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Old 01-05-2020, 08:48 PM   #1
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MLB60 (feat. the Salt Lake Bees)

It's always been my opinion that, irrespective of financial or attendance concerns, the sport of baseball would be a better game if MLB expanded by, like, a lot. Introduce more players into the majors, and allow the league's best players to more readily show how talented they are by allowing them to play against opponents who wouldn't have cracked a 30-team MLB. Some people call this "diluting the talent pool", and that's one way to think about it, but there are so many players out there, and the gap between the great and the merely good is so often so hard to find, that I think the league would, from a talent standpoint, be much better served by letting the league grow.

And so that's what I've done! Beginning in 2018, MLB has doubled in size, from 30 teams immediately to 60. (This game began in OOTP19 but I'm now playing it in OOTP20.) The league opened with a fantasy draft, with the 30 real-life MLB teams picking two players each before the 30 expansion teams could. Almost no one is on the team you're used to seeing them on - it was actually a little jarring to see Freddie Freeman playing with Atlanta because he was the only major star I could spot in his real location.

Five seasons have already been played. I have and will be playing as the Salt Lake Bees (GM-only), but I'm gonna try to cover the league as a whole in this space as well. The first several posts will be looks back at what has happened in this universe so far, followed by previews of all 60 teams for the upcoming 2023 season.

You might or might not have already seen the set of 30 expansion teams that I'll be playing with and against, since I've been designing them myself over in the Mods forum! A link to that thread is here, where you can see all of the team logos in more detail. I'll finish up this first post with some maps showing the division alignment, and I'll get in to more specifics about what makes this league tick in post #2. Both leagues have five divisions of six teams each; in both maps, the West Division is shown in red, the Central in yellow, the North in green, the South in blue and the East in pink.

American League:

National League:

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Old 01-05-2020, 09:09 PM   #2
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This is a totally normal MLB+minors setup in the modern era, except:

- 30 new expansion teams have been added

Well yeah, that's a pretty major change, but it's not all.

- Eight teams from each league make the playoffs - five division winners plus 3 wild cards, seeded directly as 1-8 by record alone. First round is best-of-5, while subsequent rounds are all best-of-7.
- this league was actually started from scratch, not as a continuation from MLB, so the Hall of Fame is empty and the records are all new. I'll get into some of those records as I cover the league history.
- sharp-eyed readers will have noticed that the Houston Astros have been returned to the National League, and the Colorado Rockies are now in the American League in their place. As a native of St. Louis growing up in the 90s, I view the Astros and Brewers as teams that both belong in the National League, and Colorado I have fewer opinions on but as a team with relatively little history and a stadium situation that would theoretically welcome the DH, it's as good a choice as any.
- the schedule is unconventional, with the entire thing being made up of 2-game series. The reason for this is primarily to make sure that every team makes a visit to every opponent in their league every year. 4 games are played against non-division opponents, 8 against division opponents, and interleague has been slightly expanded to 24 games per team instead of the normal 20.
- as such, each team plays 3 two-game series per week. I'm gonna probably start out posting in a weekly sort of format, so you'll see three opponents at a time.
- in total, the schedule has been shortened from 162 games to 160. I like 162, but when all your series are two games long it's easier to play an even number of games both home and away, so 80/80 beats 81/81. I wrote the schedule file myself, and I've made a post about it in the Schedules forum if anyone's interested in copying this league.
- each team has just 4 minor league affiliates: AAA, AA, A and R. A bunch of teams have been shuffled around between levels.

All other rules are the same, I think. Next post will cover the history of this league so far!

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Old 01-05-2020, 09:49 PM   #3
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League History

Champions: Texas Rangers def. Washington Nationals 4-2

AL Awards & Leaders:
MVP: Shohei Ohtani, Oklahoma Oilers SP/RF
CYA: Noah Syndergaard, New York Yankees
RoY: Shohei Ohtani, Oklahoma Oilers SP/RF
Batting champ: .360, Colin Moran, Sacramento Solons 3B
HR: 49, Rafael Devers, New York Yankees 3B
RBI: 150, Rafael Devers, New York Yankees 3B

NL Awards & Leaders:
MVP: Joey Votto, Los Angeles Dodgers 1B
CYA: Madison Bumgarner, Pittsburgh Pirates
RoY: Dan Black, Hartford Oaks 1B
Batting champ: .356, Joey Votto, Los Angeles Dodgers 1B
HR: 48, Jay Bruce, New York Mets RF
RBI: 134, Randal Grichuk, Los Angeles Dodgers RF

Champions: Toronto Blue Jays def. Salt Lake Bees 4-3

AL Awards & Leaders:
MVP: Shohei Ohtani, Oklahoma Oilers SP/RF
CYA: Noah Syndergaard, New York Yankees
RoY: Jose Hernandez, Boston Red Sox C
Batting champ: .347, Bryce Harper, Las Vegas Scorpions RF
HR: 54, Aaron Judge, Texas Rangers RF
RBI: 150, Justin Smoak, Baltimore Orioles 1B

NL Awards & Leaders:
MVP: Josh Donaldson, Monarques de Montréal 3B
CYA: Jose Quintana, Washington Nationals
RoY: Yukio Uehara, San Diego Padres 1B
Batting champ: .371, AJ Pollock, Pittsburgh Pirates CF
HR: 49, Tyler O'Neill, New York Burros RF
RBI: 130, Kyle Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers 3B

Champions: Las Vegas Scorpions def. St. Louis Cardinals 4-2

AL Awards & Leaders:
MVP: Bryce Harper, Las Vegas Scorpions RF
CYA: Noah Syndergaard, New York Yankees
RoY: Hector Vasquez, Detroit Tigers LF
Batting champ: .366, Jarred Kelenic, Newark Cherries RF
HR: 60, Rafael Devers, New York Yankees 3B
RBI: 156, Rafael Devers, New York Yankees 3B

NL Awards & Leaders:
MVP: Cody Bellinger, St. Louis Cardinals 1B
CYA: Luis Severino, San Francisco Giants
RoY: Koshi Higuchi, Reno Silver Sox RF
Batting champ: .371, Nomar Mazara, Charlotte Flyers RF
HR: 61, Matt Olson, Charlotte Flyers 1B
RBI: 156, Matt Olson, Charlotte Flyers 1B
(despite winning all three Triple Crown categories, the Flyers were swept out of the playoffs by the eventual NL champion Cardinals)

Champions: Milwaukee Brewers def. Detroit Tigers 4-0

AL Awards & Leaders:
MVP: Bryce Harper, Las Vegas Scorpions RF
CYA: Noah Syndergaard, New York Yankees
RoY: Enrique Soto, Detroit Tigers SP
Batting champ: .386, Jarred Kelenic, Newark Cherries RF
HR: 56, Bryce Harper, Las Vegas Scorpions RF
RBI: 149, Andrew Benintendi, New York Yankees LF

NL Awards & Leaders:
MVP: Corey Seager, Miami Marlins SS
CYA: Clayton Kershaw, Houston Astros
RoY: Andrew Vaughn, Houston Astros 2B
Batting champ: .366, Corey Seager, Miami Marlins SS
HR: 47, Cody Bellinger, St. Louis Cardinals 1B
RBI: 137, Matt Olson, Charlotte Flyers 1B

Champions: New York Yankees def. Buffalo Beacons 4-2

AL Awards & Leaders:
MVP: Rafael Devers, New York Yankees 3B
CYA: Noah Syndergaard, New York Yankees (yep, that's 5 Cy Youngs out of 5 for Thor)
RoY: Henry Gargus, Tucson Saguaros LF/RF
Batting champ: .359, Andrew Benintendi, New York Yankees LF
HR: 51, Rafael Devers, New York Yankees 3B
RBI: 163, Andrew Benintendi, New York Yankees LF
(A banner year for the Yankees, and winning it all with a ton of real-life Red Sox and Mets players to boot. Devers finished 2nd in both average and RBI, so his teammate Benintendi prevented him from winning the Triple Crown)

NL Awards & Leaders:
MVP: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Salt Lake Bees 3B
CYA: Wu-shiun Chen, Pittsburgh Pirates
RoY: Wu-shiun Chen, Pittsburgh Pirates SP
Batting champ: .371, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Salt Lake Bees 3B
HR: 59, Matt Olson, Charlotte Flyers 1B
RBI: 159 (tie), Matt Olson, Charlotte Flyers 1B and Koshi Higuchi, Reno Silver Sox RF

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Old 01-06-2020, 01:09 PM   #4
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2023 AL East Preview

Let's start looking at the 2023 season - this is also going to be a helpful tool for me (and you) to become more familiar with all 60 teams in this league! Let's start things off with the division that's home to the reigning champs, and that's the AL East! This'll go in order of projected finish, from top to bottom.

Projected: 100-60
Last Season: 77-83, T-3rd, 27 GB
Payroll: $121MM (34th)
Major Additions: RPs Andrew Miller, Corey Knebel, Jandel Gustave, Kenley Jansen, Michael Feliz, Wade Davis; SP Brandon Finnegan
Major Losses: C Andrew Noviello
Top Players: C Shea Langeliers, LF Derek Fisher, RF Dominic Fletcher

Starting off with a bang! I don't think there's a team in this league that made more drastic changes than Ottawa did, completely restructuring their entire bullpen after a disappointing 2022. This was a below average pitching staff across the board last season, but now they have the league's #1-ranked bullpen, probably by a long shot, and a serviceable rotation that is good enough to take them places. 25-year-old catcher Langeliers had a breakout year in 2022 and looks like he is ready to anchor this lineup, flanked by corner outfielders Fisher and Fletcher, along with SS Logan Davidson. The Lynx shored up their only weak spot in spring training by acquiring former RoY winner Yukio Uehara from Seattle to DH. This lineup has no holes in it aside from first baseman Owen White, but he is also a two-way player pitching out of the rotation.

Projected: 90-70
Last Season: 102-58, 2nd, 2 GB (#3 seed in AL)
Won World Series: beat White Sox 3-1, Orioles 4-0, Solons 4-0, Beacons 4-2
Payroll: $137MM (24th)
Major Additions: RP Toshi tada Watanabe, Blake Treinen, Grant Dayton
Major Losses: LF Andrew Benintendi, 2B Joe Panik, 2B Javier Baez, 1B Adam Lind
Top Players: 3B Rafael Devers, SP Noah Syndergaard, CF Ivan Morales

It's hard to make up for the loss of an MVP contender, but that's what the Yanks will try to be doing sans Benintendi as they aim to defend their 2022 World Series championship. Although the actual MVP winner is still around (Devers) as well as the 5-time reigning Cy Young winner, the team has a "stars and scrubs" kind of feel to it. Along with Devers, Morales and 2B Gabe Holt are household names, but the team has serious holes at 1B and the corner outfield spots that they didn't do anything to address. The rotation will be a real strength even behind Thor - Jake Faria and Dailyn Martinez have become stars on the mound as well. The Yankees are one of just two teams to have made the playoffs in all five seasons (the White Sox are the other).

Projected: 87-73
Last Season: 104-56, 1st (#2 seed in AL)
Beat Royals 3-0, lost to Solons 4-3
Payroll: $120MM (35th)
Major Additions: none
Major Losses: RP Corey Knebel, 1B Eric Hosmer, C Derek Norris
Top Players: RF Jarred Kelenic, 3B Jonathan India, SS Allen Cordoba

This projection seems slightly harsh for Newark, but it's true that they lost quite a bit and didn't do anything to address it, at least externally. This is a team that could have used all the bullpen upgrades made by Ottawa, and it's underscored by the fact that Ottawa signed away Newark's setup man in Knebel. The Cherries still have Zack Britton at the back of the bullpen, two young superstars in the lineup (Kelenic/India) and a pretty good rotation, so they oughta be alright going forward.

Projected: 78-82
Last Season: 71-89, 5th, 33 GB
Payroll: $81MM (51st)
Major Additions: SP Ross Stripling, RP Danny Barnes and Marc Rzepczynski, SS Tim Beckham
Major Losses: SS Addison Russell, SP Adam Morgan, 2B Enrique Hernandez
Top Players: C Patrick Bailey, RF Max Kepler, LF Jeremy Perry

The Blizzard have never finished above .500 in this tough division, and I don't think I see that trend being broken this season even though they made some improvements. The best part of this team is probably the bullpen, anchored by a really promising young closer in Paul Goodwin. The 30-year-old Kepler might be weighing this team down a bit, despite being a good player, as he's making more than a quarter of the team's entire payroll. I have to think Syracuse will be in a better spot in two seasons when he's off the books.

Projected: 72-88
Last Season: 77-83, T-3rd, 27 GB
Payroll: $128MM (31st)
Major Additions: CF Jackie Bradley Jr.
Major Losses: CF Andrew Toles, C Wilson Ramos, RP Grant Dayton
Top Players: SS Josiah Miller, LF Scott Schebler, 1B Carlos Santana

An average team in almost every respect, the Jays don't really have any holes in the lineup and have a few pretty good players, but no outright stars (Miller, Santana, and Schebler all rank in the top third of the league at their position, but not the top 10). The rotation looks pretty bad, but the bullpen will be good to make up for it, despite losing their closer (Dayton) to the rival Yankees. This is a far cry from the team that won the 2019 World Series, but by no means an embarrassment.

Projected: 66-94
Last Season: 66-94, 6th, 38 GB
Payroll: $133MM (26th)
Major Additions: RP Taylor Rogers
Major Losses: SP Michael Pineda
Top Players: 3B Kris Bryant, C Jose Hernandez, SP Justin Verlander

What a mess this team is! Aside from Bryant, Hernandez and 1B Colin Allen, this team's lineup probably doesn't even belong in an MLB of this size. (Bryant and Hernandez did combine for almost 12 WAR last season, but it wasn't nearly enough to save this ship.) At least the bullpen might be OK. Within the next two years, the $94.5 million this team is paying to four players (Bryant, Hernandez, Verlander, SP Vince Velasquez) will be off the books, and the rebuild will be fully on.

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Old 01-06-2020, 02:16 PM   #5
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2023 AL North Preview

Projected: 93-67
Last Season: 74-86, T-4th, 18 GB
Payroll: $205MM (7th)
Major Additions: RF Nomar Mazara, 1B Freddie Freeman, C Austin Barnes, SP Keith Rodriguez
Major Losses: RPs Andrew Miller, Keone Kela
Top Players: RF Nomar Mazara, 1B Freddie Freeman, 1B/DH Seth Beer

With two marquee signings, the Twins have transformed themselves from afterthoughts to possible title contenders. Pulling Mazara and Freeman away (from NL South rivals Charlotte and Atlanta, respectively) gives Minnesota two household names to plug into the lineup every single day. Mazara is probably the better player at this stage; he's blossomed massively in this save, to the point where it's positively affected my opinion of him IRL. Minnesota's supporting cast was already in place (Beer, 3B Xander Bogaerts, SS Luis Tuero), and now the centerpieces are there too.

Projected: 88-72
Last Season: 74-86, T-4th, 18 GB
Payroll: $94MM (45th)
Major Additions: RF Kole Calhoun, CF Carter McCurry
Major Losses: none
Top Players: 2B Nico Hoerner, SS CJ Abrams, 1B Bren Spillane

Indy hasn't finished above .500 since their inaugural season of 2018, but this year could be their big break. Not to win this division, I don't think, but to reach heights they haven't reached in several years. The game is probably a bit optimistic on the Rounders here, I don't see them finishing ahead of the White Sox. Their rotation will probably hold them back further from actually reaching the playoffs, but the Rounders have an above-average lineup and bullpen in my view. All their best players are cheap, in contrast to their division rivals, so I would think that Indianapolis is well set up for the future as well.

Projected: 87-73
Last Season: 92-68, 1st (#6 seed in AL)
Lost to Yankees 3-1
Payroll: $277MM (1st)
Major Additions: none
Major Losses: CL Edwin Diaz
Top Players: SP Alex Reyes, SP Shoma Goto, RF Mookie Betts

The ChiSox have won this North Division in every season so far, but now look like their position may have been usurped. The team hasn't really gotten worse, but the division has gotten stronger around them. It's impossible not to draw comparisons between this White Sox team and the Nationals team that just won the IRL World Series; this a team with a stellar starting rotation, a lineup with a lot of above-average players headlined by one superstar in Betts, a bullpen that makes you want to run and hide, and a history of playoff ineptitude. CF Harrison Bader has tapped into a power potential that I, a Cardinals fan, had no idea he had: both he and 3B Travis Shaw hit 35+ home runs in 2022. This team has got an absolutely bloated payroll; C Yasmani Grandal is making $29 million per season and he isn't even the starter anymore, and he's one of an astonishing 11 players who are making more than $10 million in 2023.

Projected: 85-75
Last Season: 91-69, 2nd, 1 GB (#7 seed in AL)
Lost to Cherries 3-0
Payroll: $228MM (5th)
Major Additions: SP Michael Fulmer, 2B Tony Kemp, RF Clint Frazier, RP Sam Freeman
Major Losses: SP Tyler Chatwood, CL Dellin Betances, 1B Miguel Cabrera, 2B Cesar Hernandez
Top Players: 3B Matt Chapman, SP Blake Snell, 1B Justin Smoak

I don't really understand the projection system's pessimism here. This is a playoff team from 2022 that looks to have improved; Fulmer had been very good with the Cubs previously and they were more than able to afford him with Miggy's money coming off the books. The Royals are spending an awful lot of money on Charlie Blackmon ($25 million), who can only DH at this point in his career, but led by Chapman, Smoak and CF Mike Siani (40+ doubles in two straight years), this'll still be a good lineup backing up a really good pitching staff. I think they're ticketed for around 90 wins again and will challenge the Twins and White Sox for the division.

Projected: 70-90
Last Season: 74-86, T-4th, 18 GB
Payroll: $142MM (22nd)
Major Additions: SP Antonio Senzatela, CF Mallex Smith, LF Griffin Rivers
Major Losses: SPs Keylan Killgore, Steven Brault
Top Players: 1B Anthony Rizzo, C Gage West, SP Antonio Senzatela

Not an incredibly bad team, but one who is going to struggle in this tough division. I think the projection is slightly kind here, but at least it agrees on last place. This is the final year of Rizzo's contract, and that's really hamstrung this team - he's making $49 million in 2023! That makes him the highest-paid player in baseball by several million at this point, and while he's hit well over the course of the contract it probably doesn't justify the huge dollar value. The only other player of real note is SS Paul DeJong, who's been a league-average shortstop - the rest of the team's really thin.

Projected: 67-93
Last Season: 82-78, 3rd, 10 GB
Payroll: $206MM (6th)
Major Additions: SPs Robbie Ray and Mike Clevinger, RPs Matt Barnes and Koda Glover
Major Losses: SPs Max Scherzer and Zach Petrick
Top Players: 3B Manny Machado, 2B Keith Miller, SP Enrique Soto

2022 was a step back for the Tigers after being swept in the 2021 World Series. The loss of Max Scherzer might look like a huge deal, but he's not the pitcher here that he is IRL; he's good, and received some Cy Young votes in 2020, but he missed most of 2022 with a nerve injury. Besides Machado, Miller and Yonder Alonso (famously, Machado's brother-in-law... I guess they did want to play together after all), the lineup looks pretty bad - it looks like they're relying on a key offensive contribution from Billy Hamilton. This team is also dealing with some injury problems at the beginning of 2023; Mike Clevinger won't make his Tigers debut until mid-May after tearing his labrum while with the Braves last season, and SP Aaron Sanchez will be out until at least July. That might be too much for Detroit to overcome.

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Old 01-06-2020, 03:24 PM   #6
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2023 AL South Preview

Projected: 95-65
Last Season: 98-62, 1st (#4 seed in AL)
Beat Rays 3-0, lost to Yankees 4-0
Payroll: $241MM (3rd)
Major Additions: SPs Anthony DeSclafani, Jim de Scalzo, RPs Luis Avilan, Jose Ramirez and Wandy Peralta
Major Losses: SPs Jameson Taillon and Carlos Carrasco, LF Marcell Ozuna
Top Players: SP Omar Portes, C Noah Naylor, 3B Anthony Rendon

A lot of turnover here for this perennial playoff team (Baltimore has won the AL South in 4 of its 5 seasons.) This team's got a good pitching staff to go with a handful of offensive stars. The O's can count not only Naylor and Rendon, but also 2B Kolten Wong and RF Austin Hays, as players who are top-10 at their position. The Orioles' problem is on the injury front. Omar Portes, a fictional Cuban who has become one of the best pitchers on the planet, is going to miss almost all of this season after having Tommy John last summer, so listing him as a top-3 player is pretty cruel on the game's part. SP Kyle Hendricks is also facing a lengthy absence, meaning Shelby Miller is left as the staff ace for the moment. If the offense can lead them to the playoffs, I think the returning pitchers might be able to navigate them through the AL field, but that's an if.

Projected: 91-69
Last Season: 95-65, 2nd, 3 GB (#5 seed in AL)
Lost to Orioles 3-0
Payroll: $143MM (20th)
Major Additions: none
Major Losses: 1B Greg Bird, C Gian Martellini
Top Players: SS Osiris Johnson, SP Aaron Nola, SP Trey Benton

A team that's perfectly Rays; no superstars to speak of necessarily, although Nola is one of the league's top pitchers, but a team built around a solid foundation that I would bet is gonna win a lot of games. The one place they could really use an upgrade is in the outfield but even the guys they have might be serviceable. It's the Rays, after all; they might just be good even though they're not supposed to. I haven't mentioned 2B Jose Altuve yet, but he looks to be on the decline at age 32. An important piece for this team at 2B but not make-or-break.

Projected: 82-78
Last Season: 82-78, 3rd, 16 GB
Payroll: $114MM (38th)
Major Additions: RF Alexis La Madrid
Major Losses: SP Antonio Senzatela, RP Brian Gadsby
Top Players: SS Braden Shewmake, RF Alexis La Madrid, 2B Kevin Maldonado

La Madrid is somewhat of an unknown - he's a randomly-generated free agent out of Cuba that was the Crescents' top/only prize in free agency this offseason. Is that enough to push ahead to the playoffs? We'll see. Shewmake, La Madrid, Maldonado and 2B/DH Yoan Moncada make an above-average lineup core, and 3B Jeimer Candelario has turned into a decent player, but the Crescents' pitching staff is nowhere near good enough for them to be a playoff team in my opinion.

Projected: 79-81
Last Season: 80-80, 4th, 18 GB
Payroll: $107MM (40th)
Major Additions: C Gary Sanchez, SP Zach Petrick, 3B Jake Armstrong
Major Losses: LF JD Martinez, 2B Dee Gordon, 3B Eduardo Nunez
Top Players: C Gary Sanchez, SP Joe Musgrove, SP Alex Wood

It's a hard thing to do: sign the #1 available free agent on the market, and yet somehow get worse? That's what the Navigators might've done this offseason. For one, last season's 80-80 mark looked like an overperformance on Norfolk's part since they had a -50 run differential, but they also saw their only above-average hitter from last season leave (JD Martinez signed with the Astros). This is a fascinating team - they now have the best catcher in the world in Gary Sanchez, and a really quality rotation led by Musgrove, Wood and new addition Petrick, but the rest of the team is really pretty awful. The middle infield combo and bullpen are especially dreadful, so this team seems like it'd be really frustrating to be a fan of at the moment.

