Studs and duds, September 8 – September 14

I believe this is the first time all the Studs and Duds from the day previous return. As all have been covered before—multiple times—there is not too much to say this time around.

Offensive stud: Teoscar Hernandez (OF, Blue Jays). Hernandez is unstoppable. Over the past week, he has hit .533/.611/.867 with 2 home runs, 9 RBI and 12 runs scored, powering the Blue Jays in this most important stretch of the season. An All-Star this year and a Silver Slugger in 2020, the outfielder is hitting .307/.357/.529 with 27 home runs and 102 RBI in 126 games on the year; he ranks fifth in the American League in RBI. Since 2017, he has averaged 35 home runs, 98 RBI and 90 runs scored per 162 games. Hmm, a late-blooming power hitting outfielder in Toronto. Shades of Jose Bautista, anyone?

Honorable mention: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (OF, Blue Jays; .429/.529/.857, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 10 R).

Offensive dud: Gio Urshela (3B, Yankees). Urshela is on fire! With two hits yesterday, he is now 4-for-18 with 8 strikeouts over the past seven days. His September batting average was raised to .192, while his mark since rejoining the Yankees in late August is up to .149. That still sounds pretty rough. And Urshela is still the Dud.

Dishonorable mention: Jackie Bradley Jr. (OF, 0-for-10, 5 K).

Alcantara began his career with the Cardinals, but was traded to Miami, with others, for outfielder Marcell Ozuna. (Wikipedia).

Pitching stud: Sandy Alcantara (SP, Marlins). Alcantara was so awesome lately, no one dared usurp him. And with his recent resume including a complete game, a win, 21 strikeouts, just one walk and 5 hits allowed, a 0.53 ERA and a .091 opponents’ batting average, that would’ve been hard to do. Though his record is just 9-13 this season, he owns a 133 ERA+ and a 137 mark over the past two years. That makes Alcantara a pitcher to watch. If he can ever get out of Miami and join a winning club, he could blossom into a superstar.

Honorable mention: Robbie Ray (SP, Blue Jays; 11 IP, 18 K, 2.45 ERA, 1 W).

Pitching dud: Alberto Baldonado (RP, Nationals).Baldonado pitched a scoreless inning for Washington last night, earning a hold, but it wasn’t enough for the hurler to redeem himself. It’s tough for a relief pitcher to unbury himself from a blown save, a loss, a couple walks, a couple earned runs allowed and a 10.80 ERA in the span of a week. His ERA on the year, however, is still a solid 2.84.

Dishonorable mention: Jeurys Familia (RP, Mets; 2 2/3 IP, 5 ER, 5 H, 3 HR, 1 BSV, 1 L).

Studs and duds: September 7 – September 13

It was a tight battle for the Offensive Stud, but Gurriel won out.

Offensive stud: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (OF, Blue Jays). The outfielder is currently riding a seven-game hitting streak, adding three more knocks last night. That gives him a .444/.543/.889 line with 3 home runs (including a grand slam), 13 RBI and 10 runs scored over the past week.

Despite a weak start to 2021, Gurriel has been steady nearly all season—but he has really cranked it up since late August. In 22 games since August 22, he has hit .395/.472/.697 with 5 home runs, 28 RBI, 15 runs scored and 12 walks, while striking out only 12 times.

Could we see the first Blue Jays World Series appearance since 1993? With Gurriel, Teoscar Hernandez, Marcus Semien and all the club’s hot hitters killing it right now, there is a good possibility.

Honorable mention: Teoscar Hernandez (OF, .548/.622/.871, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 13 R).

Offensive dud: Gio Urshela (3B, Yankees). Urshela is the Dud again. With another 0-fer and a strikeout last night, he is 2-for-19 with 10 Ks over the past seven days and is batting .114 since his return from the injured list in late August. He has struck out in each of the past six games. Last night, New York started DJ LeMahieu in his place—at this point, bringing Charlie Hayes back to man the position would be a better option than Urshela.

Dishonorable mention: Amed Rosario (SS, Indians; 2-for-17, 5 K, 2 E).

Alcantara holds a 122 ERA+ thus far in his career. (Wikipedia).

Pitching stud: Sandy Alcantara (SP, Marlins). Alcantara is pitching like a future Cy Young Award winner.

In 17 innings over his past two starts, he has allowed just one earned run on a single walk and five hits, while striking out 21 batters. His September 8 performance against the Mets was a complete game, 14 K showing, and last night, he tossed 8 innings of 1 hit, no walk, no run ball against Washington.

In his past seven starts, the 26-year-old righthander has a 1.55 mark and 64 Ks in 52 1/3 innings. And he has not yet even entered his prime. What the future holds for Alcantara is exciting.

Honorable mention: Eric Lauer (SP, Brewers; 2-0 W-L, 12 1/3 IP, 13 K, 2 BB, 0.73 OBA).

Pitching dud: Alberto Baldonado (RP, Nationals). Baldonado’s position remains unchanged. Though he tossed just 1 1/3 innings over the past week, it was enough for opposing teams to inflict plenty of damage: He blew a save, took a loss, surrendered three walks and posted a 10.80 ERA in that brief run. The 28-year-old rookie’s ascension to the majors was rocky, as just as recently as 2018, he had a 4.88 ERA at Triple-A.

Dishonorable mention: Jose Cisnero (RP, Brewers; 2 IP, 5 H, 7 ER, 4 BB, 2 BSV). His saving grace was in all that mess, he scratched out a win.

Studs and duds: September 6 – September 12

We haven’t seen Teoscar Hernandez in a while; we welcome back a familiar one as the Pitching Stud.

What a difference a few years makes: In his time with Houston, Hernandez hit just .230. (Wikipedia).

