As we move into July this weekend, three stories to watch around the game:
1. NL East showdown:
The Marlins finished off a three-game sweep of the Red Sox yesterday, riding 6 1/3 scoreless innings from Jesús Luzardo to an eventual 2-0 victory. The Fish have taken five straight to move a season-high 14 games above .500. They remain in possession of the top Wild Card spot in the National League and four games clear of the Phillies, the closest non-playoff team.
Miami carries that strong form to Atlanta, where they’ll take on a Braves club riding a five-game win streak of their own. Atlanta is six games up on the Marlins and a strong favorite to take the NL East. Miami hasn’t shown any signs of fading yet, though, setting the stage for an interesting three-game set. Miami will turn to Bryan Hoeing in game one; Atlanta hasn’t yet announced a starter but is generally expected to recall Mike Soroka after optioning Jared Shuster to Triple-A.
2. Carroll day-to-day:
D-Backs outfielder Corbin Carroll left yesterday’s loss to the Rays due to soreness in his right shoulder. The NL Rookie of the Year frontrunner lost most of the 2021 minor league season after undergoing surgery on the same shoulder. Testing postgame fortunately did not reveal any structural or strength issues and Carroll is listed as day-to-day (link via Steve Gilbert of MLB.com). The first-time All-Star acknowledged the soreness initially “shook (him) up pretty good,” so the early results are certainly a relief. Carroll is already among the best players in the league, hitting .290/.366/.559 with 17 home runs as a 22-year-old.
3. Bryant to return?
The Rockies have been without Kris Bryant since May 30 due a left heel contusion. Plantar fasciitis in the same foot had wrecked the majority of his first season in Colorado. It seems he’s on the verge of a return, as manager Bud Black told reporters he was likely to be reinstated from the 10-day injured list for this weekend’s series against the Tigers (relayed by Patrick Lyons of DNVR). The former MVP only needed one rehab outing with Triple-A Albuquerque before feeling equipped to jump back into MLB action. He’s hitting .263/.346/.374 over 50 games on the year.