Projected: 73-87
Last Season: 63-97, 6th, 35 GB
Payroll: $119MM (36th)
Major Additions: 1B Justin Bour, 1B Miguel Cabrera, C Gian Martellini
Major Losses: 2B Tony Kemp
Top Players: SS Marco Luciano, 1B Justin Bour, 1B/DH Miguel Cabrera

Nashville is coming off of a pretty rough year in which they were the second-worst team in the American League, but things might be looking up? This projection seems a bit optimistic to me, given that the only major change is the addition of Bour and Cabrera to the lineup. Both are still capable hitters despite their age (Bour 34, Miggy 39), and there are a couple of nice outfielders (LF Alex Cantu, CF David Dahl), but the Nashville rotation isn't very good and the supporting cast isn't as strong as you'd hope. But hey, Vanderbilt's stud pitcher Kumar Rocker is now a top prospect in the local system that people can get hyped about, blowing it by people at AAA, so things aren't all bad.

Projected: 72-88
Last Season: 79-81, 5th, 19 GB
Payroll: $95MM (44th)
Major Additions: 1B Josh Bell, CF Brandon Nimmo
Major Losses: CF Carter McCurry, RPs Matt Strahm, Ryley Gilliam and Nick Greenwood
Top Players: CF Brandon Nimmo, 3B Matt Wallner, RF Domingo Santana

Jacksonville is trending upwards - they lost 100 games in 2021 but made a huge improvement in 2022 to nearly finish .500. That jump can be entirely attributed to their pitching, since they were last in the AL in run-scoring in 2022, but two big free agent signings are expected to change that in a big way. Bell was a five-and-a-half win player in Reno last season, putting up the best season of his career at age 29, and was rewarded by the Anchors trying to make the leap to the tune of $93 million over 4 years. Nimmo got a bit more coming over from the Giants: 4 years, $98.4 million, with the strange provision of a player opt-out after one season. The Anchors will miss Matt Wallner for the first month of the season, and will rely on their above-average bullpen to prop up their below-average rotation, and so overall .500 feels basically right.
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Old 01-06-2020, 05:05 PM   #7
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2023 AL Central Preview

Projected: 99-61
Last Season: 108-52, 1st (#1 seed in AL)
Lost to Solons 3-2
Payroll: $160MM (11th)
Major Additions: none
Major Losses: C Ryan Jeffers
Top Players: RF Bryce Harper, CF Nick Schnell, 3B Bryson Stott

Las Vegas is the cream of the crop at this point - I think the best team in this 60-team league, and would be by far if not for the Yankees. The Scorpions have won 104 or more games in three straight years, been to the playoffs 4 straight years, and blitzed through the 2020 playoffs with a record of 15-4. They've lost no one of significance (Jeffers is a good player, but he was the backup on this team), have an above-average player at all nine spots in the lineup including 5 that I would call elite, and although the pitching staff isn't elite, it is definitely good. 99 wins as a projection might even be a little pessimistic.

Projected: 84-76
Last Season: 80-80, 3rd, 28 GB
Payroll: $88MM (48th)
Major Additions: none
Major Losses: none
Top Players: SP/RF Shohei Ohtani, 3B Alex Bregman, C Nick Dalesandro

No major additions or major losses, but the Oilers will benefit just from health. Ohtani and Bregman each missed about half of last season due to injury, and more time from those two will give Oklahoma a shot at the playoffs. Bregman is not quite as big a star in this game as in IRL, but he still is considered an elite 3B. Ohtani, on the other hand, can do no wrong. He's a two-time MVP thanks to his contributions as a two-way player, and although he's really important to the Oilers as a hitter, he's maybe the best pitcher in the game when healthy and that's where he provides most of his utility for Oklahoma. The whole infield and rotation are strengths for this team (2B Ketel Marte, especially, is another quality player here). If the Oilers are in contention come July, I'd expect them to try to upgrade their patchwork bullpen.

Projected: 80-80
Last Season: 69-91, 4th, 39 GB
Payroll: $99MM (43rd)
Major Additions: SP Jacob deGrom, CL Dellin Betances, 2B Vinny Garcia
Major Losses: RP Matt Barnes, RF Jimmy Herron
Top Players: LF Henry Gargus, SP Dallas Keuchel, C Steven Williams

Tucson is another team expected to take a leap forward in 2023. 80-80 would be the best record the team has ever recorded - they've never finished at or above .500. deGrom and Betances are really good additions to what was already a decent pitching staff - Tucson's struggles are all going to be in the batter's box. Gargus is a star in the making, already the team's best hitter at age 22 and the reigning Rookie of the Year, but unfortunately he will miss the first three months of this season after suffering a broken ankle in a spring game. It'll be up to Williams and RF Lewis Brinson to carry the offensive load until Gargus returns, because the rest of the lineup doesn't really look up to the task.

Projected: 79-81
Last Season: 68-92, 5th, 40 GB
Payroll: $142MM (21st)
Major Additions: 1B Eric Hosmer, CF Lorenzo Cain, SP Carlos Carrasco
Major Losses: SS Brandon Crawford, 3B Taylor Hawthorne
Top Players: SP Luis Severino, 3B Chris Antrim, SS Travis Odom

Antrim isn't a real player, but he's one of the best players in the world by now - the 3rd overall pick by Austin back in 2020, he only played 11 minor league games before being rushed straight to the majors. He's coming off his first 20-homer season, but before that he had a 20-triple season in 2021! A really weird player with speed and gap power off the charts, he'll be the star of the first good Austin team, whenever it comes. The Violets haven't even won 70 games since the inaugural 2018 season, and just last year stopped their streak of finishing in last place, so they'd welcome a .500 season here in 2023. This team will miss Raisel Iglesias, possibly for the entire season, after elbow surgery, and C Alex Avila will miss at least the first month.

Projected: 74-86
Last Season: 83-77, 2nd, 25 GB
Payroll: $202MM (8th)
Major Additions: SP Keylan Killgore, RPs Edwin Diaz and Keone Kela, 2B Whit Merrifield
Major Losses: LF Griffin Rivers, RPs Jose Alvarado, Luis Avilan, and Yusmeiro Petit
Top Players: C Raymond Torres, RF Aaron Judge, LF Tommy Pham

When healthy, this is the team whose bullpen comes the closest to rivalling Ottawa's, but they will really miss AJ Minter, who's out for almost the entire 2023 season with a shoulder injury and will be a free agent at season's end. Still, they've added Diaz and Kela to a staff that includes Jeurys Familia and a lot of other quality relievers. They'll need those guys to back up a rotation that will be without ace Johnny Cueto for the first month. Looks like the Opening Day starter will be Odrisamer Despaigne, which is not really what you want. The offense should be average or above, with Torres, Judge and Pham being backed by a diminished pair in Kyle Seager and Brandon Belt, as well as young CF Kristian Robinson.

Projected: 65-95
Last Season: 61-99, 6th, 47 GB
Payroll: $112MM (39th)
Major Additions: none
Major Losses: RP Sam Freeman
Top Players: SP Freddy Peralta, SP Mitchell Kilkenny, CF Kyle Jacobsen

This team is not too far removed from a playoff berth (2020), but a lot has gone wrong since then. 61-99 was actually enough to earn the Rockies the #1 draft pick for the upcoming season, so that's the thing they have to look forward to the most. Peralta and Kilkenny are more like #3 starters than aces, and they're considered Colorado's two best players by the game, so that tells you what kind of season they're in for. There are some recognizable names on this team - C Jorge Alfaro, SS Marcus Semien, 2B Robinson Cano - but none of them are really any good.
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Old 01-06-2020, 09:26 PM   #8
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2023 AL West Preview

Projected: 83-77
Last Season: 71-89, 4th, 16 GB
Payroll: $150MM (17th)
Major Additions: LF Andrew Benintendi, CF Andres de la Torre, RF Juan Soto, RPs Matt Strahm and Scott Alexander
Major Losses: SP Keith Rodriguez, RPs Kenley Jansen and Blake Treinen, C Stephen Vogt
Top Players: CF Andres de la Torre, LF Andrew Benintendi, RF Juan Soto

Holy smokes. After a second straight disappointing season, the 66ers went out and splurged, buying themselves a whole new outfield that is suddenly the best outfield trio in the league by a long shot. You know Benintendi and Soto, but de la Torre is the best of the three - a randomly generated free agent from Cabo San Lucas in Mexico. (Perhaps a bit unrealistic that a player that good would just appear fully formed, especially since Mexican players usually have to be drafted.) He's a jack of all trades, and master of most of them. The rest of the team is pretty mediocre - the players worth talking about are 1B Edwin Encarnacion and RF Alex McFarlane (it appears that Soto will mostly DH). In a weak division, it looks like their three stars might be enough to walk to a division title.

Projected: 80-80
Last Season: 87-73, 1st (#8 seed in AL)
Beat Scorpions 3-2, Cherries 4-3, lost to Yankees 4-0
Payroll: $125MM (33rd)
Major Additions: CL Jose Alvarado
Major Losses: none
Top Players: SP Dinelson Lamet, SS Livan Soto, 3B Colin Moran

After limping to a division title in 2022, the Solons made a run all the way to the ALCS, knocking out the AL's top two seeds before being crushed by the eventual champion Yanks. This team does it with pitching, mostly, including an exceptional bullpen led by the flamethrower Alvarado. The shortstop Soto is a good, but not exceptional hitter, but he does look like a future Gold Glover at short. Lamet has become a really reliable starter - he's thrown 200 innings four straight years, and passed the 250 K and 4 WAR marks four times each in the five years that have been played.

Projected: 76-84
Last Season: 68-92, 5th, 19 GB
Payroll: $81MM (52nd)
Major Additions: SP Matt Andriese
Major Losses: SPs Taijuan Walker and Shane Watson
Top Players: 1B Joey Votto, SS Carter Young, CF Jesse Franklin

It's been a miserable existence for the Beavers so far. Their 2022 record of 68-92 is actually the best the team has done, and the first time they've finished out of last place. Overall, their 310-490 record through five seasons is the worst of all 60 teams by a bit (24 games behind the Blackbirds). If they can sniff .500 in this weak division, that'd mean being in playoff contention, which has never happened for this team. Votto took a step back in his first year in Portland after being a perennial MVP candidate with the Dodgers, but he'll still be expected to bounce back and lead this team in most offensive categories even at age 39. The lineup should be average as a whole. The rotation is pretty rough - Andriese was my 4th starter last season with Salt Lake but he now slots in as the Portland ace.

Projected: 76-84
Last Season: 75-85, 3rd, 12 GB
Payroll: $142MM (23rd)
Major Additions: 1B Paul Goldschmidt, SP Brent Honeywell, RP Nick Greenwood
Major Losses: SPs Mike Leake, Tyler Skaggs and Kevin Gausman, RF Giancarlo Stanton, C Salvador Perez, 2B Jason Kipnis
Top Players: SS Corey Seager, 1B Paul Goldschmidt, 3B Marty Bechina

There was a ton of turnover for the Mariners this offseason - this GM isn't even Jerry DiPoto, but his free-wheeling spirit persists in the organization. Despite adding Goldschmidt to pair with Corey Seager, the offensive side of the ball is still the weaker side for this team. Stanton was a really big loss, but Kipnis and Perez weren't necessarily, so the moves this team made on the hitting side were pretty lateral. It's another team that has a "stars and scrubs" feel to it. Ken Giles will be one of the league's best closers.

Projected: 74-86
Last Season: 65-95, 6th, 22 GB
Payroll: $149MM (19th)
Major Additions: 2B Joe Panik, RP Mark Melancon
Major Losses: SPs Anthony DeSclafani and Jacob deGrom
Top Players: SP Corey Kluber, CF Parker Meadows, LF Jurickson Profar

2022 was a disaster year for the Halos, but they underperformed their Pythagorean record by an eight-win margin so there's reason to believe in a bounce-back season to some extent. I was surprised to see Jurickson Profar listed as an outfielder, but that's where the Angels have played him - he's lost a lot of movement speed over the last few seasons and that's now his best position. This will be an average pitching staff with a below-average lineup, all in all a pretty unremarkable team it seems.

Projected: 73-87
Last Season: 76-84, 2nd, 11 GB
Payroll: $150MM (18th)
Major Additions: CF Andrew Toles
Major Losses: Cs Kole Cottam and John Hicks, RPs Scott Alexander and Austin Brice
Top Players: 3B Nolan Arenado, SP Luke Weaver, LF Nick Decker

2022 was the first time the A's had finished below .500, and it came on the heels of three straight playoff appearances. The lineup looks like it'll be alright - Arenado and Decker are a one-two punch that most teams would take, and there are some nice supplementary pieces with 1B Eric Thames and IF/DH Wilmer Flores, but they'll be held back by a mediocre rotation and a terrible bullpen. For whatever reason, the A's were willing to trade me their starting catcher, Kole Cottam, straight-up, for an outfielder that isn't even starting the season with the team - great news for my Bees but not so great for Oakland fans.

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Old 01-06-2020, 10:41 PM   #9
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2023 NL East Preview

Time to switch over to the National League! Starting in the East again, we begin with the defending NL champs in Buffalo.

Projected: 106-54
Last Season: 87-73, 2nd, 3 GB (#7 seed in NL)
Beat Dodgers 3-0, Pirates 4-2 and Astros 4-1, lost to Yankees 4-2
Payroll: $106MM (41st)
Major Additions: 3B Taylor Hawthorne, SP Tyler Chatwood
Major Losses: LF Mark Canha
Top Players: 2B Ozzie Albies, SS Wander Franco, 1B Michael Toglia

This is not the team that I expected to have the best projected record in the league, even looking at the stars they have offensively. This team has made deep playoff runs as a low seed in two straight years - they went up against a high-powered Dodgers team in the first round in both 2021 and 2022 (1 vs. 8 and 2 vs. 7 respectively) and swept the favored Dodgers in both series. Now it looks like the targets are on their backs! Franco was an almost 5-win player in 2022 after being below replacement level in 2021, so Buffalo fans are expecting him to become a star in short order. LF Travis Swaggerty is another player that should be grouped in with the top 3; Albies, Franco, Toglia and Swaggerty are all considered to be top-10 players at their positions. Outfielders Sammy Siani and David Gonzalez would be lynchpins of a lesser lineup, but on this Beacons team they can sit off to the side and just do their thing. The bullpen is pretty bad, but it might not matter with this offense.

Projected: 92-68
Last Season: 76-84, 5th, 14 GB
Payroll: $154MM (14th)
Major Additions: SP Adam Morgan
Major Losses: 3B Eduardo Escobar
Top Players: C Willson Contreras, 3B Danny Diaz, LF Caleb Adams

Despite finishing 76-84 in 2022, the Mets had a positive run differential, and they didn't really lose any massive contributors from that team, so there's cause for optimism in Queens. CF Jake McCarthy should also be an impact player - he led the league in stolen bases last year. This team probably needs to upgrade the holes in the right side of the infield if they're gonna go far in 2023, but they'll be at least decent no matter what.

Projected: 82-78
Last Season: 90-70, 1st (#4 seed in NL)
Lost to Astros 3-1
Payroll: $151MM (16th)
Major Additions: 3B Luis Valbuena
Major Losses: C Austin Barnes, RP Michael Feliz, 2B Dixon Machado
Top Players: LF Daniel Frisch, SS Rece Hinds, RF George Springer

Top to bottom, maybe the best offensive team in the National League in terms of not having any weaknesses to attack. Every single position player will be above average for this team. The bullpen is really solid too, but the team's huge weakness is in the rotation, where the Burros will need real contributions out of guys like 23-year-old Trevor Koenig and 26-year-old Chris Andritsos, two guys who haven't proven anything yet in the bigs but are listed as New York's second and third starters. It could go really well or it could be a disaster.

Projected: 75-85
Last Season: 79-81, 4th, 11 GB
Payroll: $129MM (30th)
Major Additions: SP Jameson Taillon, SS Addison Russell, 2B Cesar Hernandez
Major Losses: 2B Brian Dozier, C Bruce Maxwell
Top Players: SP Jon Jefferson, SP Jameson Taillon, SS Addison Russell

Philly got a huge blow last July when ace starter Jon Jefferson tore his UCL. He's not expected back until September of this season, and that's a huge blow to the Phils' playoff chances. Taillon is a capable replacement as the #1 guy coming over from Baltimore, but he's not as good as Jefferson is. Overall, this is a team that's pretty mediocre all over the diamond. The one hitter Phillies fans can be excited about is CF Tim Tawa, who put up All-Star level performance in the second half of last season after missing most of the first half with a groin injury.

Projected: 72-88
Last Season: 80-80, 3rd, 10 GB
Payroll: $115MM (37th)
Major Additions: SP Matt Boyd, C Salvador Perez
Major Losses: SP Ross Stripling, C Francisco Cervelli
Top Players: 3B Josh Donaldson, SP Sonny Gray, SS RJ Yeager

The Monarques had to make do without their top pitcher, Sonny Gray, for most of 2022 after he tore his UCL in May, and he isn't expected back from that injury until mid-May of this year. Donaldson is still a star even at age 37, and 1B Jeremy Wolf (the team's All-Star representative last year) is ready to take over the reins as the team's top hitter. Montréal isn't going to be a top team really under any circumstances this year, but they're not going to be really bad either.

Projected: 68-92
Last Season: 66-94, 6th, 24 GB
Payroll: $74MM (57th)
Major Additions: SP Tyler Skaggs, RF Jason Heyward
Major Losses: SPs Felix Hernandez and Jim de Scalzo, 2B Ruben Tejada
Top Players: SP Eduardo Rodriguez, LF Justin Chigbogu, SS Trevor Story

Just two years ago, the Oaks came within 1 game of a tiebreaker for the division, but it's all just about gone now. Story is still considered one of their better players on reputation alone, but he was awful in 2022, hitting just .212 with a 66 OPS+. The Oaks pitching staff is actually quite good, led by Eduardo Rodriguez, who's become a really quality pitcher and is still just 29. 22-year-old prospect DJ Jefferson is getting his first crack at an opening day roster after showing flashes in 2022, and the addition of Skaggs (RIP) outweighs the subtraction of Felix and de Scalzo. Unfortunately, that pitching staff isn't gonna have too many leads to protect this year.

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Old 01-06-2020, 11:12 PM   #10
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2023 NL North Preview

Projected: 96-64
Last Season: 99-61, 1st (#1 seed in NL)
Beat Suns 3-2, lost to Beacons 4-2
Payroll: $157MM (13th)
Major Additions: RP Ryley Gilliam
Major Losses: none
Top Players: SP Wu-shiun Chen, SP Madison Bumgarner, SP Justin Davis

There's no denying where the Pirates' strength is - they'll go as far as their rotation can take them, which as of late has been pretty far. Chen is the reigning Cy Young Award winner, going 19-8 with a 2.78 ERA for the Bucs last year as they got the top spot in the National League. Even beyond Chen, Bumgarner and Davis, #4 starter Keisaburo Doi showed promise in his first season stateside before suffering an injury, and Ben Lively has already had success as the 5th starter after being a waiver pickup from the D'backs last season. (They look like an excellent defensive team as well, which certainly helps.) Offensively, JT Realmuto is the biggest name, but 3B Nicky Delmonico and RF Matt Pumphrey have become good players for Pittsburgh as well.

Projected: 84-76
Last Season: 75-85, 5th, 24 GB
Payroll: $181MM (9th)
Major Additions: C Andrew Noviello
Major Losses: SP Brandon Finnegan, 1B Justin Bour
Top Players: LF Michael Conforto, 3B Julian Olivo, SP Masahiro Tanaka

The Brew Crew won the 2021 World Series, but their championship hangover was... lengthy. It certainly didn't help that Michael Conforto, the runner-up in 2021 MVP voting, only played in 42 games in '22. It doesn't look like they'll be able to rebound all the way back to championship contention to me - they don't seem to really have a first baseman in Bour's absence, and while the offense overall is better than Pittsburgh's, they don't have anywhere near the pitching staff that the Pirates do.

Projected: 80-80
Last Season: 85-75, 2nd, 14 GB
Payroll: $93MM (46th)
Major Additions: none
Major Losses: C Gary Sanchez, RF Clint Frazier
Top Players: 1B Cody Bellinger, SP Josh Hader, LF Trevor Larnach

The Cardinals only finished one game away from a playoff spot last season, but that was with Gary Sanchez still in tow (he's now with Norfolk), and this team might also regret letting Clint Frazier leave for Kansas City. An above-average pitching staff featuring Hader, who the team has moved to the rotation for 2023! Hader was 38-39 in save opportunities for the 2022 Cards, but he's about to get the opening day start instead. It seems like it might work - he's got a pretty good changeup to go with his incredible fastball-slider combo. Cody Bellinger is an MVP winner (2020) and considered one of the top 5 hitters in the game, so maybe they'll get on fine without Sanchez. They really could use an outfield upgrade, though.

Projected: 79-81
Last Season: 74-86, 6th, 25 GB
Payroll: $169MM (10th)
Major Additions: CL Austin Brice
Major Losses: RP Marc Rzepczynski
Top Players: SP Marcus Stroman, SS Trea Turner, LF Kyle Schwarber

An interesting team for sure - one that could easily have a couple of things go right and then be challenging for a playoff spot, or one that could finish last in this division with injuries in the wrong spots. Turner, Schwarber and C Jonathan Lucroy are the offensive bright spots, with all other starters being well below-average for their position, including RF Andrew McCutchen. The pitching staff looks like a strength, especially in terms of bullpen depth, with Brice coming from Oakland to serve as the new closer but working with a number of established pitchers, like Blake Parker, Nick Vincent, Adam Cimber and Dominic Leone. The rotation should also be a positive for Cincinnati, of course headlined by Stroman but also with Sean Newcomb.

Projected: 78-82
Last Season: 82-78, 4th, 17 GB
Payroll: $85MM (50th)
Major Additions: none
Major Losses: 3B Jedd Gyorko
Top Players: CF Corbin Carroll, SP David Isakov, LF Kameron Misner

Columbus is coming off of their first ever above-.500 finish, but expectations are being readjusted in a hurry with this team after All-Star catcher Nick Fortes suffered a major concussion in a spring training game. I'm not totally sure how, since I don't save game logs from spring training, but it appears that he got run over by a Marlins baserunner at the plate? Someone's taking spring ball a little seriously. Fortes is listed as being out for 6 months, a huge blow to a team trying to make the leap to relevance. Columbus' outfield trio is one of the game's best, probably just behind San Bernardino, with Carroll, Misner and RF Riley Greene all really strong players. The other thing that'll definitely hold this team back is its weak bullpen.

