six runs in four innings in the Pirates’ loss to the Brewers today, and the right-hander now has a 6.45 ERA over five starts in a Pittsburgh uniform. Needless to say, this isn’t what the Bucs were hoping for after landing Archer for a hefty prospect package at the trade deadline, though Archer himself doesn’t feel he’s that far off his usual form. Archer told reporters, including The Athletic’s Rob Biertempfel, that he thinks his struggles are “based on some minor things here and there that are easily adjustable.” Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage feels Archer needs to pitch inside more often and move his fastball around the strike zone, though the bottom line is, as Archer said, “I just have to be better, period.”
- As of Saturday, Red Sox pitchers had a 3.08 ERA when Sandy Leon was catching, compared to a 3.84 ERA with another catcher. Leon’s game-calling and defensive abilities have made him a favorite of the Sox rotation, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald writes, and the team hasn’t lost a beat with Leon taking the bulk of playing time with Christian Vazquez on the DL. Mastrodonato’s piece also delves into Leon’s early development as a player, and how his quick grasp of English helped him easily learn how to work with pitchers.