Projected: 66-94
Last Season: 84-76, 3rd, 15 GB
Payroll: $132MM (28th)
Major Additions: SP Drew Pomeranz, LF Marcell Ozuna
Major Losses: SP Michael Fulmer, 3B Luis Valbuena, 3B Yulieski Gurriel
Top Players: SS Francisco Lindor, SP Drew Pomeranz, LF Marcell Ozuna

In theory, the Cubs have an alright team - probably not a playoff team, but a .500 team or so. But this Cubs team in particular has been devastated by injuries. The newly signed Marcell Ozuna has a hamstring strain that is going to keep him out of commission until early June, CF Jacob Koos has been sidelined with a concussion since last August and it's unclear when he'll be back, relievers Vance Worley and Wilmer Font will miss most of the season, etc. Without Ozuna and Koos, Francisco Lindor is on an island by himself in the lineup - I don't think there's anyone else worth bringing up except to point out how bad they are now, like 1B Hanley Ramirez. The rotation should be decent, and although they'll really, really miss Fulmer, who's now with the Royals, Pomeranz is an alright replacement.

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Old 01-07-2020, 12:02 AM   #11
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2023 NL South Preview

Projected: 87-73
Last Season: 75-85, T-4th, 14 GB
Payroll: $78MM (53rd)
Major Additions: none
Major Losses: none
Top Players: 2B Raynel Delgado, 2B Will Holland, 2B Tyler Callihan

If this were a thing people could bet on, I'd bet a $20 that Memphis doesn't reach this 87-win projection in 2023, and my guess is they're probably actually going to finish below Louisville. You can probably see why - this team has something of a positional logjam, with their four best position players all being middle infielders. Delgado, Holland and Callihan are all primarily 2B, and though Callihan can play SS, their next-best position player after those three is SS Kelvin Smith, a much better defender. Delgado is elite, the team's best player by a good margin, and I would hope a trade is coming to relieve them of this logjam. (I considered trading for Callihan... but why help them when I don't need to? ) Jose Berrios is the staff ace on what should be an average group of pitchers.

Projected: 83-77
Last Season: 89-71, 1st (#6 seed in NL)
Lost to Bees 3-1
Payroll: $131MM (29th)
Major Additions: 2B Brian Dozier, RF Giancarlo Stanton
Major Losses: RP Toshi tada Watanabe
Top Players: RF Giancarlo Stanton, SS Amed Rosario, 3B Nick Northcut

A reliably above-average team for the last several years, they only went out and added Giancarlo Stanton to the mix, so I'm surprised their projection is as low as it is. It's fun to see him back in the same outfield as LF Christian Yelich, although this save originated on OOTP19 so Yelich's stats aren't as insane as they would be if I were starting on OOTP20. C Carson Kelly is also a really important player for this team. The bullpen might end up making or breaking this team, it's definitely their biggest weakness, even with last year's NL Reliever of the Year in Hidekazu Hirose.

Projected: 81-79
Last Season: 71-89, 6th, 18 GB
Payroll: $75MM (56th)
Major Additions: RP Michael Kirkman, LF Yoenis Cespedes, 2B Javier Baez
Major Losses: 1B Freddie Freeman, CF Mallex Smith, RF Kole Calhoun, SS Jose Iglesias, SP Mike Clevinger, RP Nick Wittgren
Top Players: SP Carson Fulmer, SS Cooper Swanson, 3B Jeans Garcia

I can't really figure out why OOTP thinks this is going to be an above-.500 team - there isn't a player rated higher than 3 stars on the entire roster, and they have three players already ruled out for the whole season. Baez settled for a minor league deal but made the team, and Cespedes was hardly above replacement level with Miami, so those are not the caliber of player that you're used to seeing attached to those names. The pitching staff is average overall, so I suppose the projections are expecting the young left side of the infield, Swanson and Garcia, to carry the weight of the whole lineup.

Projected: 75-85
Last Season: 75-85, T-4th, 14 GB
Payroll: $157MM (12th)
Major Additions: C Wilson Ramos, RP Yusmeiro Petit, 1B Adam Lind
Major Losses: RP Jose Ramirez, RF Jason Heyward
Top Players: SP Jose Quintana, 3B Jose Ramirez, 2B Charles Mack

Nationals fans' nightmare is over, since they now no longer have two prominent players with the same name! Jose Ramirez the relief pitcher signed with Baltimore, while the more acclaimed Jose Ramirez sticks around to try to help turn the Nats around after a disappointing 2022. Last season was their first time finishing below .500 in this save, and just four years ago they finished first overall in the NL (before my Bees upset them in the playoffs). On paper, they look clearly better than Atlanta to me, and about even with Memphis, but who knows. The bullpen's pretty bad (the closer is Brett Cecil!), so IRL Nationals fans should feel pretty comfortable easing in with this version of the team as well.

Projected: 71-89
Last Season: 84-76, 3rd, 5 GB
Payroll: $91MM (47th)
Major Additions: C Ryan Jeffers
Major Losses: RP Jandel Gustave, LF Yoenis Cespedes
Top Players: 3B Drew Mendoza, 1B Greyson Jenista, LF Daniel Goss

The Marlins have been above .500 every year, so seeing them projected to drop off by so much is a bit surprising for that reason, but in reviewing their roster there isn't a ton to be super optimistic about. Mendoza and Jenista are the players worth talking about - both arbitration-age and so still relatively cheap. Hopefully the Marlins don't waste their best years! An already meh rotation got a death blow when Jeff Hoffman needed to have Tommy John surgery this spring - he's now not even expected to be ready for the start of the 2024 season. The team's strongest unit is the bullpen, even after losing their closer Gustave in free agency.

Projected: 68-92
Last Season: 86-75, 2nd, 3 1/2 GB
Lost tiebreaker game to Suns
Payroll: $77MM (54th)
Major Additions: none
Major Losses: RF Nomar Mazara, SP Robbie Ray, RP Koda Glover
Top Players: 2B Tyler Wade, SS Addison Barger, 1B Matt Olson

Losing Nomar Mazara to Minnesota in free agency really hurts. Mazara went to four All-Star games as a Flyer, won a batting title, and averaged more than 5.5 WAR per season in a Charlotte uniform. He had formed a nice partnership with Wade, Barger and Olson over the past several years that made Charlotte one of the NL's best offensive teams. This isn't a very deep team, so any injuries will be a big deal, and lo and behold, they'll begin the season without their shortstop Barger, as well as his backup, Nick Ahmed. Olson holds the single-season record with 61 HR, set in the 2020 season, and has led the NL in RBI three years running.

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Old 01-07-2020, 12:44 AM   #12
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2023 NL Central Preview

Projected: 91-69
Last Season: 91-70, 1st (#3 seed in NL)
Beat Colts 3-1, lost to Astros 4-2
Payroll: $127MM (32nd)
Major Additions: C Kole Cottam, RF Victor Robles, SPs Michael Pineda and Shane Watson, RP Brian Gadsby
Major Losses: SPs Matt Andriese and Matt Boyd, LF Mike Spooner
Top Players: 3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 1B Morio Ishihara, SP Jack Flaherty

Not quite sure how to preview my own team, but I'll try to do it in the same manner as the other 59. Guerrero and Ishihara are two of the best players in the whole National League, and the rest of the lineup is made up of solid, but not overpowering complementary pieces, most notably CF Victor Victor Mesa and C Kole Cottam, acquired in a trade from Oakland. Jack Flaherty and Joey Lucchesi are a pretty even 1-2 at the top of a pretty good rotation, and the bullpen is only about average. This team has made 4 consecutive playoff appearances but has only won 1 series in the past 3 years, so we're trying to shake a reputation as chokers here.

Projected: 81-79
Last Season: 90-71, 2nd, 1 GB (#5 seed in NL)
Beat Burros 3-1, Bees 4-2, lost to Beacons 4-1
Payroll: $233MM (4th)
Major Additions: SPs Felix Hernandez and Max Scherzer, 1B Greg Bird, LF JD Martinez and Mike Spooner
Major Losses: 1B Paul Goldschmidt, CF Lorenzo Cain, RF Wil Myers
Top Players: C Buster Posey, SP Clayton Kershaw, LF JD Martinez

A rotation of Kershaw, Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodon, King Felix, and Scherzer sounds pretty amazing, doesn't it? Well, it is actually quite good, but not quite as good as it might be IRL. For one, it's 2023, so all five are on the wrong side of 30 and three on the wrong side of 35. Scherzer actually looks like he's going to start the year in the bullpen despite being paid $35 million over the next two years. Overall, this projection seems a handful of games low to me, I would think Houston is set up to win about 86-88 and really challenge us for the division. Posey's still got it despite being 35 years old - he's been an all-star every year of this save and has three Silver Sluggers to boot - and there are several quality hitters on this team not already mentioned, like 2B Andrew Vaughn and CF Zach DeLoach.

Projected: 81-79
Last Season: 87-74, 3rd, 4 GB (#8 seed in NL)
Beat Flyers in tiebreaker game, lost to Pirates 3-2
Payroll: $100MM (42nd)
Major Additions: none
Major Losses: none
Top Players: SS Brice Turang, SS Antoni Flores, 2B Scott Fitzgerald

Another team with a strange log jam in the middle infield. Antoni Flores, New Mexico's second-best player, is set to play about once a week at short and come off the bench to pinch hit. Neither he nor Turang is going anywhere either, as they're 22 and 23 years old, respectively, so a trade would have to bring back a lot to be worth it for NM. The rest of the lineup is about average, so the Suns will be a decent hitting team, but the team's strongest unit is the bullpen, with Roberto Osuna closing out games.

Projected: 77-83
Last Season: 81-79, 4th, 9 1/2 GB
Payroll: $67MM (60th)
Major Additions: RF Jimmy Herron
Major Losses: 3B Jake Armstrong, 2B Vinny Garcia, RF Jorge Bonifacio, RP Michael Kirkman
Top Players: 1B/3B/SP Triston Casas, 2B Tyler Malone, SP Tim Perez

Triston Casas is the type of player that only really shows up in OOTP. (He is a real player, but I'd be shocked if his real career looks anything like this one.) Casas is San Antonio's best hitter, a mashing 1B who's hit 96 HR in three major league seasons, but he also became a starting pitcher as of last season, going 10-15 with an ERA in the high 4s. I don't think any actual MLB team would even think of letting him do that when he's so important to the lineup and when his pitching stats are so middling, but it does make him a must-watch. The rest of the team is largely forgettable to be honest - 2B Tyler Malone, their next-best hitter, is starting the season on the IL with a broken shoulder blade of all injuries.

Projected: 71-89
Last Season: 73-87, 5th, 17 1/2 GB
Payroll: $153MM (15th)
Major Additions: C Francisco Cervelli
Major Losses: SP Drew Pomeranz, CL Wandy Peralta, RP Wade Davis
Top Players: 3B Nick Senzel, SS Tim Anderson, CF Grant Witherspoon

A very middling team throughout, the Thunder have never finished in first place or in last place in this Central Division. Similarly, this Omaha team doesn't really have any big stars, just a bunch of players who aren't exceptional but also aren't terrible. OOTP picks Senzel as the headliner, but it could just as easily be Anderson, Witherspoon, 2B DJ LeMahieu, LF Adam Hillman or C Hunter Oliver. All about the same. Omaha's pitching is the weaker side of the ball, and it's the reason they'll probably finish below .500 for the third year in a row, but again, not actually that awful compared to a lot of other teams.

Projected: 70-90
Last Season: 72-88, 6th, 18 1/2 GB
Payroll: $77MM (55th)
Major Additions: none
Major Losses: RF Charlie Tilson
Top Players: LF Mike Trout, RF Johnny Rizer, 2B Joe Batch

Here's Mike Trout, if you've been looking for him - I guess it's no surprise that he's mired on a losing team, but the Blackbirds are worse than the Trout Angels have been. Here's probably why: Trout is making over 29 times as much as any of his teammates are, and significantly more than all of them combined: $45.5 million per season when the team payroll is only $77 million. He's also the only player on the team whose contract is actually guaranteed beyond this year (he's in El Paso through 2026). It's fully deserved, and he's every bit as good as that money indicates, but it's both incredibly surprising that WTX signed him to that deal in the first place, knowing what the finances were going to be, and incredibly disappointing that we don't get to see him destroy people on the postseason stage. Rizer is a decent player, and the bullpen is OK, but the rotation is probably the league's worst, and there's not a ton of hope.

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Old 01-07-2020, 01:16 AM   #13
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2023 NL West Preview

Projected: 91-69
Last Season: 93-67, 1st (#2 seed in NL)
Lost to Beacons 3-0
Payroll: $253MM (2nd)
Major Additions: RP Nick Wittgren
Major Losses: 3B Jung-Ho Kang
Top Players: SP Ethan Hankins, SP Chris Archer, 2B Nate Eikhoff

As strong a team as you'd expect out of the Dodgers. Only once have they failed to win this division (2019), and they've won at least 89 games in all five seasons. When healthy, this rotation is the league's best, but Archer will be out until the end of May-ish, right as the Bees travel to Dodger Stadium. This top players list obscures how powerful the Dodgers are - LF Ronald Acuña, RF Yasiel Puig, C Tucker Barnhart, SS Adalberto Mondesi, CF Eric Cole and 3B Miguel Sanó are all among the league's top quarter or so at their positions. I happen to think they're more likely to beat the Padres by 10+ games than they are to tying or losing this division, despite the projections putting them in a dead heat.

Projected: 91-69
Last Season: 74-86, 3rd, 19 GB
Payroll: $134MM (25th)
Major Additions: none
Major Losses: none
Top Players: 3B Joey Gallo, C Joey Bart, SS Carlos Correa

Like I mentioned above, I'm sort of not sure why the Dodgers and Padres are viewed as equal by the projections, since it seems as though the Dodgers are way superior. That's not to say the Padres are bad, though; they just look like an 85-87 win team instead of a playoff lock. In particular, their rotation is about as shaky as the Dodgers' is good. The Padres have another two-way player that I wasn't aware was also a hitter until just now - Mason Denaburg will be getting the opening day start for San Diego as they host the Giants, but he also serves as the team's backup first baseman and third catcher! He's been a sub-replacement level hitter, but still, he's doing it. The team could really use an upgrade in the outfield, but the trio of Gallo, Bart and Correa makes this a team worth watching no matter how good they are.

Projected: 81-79
Last Season: 65-95, 6th, 28 GB
Payroll: $133MM (27th)
Major Additions: none
Major Losses: SP Chris Pike, RP Chase Whitley
Top Players: CF Joc Pederson, SP Nick Lodolo, C JJ Schwarz

A bit strange to see a team forecast for this much improvement when adding basically nothing, but the Diamondbacks were torn asunder by injury in 2022, and they're looking forward to a full year from all of their starting pitchers. Lodolo was the only regular starter who made a full slate of starts in 2022, and long reliever Aaron Myers was pushed into 30 starts with not so great results. I don't know if that accounts for 16 games worth of improvement from Arizona, but why not? Looks like a team with a slightly below average lineup (led by Pederson, Schwarz and RF Robbie Grossmann) and a slightly above average pitching staff, so they do look like a .500 team, most likely.

Projected: 80-80
Last Season: 73-87, 4th, 20 GB
Payroll: $88MM (49th)
Major Additions: none
Major Losses: CF Brandon Nimmo, 2B Whit Merrifield
Top Players: SS Nick Madrigal, RF Steele Walker, SP Julio Urias

This is a team full of interesting names - Madrigal, Urias, Kyler Murray, Spencer Torkelson, Luke Heimlich - but probably not that interesting as a collective team. Urias is actually out for the season with a torn labrum suffered last September, but he'll be back for the Giants in 2024. This is a team with more good players than bad ones, but the rotation was the one place where they really couldn't have a catastrophic injury. Still, they didn't go out and sign anyone for that spot, so maybe it's their own fault there.

Projected: 78-82
Last Season: 82-78, 2nd, 11 GB
Payroll: $69MM (59th)
Major Additions: none
Major Losses: SP Cody Anderson, RPs Danny Barnes and Taylor Rogers
Top Players: 2B Richie Palacios, LF Jesse Winker, CF Gage Canning

I can't get a great read on Vancouver, to be totally honest. They don't seem as good as their 82-78 record from last season, but they also seem better than the team that lost 104 games in 2021. Perhaps it's that this is overall not the strongest division, but if OOTP thinks that the Cascades will be a near-.500 team in 2023 then it's probably right! There are a lot of below-average players on this roster, but no area in which Vancouver is outright bad.

Projected: 61-99
Last Season: 72-88, 5th, 21 GB
Payroll: $71MM (58th)
Major Additions: SP Cody Anderson, CF Charlie Tilson
Major Losses: 1B Josh Bell, CF Jackie Bradley Jr.
Top Players: 2B Brad Martin, RF Koshi Higuchi, SP Cody Anderson

With the departures of Bell and Bradley, it's down to Martin and Higuchi to carry this team as far as they possibly can. This is the team with the lowest projected record in all of MLB, and I think that makes a lot of sense (although I think the Red Sox might end up the worst?). It's too bad for Reno's two stars, because they're legitimately amazing players that any team would kill to have. Higuchi led the NL in RBI, slugging and OPS, hitting 53 home runs, and Martin hit 42 HR while putting up 9 WAR and winning the Gold Glove at 2nd base. They're incredible, but they don't have anyone else fun to play with.

That's the end of the preseason primers - I think we're ready to start the 2023 season here soon.
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Old 01-07-2020, 01:50 AM   #14
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Mike Matheny

Starting Pitchers (6)
#29 Griffin Canning
#43 Jack Flaherty
#56 Jonathan Holder
#37 Joey Lucchesi
#10 Michael Pineda
#14 Martin Perez

Relief Pitchers (7)
#80 Sam Bennerman
#11 Nolan Blackwood
#15 Riley Ferrell
#31 Brian Gadsby
#23 Alexander Hermeling
#63 Jared Miller
#0 Justin Wilson

Catchers (2)
#18 Kole Cottam
#19 Josh Phegley

Infielders (6)
#5 Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
#4 Morio Ishihara
#3 Travis Maezes
#50 Luis Mota
#24 Min-Kyu Phyo
#17 Te'Kwaan Whyte

Outfielders (5)
#45 Joe Breaux
#7 Zack Granite
#32 Victor Victor Mesa
#16 Victor Robles
#57 Will Shirah

Got some good feelings about this group. There's a good amount of flexibility - I gave Matheny his choice of seven starters, basically, and he chose to put Martin Perez in the bullpen, and also to have Will Shirah primarily hit instead of pitch. It's a freeing feeling having a two-way player like that that can handle basically any roster situation we find ourselves in. He's going with the order of Flaherty-Lucchesi-Holder-Pineda-Canning for now.

Shirah will be available out of the bullpen as one of three lefties (Miller and Wilson are the others). Jared Miller is our closer until things go wrong, so Shirah might see a good bit of time as a lefty option if Wilson's already pitched and Miller's not available for that situation.

The surprise of camp was seeing Luis Mota win the starting shortstop job away from MK Phyo. Luis came up for us last season when we were having a tough time with injuries and hit so well I couldn't send him back down. He hit .185 with our AAA team in Honolulu but .348 in the bigs! If he actually plays a full year at short, I think he's a Gold Glove contender. Matheny says he's gonna have him lead off, at least to start the year, so we'll see. As for Phyo, I wouldn't be surprised to see him take some time away from Travis Maezes at 2nd. Travis is a popular player around here but he had a pretty bad year in 2022, so hopefully he's on notice.

I'll probably post the first week's worth of games tomorrow - the season starts on a Saturday so I'll have 8 games in the first post and 6 thereafter. We start the season with a quick 4-game homestand vs. the Suns and Diamondbacks before our first road trip, to St. Louis, Omaha and then Buffalo. Our lineup for the first game against New Mexico is gonna look like this:

SS Luis Mota
RF Victor Robles
3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
1B Morio Ishihara
LF Will Shirah
CF Victor Victor Mesa
2B Travis Maezes
C Kole Cottam
P Jack Flaherty

Last edited by Ruwisc; 01-07-2020 at 01:53 AM.
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Old 01-07-2020, 03:30 PM   #15
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March 25-26: Bees (0-0) vs. New Mexico Suns (0-0)
This is the only opening series in the NL between two returning playoff teams so there'll be some eyes on us.

Game 1 - Jack Flaherty (0-0) vs. Tristan Beck (0-0)
NMS: SS Turang, RF Reddick, C Raleigh, 3B Hicks, LF DeLuca, 2B Fitzgerald, 1B Mangieri, CF Deveaux, P Beck
SLC: SS Mota, RF Robles, 3B Guerrero, 1B Ishihara, LF Shirah, CF Mesa, 2B Maezes, C Cottam, P Flaherty

Guerrero picked up exactly where he left off last year, smashing a 2-run HR in the first, but it was answered right back by a Luke Mangieri 2-run HR in the second... Both teams would waste their next opportunity, with us failing to score in the 2nd after having 2 on and nobody out, and the Suns having a runner erased trying to tag up from second to third on a fly ball in the fourth... Neither team would cross home plate again until the 6th, when Raleigh's single converted Turang's double into a run for NM... But the Bees wouldn't wait long to tie it back up... in the 7th, Te'Kwaan Whyte pinch-hit for Flaherty with two outs and delivered a clutch RBI double to score Maezes. Both SPs will leave with a no-decision now... I mentioned Antoni Flores in the Suns' preview as a really good player the team was letting rot on the bench... this came to pass in the 8th inning when they used him as a PH only to have him sacrifice bunt... Robles came up to lead off our 8th inning and hit the first pitch for a long HR and a 4-3 lead! Guerrero followed with a double, then Ishihara was IBB'd, but we failed to score further... With Jared Miller on for the save, Raleigh and Hicks were retired on strikeouts, and with two outs DeLuca snuck a single just inside the first-base line. Up comes Scott Fitzgerald and... uh oh. That's a two-run shot to left-center. Miller strikes out Mangieri to end the inning but the damage is done... Roberto Osuna now on to close things out for the Suns... Cottam's double with one out is his second hit in his Bees debut, but he would be stranded there as Phyo and Mota are put out.

PotG: Jack Flaherty

A painful start to our Central Division title defense.

Game 2 - Jonathan Holder (0-0) vs. Andrew Quezada (0-0)
NMS: SS Turang, RF Reddick, 3B Hicks, C Raleigh, 2B Fitzgerald, LF DeLuca, 1B Mangieri, CF Deveaux, P Quezada
SLC: SS Mota, RF Robles, 3B Guerrero, 1B Ishihara, LF Shirah, CF Mesa, 2B Maezes, C Cottam, P Holder

I expected Joey Lucchesi to start this game, but he apparently was still not fully rested after pitching 4 innings in our final spring game? Holder gets the ball for game 2 instead... a flying start for our offense with the first five reaching safely, including Guerrero's second straight first-inning HR... Maezes would plate Ishihara with a sac fly to make it 4-0... Holder was content to hand part of that lead back, allowing a Raleigh HR leading off the 2nd... Cottam extended our lead with a 2-run triple making it 6-1... that would be it for Quezada... Suns RP Ryan Feltner would leave the game with an injury in the 4th... the Suns would load the bases in the 6th but come up empty... we loaded the bases ourselves in the bottom of the sixth on three walks, bringing one home on a Shirah single... Raleigh hit his second home run of the game in the 8th, and Fitzgerald followed him by making it back-to-back jacks... the rest of the game passed without incident!

PotG: Jonathan Holder

A split in a series we probably should have taken, but overall I'm happy with these first two games.

March 28-29: Bees (1-1) vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (0-2)
The D'backs dropped both games in St. Louis to open their season.

Game 1 - Joey Lucchesi (0-0) vs. Chase Anderson (0-0)
ARI: 2B Glowenke, RF J. Johnson, 1B K. Johnson, LF J. Upton, CF Pederson, 3B Duffy, SS Sabino, C Zunino, P Anderson
SLC: CF Mesa, RF Robles, 3B Guerrero, 1B Ishihara, LF Shirah, C Cottam, 2B Maezes, SS Phyo, P Lucchesi

A couple of Arizona's top players are getting a rest today, JJ Schwarz and Robbie Grossman, strange since both teams had a Monday off day before this Tuesday game... Our 1st-inning offense has been a story through these first three games - Mesa was plunked to lead off, and Robles made Anderson pay with a 2-run shot... Ishihara would score on a single by Maezes, and then Cottam would score on a double by Phyo. We even batted around, Lucchesi drawing an unlikely walk to load the bases, but Mesa would ground out to third to keep it 4-0. That's 10 runs in the first inning through three games... Lucchesi is rolling, allowing only two baserunners over the first five innings and stranding both... Pinch-hitter Josh Shaw led off the 6th with a hit in Anderson's place, ending his day after 5 innings... Matheny pinch-hit for Lucchesi with two outs and no one on in the 6th, a bit surprising though he did have over 100 pitches thrown... the first reliever out for us was Nolan Blackwood making his first appearance of the year, and he allowed a HR to his first batter faced, Joc Pederson. No further damage in the 7th though, nor in the 8th for Blackwood... Miller on for the save, and despite a single and an error in that inning, nothing doing.

PotG: Joey Lucchesi

Game 2 - Michael Pineda (0-0) vs. Jack Perkins (0-0)
ARI: 2B Glowenke, RF Grossman, CF Pederson, 1B K. Johnson, LF J. Upton, C Schwarz, 3B Duffy, SS Sabino, P Perkins
SLC: SS Mota, RF Robles, 3B Guerrero, 1B Ishihara, LF Shirah, CF Mesa, 2B Maezes, C Cottam, P Pineda

Our streak of first-inning offense ended in this one... it was made up for in the second, though, with Cottam smashing his first home run in a Bees uniform! That scored Shirah and Mesa as well, and Pineda even followed with a hit but was stranded... Pineda allowed his first hit in the third, a Duffy double, but both he and Sabino were stranded... Maezes got himself a third-inning RBI by beating out a potential double play with the bases loaded and one out, and the very next pitch was wild, allowing another run to score... in the 4th, Arizona got three consecutive hits from Johnson, Upton and Schwarz to manufacture a run... Jack Perkins exited after 3 innings down 5-0... not much doing in the middle innings, Pineda was cruising as was Diamondbacks reliever Reid Birlingmair... Pineda left after 6 innings... probably could've thrown one more but it's a chance to get the relievers some work, first Brian Gadsby making his first appearance in a Bees uniform (he was acquired in an offseason trade with New Orleans)... in Gadsby's second inning, he served up a 2-run home run to Justin Upton to make things a bit more interesting... Miller on for the ninth, and after a one-out walk Matheny makes the quick hook! Set-up man Riley Ferrell comes on for the save, and immediately walks the tying run, bringing the go-ahead run to the plate, but even after a wild pitch puts the tying runs in scoring position, Ferrell comes up with two strikeouts, getting Grossman and Pederson to end it.

PotG: Kole Cottam

Arizona's not a bad team (at least they're not supposed to be) so I'm happy with a sweep. Time to go out on the road!

March 30-31: Bees (3-1) @ St. Louis Cardinals (3-1)
St. Louis is off to the same start as us, almost exactly: a two-game sweep of Arizona and then a tough split with a playoff team from last year (Louisville for them).

Game 1 - Griffin Canning (0-0) vs. Josiah Sightler (0-0)
SLC: CF Mesa, 2B Phyo, 3B Guerrero, RF Robles, 1B Ishihara, LF Shirah, C Phegley, SS Mota, P Canning
STL: SS Martin, 3B Meola, 1B Bellinger, LF Larnach, RF Salinas, 2B Rodriguez, C Ledford, CF Kehoe, P Sightler

A bit of a different lineup today against the lefty Sightler... it pays off quickly, with Mesa singling, stealing second, going to third on Phyo's long fly out, and scoring on a Guerrero hit that was misplayed by the Cardinal CF Kehoe... the next three batters are walk, HBP, walk to score Guerrero, but Sightler avoids further damage by turning Phegley's grounder into a spectacular 1-2-3 double play... Luis Mota is off to a dreadful start, now 0-14 after striking out to begin the second... the fourth inning turned quickly for Sightler... after a one-out triple by Guerrero, Robles fouled off a few tough pitches before lining a single right back up the box to score Vlad Jr... the very next pitch was a mammoth 451ft HR by Ishihara to extend the lead to 5-0, and it would be Sightler's last pitch of the day... Mota finally recorded his first hit of the season leading off the 6th, but would be thrown out at the plate trying to score on a base hit by Phyo... Canning was finally chased after 7.1 innings by a home run from pinch hitter Chandler Taylor, but he pitched spectacularly... 2 insurance runs came home in the 9th on a wild pitch and a Robles single... St. Louis down easily in the 9th.

PotG: Griffin Canning

Game 2 - Jack Flaherty (0-0, 3.86) vs. Josh Hader (0-0, 0.00)
SLC: CF Mesa, 2B Phyo, 3B Guerrero, RF Robles, 1B Ishihara, C Phegley, SS Mota, LF Granite, P Flaherty
STL: SS Martin, 3B Meola, 1B Bellinger, LF Larnach, RF Salinas, C Williams, CF Kehoe, 2B Brown, P Hader

Another lefty in there, so another day off for Maezes/Cottam, and Shirah sits today as well... It appears the Cardinals are still trying to stretch out Hader, who's in his first year as a starting pitcher... he allowed just one hit on Opening Day against Arizona, but lasted just 4.2 innings so no decision... both Flaherty and Hader were on their game in the early innings, with two hits a side after three and no damage done... it's the first time this season that we haven't scored in either of the first two innings... the tie is broken leading off the 4th by Bellinger's long home run, a no-doubter to right field... we finally get to Hader in the 6th by starting the inning with four consecutive singles from the top of the order... after a pitching change, Phegley delivers a sac fly to put us in front, and Cardinal reliever Matt West throws a wild pitch allowing Guerrero to score. Matheny elects to leave Flaherty in to hit with the bases loaded, and he strikes out to end the threat... Flaherty only pitches one more inning after that, leaving after 6 with one run allowed... St. Louis turns a leadoff walk into a run against Sam Bennerman in the 7th, with Raimfer Salinas stealing second, advancing to 3rd on a groundout, and scoring on Brown's hit... Ferrell pitches a spotless eighth striking out the side... Jared Miller back out for the ninth, and, well, I might have to do something about this guy. All with two outs, Chris Williams doubles down the line, pinch-hitter Manny Rodriguez ties the game with a double off the wall, and Turner Brown wins it with a single. Yikes.

PotG: Jack Flaherty

If games were 8 innings long, we'd be 6-0. Miller needs to get his act together, especially with Ferrell pitching well behind him.

April 1-2: Bees (4-2) @ Omaha Thunder (3-3)
Omaha just won a series against the Giants for their home opener, so they're feeling good.

Game 1 - Jonathan Holder (1-0, 1.50) vs. Kendall Graveman (1-0, 5.62)
SLC: CF Mesa, RF Robles, 3B Guerrero, 1B Ishihara, C Cottam, 2B Maezes, SS Phyo, LF Granite, P Holder
OMA: LF Hillman, SS Anderson, 3B Senzel, RF Witherspoon, CF Pollock, 1B Trejo, 2B LeMahieu, C Oliver, P Graveman

Graveman allowed 5 runs over 8 innings in his first start, and was helped out by the Omaha offense in a 10-8 win... it's the only time thus far that the Thunder have scored more than 4 runs, but we'll see what happens this weekend... an auspicious start for Holder, as his second pitch goes over the wall in left-center, a home run for Hillman, and Grant Witherspoon also goes deep in that frame to make it 2-0... Holder also escapes a bases-loaded jam in the second inning, and I wonder if he might not be long for this game... the Bees offense shows a little life in the third, collecting our first two hits, but not scoring... Holder actually settled down quite nicely over the next few innings, even pitching pretty efficiently, so not much damage done there... the combo of Guerrero and Ishihara can strike at a moment's notice, and they do just that leading off the sixth. A Guerrero single precedes an Ishihara homer and suddenly we're tied! Cottam's single to follow forces Graveman out after just 5.0 innings... and Holder seems content to give the lead back. A one-out double by Witherspoon becomes a sac fly for Trejo, and Omaha's back in front... and in the 8th, Guerrero strikes again! His third home run of the year ties things up once again. Ishihara and Cottam both reach as well, but the lower part of the order can't drive them in... I think my team has a pretty good bullpen all things considered, but this time it's Riley Ferrell's turn to be the goat. He balks in the go-ahead run, and then, as if to remove any doubt, immediately allows a two-run home run to LeMahieu. Robles gets aboard in the ninth but nothing really doing.

PotG: DJ LeMahieu

From the moment Hillman's leadoff home run went out it seemed like this one wouldn't be our day. We now actually have a loss that I can't blame on the closer. Surprising news after the game, as we announced Will Shirah as the starter for Sunday.

Game 2 - Will Shirah (0-0) vs. Jonathan Jones (0-0)
SLC: SS Mota, RF Robles, 3B Guerrero, 1B Ishihara, P Shirah, CF Mesa, 2B Maezes, C Cottam, LF Granite
OMA: LF Hillman, SS Anderson, 3B Senzel, RF Witherspoon, CF Pollock, 2B LeMahieu, 1B Trejo, C Telis, P Jones

It's Shirah's first pitching appearance of the season, and a major league debut for Omaha's Jonathan Jones, who IRL is a community college sophomore in Texas - I love learning about these guys on the fly. Shirah is a real-life college player as well, BTW, playing for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, but hasn't played a ton for them... one of my favorite improvements from OOTP19 to OOTP20 is the AI's handling of lineups around two-way players - in previous versions, AI Mike Matheny would automatically have plugged Shirah in the #9 spot, but now it basically considers it as a DH-type lineup instead, so he goes to his normal spot in the order. Adds a whole new dimension to NL starting pitchers who can hit.

This time both teams went yard in the first inning, but it was the Bees who got the better of the frame; Robles and Guerrero went yard on back-to-back pitches, greeting Jones very rudely in his first MLB inning. Tim Anderson got one back for the hosts, though, in the bottom half... Maezes put the two-run lead right back in the next inning, smacking his first homer of the year, but the seesaw continued with AJ Pollock sneaking one inside the foul pole. That's five solo homers in the first two innings and a 3-2 Bees lead... both pitchers finally put up a scoreless frame in the 3rd... the Bees put together a more extended rally in the fourth, a walk and two singles producing a run (Granite driving in Mesa) and Robles scoring Cottam with a sac fly... Starting the 5th with a walk to Ishihara, Jones would be taken out, probably a somewhat disappointing debut... Shirah followed with an RBI double to help his own cause and make it 6-2... he did not go back out for the 6th, which makes the batting order look a bit strange, but we'll fill that #5 spot in the order with pinch hitters going forward... all smooth sailing until the 8th, when Senzel took Brian Gadsby deep for a two-run shot, and Witherspoon reached third base with one out but thankfully didn't score... Justin Wilson came on for the final out of the 8th, and got a chance at the save as well. The ninth was a bit shaky as per usual with this team - Hillman reached with a two-out single, and Anderson drove him in with a ball off the wall - and Senzel's ball into the gap looked awfully scary until our perennial Gold Glover in left, Zack Granite, laid out for a game-saving catch!

PotG: Tim Anderson

Week in Review:
I'm pretty happy with this start in every way except for how it turned into wins and losses. I think we played better than 5-3 would suggest. The offense looked pretty strong and the starting pitching has been amazing. Bullpen had a bad week but I think they'll improve over the course of the season.

Bees' Player of the Week: Tough call but I'm gonna go with C Kole Cottam, whose first week-plus in a Bees uniform was stellar; 11-23 with a homer and 5 RBI over 6 games while catching some great games as well. Vlad Guerrero was the better hitter probably, but he's gonna win this award a lot.

On the Leaderboard:
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.: T-1st in HR(4), 2nd in SLG(.879), 5th in OPS(1.338), 1st in WAR(0.9), 2nd in runs(9), 1st in TB(29)
Victor Victor Mesa: T-1st in SB(4)
Victor Robles: T-4th in SB(3)
Jonathan Holder: T-4th in strikeouts(16)
Jack Flaherty: 8th in WHIP(0.77)


League News
March 25: HFD's Eduardo Rodriguez and NOC's Elieser Hernandez pick up opening day shutouts, defeating Montréal and Nashville, respectively
March 26: NEW's Tyler Myrick no-hits the mighty Yankees at Yankee Stadium, with only two walks and an error spoiling perfection. In a high-profile rivalry series between two of the AL's best teams, the Cherries win both games
March 26: POR's Johan Camargo hits for the cycle in a win vs. Oakland
March 27: Unsigned 1B Jesus Aguilar finally signs with Louisville. Didn't realize he was still out there but this is a big move for the Colts since 1B was their weakest position
March 27: White Sox catcher Jake Taylor has his season ended prematurely - a torn MCL suffered while taking a wide turn at first base. Luckily for Chicago, they have a capable (and very expensive) backup in Yasmani Grandal
March 27: The potent Las Vegas offense explodes for 20 runs against Seattle, led by a 3-homer day from Bryce Harper
March 28: WTX's Jeff Riedel makes his major league debut count, shutting out the Silver Sox. He was the Blackbirds' 2nd round pick just last year out of Fullerton
March 30: Dodgers backup outfielder Frank Maldonado will miss six months with an undisclosed partying injury. Never seen that one before.
March 30: Another one! POR Matt Andriese throws a no-hitter at Syracuse, putting up 10 K and just 2 walks in a 1-0 game. In a strange coincidence, both starting pitchers in the game were Bees last season, both Andriese and Syracuse's Victor Muñoz
March 30: A really strange outcome as Jacksonville defeats Ottawa 20-11 in 13 innings! Ottawa's stellar bullpen gets absolutely shredded by the Anchors for 9 runs in that final inning
April 2: Another cycle as well, again in the AL West - this time Seattle RF Cole Roederer vs. San Bernardino

Players of the Week - this week both coming from the state of Nevada!
Las Vegas RF Bryce Harper - 11-22, 5 HR, 18 RBI
Reno 3B John Valente - 12-24, 3 HR, 9 RBI

Power Rankings - not enough to separate all of these teams at this date, but we are listed 17th, in a tie with 4 other teams.

Next Week: We finish out the road trip in Buffalo, then return home to face Houston and Montréal. Really tough week, facing the two teams who contested the NLCS last year.

Last edited by Ruwisc; 01-07-2020 at 03:37 PM.
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Old 01-07-2020, 08:18 PM   #16
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Week 2: April 3-9

April 4-5: Bees (5-3) @ Buffalo Beacons (3-5)
The Beacons, defending National League champs, have lost 4 in a row - a pair of sweeps at the hands of the Dodgers and Burros, so they're going up against a third straight 2022 playoff team. The Burros are off to a really hot start atop the NL East and Buffalo might already have to be worried about falling too far behind.

Game 1 - Joey Lucchesi (1-0, 0.00) vs. Rafael Ramirez (1-0, 1.80)
SLC: SS Mota, RF Robles, 3B Guerrero, 1B Ishihara, LF Shirah, CF Mesa, 2B Maezes, C Cottam, P Lucchesi
BUF: SS Franco, CF Siani, 1B Toglia, LF Swaggerty, 3B Groshans, RF Kjerstad, C Krause, 2B Schuetz, P Ramirez

Ozzie Albies suffered a minor back injury over the weekend against the Burros, so good luck for us as he won't play in the series. Instead, it's Tanner Schuetz manning the keystone. Still, this is gonna be a really tough offensive team even without one of their top players... Lucchesi saw his perfect 0.00 ERA ruined in the first inning when Swaggerty's double drove in Siani, who had walked... we got to Ramirez in the top of the 3rd inning even after the first two made outs. Mota walked, Robles doubled him around, and Guerrero singled him in. Just like that, Salt Lake had the lead... Cottam would add a sacrifice fly in the fourth, scoring Shirah... the big bopper struck in the fifth. Mota and Robles each walked to start the frame, prompting the Buffalo manager Filas to make a pitching change; Ramirez was done after 4.0 innings. The new pitcher, Brandon Woodruff, was able to strike out Guerrero, but Ishihara ambushed him on an 0-2 pitch and just snuck his fly ball over the right-center field fence to make it 6-1... the Buffalo offense really came alive in the sixth, and knocked Lucchesi out for the count after 5.1 innings. A leadoff double from Franco was followed by 4 singles in the next five batters, scoring three runs; the final single, by Kjerstad, was the last pitch for Joey. Nolan Blackwood was the reliever of choice for Matheny, and he needed some help from the defense. The final out was made at the plate, Robles throwing out Groshans trying to score on Schuetz's hit... Blackwood would get into some trouble of his own making in the 7th, but he was rescued in turn by Sam Bennerman coming out of the pen, this time with no runs allowed... the Bees added another run in the ninth without the benefit of a hit. Cottam walked, moved up on a bunt by pinch-hitter Te'Kwaan Whyte, was balked to third and scored on Mota's ground ball to second... on comes Jared Miller for the save, 8-9-1 in the order coming for Buffalo... Schuetz singles, pinch-hitter Rosier singles, Franco singles, Miller walks Siani to force in a run and put the winning run on base. Eeeeexcellent. I would personally have gone to Ferrell after the third single, but Matheny makes the switch now. On a 1-2 pitch to Toglia, Ferrell spins one to the backstop, scoring another run... they get Toglia to strike out, and then intentionally walk Swaggerty (definitely the right call)... I say "definitely the right call" but that only applies when you don't then go and walk in the tying run on four pitches, which Ferrell does to David Gonzalez... the very next pitch is a walk-off sac-fly by Kjerstad.

PotG: Sammy Siani

This team is already really starting to test my patience... we really ought to be 8-1, not 5-4 right now.

Game 2 - Postponed due to rain. I always like to move the makeup game to a spot where it makes logistical sense in the schedule, so we'll be headed back to Buffalo on Wednesday, July 5 - the Beacons will be getting ready for a homestand to start, and we are visiting the Mets starting the next day.

April 6-7: Bees (5-4) vs. Houston Astros (5-5)
5-4 actually puts us in first place at the moment - we were tied with Houston at the end of the last update, but they played at Arizona and lost both games - I guess the Diamondbacks are back on track.

Game 1 - Jack Flaherty (0-0, 2.77) vs. Clayton Kershaw (0-2, 6.75)
HOU: SS Irizarry, 3B Hartung, RF Gutierrez, LF Martinez, 1B Bird, C Posey, CF DeLoach, 2B Vaughn, P Kershaw
SLC: CF Mesa, 2B Phyo, 3B Guerrero, RF Robles, 1B Ishihara, LF Shirah, C Phegley, SS Mota, P Flaherty

Our usual changes for a lefty starter; no Cottam or Maezes, and Ishi slides down below Robles... Kershaw had a tough matchup last time out against reigning Cy Young winner Wu-Shiun Chen and the Pirates, and gave up 5 first-inning runs... overall, the Houston pitching staff has been pretty poor... the game got off to a terrible start for Flaherty; well, actually, it started OK and then quickly spun out of control. With no one on and two outs, Ramon Gutierrez reached on an error by Ishihara at 1st that should have ended the inning. JD Martinez followed with a hit, and then Greg Bird sliced a ball the other way that just barely stayed fair and just barely topped the fence, a three-run shot. The next two batters reached with singles before Flaherty finally got Vaughn to end the frame... We got one back in the bottom half, Guerrero delivering a sac fly that scored Mesa... then the whole thing went to hell... Jack started the inning with three straight walks, the first being to the opposing pitcher Kershaw, and Gutierrez' two-run single that followed knocked him out. Griffin Canning came in to try to stop the bleeding, and utterly failed to do so... Martinez reached on another walk, and Bird reached on another error by Ishihara, and then Posey's grand slam made it 10-1. Unlike Bird's homer in the first, this one was no cheapie... seven runs in and still no one out, the Astros managed to scrape together another rally to get one more run, this one driven in by Irizarry... Martin Perez came in to finally stop the bleeding at 11-1... the game was basically over at this point even in the 2nd inning, but Houston added one more in the 5th and two in the 6th on an Irizarry HR... Salt Lake scratched up single runs in the 7th and 8th, the first on a wild pitch and the second on a double by Robles... and that's all she wrote.

PotG: Kenen Irizarry

Absolutely miserable game. On the plus side... only 9 of the 14 runs were earned thanks to Ishi's two errors.

Game 2 - Jonathan Holder (1-0, 3.09) vs. Gerrit Cole (1-0, 1.29)
HOU: SS Irizarry, 3B Hartung, RF Gutierrez, LF Martinez, 1B Bird, C Posey, CF DeLoach, 2B Vaughn, P Cole
SLC: CF Mesa, RF Robles, 3B Guerrero, 1B Ishihara, LF Shirah, C Cottam, 2B Maezes, SS Phyo, P Holder

Cole is off to a really great start, with only 2 runs allowed in 14 innings... both pitchers would work around trouble in each of the first two innings, with the Bees getting a runner into scoring position in both frames but nothing doing... same for Holder again in the third, Irizarry with a walk and a steal, but Hartung's single was hit too hard to score him from second and he would be stranded at third... the Bees finally connect in the third, and in a big way. Both Victors would reach, Mesa on a double and Robles on a single, putting men at first and third for Guerrero and bang! Vladdy's 5th home run of the year made it 3-0 Bees in the blink of an eye. Ishihara next and bang! Our two monsters go back-to-back for the first time this year (Morio's 4th HR) and it's 4-0... after a Shirah strikeout, Cottam would reach on a double in a ten-pitch at bat and would move up on Maezes' groundout, and after Phyo was intentionally walked Jonathan Holder came through with his first hit of the year to score Cottam! That was the death blow that ended Gerrit Cole's day and nearly tripled his ERA on the day... Holder would run into more trouble in the 5th, and the running theme comes up again as it all happened after the Astros had already made two outs... Irizarry doubled, and then Hartung doubled him straight back home. Holder threw a wild pitch while Gutierrez was up, and then walked him, and that was all... Griffin Canning on again to try to rescue us, and it went about as well as it did for him yesterday. He walks Martinez to load the bases, allows three straight bases-loaded singles to Bird, Posey, and DeLoach, the last one scoring the two tying runs, and only then gets Vaughn to end the inning. 5-5... after Canning allowed another single leading off the 6th, he's replaced by Gadsby who does his best to muck it up; Shirah drops a ball in left field hit by Irizarry, and then after a walk, Gutierrez gives Houston the lead with a 2 run double... Houston would tack on two more in the inning via a Martinez sac fly and Posey RBI single, making it 9-5... after making two outs in the bottom half of the 6th, the Bees would show some life... Robles walked and Guerrero singled before Ishihara was able to double them both home, and he was then knocked in by Shirah to make it 9-8... but the Astros would really put the game away in the 8th... 4 more runs in that frame, all charged to Ferrell, highlighted by Irizarry's two-run single... the Bees never really lost hope, though, with Ishihara driving in his 4th run of the game in the 8th, and then the team scoring two in the ninth and even bringing the tying run to the plate in the forms of Robles and Guerrero, but neither could get it done. 13-11.

PotG: Morio Ishihara

A completely miserable series that sees us fall below .500. I knew this was gonna be a tough couple of games, but that was difficult to watch. One thing that I haven't really touched on yet is our location - Utah is high-altitude, and the stadium that I'm using accounts for this, so it's pretty easy to hit here.

Martin Perez suffered an injury in this game pitching in the 9th, but it doesn't appear serious and he'll avoid the IL. After this game, SP Griffin Canning was optioned to AAA Hawaii and RP William Gonzalez was recalled. Canning will certainly be back, but he's been awful these few days and we need bodies. Matheny seems to prefer Shirah in the rotation at the moment so when the minor league season starts (next week) Canning can get some starts in.

April 8-9: Bees (5-6) vs. Monarques de Montréal (6-6)
Montréal is one of those middling teams that's just kinda there, you know? Kinda like the real-life Diamondbacks. Despite being .500 they have a -11 run differential in 12 games, so perhaps a bit lucky.

Game 1 - Michael Pineda (1-0, 1.50) vs. Javier Rivas (0-2, 5.40)
MTL: CF Dixon, LF Pillar, 3B Donaldson, 2B Martin, 1B Wolf, C Perez, SS Yeager, RF Anderson, P Rivas
SLC: SS Mota, RF Robles, 3B Guerrero, 1B Ishihara, CF Mesa, C Cottam, 2B Maezes, LF Granite, P Pineda

This is just Pineda's second start due to all the off days we've had and the rotation shuffling Matheny's already done... Rivas hasn't been terribly bad in either of his two starts, but has almost no run support to speak of. Of course, the team's probably got their ears perked up about being in the high altitude of Utah for the weekend... the Monarques were able to strike in the top of the 1st, Donaldson crushing a first-pitch homer to the opposite field, but that was the only baserunner... the real indignity came in the second inning, when, again after having no one on and two out, a rally came that was punctuated by the opposing pitcher's two-run single... The bottom of the Bees order would work one across in the second as well, Granite driving in Ishihara to put the Bees on the board at 3-1... both pitchers got into a real groove after that, and there wasn't a threat from either team until the Bees came up in the 6th... Guerrero singled and Mesa reached on a throwing error, but Cottam would ground out to end things... it would all go to pot in the next half-inning. I bet you can guess. Pineda retired the first two in order, but allowed a single to Pillar, and that was the end of his day... Justin Wilson came on and allowed two doubles, a walk to Wolf, and then a three-run home run courtesy of Salvador Perez, and suddenly it was 8-1... Salt Lake would claw back two of those after the stretch, a Robles single driving in Maezes and a Guerrero single driving in Mota, but 8-3 isn't much nicer than 8-1... and it's definitely not nicer than 12-3, which it was after Perez tattooed Ferrell for a mammoth grand slam in the ninth to really put it away.

PotG: Salvador Perez

It was noted after the game that Perez became the first Monarque to drive in 7 runs in a game. We're honored that we could make that happen for ya, Sal.

Game 2 - Will Shirah (1-0, 3.60) vs. Brandon Boone (0-2, 10.29)
MTL: CF Dixon, LF Pillar, 3B Donaldson, C Perez, 1B Wolf, 2B Martin, SS Yeager, RF Casey, P Boone
SLC: SS Mota, RF Robles, 3B Guerrero, 1B Ishihara, P Shirah, CF Mesa, 2B Maezes, C Cottam, LF Granite

Boone has given up 8 runs in just 7 innings over his two starts, so hopefully we can jump on him early like the Burros and Reds have... both teams got a hit in the first inning, but no more... both teams went 1-2-3 in the second... both teams got one baserunner in the third, but no score... and finally in the 4th, things start to diverge. Shirah set down the Monarques in order, and then the heart of the Bees' order got going... Robles led off with a double, and then Guerrero drove him in. Ishihara was plunked, and Shirah drew a walk to load the bases. Mesa dribbled a 1-2 pitch into the hole at short that resulted in an infield hit and a run, and Maezes was walked on 4 pitches. Still with no one out, Cottam grounded into a run-scoring 5-4-3 double play and Granite drove in the one remaining runner, Mesa, with a single, to make it 5-0... Montréal got one back in the fifth on a solo shot by Yeager... but Mota returned the favor, canceling out his shortstop counterpart leading off the fifth. It was Mota's first homer of the year and third of his major league career... Salvador Perez continued to terrorize the Bees, hitting his third home run in two days, this one a two-run shot to score Pillar, in the 6th... Shirah was finished after that sixth inning, with the team's first quality start since Flaherty's against the Cardinals... the Monarques would threaten in the 7th, but Blackwood and Gadsby combined to hold them scoreless... but in the 8th, Justin Wilson continued to struggle... consecutive hits by Pillar and Donaldson scored a run, and when Hermeling came in to face Perez, he did it again! Perez's fourth home run in the series tied the game at 6... yikes... there were still no outs at this point, but Hermeling finished the inning not scathed any further... the Bees squandered Ishihara's one-out double in the eighth... Miller came on to pitch the ninth (hasn't had a save situation in five days), and Guerrero committed an error in the inning but there were no hits. Finally a positive for Jared... in the bottom half of the ninth, Cottam reached on a 1-out single against Montréal's Colton Eastman after an eight-pitch AB, and after Granite's groundout moved him up to second, Luis Mota got his chance to be the hero... his single through the right side scored Cottam and sent the Bees home as walk-off winners!

PotG: Salvador Perez

When one guy hits 4 home runs for 11 RBI in a single two-game series against us, I can be happy with a split, definitely. This was a horrible week so it's a relief that we didn't lose every game...

Bees' Player of the Week: I almost said "pass" but the hitters had an alright week as a group - the failure was almost all on pitching. I'll choose 3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who could probably win this award every week but definitely earned it. He was 10-22 in the five games, with a home run and 7 RBI. It was either him or Victor Victor Mesa, who had 10 hits as well, and no strikeouts, but only 1 RBI. A great week for both guys, and for Ishihara as well to be honest.

On the Leaderboard:
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.: 4th in average(.418), T-4th in HR(5), T-6th in RBI(15), 3rd in SLG(.782), 2nd in OPS(1.232), 2nd in WAR(1.1), 4th in hits(23), 1st in TB(43)
Victor Victor Mesa: T-1st in SB(5)
Jonathan Holder: T-8th in strikeouts(21), 8th in BB/9 (1.1)


League News
April 3: Columbus 1B Alec Bohm suffered a fractured ankle in Monday's win over the Cardinals, and will miss 4 months. That's a real bummer for Columbus and for Bohm, who was off to a really fast start with 4 home runs in 9 games.
April 4: A pair of veteran pitchers have been ruled out for the season and need Tommy John surgery - San Diego's Ryan Yarbrough and Norfolk's Greg Holland. Neither is a major component of their team but they're names that we know, at least
April 9: Previously unsigned free agent SS Brandon Crawford gets a 1-year deal for $9.7MM from the Nationals.
April 9: Pittsburgh's Madison Bumgarner will be out three months with a partial labrum tear. A big blow to the Pirates, although if any team can battle through it they can.

Players of the Week:
Tampa Bay 2B Jose Altuve - 14-27, 1 HR, 8 RBI
West Texas LF Mike Trout - 11-24, 3 HR, 10 RBI

Next Week: we finish our homestand against the Marlins, then head out east to Philadelphia and Louisville.
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Old 01-08-2020, 03:34 PM   #17
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Week 3: April 10-16, 2023

April 10-11: Bees (6-7) vs. Miami Marlins (7-7)
The Marlins are .500, but they're trending up having won 5 of 7. An interesting team so far, they're 4th in the National League in scoring despite being 23rd in average and 28th in OBP. One of the main reasons? Long balls. Our pitching staff has currently given up the most homers in the NL, so gotta watch out for that.

Game 1 - Joey Lucchesi (1-0, 3.18) vs. Grayson Rodriguez (0-2, 12.75)
MIA: 2B McLain, RF Williams, 3B Mendoza, 1B Jenista, CF Hicks, C Jeffers, LF Goss, SS Ford, P Rodriguez
SLC: CF Mesa, RF Robles, 3B Guerrero, 1B Ishihara, LF Shirah, C Cottam, 2B Maezes, SS Phyo, P Lucchesi

12.75 ERA isn't great for Rodriguez - that's 17 runs allowed in 12 innings over 3 starts, for those keeping score at home... Lucchesi pitched well enough to win last Tuesday in Buffalo, but that was the game in which we allowed four runs in the bottom of the ninth to lose... both pitchers were able to work around two-out singles in the first inning by the respective third basemen... in a strange turn of events, both pitchers picked up an RBI infield hit in the second inning. Rodriguez got his with men on first and third with two outs, scoring Aaron Hicks, and Matt McLain followed by driving in Daniel Goss to put Miami up 2-0... Lucchesi came up with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom half, and hit a rocket to first that he managed to beat out, scoring Cottam... Mesa followed with a two-run knock to give Salt Lake the lead... after Robles' single re-loaded the bases, Guerrero hit a ground ball to short too slow to turn two, and Lucchesi scored a further run... Phyo would pick up an RBI single in the following inning, driving in Shirah who had doubled... we would continue our "death by a thousand cuts" approach in the fourth inning, consecutive singles by Ishihara, Shirah and Cottam producing another run to make it 6-2... Rodriguez would finally be knocked out by a Maezes single leading off the fifth, his 12th hit allowed in 4.0 innings, 11 of them singles... later in the inning, two outs and two walks left Guerrero at the plate in a key bases-loaded spot, and the big man came up big with a bases-clearing double off the wall in center. Ishihara would single him in two pitches later, and that put us into double digits, 10-2... Lucchesi would last 5.2 innings, allowing just the two runs on 7 hits, not super important to ride him here with a big lead... Miami began the 7th with three straight hits against recent callup William Gonzalez, but on the third, Victor Victor Mesa fielded the base hit in shallow center and fired a strike to the plate to nail Emmanuel Garcia, who had pinch-hit. That seemed to take the momentum out of Miami's sails... they would get only one more hit the rest of the way... Martin Perez pitched the 9th, so it seems like he's free of any effects from his minor injury.

PotG: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

A nice solid win, Lucchesi has been a steadying force for us thus far.

Game 2 - Jack Flaherty (0-1, 5.14) vs. Shane Carle (0-0, 3.09)
MIA: 2B McLain, CF McCall, 3B Mendoza, 1B Jenista, C Jeffers, LF Goss, RF Garcia, SS Ford, P Carle
SLC: SS Mota, RF Robles, 3B Guerrero, 1B Ishihara, LF Shirah, CF Mesa, 2B Maezes, C Cottam, P Flaherty

Only the second time through the rotation for Carle - I mentioned in the preview that the team is without Jeff Hoffman for the whole year, but they've also had two starters pick up injuries since the season started. They're without Jason Guse and Justin Jacome for now, and while Guse will be back soon, Jacome won't, so I think Carle gets a real shot at being a guy here... he got a no-decision in his previous start, a home win over Charlotte last Wednesday... Flaherty must rebound from his nightmare start Thursday against Houston, in which he didn't get an out in the 2nd inning... Flaherty works around a one-out single in the first inning... we squandered a first-inning opportunity ourselves, getting Mota and Robles on with hits, but the next three hitters all made outs... Flaherty labored through the second inning, allowing some long at bats, and was eventually burned, allowing a 2-run home run to Jon Ford... both pitchers were locked in for a while after that - from the home run on there wasn't another baserunner for either team until the bottom of the fifth, when Mesa led off with a single. He stole second and scored on Kole Cottam's base hit to cut the lead in half... the 3-4-5 hitters squandered another opportunity in the same situation in the sixth, with two men on and none out, no runs come in... Flaherty would ultimately retire 14 straight batters, a streak going from the 2nd inning to the 7th, before Ryan Jeffers grounded a single through the hole at short. Goss followed with another hit and that was all for Jack... Sam Bennerman came in in relief and couldn't keep Miami off the board, allowing one run to score to make it 3-1 Marlins... Carle continued to work efficiently, and made it into the ninth without allowing another run. With two outs in the ninth, the Bees finally started working on their rally. Shirah recorded a double, the first hit for the Bees since the sixth. That was finally it for Carle, who threw a very impressive 8.2 innings needing just 98 pitches to do so... Mesa rapped a single off of reliever Dan Altavilla to bring the winning run to the plate, but Altavilla got Maezes to chase one. Ballgame.

PotG: Shane Carle

Carle just had our number tonight, I think. We had multiple runners on without scoring a handful of different times tonight, but he just buckled down effectively. I can't be too mad about us not sweeping this series.

April 13-14: Bees (7-8) @ Philadelphia Phillies (10-6)
The Phils are off to a pretty good start, in 2nd place in the East behind the Burros. That's despite being banged up - Addison Russell has a broken thumb and will miss this series, as will Jameson Taillon (whose injury has not been publicly announced).

Game 1 - Jonathan Holder (1-0, 3.86) vs. Christian Ciuffetelli (1-0, 3.86)
SLC: SS Mota, RF Robles, 3B Guerrero, 1B Ishihara, LF Shirah, CF Mesa, 2B Maezes, C Phegley, P Holder
PHI: CF Tawa, 2B Reid, 3B Diaz, RF Polanco, 1B Stassi, C Jolly, SS Cozart, LF Byrd, P Ciuffetelli

By total coincidence, Holder and Ciuffetelli have the exact same record and ERA. Not the same inning and run totals, either (although they work out to the same fraction, they have each allowed one run for every seven outs they've gotten)... the Bees went out with an eye on raising that ERA quickly, putting a run across in the first inning. Robles put a ball into the right-center gap with one out, and with his speed it was an easy triple. Guerrero failed to bring him in with a popup, but Ishihara doubled into the other gap to score Robles. Shirah followed with a single that I thought would score Ishi, but we held him up at third for some reason with two outs... Mesa grounded to short and we left the inning with just one run... Holder would work around a two-out single in the first, and both teams went in order in the second... the top of the order produced another run for us in the 3rd, though a different combination, Mota being driven in by Guerrero's double... Holder walked the opposing pitcher on five pitches with one out in the third, and when you do that the other team wants to make sure to burn you for it. Ciuffetelli would come around to score when the next two Phillies, Tim Tawa and Chris Reid, each hit safely... Jonathan would get out of that jam without allowing the tying run, Tawa, to get home from third, so still 2-1... Holder needed a lot of pitches to break through the fourth inning, walking two Phils, but no score... the top of the order came up again to start the fifth for us, and that's been a good combination tonight. This time Robles walked, moved up on Guerrero's slow grounder, and scored on a single by Ishihara. Shirah walked on four pitches but Mesa came up short again... Holder was taken out after 5 innings, and I'm not quite sure why. Brian Gadsby came in for the 6th, and got through it unscathed despite a double and HBP, lowering his season ERA to 7.11... Ciuffetelli would exit after 6 innings allowing those three runs... Gadsby went back out for the 7th and got Philadelphia in order, this is a really promising outing for him after some early struggles... the Bees would put two runners on in the 8th but fail to score... Ah, no worries, Riley Ferrell's here to muck it all up in the bottom of the 8th. A one-out walk to Gregory Polanco is quickly followed by a Brock Stassi RBI triple, and Robert Jolly puts enough on a ball to centerfield to produce a game-tying sacrifice fly... the top of the ninth started promisingly, with Mota pushing a ground ball straight through the box for a base hit, and after a pitching change, new hurler Noah Song plunks Robles. Guerrero is up next, and he smashes a ball to the opposite field for a 3-run blast! Riley, you've been bailed out! 6-3 is still a save situation, though, and on comes Jared Miller to preserve it... Jared gave me a mini-heart attack by giving up a two-out double to Tim Tawa. I know this team's propensity to give up extended two-out rallies, but he got Reid to ground out to Maezes at 2nd to end the game!

PotG: Jonathan Holder

Game 2 - Michael Pineda (1-1, 3.55) vs. Luis Cruz (0-1, 8.38)
SLC: CF Mesa, 2B Phyo, 3B Guerrero, RF Robles, 1B Ishihara, C Phegley, SS Mota, LF Granite, P Pineda
PHI: CF Tawa, RF Polanco, 3B Diaz, LF Fagg, 1B Stassi, 2B Hernandez, C Jolly, SS Cozart, P Cruz

The Philly pitcher today, Luis Cruz, hasn't pitched in affiliated ball IRL since 2015, but here he's become an MLB mainstay due to the, well, doubled need for starting pitchers in a 60-team league. He's off to a really rough start - hasn't pitched into the sixth inning yet, and the one time he gave up fewer than 3 runs was in his first start, when he was pulled in the 2nd inning due to a minor injury... our guys must see something, since Mesa and Guerrero both went after him on the first pitch, Mesa for a single and Guerrero going deep for the second straight at bat after yesterday's heroics! 2-0 Bees... the bottom half of the first inning was really eventful. Phyo had to leave the game after Tawa ran into him on the basepaths (I thought we'd gotten rid of that?), replaced by Maezes. We'll have to see what the ramifications of that are going to be... after that, a Pineda wild pitch and an error by Ishihara put runners at the corners, but Mike was able to get out of it... the bottom of the Bees order got their shot in the second. Mota singled with one out, and when a wild pitch put him in scoring position, Granite scored him with a hit! Pineda bunted Zack up to second, and an error by another Zack (Cozart) put runners at the corners for Maezes, now in the game in Phyo's place. Well, he made good, pulling a double down the first-base line to score Granite and Mesa! That made it 5-0... in the 3rd, Phegley hit a towering fly ball the other way that just got out for his first home run of the year. Following a walk to Mota, Cruz was taken out of the game having thrown just 2.2 innings, continuing his poor start to the season... in the bottom of that third inning, the Phils loaded the bases on a walk, a single and another walk before Cesar Hernandez hit a ball into the hole at short for a run-scoring infield hit to make it 6-1... Maezes would strike again in the 4th inning, tripling home Mesa after he'd grounded an infield hit. Guerrero followed with a sac fly to score Travis... the Bees were finally held scoreless for the first time in the fifth... Pineda would be finished after 5 innings, I think in part because of the 8-1 lead we had at the moment... pinch-hitting for Pineda in the top of the 6th, Will Shirah finally cracked his first homer of the season! He sat today with a left-hander on the hill but made the most of his appearance against the righty long reliever Tanner Burns... Maezes later singled in that sixth, making him a home run short of the cycle despite not having started the game... in the 7th, white flags up, we let Martin Perez hit for himself and he came through with a two-run double! Mota had already driven in a run in the inning so that made it 12-1... Perez would give those two back in the bottom half, walking in a run and then allowing an infield single to Hernandez with the bases still loaded... Kole Cottam put the exclamation point on the end with a pinch two-run HR in the ninth... Maezes had two chances to complete his cycle but didn't get the homer.

PotG: Luis Mota

A really nice sweep over a team that'd been playing pretty well. That's how this Bees team is supposed to look! Now just to make sure that Phyo is all right...

Bees (9-8) @ Louisville Colts (10-8)
The Colts are just back from a six-game road trip which saw them go 4-2 against the Braves, Phillies and Blackbirds. Louisville has scored the 7th-most runs in the NL and has the 6th-best team ERA, so the pieces are there. I think this is the team that'll eventually win the NL South, but they're three games behind the hot-starting Lions at the moment. They're gonna be raring to go, because we eliminated them in the first round of the playoffs last season, winning game 4 at Louisville Slugger Field to finish the job.

Game 1 - Will Shirah (1-0, 4.09) vs. Luke Bartnicki (2-1, 2.76)
SLC: CF Mesa, 3B Guerrero, RF Robles, C Cottam, 1B Ishihara, 2B Maezes, P Shirah, LF Granite, SS Mota
LOU: RF Amaral, SS Rosario, 1B Aguilar, 2B Dozier, LF Yelich, 3B Northcut, C Kelly, CF Solarte, P Bartnicki

A bit of a weird lineup for the Bees on its face, but this is what we're going to roll out against lefties on DH days or when Shirah pitches. Bartnicki, amazingly, is a real-life teammate of Shirah's at Georgia Tech right now! What a weird coincidence... we lucked out slightly with the schedule, with Giancarlo Stanton set to return from injury on Monday against Washington and make his Colts debut... still no news on Min-Kyu Phyo, and I'm resisting the urge to check the editor to see if he's seriously hurt - he's still on the 26-man roster for now, but he won't play in this game... Shirah had a howler of an outing here, and I can give you the whole summary of it right now. The first five batters all reached, punctuated by a Brian Dozier 3-run home run to make it 4-0... Will finally retired Nick Northcut for the first out before Carson Kelly singled, Angel Solarte's groundout scored Yelich, and the pitcher Bartnicki doubled to make it 6-0. That was all for Will, and now we're left with our pitcher's spot being #7 before he even gets to take an at bat... William Gonzalez came in to pitch and settled things down nicely, working into the third without allowing a run... the Bees actually showed a little life in the second, getting a run across via a Maezes RBI single before stranding two runners... Robles had an RBI hit in the 3rd, but we ironically stranded the bases loaded when Gonzalez came up to hit for himself - it'd have been a lot scarier for Louisville if that were Shirah... Alexander Hermeling had to come in to rescue Gonzalez in the third after William loaded the bases, but got out of it... the Bees had men on first and third with one out in the 4th but couldn't score - we left 8 men on base in the first five innings. Bartnicki left after 4.1 innings, not pitching too well but also not giving up the runs... not much else going on through 6. The Salt Lake defense has turned a couple of nice double plays... more threats of offense in the 7th and 8th, but couldn't get it done either time... we petered out in the ninth.

PotG: Brian Dozier

A difficult game - it always is when your pitcher doesn't survive the first inning. We left 13 men on base, which is the real frustrating thing. I don't know if this is something I can track in OOTP, but it does seem like we leave more than our share of men on base.

On Sunday morning, we got the news that Phyo is day-to-day with back stiffness for a two-week period. We could continue to use him, but I think the DL will probably do him good (he's 33 years old). The guy that I'd LOVE to call up from AAA Hawaii to replace him with is 23-year-old 2B/RP Makenzie Stills - I really want to have two two-way players on the roster, but Stills also appears to have suffered a minor injury so he'll have to stay put. Instead, I've called up 1B Jerry Callejas, a Cuban who was excellent for us in 2020 but has really declined since that point. We didn't need to replace Phyo with a middle infielder because Te'Kwaan Whyte is more than capable in those two spots, and he hasn't played an inning in the field yet this season (11 pinch-hit appearances). I wouldn't want Callejas to play much, but he can be a pinch-hitting threat as well.

Game 2 - Joey Lucchesi (2-0, 3.18) vs. Jeremy Kuhn (1-1, 3.74)
SLC: CF Mesa, 3B Guerrero, RF Robles, LF Shirah, 1B Ishihara, C Phegley, 2B Maezes, SS Mota, P Lucchesi
LOU: RF Amaral, SS Rosario, 1B Aguilar, 2B Dozier, LF Yelich, C Kelly, CF Solarte, 3B Tolbert, P Kuhn

Kuhn was Louisville's opening day starter, and has pitched fairly well despite his lack of decisions... another lefty, so we see the lefty lineup again... Jesus Aguilar greeted Joey with a first-inning solo home run to put the Colts up... Kuhn was perfect his first time through the lineup - 9 up, 9 down for us... in the same period, Lucchesi had only allowed that one hit, so a bit of a pitcher's duel so far... we finally got our first baserunner in the 4th, Robles walking and Shirah reaching on an error by Amed Rosario, but no hits and no runs... Louisville threatened in their half of the fourth, with two on and no out, but Lucchesi induced a double play from Christian Yelich and got out of it... two on and no out again for the Colts in the fifth, and this time they'd scratch one across, Daniel Amaral plating Solarte on a groundout... the Bees would finally get a hit off Kuhn in the 6th, Mesa doubling with 1 out, but we would strand two in that inning... Ishihara singled leading off the 7th and that was surprisingly it for Kuhn - he had a high pitch count but was rolling. He leaves with just two hits allowed over 6 innings... Lucchesi would exit after 6.1 innings, giving way to Nolan Blackwood after walking pinch-hitter Albert Almora. Two runs on six hits for Joey, a solid outing but he's still in line for the L... Guerrero blasted a solo HR, his 8th, off of Nestor Molina in the 8th... Riley Ferrell came on to pitch the 8th for us, and I almost couldn't watch, but he got them 1-2-3... reigning NL Reliever of the Year Hidekazu Hirose on for the save with a 2-1 lead... Shirah strikes out, but Ishi walks on four pitches. Phegley pops one up to second, and Callejas comes in to pinch-hit for Maezes with the game on the line, and takes the first pitch to right field for a base hit! Now Cottam is on to pinch-hit for Mota - we're going to be in a bad spot defensively if we need to play the bottom of the ninth, we don't have any middle infielders left at all! I mean literally, Whyte already pinch-hit for Blackwood last inning... Cottam slices a 3-1 pitch down the right-field line, but it lands just foul, and strikes out on the 3-2! Heartbreaking!

PotG: Jeremy Kuhn

A tough loss to cap off an up-and-down week.

Bees' Player of the Week: A few good choices - Luis Mota had nine hits to push his average above the Mendoza line, William Gonzalez pitched well in relief, and Guerrero moved into first in a ton of offensive categories thanks to Mike Trout's bad week - but I'll go with SP Joey Lucchesi, who made two starts, totalling 4 runs over 12 innings, and who probably would've picked up two wins if not for the great start by Louisville's Kuhn on Sunday.

On the Leaderboard:
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.: 6th in AVG (.383), T-1st in HR (8), 1st in RBI (27), 1st in slugging (.765), 1st in OPS (1.175), 1st in WAR (1.4), T-3rd in hits (31), 1st in total bases (62),
Victor Victor Mesa: T-2nd in stolen bases (6)
Jack Flaherty: 2nd in K/BB ratio (7.7), T-8th in BB/9 (1.3)
Jonathan Holder: 8th in K/9 (11.0)


The line for a playoff spot is 11-9 at the moment, which is gonna improve eventually, and we're a game and a half behind that, so gotta move. New Mexico swept their whole week, all on the road in Milwaukee, St. Louis and Omaha, so we've got some catching up to do.

League News:
April 13: San Antonio SP Tim Perez is done for the year after a torn flexor tendon in his throwing elbow. That's a huge blow for the Marshals, losing their ace. We coincidentally won't actually play the Marshals until mid-June (will have seen most of our division rivals twice by then) so we'll be seeing a somewhat diminished San Antonio team going forward.
April 15: In a win for two-way players everywhere, San Diego SP/C/1B Mason Denaburg, playing first base, raps out 5 hits and has 5 RBI as the Padres crush the Diamondbacks 21-5
April 16: In a minor trade, Washington trades SS Zach Engelhart to Jacksonville for reliever Luke Shilling and outfield prospect Xavier Bussey. Engelhart had been made expendable by the Nats' signing of Brandon Crawford last week
April 16: I mentioned during the week that Phillies SP Jameson Taillon had been sidelined with an injury that we didn't know the severity of... well, he's done for the year with a torn UCL.

Players of the Week:
Portland 1B Joey Votto - 12-25, 3 HR, 8 RBI
Cincinnati LF Kyle Schwarber - 11-24, 3 HR, 6 RBI

Next Week: the last leg of this road trip is in Pittsburgh, then we come home to face Washington and Columbus. The schedule never lets up!
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Old 01-09-2020, 03:49 PM   #18
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Week 4: April 17-23, 2023

Before I start this week, I forgot to mention in the conclusion of last week that we were listed 41st in the power rankings, one spot down from the previous week. The current top 4 are all NL teams:

1. New York Burros (15-5)
2. Memphis Lions (14-6)
3. New Mexico Suns (13-7)
4. Houston Astros (13-7)
5. Oklahoma Oilers (13-7)
56. Milwaukee Brewers (6-14)
57. Austin Violets (6-14)
58. Cleveland Indians (6-14)
59. Arizona Diamondbacks (5-15)
60. Boston Red Sox (4-15)

Our AAA team, the Hawaii Islanders, is off to a perfect 6-0 start after sweeping Edmonton (Beavers) and St. Paul (Twins).

On with the week!

April 18-19: Bees (9-10) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (8-11)
Pittsburgh is struggling probably even harder than we are now, so maybe we can walk into a couple wins by just sucking less. According to the preseason projections, this should be the second-best team in the NL behind Buffalo (but Buffalo's also struggling mightily). The rotation is as good as advertised, but they haven't been able to hit enough for it to matter to this point. They're missing Madison Bumgarner, but that's something they could overcome. We won't see reigning Cy Young winner Wu-Shiun Chen in this series, luckily. The Taiwanese star pitched Saturday in a loss at Miami.

Game 1 - Jack Flaherty (0-2, 4.87) vs. Justin Davis (0-0, 3.00)
SLC: CF Mesa, C Cottam, 3B Guerrero, RF Robles, 1B Ishihara, LF Shirah, 2B Maezes, SS Mota, P Flaherty
PIT: SS Hanoian, LF Duplantis, C Realmuto, 3B Delmonico, RF Harris, 2B Asuaje, 1B Matheny, CF Sewald, P Davis

I don't think there's any relation between Pirates 1B Caiden Matheny and Bees manager Mike, but if anyone knows better I'm interested to know. Caiden is a freshman outfielder for the Washington Huskies ATM... Justin Davis is making just his 3rd start of the year, returning for this game after an issue with blisters on April 1... both pitchers breezed through the first inning, but Flaherty had slight trouble with the second. A walk to Jawuan Harris leading off was followed by another walk to Matheny and an RBI hit for Johnny Sewald... we would threaten in the top of the 3rd, with runners second and third and one out, but would not score... Pittsburgh tacks on two more in their half of the 3rd, Delmonico doubling home Realmuto and himself being knocked in by an Asuaje single... the Bees would finally strike fully in the 4th. Guerrero's leadoff double was followed by two straight walks to Robles and Ishi, and although Shirah's fly ball was not deep enough to get Vlad home, Maezes delivered with a clutch 2-run single to make it 3-2... We would tie it up in the fifth, with Mesa singling, advancing on a wild pitch and an error, and scoring on Guerrero's RBI knock. After another error loaded the bases with still no one out, Davis exited and the game was in the hands of Pittsburgh's less than stellar bullpen, but Bobby Arancibia proved at least one hater wrong (me) by retiring Ishihara, Shirah and Maezes in order... we would get to Arancibia the next time, though. Mota led off the sixth with a single, prompting Flaherty to sacrifice bunt. Even better though that he beat the play out at first! Mesa's single scored Mota, and after two outs were made, Flaherty scored another run on a passed ball with Robles at the dish... Flaherty put up his third straight 1-2-3 inning in the 6th, and at that point had retired 10 straight since Asuaje's RBI single in the 3rd... Matheny chose to pinch-hit for him in the 7th, though, with a man on first and two out. Te'Kwaan Whyte did draw a walk to bring up Mesa, but we would not score and I think our manager might regret that decision... Sam Bennerman out for the seventh, and with one out, pinch-hitter Bobby Wenthe walks, Tristan Hanoian singles, Antoine Duplantis doubles in Wenthe, and Delmonico's single drove in two more to turn our lead into theirs... both teams would go 1-2-3 in the 8th... CL Nick Goody on for the save with Pittsburgh leading 6-5... he strikes out Ishihara, but Shirah hits a dribbler right back to him and he flubs it for an error... Maezes walks in a seven-pitch PA in which none of the pitches were in the zone... Goody gets Mota to strike out swinging, and then pinch-hitter Zack Granite does the same. That's all she wrote...

PotG: Nicky Delmonico

A bummer of a game, I had thought once we took the lead that we'd be able to hold onto it.

Game 2 - Jonathan Holder (1-0, 3.38) vs. Rogelio Rios (2-0, 1.59)
SLC: SS Mota, RF Robles, 3B Guerrero, 1B Ishihara, LF Shirah, CF Mesa, 2B Maezes, C Cottam, P Holder
PIT: SS Hanoian, LF Duplantis, C Realmuto, 3B Delmonico, RF Harris, 2B Asuaje, 1B Matheny, CF Sewald, P Rios

Rios replaced Bumgarner in the rotation after his injury, and this is his second start of the season. Both his wins, strangely, came in relief... an auspicious start, we loaded the bases with no one out in the first inning and failed to score... in our half of the third, Guerrero drew a walk in an extended plate appearance, and Ishihara's double into the gap brought him all the way around to score. Morio himself was then brought in by a Mesa knock to make it 2-0... Holder allowed his first hit leading off the third to Sewald, and after two outs he allowed two more singles to Duplantis and Realmuto, scoring Sewald to make it 2-1... we got the run back in the 4th, Cottam scoring on a Mota groundout... we would get one hit each in the fifth and sixth but fail to capitalize on anything further... Rios left after 5.2 innings with 3 runs allowed on 9 hits... Holder escaped a jam in the bottom of the sixth allowing two singles but no runs... Bennerman would relieve Holder to start the 7th, and although he had two baserunners reach there were no runs, so that's some of the bad taste from yesterday gone... both teams went 1-2-3 in the 8th... Mota and Ishihara would both reach base in the 9th, but Shirah flew out to left to finish that rally... now Jared Miller on for the save. Matheny leads off with a hit, so at least if Miller's gonna blow it he's gonna do it fast. He does get Sewald to strike out, and I stand corrected! Pinch-hitter Matt Davidson grounds into a game-ending 5-4-3 double play!

PotG: Jonathan Holder

So, we split the road trip. Two wins in Philly, two losses in Louisville and a split here at PNC Park. Time to head back home for the Nationals!

April 20-21: Bees (10-11) vs. Washington Nationals (11-11)
As we arrive home, the Nats are finishing up a hellish road trip that saw them go to Los Angeles, then Louisville, then here to Salt Lake, all expected playoff teams. They lost both in LA and split with the Colts, so the road trip could still be decent or wind up being dreadful.

Game 1 - Michael Pineda (2-1, 3.06) vs. Mike Leake (2-1, 1.69)
WSH: 2B Mack, 1B Brickhouse, 3B Ramirez, LF Mancini, RF Neustrom, C Ramos, SS Crawford, CF Leonora, P Leake
SLC: SS Mota, RF Robles, 3B Guerrero, 1B Ishihara, CF Mesa, C Cottam, 2B Maezes, LF Granite, P Pineda

Nice to see Granite in there. Shirah has been awful as a hitter this year and Granite is the much better outfielder... this'll be Mike Leake's first time facing the Bees, having spent every season prior to this one in Seattle... the first inning starts off poorly, a Charles Mack single being converted by Jose Ramirez' two-run shot off Pineda... one back in the bottom half though. With two out and Robles on first, he steals second and then scores on Ishihara's single to cut the lead in half... in the second, things started to go really wrong. Crawford leads off with a double, followed by Ericson Leonora singling just over Maezes' outstretched glove at second, and Pineda feels something in his back. We'll have to wait for a real report after the game, but he's done after just eight batters, and William Gonzalez comes in... one of the inherited runners does score for Washington, on a Mack groundout, but Gonzalez gets out of the jam by picking off Spencer Brickhouse, who he had walked... in the bottom half it all goes wrong for Washington! With one out, Maezes singles, Granite singles, putting runners at the corners, and instead of bunting, William Gonzalez pulls the bunt back and slaps a slow ground ball to third that Ramirez can't make a play on, scoring Travis Maezes. After Mota's fly ball, too shallow to advance either runner, Robles pulls a ball just fair down the left-field line for a home run! Just like that, the Bees have the lead! Within 4 pitches, we've got another run - Guerrero's single is immediately followed by an Ishihara double to score him... that would be it for Leake. 1.2 innings, 6 runs allowed on 8 hits... the Nationals would get a couple back in the top of the 3rd, Leonora driving in both Trey Mancini and Robert Neustrom with a single to make it 6-5... Washington reliever Juan Paniagua would finally record the first scoreless half-inning in our half of the third, and Charles Mack tied the game with a leadoff HR in the 4th... we Bees would grab the lead back in the 5th on a two-run HR by Kole Cottam, his 3rd of the year... three batters later, it would be the second RBI hit for a Bees reliever today, this time Nolan Blackwood popping an RBI single past short in his first big league at bat, scoring Granite to give us a 9-6 lead... and Guerrero would get in on the party as well, leading off the 6th with his ninth home run of the year... we would load the bases with no outs in the bottom of the 7th inning, but tack on just one more run with Robles grounding into a double play that scored Granite... Martin Perez pitched the final two innings without any incident!

PotG: Zach Granite

A big win for us, pulling through after Pineda's injury in the second inning. It turns out, he's just day-to-day and will not require a DL stint, but we may need to come up with a spot starter for next Tuesday's game.

Game 2 - Will Shirah (1-1, 8.49) vs. Ben Onyshko (0-3, 5.00)
WSH: 2B Mack, 1B Brickhouse, 3B Ramirez, LF Mancini, RF Neustrom, C Ramos, SS Crawford, CF Leonora, P Onyshko
SLC: CF Mesa, P Shirah, 3B Guerrero, RF Robles, 1B Ishihara, C Phegley, 2B Maezes, LF Granite, SS Mota

I absolutely love that the AI can construct a lineup that looks like ours does today. I'm gonna have a new fuzzy feeling every time I see Shirah hitting in a new spot in the order... he's been pretty awful on both sides of the ball, though - you can see his 8.49 ERA, which more than doubled in his last start when he couldn't breach the first inning at Louisville, but he has also been below replacement level at the plate so far, hitting only .186 through 20 games played, so he needs to start showing his worth... Shirah was off to a shaky start in the first with singles from Mack and Brickhouse starting the game off, but he got Ramirez to hit into a double play and got out of it... Victor Victor Mesa led off for us with a double off the wall in right, but he'd be stranded at third... the opposing pitcher Onyshko tagged Shirah for a single through the hole on the right side, putting runners at the corners in the 2nd, but again Will would get through it... both teams went down 1-2-3 in the third and we were still scoreless to that point... the Nationals would load the bases in the fourth, on consecutive singles by Wilson Ramos, Crawford and Leonora, leading to another triumph for Ben Onyshko, who put a double over Mesa's head in center to score two. At this point, Shirah was 0-2 in the game and Onyshko is 2-2 with the game's only two RBI. Not how I expected this would go... Salt Lake's first big threat came in the fourth, singles by Guerrero and Ishihara putting runners at the corners with one out, but Phegley and Maezes would both strike out swinging... Shirah would not come out for the fifth, and I'm not quite sure why. He's not injured and his pitch count wasn't super high, but he exits anyway with two runs on eight hits over 4 innings... even when the Bees get on the board, it comes at a cost. Robles walked leading off the 6th, and scored on Phegley's double, but Phegley tweaked something in his back running the bases and had to be replaced by Cottam. We have a short bench today with Shirah having pitched and that just makes it shorter... Ben Onyshko would slap another double, this one leading off the 7th, but he'd be left standing at third. What a day for the Nats pitcher, maybe fired up by going up against a two-way player on the mound... the Bees would threaten in the 7th, putting Mota and Guerrero on with a hit and a walk, but would not score... Washington would have its two-run lead restored by a Wilson Ramos home run in the 8th... Brett Cecil (!) is coming on for the save in the bottom half of the ninth, but the Bees have used every position player in their arsenal already and the pitcher's spot comes up third in this half. Brian Gadsby pitched the 9th, so he may be grabbing a bat... Mota starts the inning with a bloop single that just falls between short and center. Mesa sends a ball deeep to right field that gets the crowd on their feet, but what would have been the tying home run instead dies on the warning track in Neustrom's glove... so Brian Gadsby does grab a bat in this crucial situation. I wondered if we might pinch-hit with a starting pitcher in this spot, since they're more used to hitting... not a very inspired at bat from the Salt Lake reliever. After one swing, that even on the simplified view we get in OOTP looked really feeble, he watched the next two go right by for a backwards K. It's Guerrero's turn now... a riveting at-bat. I don't normally watch pitch-by-pitch but I decided to for this one. Vlad fouled the first two pitches off to the right side, and then took two straight balls low and away, Cecil wanting a chase. He then fouled off three straight pitches all straight back at the screen to stay alive before putting the eighth pitch in the air, a medium-length fly ball right at Leonora in center field to end the game.

PotG: Ben Onyshko

So, another split, and we fall back below the .500 mark.

Josh Phegley's injury turns out to be a minor one - just 3 days worth of back stiffness - but he's hitting so poorly right now (.111, an OPS of .397, albeit in just 29 plate appearances) that I'm gonna give him a DL stint just to see what we get out of a different catcher.

We made a handful of roster moves prior to Saturday's game, the series opener against Columbus. C Josh Phegley was placed on the 10-day IL and C Aaron Ackerman was called up to replace him. Ackerman will be making his Bees debut, but he has appeared in the majors every year of this save, playing in 184 games over five years with the Mets. In addition, we made a trade with the Dodgers, acquiring LHP Brad Hand in exchange for RHP Brian Gadsby. That's us taking on only about an additional $1 million in salary to get a bit better and strengthen the left side of our bullpen as Justin Wilson has been pretty horrible thus far. We also claimed LHP Tim Hill off of waivers from the 66ers, but I had put the claim in before exploring the Hand trade so I may pop him straight back onto the waiver wire. At any rate, we have 10 days to decide what to do with him.

April 22-23: Bees (11-12) vs. Columbus Explorers (15-9)
The Explorers are on a real hot streak and find themselves atop the NL North. They've never finished higher than 4th in the division. There's no one signature calling card for this team - they just look above average at everything so far. I've mentioned that they're dealing with two catastrophic injuries to their star catcher and 1B, Nick Fortes and Alec Bohm, but the replacements have played well, especially C Luke Hancock.

Game 1: Saturday rainout! We'll give it another shot on Sunday and try to play a doubleheader.

DH Game 1: Joey Lucchesi (2-1, 3.09) vs. Zach Davies (2-2, 6.49)
CLB: CF Carroll, 3B Hale, LF Misner, 1B Dacey, C Hancock, 2B Aldrete, RF Pagan, SS Shea, P Davies
SLC: SS Mota, RF Robles, 3B Guerrero, 1B Ishihara, LF Shirah, CF Mesa, 2B Maezes, CF Cottam, P Lucchesi

Davies has been the worst of the Columbus starters to this point, but he pitched well in his last start, a win over Houston. He's a two-time defending Gold Glove winner in the NL, so don't hit it to him... the Bees would strike first in the bottom of the 2nd, two one-out singles by Robles and Guerrero, followed by a balk, allowed Robles to score on Ishihara's groundout... but Lucchesi would fall apart in the 2nd inning. Matt Dacey reached on a Guerrero error, Hancock singled, Carter Aldrete drew a walk to load the bases, Ezequiel Pagan hit a sharp single to score one, Josh Shea drew a bases loaded walk, pitcher Zach Davies even slapped a hard single to left to score another, Corbin Carroll's infield hit kept the carousel rolling, and Damone Hale scored two by singling down the first-base line. That's the first eight batters reaching safely, and 6 runs scored. Lucchesi done after getting only three outs... as has so often been the case lately, William Gonzalez is on to save our arms, and he gets all three outs without allowing any more... we had a hit each in the second and third innings, but nothing doing... some life in the 4th. Mesa's one-out triple got things rolling; he was singled home by Maezes, and Cottam followed with another hit. Martin Perez bungled a sac bunt against the Gold Glover Davies, Maezes forced out at third, but both Cottam and Perez would score on RBI hits from Mota and Robles respectively. 6-4, but Cottam injured himself while crossing the plate. More on that later... Columbus got one right back with an RBI single from Shea in the 5th... neither team really threatened until the Columbus 7th, when the Explorers got two men on against Bees debutant Brad Hand, but he got out of it... Kameron Misner tacked on an insurance run in the 8th, an RBI single scoring Carroll against Nolan Blackwood... the Bees drew two walks in the 8th but couldn't convert them to runs... there was something of a rally in the 9th. Pinch-hitter Te'Kwaan Whyte tripled and scored on Mota's base hit, and after a fielder's choice Guerrero singled to bring the tying run to the plate with one out. But Ishihara grounded into a double play on the first pitch, icing this game.

PotG: Carter Aldrete

Cottam's injury turns out to just make him day-to-day for a few days, and thank goodness for that! We just put Phegley on the DL Friday. We'll have Ackerman catch the next few days, I suppose, with Cottam available on the bench in a dire situation... now time for game 2.

DH Game 2: Jack Flaherty (0-2, 4.78) vs. Ryan Rolison (2-0, 4.28)
CLB: CF Carroll, 1B Dacey, 2B Cortes, LF Misner, 3B Hale, SS Aldrete, RF Brundage, C Navin, P Rolison
SLC: CF Mesa, 3B Guerrero, RF Robles, LF Shirah, 1B Ishihara, 2B Maezes, SS Mota, C Ackerman, P Flaherty

Rolison is a nice-looking young pitcher. IRL he was the first-round pick of the Rockies in 2018, 22nd overall, and finished 2019 at High-A. In this expanded MLB, he was a 2018 September callup for Columbus and was already racking up WAR in 2019. A 2020 All-Star, he hasn't been quite as good as his first two seasons were since but he's got a nice curveball... Columbus got off to a hot start, loading the bases with one out off of Flaherty to set up Aldrete's two-run single, scoring Dacey and Carlos Cortes... but we would answer right back. Mesa and Guerrero started the first with two singles, and after two outs, Ishihara answered with a three-run bomb! Flaherty would allow a hit each in the second and third but no more runs, and in the meantime, Ackerman took advantage of his first start, driving a first-pitch double into the right-center gap, and scoring on a Mesa single... the Explorers would cut the lead in half in the fourth, Spencer Navin scoring on a hit by Carroll... in the fourth, the Bees would explode. With one out, Ackerman singled and Flaherty bunted him over to second, and the last out wouldn't be made until Flaherty came up again. Mesa singled, Guerrero doubled both runners home. That would be it for Rolison, who went just 3.2 innings allowing 7 runs on nine hits. Robles singled, scoring Guerrero, and after a lengthy at bat, Will Shirah went up and out for his second hit of the game and second home run of the year making it 9-3! Ishihara then singled, Maezes doubled him all the way around, and Mota singled him home. Ackerman would follow with a single and the third pitcher of the inning finally got Flaherty to ground out to end the inning after 7 runs... it looked as though the Bees would tack on more in the fifth but the rally was killed by Robles' grounding into a double play... Flaherty ran out of gas in the sixth. Navin, pinch-hitter Austin Dennis and Carroll all singled, and Dacey doubled, putting two runs home, and Jack got the hook with an 11-5 lead. With runners on second and third, Hermeling allowed a two run single to Carlos Cortes but avoided further damage... the Bees would put together one further rally in the seventh. Ackerman led off with a single, advanced on pinch-hitter Granite's grounder, and scored on Mesa's hit. Mesa would advance on a Guerrero hit and a groundout and score on a wild pitch from Columbus' Mateo Gil... Riley Ferrell allowed three hits over the final two innings but no runs.

PotG: Victor Victor Mesa

Another split, so we split all three series this week. On the plus side, we split a doubleheader today while every other team in the Central lost, so we did actually gain some ground on the day, and gained one game on division leaders New Mexico on the week.

Bees' Player of the Week: Another magnificent week for Vlad Jr., but right on his level this week was CF Victor Victor Mesa - 12-26 with a double, a triple, a stolen base and 4 RBI, with only 1 strikeout.

On the Leaderboard:
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.: 1st in average (.404), T-1st in HR (9), 1st in RBI (31), 10th in OBP (.432), 1st in slugging (.734), 1st in OPS (1.166), 1st in WAR (1.8), 1st in hits (44), T-5th in runs scored (22), 1st in stolen bases (80)
Victor Victor Mesa: 5th in average (.379), 9th in OBP (.434), T-5th in hits (39), T-3rd in steals (7)

Four weeks in and Vlad Jr.'s got hold of the Triple Crown at the moment. Way too early to really think about that as a real pursuit but it's something to monitor this year. Mesa's monster week sees him crack a few leaderboards he wasn't on last week.

Minor League Bees:
Our three minor league affiliates in play are all crushing it, with a combined 33-8 record and all in first place, both in the standings and in their respective power rankings!


League News:
April 23: The Astros announced that both SP Felix Hernandez and RP Kyle Grana were being shut down for the season. Felix suffered a torn rotator cuff in Miami on Friday night, and you wonder if that could be it for him. He's always been much younger than I thought he was (in 2023, now 37) so there's a possibility we could see King Felix again. He'll be a free agent - he had a vesting option for next season requiring 25 starts which will now not be met. Grana, 31, has a partially torn UCL. A less well-known piece for Houston, but he had appeared in 12 games for them.
April 23: Angels RP Mark Melancon announced he will retire at the end of this season. Melancon was the closer in Milwaukee from 2018-2020, and made the 2020 All-Star team, made 82 appearances for the 2022 Twins, and has yet to allow a run for the Angels yet this year in 4 games. The 38-year old has put up 17.2 career WAR and played for eight different clubs.

Players of the Week:
Oklahoma 3B Alex Bregman - 13-25, 2 HR, 11 RBI
San Antonio 1B Kevin Woodall - 9-16, 4 HR, 7 RBI

Power Rankings:
Despite a 3-3 week, we were playing some tough competition, and I think the Power Rankings recognize that, because we jumped up nine spots to #32. Both the top and bottom of the league were dominated by the AL:

1. Sacramento Solons (18-8)
2. New York Burros (19-7)
3. Oklahoma Oilers (18-8)
4. Seattle Mariners (18-8)
5. New Orleans Crescents (16-8)
56. Arizona Diamondbacks (8-18)
57. Austin Violets (8-18)
58. Colorado Rockies (8-18)
59. Cleveland Indians (7-19)
60. Boston Red Sox (5-20)

Next Week: interleague play begins! It'll last from now until about the end of June, with 24 interleague games in total. We'll start interleague play with a visit from the Jacksonville Anchors, then finish up this homestand against the Mets before heading to Charlotte for the weekend.

Last edited by Ruwisc; 01-09-2020 at 03:52 PM.
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Old 01-10-2020, 03:23 AM   #19
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Week 5: April 24-30, 2023

April 24-25: Bees (12-13) vs. Jacksonville Anchors (10-16)
Not much was expected of the Anchors this year, and they've matched those expectations. Their win over Indianapolis yesterday snapped an eight-game losing skid in which they were swept by Minnesota, Las Vegas and Nashville. Their offense has been OK, a middling one in the AL, but the pitching that buoyed them to a .500 record last season has evaporated. Marquee free agent signing Josh Bell has been their best hitter, probably, though Domingo Santana is also doing well.

Because I play GM-only, I have to deal with AI Mike Matheny's idiosyncracies, and right now he's deciding he wants to try Jonathan Holder in the bullpen. I can't for the life of me figure out why, and he won't let me override him on this. Because he now doesn't want to start Holder, he sees the best choice for today's game to be a banged-up Michael Pineda on short rest. So, I do have to go get a spot starter after all. SP Griffin Canning returns from Hawaii, and RP William Gonzalez will go back down. William has actually pitched well, but he's the guy in the bullpen without a real niche. He'll certainly be back, probably soon.

Game 1 - Griffin Canning (1-1, 6.48) vs. Michael Sandborn (1-1, 5.73)
JAX: 2B Paris, CF Nimmo, 1B Bell, RF Santana, LF Stowers, 3B O'Donnell, C Pages, SS Engelhart, P Sandborn
SLC: CF Mesa, C Cottam, 3B Guerrero, RF Robles, 1B Ishihara, LF Shirah, 2B Maezes, SS Mota, P Canning

Oh yeah, I also can't stop Mike from playing Cottam, even though he's banged up. Thankfully Kole will be back to full strength by about Friday... Canning worked around a Josh Bell double in the first... three singles would produce a run for us in the bottom half, with Robles driving in Mesa... Canning would allow three baserunners in the 3rd inning, but because they sandwiched a double play no harm done... we would double our lead in the 3rd, Cottam's triple converted by a Guerrero hit... but Jacksonville took it back in their half of the 4th. Zack O'Donnell doubled and was driven in by Zach Engelhart. I wonder if they have arguments about the spelling of their names. I'm a Zach myself and I feel really strongly about it... Sandborn would come apart in the 4th. Shirah's ten-pitch walk was a big start, and after Maezes struck out, Mota slapped a ball in the hole that Engelhart could only knock down. Canning successfully bunted both men over, but it wouldn't matter - Victor Victor Mesa smacked his first home run of the season to grow the lead to 5-1! Sandborn would exit there, only pitching 3.2 innings, with 5 runs on 7 hits... But again, Jacksonville would answer immediately, and in fact identically. Domingo Santana's 3-run shot got the Anchors within a run... Reliever Luis Cabrera would strike out Guerrero and Robles to start the 5th, but Ishihara got him for a solo shot, his second in as many games... Canning would be done after five, well done for him coming in to start on short notice... not to be outdone, Guerrero added his own home run leading off the 7th, his league-leading tenth... the Bees would add two more, Robles' triple leading to an RBI for Maezes and Ishihara driven in by pinch-hitter Joe Breaux... the Anchors would get a hit each in the 8th and 9th but never really threaten.

PotG: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

With his 4-5 day, Vlad Jr. has cracked the 2 WAR mark for the season in just 26 games!

Game 2 - Michael Pineda (2-1, 4.34) vs. Jairo Pacheco (1-0, 15.00)
JAX: 2B Paris, CF Nimmo, 1B Bell, RF Santana, C Curry, LF Bradfield, SS Engelhart, 3B O'Donnell, P Pacheco
SLC: CF Mesa, C Cottam, 3B Guerrero, RF Robles, 1B Ishihara, LF Shirah, 2B Maezes, SS Mota, P Pineda

Pacheco has had a fascinating year already - he's been claimed off waivers four times and the season is barely a month old! He started the year with the Blackbirds (where he was a starter all last year), but was claimed by Arizona, Hartford, Arizona again and now Jacksonville. In all that time, he only made three relief appearances, so this is his first start of 2023. Despite going over to the AL, he's facing one of his old division rivals. Michael Pineda is finally back to 100%, and pitching today on regular rest... Michael worked around a Brandon Nimmo hit in the first inning... just like yesterday, Mesa would single leading off the game and come around to score, this time when Guerrero reached on an error... Maezes and Mota singled to start the second, and even though Pineda's bunt attempt was caught on the fly, they would still both score on RBI hits from Mesa and Guerrero respectively... Pacheco would not get an out in the third. Ishihara, Shirah and Maezes all had hits, producing two runs, and that was it for Jairo... Victor Victor Mesa would get Maezes around for a third run, making it 6-0. Hm... 1 run in the first, 2 in the second, 3 in the third... are we gonna win 36-0? Well, Easton Lucas would settle things down for the Anchors, retiring us in order in the 4th and 5th, so I guess not... in total, Anchors relievers would retire 13 straight Bees from the 3rd through the 7th... Jacksonville would get on the board in the 7th, Engelhart doubling to score Santana... RJ Alvarez had entered this game having still not allowed a run all year, but we'd get to him in a big way in the 8th... Alvarez would face 6 batters and be charged with 5 runs. Shirah opened the inning with a solo HR, finally pushing his average above .200. Maezes, pinch-hitter Granite, and Mesa all had hits, and Cottam was plunked, before Guerrero singled off Dan Otero to score two more. After a strikeout of Robles, Ishihara crushed a 3-run home run, his third in three games, and Shirah followed with his second solo home run of the inning to put the capper on an 8-spot. Jacksonville would get one off of Hermeling in the 9th but it barely mattered.

PotG: Will Shirah

Just our third series win of the year, but we've only lost three as well (counting the one game played in Buffalo as a "series"). We're back above .500 as well, for the first time since we were 9-8.

I ultimately decided LHP Tim Hill wasn't gonna stick with this roster after our acquisition of Brad Hand, and so he goes back onto waivers. We also sent SP Griffin Canning back to Hawaii and recalled RP William Gonzalez with our rotation crunch solved.

April 27-28: Bees (14-13) vs. New York Mets (15-13)
The Mets have lost three of four on their current road trip, through New Mexico and Philly, and will visit us and the White Sox before going back home, so a tough stretch. Their bullpen has been horrid, 29th in the NL in ERA, while their starters were 10th. They've been a below average offensive team so far too, so I think it might depend on which starters we hit, and lo and behold, we're getting their #4 and #5 guys.

Game 1: Will Shirah (1-2, 7.47) vs. Rodney Hutchison (2-0, 3.00)
NYM: CF McCarthy, SS Nunez, LF Adams, C Contreras, 3B Diaz, 2B Trinkwon, 1B Infante, RF Martinelli, P Hutchison
SLC: SS Mota, RF Robles, 3B Guerrero, 1B Ishihara, P Shirah, CF Mesa, 2B Maezes, C Cottam, LF Granite

Shirah's gotta get himself figured out on the pitching side pretty soon... Hutchison is actually having a pretty solid season so far, going pretty deep into games and keeping scores low. It looks like he's been burned by the Met bullpen or he'd have a better record... Jake McCarthy is one of the NL's better leadoff men, and he tripled to lead off this game. Nasim Nunez would drive him in on the next pitch... we would strand runners on second and third in the bottom half... Shirah hit two consecutive batters in the second, but didn't suffer for it... the middle of the Bees order struck well the next time they came up. With two out and a man on first, Guerrero singled ahead of Ishihara's three-run home run! That extends Ishi's home run streak to a really impressive four games... Shirah would give the lead straight back, though, allowing a double followed by three singles in the 4th. The last single came with a throwing error by Mesa in center that allowed the go-ahead run to score, making it 4-3... but these Bees hitters don't go away. Maezes and Cottam hit consecutively in the 4th, and Mota's hit got them both home to flip the lead back over to us! Shirah would exit after 5 with 4 runs allowed, and that would actually lower his ERA slightly... Brad Hand allowed the first two to reach in the 6th, but got out of it impressively. Kole Cottam's 4th home run doubled our lead in the bottom half... Holder would get the 7th and 8th, and though the Mets had two on in the 8th the lead held at 6-4... Miller needed a lot of pitches to do it, and he walked a man, but he gets the save unscathed!

PotG: Morio Ishihara

Game 2 - Jack Flaherty (1-2, 6.03) vs. Adam Morgan (1-1, 7.52)
NYM: CF McCarthy, SS Nunez, LF Adams, C Contreras, 3B Diaz, RF Martinelli, 1B Infante, 2B Trinkwon, P Morgan
SLC: CF Mesa, C Cottam, 3B Guerrero, RF Robles, 1B Ishihara, LF Shirah, 2B Maezes, SS Mota, P Flaherty

Morgan is coming off of his worst start of the year, 5 runs in 2 innings at New Mexico last Saturday. He still walked away with a no-decision, though, because the Mets had staked him to a 5-0 lead... Jack also had a tough time last time out, in game 2 of the Columbus doubleheader, where he allowed 7 runs over 5 innings... neither team would get a hit in the first two innings, though. Morgan walked two, while Flaherty was perfect. In the third, Julian Infante and Brandon Trinkwon started the inning with singles, and Morgan bunted them into scoring position, but neither McCarthy nor Nunez could come through... Flaherty had the first Bees hit, coming in the 3rd, and he came all the way around to score on a double by his catcher Cottam. Guerrero followed Kole with a single to plate him and make it 2-0... the Mets would score one in the fourth, with doubles on consecutive pitches from Danny Diaz and David Martinelli... we would counter that run with one in the bottom half, though, with Shirah scoring on a groundout by Mota... Morgan would last just four innings, a high-ish pitch count, but only 3 runs - overall, that'd lower his ERA... we wasted a golden opportunity in the sixth, squandering a bases loaded chance with just one out... all would become good in the 7th. Cottam and Guerrero reached with no out, and Shirah would slice a double against former Bee Devan Watts to score them both and make it 5-1... Flaherty finally ran out of gas in the 8th. 3 hits produced another run, and Matheny went to Riley Ferrell to stop the bleeding at 5-2... I had missed this name when checking the Mets roster earlier, so imagine my surprise when Stephen Strasburg came in to pitch the 8th! He's a very, very expensive middle reliever right now. The Mets are paying him $35 million this year, but lucky for them next year is a team option with a buyout 15% of that size... Anyway, he walked the bases loaded in the 8th, but struck out Guerrero and Robles to get out of it... Miller on for the save, and he hits David Martinelli with his first pitch... a strikeout of Infante, and then Matheny surprisingly goes back to the pen. On comes Hand, who then hits Trinkwon with a pitch and walks pinch-hitter Ty Blankmeyer to put the tying run on... McCarthy gets a hit that scores Martinelli, and that'd be it for Hand, no outs recorded... Sam Bennerman on to try to actually close it out up 5-3, with the bases loaded and one out. Nunez chops a ball at Maezes too slow to turn two, so Trinkwon scores and the tying run goes up to third... Bennerman then walks Caleb Adams to put the go-ahead run in scoring position, but coerces a groundout from Willson Contreras to secure the series. It wasn't pretty but it was a win!

PotG: Will Shirah

It doesn't feel like we've won five in a row, but we have! We're only a half-game behind the Suns now, headed into our weekend set with the reeling Flyers.

April 29-30: Bees (16-13) @ Charlotte Flyers (12-18)
The Flyers have been a really streaky team thus far. They started 3-10, then won 8 of 9, and have now lost 7 of 8. Although, the teams they played during their hot streak were all bad, so maybe they can just beat other bad teams. They're ranked 20th in the NL in both runs scored and allowed, but it's a bit more interesting than that - their starters are much better than their bullpen, and offensively they rely on the long ball. You would think that single-season record holder Matt Olson (61 HR in 2020) would lead the way, but he's been terrible so far! He only has 1 HR and is slugging just .262! That translates to below replacement level. Hope he doesn't figure it out this weekend... the team is still without SS Addison Barger and CF JaCoby Jones. In their absence, the offensive star is Tyler Wade.

Game 1 - Joey Lucchesi (2-2, 4.81) vs. Steven Farinaro (2-1, 4.18)
SLC: SS Mota, RF Robles, 3B Guerrero, 1B Ishihara, LF Shirah, CF Mesa, 2B Maezes, C Cottam, P Lucchesi
CHA: LF Abraham, RF Floyd, 2B Wade, 1B Olson, C Hedges, 3B Steel, SS Ahmed, CF Deering, P Farinaro

Farinaro had his weakest start on Monday against the Twins in a 9-5 loss... before that game, he had thrown a quality start every time, but against Minnesota he allowed 5 runs in just 3.1 innings... Of course, Lucchesi had a tough time in his most recent start, the first game of the Columbus doubleheader, in which he only got 3 outs. That was our most recent loss... Farinaro walked the first three batters, none on more than 5 pitches, to get in a real early jam. He did the hard part, getting Ishihara on a fly ball too shallow to score Mota, and striking out Shirah, but Mesa took him out for a grand slam! Guerrero would add a sac fly in the second to make it 5-0... Flyers LF Ryan Abraham injured himself on the sac fly, to make it worse for Charlotte... things would really be pretty uneventful until the sixth, when Lucchesi lost control. He walked Wade, and hit the impeccably-named Bruce Steel, before being forced out by Nick Ahmed's single that loaded the bases... that could've been fine, but Martin Perez allowed all three runs to score on a pair of singles from Casey Deering and pinch-hitter LJ Talley... we failed to capitalize on a two-on, one-out situation in the seventh, Ishihara and Shirah both striking out... Maezes crushed a ball 462 feet in the 8th for a solo homer, his 2nd of the year... mired in a losing skid, Charlotte brought in closer Drew Rom for some work in the ninth, and that would prove to be a mistake. Rom faced six batters, and retired none of them... Shirah's bases-loaded double scored Robles and Guerrero (Vlad Jr.'s second IBB of the game... I wonder how common that's going to become); Mesa's single scored Ishihara, and Maezes clubbed his second home run in as many innings to make it 12-3. Not to be outdone, RP Javy Leon walked the bases loaded after replacing Rom, but actually got out of it... Ferrell pitched the eighth and ninth, allowing one run in the final frame, and because he came in when it was 6-3, he gets a save.

PotG: Travis Maezes

Amazingly, this win moved us ahead of New Mexico and into first place! It doesn't feel like we should be at the top (and we do have the worst record of any division leader right now) but here we are!

Game 2 - Michael Pineda (3-1, 3.38) vs. Logan Gilbert (1-2, 4.50)
SLC: SS Mota, RF Robles, 3B Guerrero, 1B Ishihara, LF Shirah, CF Mesa, 2B Maezes, C Cottam, P Pineda
CHA: LF Abraham, 3B Talley, 2B Wade, 1B Olson, C Hedges, SS Ahmed, CF Deering, RF Guimbarda, P Gilbert

Gilbert's last start was the only win for Charlotte in their last nine games - a really nice performance against the Twins and former Flyer star Nomar Mazara on Tuesday... Pineda, for his part, was masterful against the Anchors on Tuesday as well... the Bees would go down in order in the first, but force Gilbert to throw 18 pitches to do it... Pineda worked around a leadoff single much more efficiently... the Bees strike first in the second on a solo shot by Shirah - he's really having his best stretch as a Bee right now. That's his 5th of the year... we've has dealt with a lot of trouble in this game, but dealt with it nonetheless. Two hits allowed in the second, and three in the fourth: Olson and Austin Hedges were on first and third with no outs before Pineda struck out Ahmed. Michael felt something in his arm at that point, and again we had to wonder how long we'd have to be without him. Martin Perez came in and struck out Casey Deering, and then Nick Guimbarda was awarded a single when his ground ball hit Austin Hedges between first and second base! I don't know if I've seen that actually happen in OOTP before... that was the final out of the inning, and Charlotte didn't score... we would, though, in the next half inning. Mesa singled and Maezes reached when Ahmed dropped his popup. Cottam made an out, and then Perez made one on purpose by sac bunting the two runners into scoring position. Luis Mota made that strategy pay off by driving in both Mesa and Maezes with a single! Nothing else would really happen until the 8th when we tacked on another on an RBI by Ishihara... as has become our norm, we poured it on in the ninth. With the bases loaded and no outs, Te'Kwaan Whyte came up to pinch-hit for Jonathan Holder and doubled down the right field line to score two. Cottam would be driven in on a Robles groundout and Whyte would also come in to score on Ishihara's single... Justin Wilson worked a clean ninth to preserve our first shutout of the year!

PotG: Logan Gilbert (only one of his three runs allowed was earned)

This definitely wasn't the most difficult week of the schedule, but a sweep feels really good no matter what. This makes seven straight wins for the Bees, and a first-place record going into a tough couple of road series to begin the month of May.

Bees' Player of the Week: I find it so impossible to choose this week, since our hitters were clicking so well this week, but I'll give it to SP/LF Will Shirah - he had six extra-base hits this week, including three homers, drove in eight, scored seven runs and was also the winning pitcher on Thursday. There were so many worthy candidates, really - five of our regular starters had a 1.000 OPS or better for the week, and Guerrero wasn't even one of them!

On the Leaderboard:
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.: 1st in average (.403), T-4th in HR (10), 1st in RBI (39), 6th in OBP (.439), 4th in slugging (.694), 3rd in OPS (1.133), 2nd in WAR (2.0), 1st in hits (54), 7th in runs scored (28), 1st in total bases (93)
Victor Victor Mesa: 3rd in average (.383), 5th in OBP (.440), 3rd in hits (49), 2nd in runs scored (30), T-3rd in stolen bases (8)
Morio Ishihara: T-5th in RBI (30)
Kole Cottam: 9th in slugging (.611), 9th in OPS (1.001)
Victor Robles: T-8th in runs scored (27)
Jonathan Holder: 9th in ERA (2.51), 4th in K/BB ratio (5.8), 7th in BB/9 (1.7), 4th in WHIP (1.02). Still qualified, for now...

Minor League Bees:
- the AAA Hawaii Islanders swept the week as well, beating Yuma (D'Backs), Santa Barbara (Silver Sox) and starting their series with Lincoln (Thunder) off right
- AA Monterrey had a tough week, going 3-4, but remain 1st in the Mexican League
- and A Burlington lost a tough series to Wisconsin (Brewers) but continue to have a 3-game lead in their division

All three teams are #1 in their respective Power Rankings


League News:
April 27: New Mexico CL Roberto Osuna has a torn triceps and will be out a few months. The Suns are also missing SS Brice Turang for about another week. Coincidentally, we play in Albuquerque on Monday and Tuesday.
April 28: Sad news from Boston as former Bee Vince Velasquez announced his retirement due to a torn labrum. We had foisted him onto Boston as a salary dump as part of a trade that netted us Pineda last year. He only spent about half a year with us, but I'm sad for him nonetheless.
April 30: Another disaster for San Antonio, who lost another starting pitcher for the year - this time Lupe Chavez, a ten-game winner for them last year. Triston Casas, who I mentioned in the San Antonio preview as the Marshals' best hitter, is now also their best starting pitcher.

Players of the Week:
Las Vegas RF Bryce Harper - 11-21, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 10 R
Buffalo 1B Michael Toglia - 11-23, 5 HR, 12 RBI

Monthly Awards for April:
Batter of the Month:
Las Vegas RF Bryce Harper - .418, 8 HR, 31 RBI, 29 R
Salt Lake 3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr. - .405, 8 HR, 33 RBI, 22 R, .430 OBP

Pitcher of the Month:
Nashville CL Jose Torres - 2-0, 7 saves, 1.84 ERA, 20 K in 14.2 innings
Atlanta SP Carson Fulmer - 5-0, 2.05 ERA, 40 K in 30.2 innings

Rookie of the Month:
New Orleans RF Alexis La Madrid - .311, 7 HR, 24 RBI, 23 R
Houston RF Ramon Gutierrez - .347, 5 HR, 21 RBI, 24 R, .422 OBP

Well deserved for Vlad Jr., it really seems like this is just a normal statline for him but nobody else does this (except for Harper).

Power Rankings:
It was obviously a huge week for us, going 6-0, and the power rankings recognize that by shooting us all the way up to #9, up 23 spots from last week!

1. Ottawa Lynx (23-9)
2. New York Burros (23-9)
3. Las Vegas Scorpions (22-10)
4. Seattle Mariners (22-10)
5. Louisville Colts (21-11)
56. Arizona Diamondbacks (10-22)
57. Colorado Rockies (10-22)
58. Jacksonville Anchors (11-21)
59. Cleveland Indians (9-23)
60. Boston Red Sox (8-23)

Next Week: things get tougher than they were this week. Our road trip continues to New Mexico and Sacramento, both playoff teams last year, but then we head home for the last-place Hartford Oaks on the weekend.

Last edited by Ruwisc; 01-10-2020 at 10:59 AM.
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Old 01-11-2020, 04:45 PM   #20
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Week 6: May 1-7, 2023

Bees (18-13) @ New Mexico Suns (17-15)
Since their real hot streak about two weeks ago that rocketed them into first place, the Suns have not won a series, and now find themselves in a third-place tie with San Antonio. This is the start of a homestand for them, and the road trip was a sort of tough one, with tough series in Memphis and Louisville sandwiching an easier interleague stop in Austin. They're a bit banged up, although contrary to what I mentioned in the previous post, SS Brice Turang will play in the series - he's just not 100%. New Mexico's been a top offensive team thus far (although we're actually first in a high number of offensive categories including actual runs scored), and the Suns' pitching has been what's let them down.

Last time we played the Suns, it was opening weekend in SLC, and Opening Day was ruined for our home fans by Scott Fitzgerald's 2-run, game-winning HR off of Jared Miller in the 9th. We did salvage a split, though, by winning that Sunday.

Game 1 - William Gonzalez (0-0, 2.25) vs. Ronald Herrera (3-1, 5.29)
SLC: SS Mota, RF Robles, 3B Guerrero, 1B Ishihara, CF Mesa, 2B Maezes, LF Granite, C Ackerman, P Gonzalez
NMS: 2B Watts, 3B Hicks, SS Turang, C Raleigh, RF Reddick, LF DeLuca, 1B White, CF Deveaux, P Herrera

Herrera took his lone loss the last time out, at Memphis on Wednesday, with 4 runs allowed in 4.1 innings... William Gonzalez is getting the ball, yes, for his first start of 2019. This is just what Matheny was always gonna do. Maybe I need to just package Jonathan Holder for an even bigger rotation upgrade... neither team would get a hit in the first inning... our first hit came from Ishihara leading off the second but he'd be stranded there... New Mexico's first hit, on the other hand, would land in the seats, the 4th of the season for Tyler White... we would put two men on in the third, helped by an error on the pitcher Herrera, but fail to score... Gonzalez would not get through the third inning. Mike Watts, Christian Hicks and Brice Turang all singled, producing one run, and the two remaining runners came home on Cal Raleigh's 3-run shot to make it 5-0, just like that... William would get one out in the inning, and Justin Wilson came in on short notice to get the remaining outs... we had men on first and third with one out in the fourth but again could not score, but the same was true for the Suns... finally, we got on the board in the fifth, Mota singling and coming all the way around on a Robles double... Herrera would go 5.2 innings, exiting after allowing a two-out triple to Zack Granite, but we would fail to bring him home... we got one back in the seventh, this time bringing home our triple-hitter, who this time was Luis Mota. Ishihara had the RBI... one more in the eighth, pinch-hitter extraordinaire Whyte singling to get Granite around to get us within 5-3... Alexander Hermeling came on to pitch the 8th, and would put the game out of reach... singles from Trent Deveaux and Antoni Flores (who had come in via a double-switch), and hitting Christian Hicks with a pitch led to a bases loaded opportunity for the Suns' star Turang. He made no mistake, pulling a grand slam to right field to make it 9-3... we hit our third triple of the game in the ninth, this one by Mesa, scoring Ishihara, but that's all we would get.

PotG: Brice Turang

So, there goes the win streak. Houston lost so we remain in first place, but San Antonio also won so there are three teams all a half-game behind us.

On Tuesday, both C Josh Phegley and SS Min-Kyu Phyo were able to come off the DL, so both did. C Aaron Ackerman and 1B Jerry Callejas went back to Hawaii.

Game 2 - Will Shirah (2-2, 7.40) vs. Dana Williams (1-0, 6.75)
SLC: CF Mesa, 2B Phyo, 3B Guerrero, RF Robles, 1B Ishihara, P Shirah, C Phegley, LF Granite, SS Mota
NMS: LF DeLuca, SS Turang, 2B Fitzgerald, 1B White, 3B Hicks, C Raleigh, RF Reddick, CF Deveaux, P Williams

This is the third major league start for Dana Williams, a fictional player who was the Suns' third-round pick in 2021. He had a difficult debut against the Mets on April 22, allowing five runs and getting five outs, but threw five shutout innings in a win at Austin last Thursday for his first big-league win... Shirah is coming off of a win as well, in the first game of the Mets series last Thursday... Williams set us down in order in the first. The Suns would get three hits in the bottom half of the inning, but not score - Jonny DeLuca stole second, but was caught stealing third by Phegley, and so the two singles that followed were inconsequential... Robles led off the second inning with his fifth home run of the year, deep and way out to left, to put us out front first... Ishihara and Phegley would also reach base, but Granite and Mota failed to bring them home... we'd squander another opportunity in the fourth, Ishihara and Shirah reaching on a HBP and walk to start, but again nothing doing... not much really happened until our half of the sixth, when Williams met his day's end... Robles and Ishihara led off the inning with singles, and Shirah's second walk of the day loaded the bases for Phegley. Josh obliterated a 2-1 pitch out to the batter's eye in center for a grand slam! Suddenly we had a 5-0 lead! But in the bottom half of the inning, things would get more interesting... with one out, Tyler White hit a solo home run to get NM on the board, and then Christian Hicks came to the plate. Shirah hit him with a pitch, and Hicks charges the mound! Does OOTP just pull a number from a hat to determine if these things happen? On its face, there's no way Shirah would be throwing at Hicks intentionally - it was a 1-2 pitch, and although Morio Ishihara had been plunked twice in the game, those were on his first two plate appearances, multiple innings ago. Both Hicks and Shirah were ejected, so Will's day ends after 5.1 innings. I guess we're probably going to have to deal with a Shirah suspension, too. We'll find out after the game... Nolan Blackwood came in in relief, and Hicks' replacement, Mike Watts, would eventually score on a bases-loaded walk to make it 5-2... Turang led off the 7th with another home run off of Holder, and Fitzgerald/White both doubled. Cal Raleigh's following home run gave New Mexico a 6-5 lead. Gotta think this would go differently if we still had our starting pitcher... both teams went quietly in the 8th, and with Roberto Osuna on the IL long-term, the Suns turn to Durbin Feltman for the save. Top of the order for us... Mesa takes the first pitch to short for a groundout. Phyo strikes out, but after a long at bat, Guerrero spanks a 3-2 pitch up the middle for a base hit. Now Robles, but he hits a pitch to the same spot Mesa had, and Turang makes the play again.

PotG: Tyler White

I'm not happy - I think brawls and suspensions are one of the things OOTP does unrealistically. After the game, Shirah got a 6-game suspension, so that leaves us without a player on both sides of the ball for a week, and while it's totally impossible to diagnose intent in OOTP, I really doubt the HBP would be intentional. Luckily, due to the schedule (off days Wednesday and next Monday), we'll be able to get through the next week without an additional SP, but Shirah was also hitting really well. He'll be missed in the next series, since we'll be playing with the DH in Sacramento... With the loss, we fell back behind not only the Suns, but the Astros in the division (1/2 game behind both).

We're a little deeper in the infield than we are in the outfield without Will, so IF Te'Kwaan Whyte was optioned to AAA Hawaii, and OF Jason Welch was recalled.

May 4-5: Bees (18-15) @ Sacramento Solons (21-13)
It's an interesting matchup - the NL's #1 offense against the AL's #1 pitching staff; the AL's #10 offense against the NL's #18 pitching staff. The Solons had a difficult week last week, losing four straight to Norfolk, San Bernardino and Atlanta, but rebounded yesterday to put up 14 runs and beat the mighty Scorpions.

Game 1 - Jack Flaherty (2-2, 5.35) vs. Joshua Hahn (4-0, 2.20)
SLC: CF Mesa, 2B Phyo, 3B Guerrero, RF Robles, 1B Ishihara, C Phegley, DH Maezes, SS Mota, LF Granite
SAC: SS Sanchez, CF Hazeltine, RF Shannon, 3B Alexander, DH Moran, 2B Herrera, 1B Lavigne, C Flowers, LF Matsumoto

Joshua Hahn, theoretically the Solons' #4 starter, has pitched like an ace thus far. His absolute worst start only consisted of allowing 4 runs over 6 innings, and he still got the win in that one... Jack, meanwhile, has won his last two starts... the first baserunner for either side came when Ishihara singled in the second for us, although he'd be left at first. In the third inning, we'd come at Sacramento with a quick display of small ball. Mota drew a walk, then stole second on the first pitch to Granite. The next pitch was a scorcher to third that CJ Alexander airmailed across the diamond, allowing Luis to come all the way around to score... Flaherty would continue to be perfect through three, but Alec Sanchez would tie the game at 1-1 leading off the fourth with his 2nd HR of the year... We'd put some serious pressure on Hahn in the fifth, and although we scored to retake the lead I feel like we could've done more - Granite walked with one out, and after a fielder's choice and a HBP of Phyo, Guerrero's single allowed Mesa to score. Robles then walked to load them up but Ishihara struck out... neither team would threaten again for a while. Flaherty was through six innings having allowed just two hits, but Hahn had allowed only four... but Hahn wouldn't come out for the seventh. We'd get one off of Bobby Wahl, with another piece of small ball. Mesa walked, stole second and third, both without a throw, and scored on Robles' hit. Robles would then be caught stealing himself (something he does a lot) so an interesting half inning on the bases. Another run scored for us in the 9th when flamethrower Jose Alvarado threw a wild pitch with the bases loaded. Mesa scored that one too, having led off the inning with a double... Jared Miller came on for the save, and although he allowed Zack Shannon to take him deep, that was all!

PotG: Jack Flaherty. An excellent game for Jack, he went eight innings and only allowed three hits!

After the game, we received news that Pineda wouldn't be ready for his next start, and it would be just long enough without him to justify a DL stint. SP Griffin Canning is back up from Hawaii, and although Matheny's mind is fickle, I expect him to start Sunday vs. Hartford.

Game 2 - Joey Lucchesi (3-2, 4.80) vs. Jeff Burkhardt (2-2, 5.13)
SLC: SS Mota, RF Robles, 3B Guerrero, 1B Ishihara, C Cottam, CF Mesa, 2B Phyo, LF Granite, DH Breaux
SAC: 3B Fitzgerald, 2B Herrera, 1B Shannon, RF Strohschein, DH Alexander, SS Sanchez, C Flowers, LF Matsumoto, CF Hazeltine

I think this is the first start of the season for Joe Breaux, in the DH role tonight. TBH we haven't really needed him much this season, though he's been on the roster this whole time. He gets an opportunity today with Shirah suspended. He's a really good defender, but really we have an excellent defensive outfield whenever Shirah isn't out there so no big deal that Matheny DHs him... Burkhardt has been consistently mediocre for Sacramento; 5 starts in a row in which he's gone between 5 and 7 innings and allowed either 3 or 4 runs exactly. The last of those came on Saturday against Atlanta in a 3-1 loss... Lucchesi got the first two in the bottom of the first, but Sacramento put together a two-out rally. Shannon singled, Kevin Strohschein followed with an RBI double, and CJ Alexander singled him around as well to put the Solons up 2-0... we would put two men in scoring position in the third, but Burkhardt would get Ishihara to ground out and end the threat... Tyler Fitzgerald made some mayhem in the bottom of the third, walking and coaxing a wild pickoff throw from Lucchesi. He'd score on a hit from Shannon... we had six baserunners in the first four innings, just couldn't string anything together off of Burkhardt... Alec Sanchez had an 11-pitch at bat in the fifth that didn't even get to a full count. Lucchesi would strike him out, but that takes a toll... Sacramento would add to their lead in the fifth. Hisaji Matsumoto led off with a hit, advanced on a walk and a fielder's choice to third, and scored on Shannon's second straight RBI hit. Now 4-0... Lucchesi would be done after 5. Not too bad an outing but not a good one either... Burkhardt just kept working out of trouble. We had a runner reach base against him in 7 of his 8 innings, but he just kept on getting out of it...Victor Arano would pitch the 9th for the Solons, and we'd add another hit, but not enough to push anything across at all.

PotG: Jeff Burkhardt

Not a nice way to cap off a series, and it's our first loss against the American League this year, but at least we're headed home to Salt Lake.

May 6-7: Bees (19-16) vs. Hartford Oaks (15-21)
Hartford has been an interesting team so far. They were projected as a last place team going into the season, and they're tied in last place with the Mets at the moment, but the way they've gotten here is interesting. Their offense is bottom 5 in the NL for batting average, OBP, OPS, WAR and wOBA but 19th in runs scored, because they mash so many dingers. 5th-most home runs in the NL, not led by any player in particular but having 5 players who already have 5 or more home runs, here about 20% of the way through the season. They're actually working on a 3-game win streak right now, having just won both games from the Cubs at Wrigley.

Game 1 - Griffin Canning (2-1, 6.75) vs. Eduardo Rodriguez (2-5, 4.54)
HFD: CF Albert, RF Heyward, LF Chigbogu, 1B Byler, 3B Aiello, C Arroyo, SS Lookout, 2B Thomas, P Rodriguez
SLC: CF Mesa, 2B Phyo, 3B Guerrero, RF Robles, 1B Ishihara, C Phegley, SS Mota, LF Granite, P Canning

Rodriguez is, at least theoretically, the Hartford ace, so we may have a tough time today. You know him IRL as a member of the Red Sox but here in this game he became a big star in St. Louis, and cashed in as a free agent after the 2021 season, signing a contract that will pay him $175 million over 7 years. Now in year 2, he's off to a slow-ish start. He started the season by shutting out the Monarques on Opening Day but hasn't thrown more than six innings since... he's also lost three straight starts, including on Sunday in Houston, when he allowed 5 earned runs and didn't complete the 5th inning... Canning last pitched for us at home against Jacksonville, last Monday (12 days ago), when he picked up his second win, but he made a start for our AAA team in the interim... it was a nervy start for Canning, who saw Reese Albert take his second pitch of the game up and out for a solo HR, his 4th, though he would seriously settle down after that. Griffin would retire 16 of the next 18 batters overall, the only two reaching being singles by DeShawn Lookout... we had three hits over the first three innings, but we finally got to Rodriguez in the fourth. Robles led off with a hit, stole second and scored on Phegley's double to tie the game at 1... really scary moment for us in the 5th. With two outs, Guerrero put a ball into the left-center gap and turned on the jets. As he slid into third, though, he seemed to tweak something in his knee. If we've gotta be without Vlad for an extended period, it's gonna be tough for us. Tune in after the game... Maezes would pinch run and come in to play 3rd... Canning would be done after 6 innings, but he should be proud of himself today. 1 run on 5 hits over six... Holder and Hand combined to pitch a scoreless seventh for us... Rodriguez would also exit after 6, both starters getting a no-decision today since we're still stalemated. It'll be Eduardo Rodriguez' first ND of the season, weirdly... Riley Ferrell walked two batters in the 9th with the game still deadlocked, but got out of it, giving us a chance to maybe walk off in the ninth... Ishihara led off, taking a fly ball deep to right, but it wasn't deep enough, and Jason Heyward made a stellar defensive play lunging back toward the wall to catch it. Phegley walked, and the first pitch to Mota was wild, allowing the winning run to reach second. The very next pitch was smashed up the middle, and just out of the reach of second baseman Ako Thomas, winning the game for the Bees!

PotG: Griffin Canning

Our second walkoff win of the season, and both winners have been delivered by Luis Mota! (The other came in the second game of our series against Montréal.)

Even better news came in after the game, when we found out that Vlad Jr. won't miss any time with his injury. It turns out to be just a bit of tendinitis, and it'll only affect his baserunning.

Game 2 - William Gonzalez (0-1, 5.02) vs. Tyler Skaggs (1-4, 5.09)
HFD: CF Albert, 2B Thomas, LF Chigbogu, 1B Byler, 3B Aiello, SS Story, RF Adorno, C Arroyo, P Skaggs
SLC: CF Mesa, 2B Phyo, 3B Guerrero, RF Robles, 1B Ishihara, C Phegley, SS Mota, LF Granite, P Gonzalez

Well, this is a bummer. Skaggs, in this version of the world, has become a reliable, if not elite, starter. He signed with Hartford this year, only getting a minor league deal after posting his worst season in his final arbitration year with Seattle, but is now a regular part of the rotation. He's been subpar thus far, but he's coming off his best start of the year Monday at Louisville - six shutout innings in a no-decision and a 2-1 loss... Gonzalez gets his second start of the week. He took the loss on Monday in Albuquerque... the Oaks would strike first in their first crack. Ako Thomas walked in the first, Justin Chigbogu singled him to third, and Austin Byler came through with an RBI hit... we'd get it right back off of Skaggs. Mesa doubled on his first pitch and Guerrero's RBI single tied the game... after an uneventful 2nd, Trevor Story would give Hartford a third-inning lead, singling with men on second and third to drive in Thomas and Chigbogu... Gonzalez would exit after 4 innings, giving way to Martin Perez, but Perez would allow a fifth inning two-out rally with Story driving in another runner, this time Byler... the Bees would strand both Mesa and Phyo in the fifth, but the Oaks would strand the bases loaded in the sixth... consecutive doubles by Story and Tony Adorno would extend the lead in the 7th... Nolan Blackwood notably had a 3-pitch inning in the 8th, getting the top of the Hartford order in quick succession... the Oaks' bullpen would retire the final seven batters in order.

PotG: Tyler Skaggs

A disappointing end to a sorta disappointing week. 2-4 isn't the end of the world but I would hope we'd have been able to win this Hartford series.

Bees' Player of the Week:
It was a tougher week for us offensively, not terrible overall but with no real standouts. For me, the Bees' PotW is SP Jack Flaherty, who threw eight innings with 1 run allowed in a tough win in Sacramento.

On the Leaderboard:
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.: 1st in average (.385), 1st in RBI (41), 5th in OBP (.431), 3rd in slugging (.647), 3rd in OPS (1.078), 5th in WAR (1.9), 1st in hits (60), 1st in total bases (101)
Victor Victor Mesa: 4th in average (.364), 9th in OBP (.417), T-3rd in hits (56), T-2nd in SB (10)
Jack Flaherty: T-1st in QS (6)

Minor League Bees:
AAA Hawaii won their series against Lincoln (Thunder) and swept Fresno (Solons) before winning the first game against Spokane (Angels). Hawaii is an astonishing 21-4, five games better than the next AAA team.
AA Monterrey went 4-3 on the week, remaining in first place in the Mexican League but dropping to 2nd in the power rankings
A Burlington had a 5-2 week, and at 20-6 they have the best record in the Midwest League.


League News:
May 2: Already the third no-hitter of the season leaguewide. Pittsburgh's Wu-Shiun Chen threw a near-perfect game in a 6-0 win over San Antonio. He walked David Hamilton leading off the game and then retired the next 27 batters in order! First career no-hitter for the reigning Cy Young winner from Taiwan.
May 4: Oklahoma Oilers manager Eddie Hoffman just up and retires out of nowhere! Hoffman was, I think, randomly generated as the team's manager in 2018 when the game was created, and held the job for the duration of this save up to today. He's just 55, so I don't know why he'd do this, but Oklahoma is now managerless. They do have John Gibbons on staff, so maybe he takes over?
May 5: Buffalo is surging right now, but they'll have to play the rest of the season without SP Steven Matz. He had Tommy John surgery today and will be out until about Spring Training time next year.
May 6: Washington's Jose Quintana pitches a 1-hitter in Atlanta as the Nats beat the Braves 6-0.
May 7: The hitting streak of Las Vegas 1B Rhys Hoskins reaches 20 games. We'll be looking out for this one going forward.

Players of the Week:
Sacramento RF Zack Shannon - 12-25, 4 HR, 13 RBI. That includes 4-8 in two games against us
LA Dodgers CF Eric Cole - 15-27, 2 RBI. Cole is riding a really impressive streak of 8 straight multi-hit games, during which the Dodgers are 6-2.

Power Rankings:
A tougher week for us, we dropped from 9th last week to 19th this week.
1. Las Vegas Scorpions (27-11)
2. Ottawa Lynx (26-12)
3. Louisville Colts (25-13)
4. San Diego Padres (24-13)
5. Columbus Explorers (25-13)
56. Omaha Thunder (14-23)
57. Cleveland Indians (12-26)
58. Boston Red Sox (11-26)
59. Colorado Rockies (12-26)
60. Arizona Diamondbacks (11-27)

Next Week: our toughest week of the season so far. The NY Burros and Ottawa Lynx come to town to finish this homestand, and then we go down to Houston.
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