Offensive stud: Teoscar Hernandez (OF, Blue Jays). It was a nice run for Marcus Semien, but a new face has taken his place.

Hernandez has hit .448/.556/.862 with 3 home runs, including a grand slam, 10 RBI, 13 runs scored, 2 stolen bases and 5 walks in the past week—but let’s not kid ourselves, he’s been one of the game’s hottest hitters since August. In 33 games since August 8, Hernandez has hit .323/.389/.608 with 10 home runs, 33 RBI and 31 runs scored.

And his performance couldn’t have come at a better time. With Hernandez and Semien surging, the Blue Jays currently lead in the American League wild card race, barely, and need all their cylinders firing right now. Hernandez is doing his best to make that happen.

Honorable mention: Marcus Semien (2B, Blue Jays; .364/.462/.818, 4 HR, 12 RBI, 8 R).

Offensive dud: Gio Urshela (3B, Yankees). Despite going 1-for-4 at the plate, Urshela continued his struggles yesterday by striking out two more times and committing an error in the field. He has had two strikeouts in four of the past five games—and a single K in the fifth one—making him 3-for-21 with nine strikeouts over the past week. Since his return to the Yankees lineup in late August, he is 5-for-43 (.116) with 15 Ks and no walks.

Dishonorable mention: Amed Rosario (SS, Indians; 3-for-21, 7 K, 2 E).

Pitching stud: Max Scherzer (SP, Dodgers). Scherzer seems to be getting better. In 16 innings over his past two starts, he has amassed 22 strikeouts—including the 3,000th of his career—without walking a single batter. Just seven of batsmen have even managed hits off him.

Scherzer hasn’t allowed more than 200 hits in a season since 2011. (Wikipedia).

Having not allowed an earned run since August 21, the hurler is now 6-0 with 72 strikeouts, 5 walks allowed and a 0.88 ERA in 51 innings since joining Los Angeles in July; he is 14-4 with 219 strikeouts, a league-leading 0.821 WHIP, a league-leading 2.17 ERA and a 186 ERA+ on the year. Baseball Reference’s similarity scores say the pitcher second-most similar to him through age 36 is Randy Johnson. Sounds about right.

Honorable mention: Kevin Gausman (SP, Giants; 2-0 W-L, 13 IP, 18 K, 1 BB, 2 QS).

Pitching dud: Alberto Baldonado (RP, Nationals). It was a rough week for the 28-year-old rookie, who debuted on September 2.

On September 10, he gave up a hit and blew a save, then on the 11th, he walked 2 and allowed 2 earned runs in one-third of an inning for the loss. For those counting at home: He has a 10.80 ERA in 1 2/3 innings over the past seven days, spread over 3 appearances.

It was the first real rough patch of the hurler’s short career, as he allowed just one walk and a hit in 4 2/3 frames over 4 appearances initially. That he is in the majors at all is pretty amazing—he was signed by the Mets in 2009 and didn’t even reach Triple-A until 2017—and he had a 6.65 ERA in 39 appearances when he did.

Dishonorable mention: JT Chargois (RP, 0-1 W-L, 3 IP, 4 H, 3 BB, 1 BSV).

Studs and duds: September 5 — September 11

Marcus Semien, Gio Urshela and Edwin Diaz appear for another day, but there is a new face here, as well.

Offensive stud: Marcus Semien (2B, Blue Jays). Is there an echo in here? Marcus Semien is on the hottest of streaks and is, yet again, the Offensive Stud.

With another home run and 3 RBI yesterday, he is batting .387/.500/.968 with 5 dingers and 13 ribbies over the past week—that puts him at 39 home runs and 94 RBI on the year.

Should he reach 40 big flies, and it is unlikely that he won’t, he will be just the 5th second baseman to achieve that mark, with the others being Rogers Hornsby (42 in 1922), Davey Johnson (43, 1973), Ryne Sandberg (40, 1990) and Brian Dozier (42, 2016).

If he reaches 100 RBI—another strong possibility—he’ll be just the second second sacker to reach 40 homers and 100 RBI since Sandberg; he had exactly 100 ribbies in 1990. The 100 RBI mark itself is a rarity for second basemen, with the last to reach it being Jonathan Schoop, then of the Orioles, in 2017.  

Baez has 30 home runs and 17 stolen bases on the year. (Wikipedia).

Honorable mention: Javier Baez (IF, Mets; .519/.581/.926, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 10 R, 4 SB).

Offensive dud: Gio Urshela (3B, Yankees). Oh my goodness, it’s a train wreck! 0-for-3 with 2 more strikeouts yesterday—that makes him 2-for-18 with 7 Ks since September 5! What in the world is going on!

Who knows, but the Yankees can’t be pleased. They’re in a tight race for second place in the American League East with Boston and Toronto and cannot afford any clunkers right now. Urshela’s WAR for the season is 0.6—a thoroughly mediocre number—and his line is now .255/.293/.404. That OBP is an eyesore, especially.

It will be interesting to see what the Yankees will do should they reach the playoffs with Urshela struggling. He owns a .205 postseason batting average, so one wonders if he’d be worth the risk of utilizing at all.

Dishonorable mention: Ryan Lavarnway (C, Indians; 0-for-6, 3 K, 2 E).

Prior to 2021, Gausman was 50-66 with a 4.26 ERA. (Wikipedia).

Pitching stud: Kevin Gausman (SP, Giants). What an incredible season this has been for Gausman—especially so, since he had never even posted a winning record before this year (the best he did was .500 in 2014 and 2020).

He boosted his line further this past week, going 2-0 with 18 strikeouts and just one walk allowed in 13 innings. Though his ERA was an elevated 4.15, his season mark still stands at 2.65, good for 5th-best in the National League. He has even helped himself with the bat this season, with his .188 average the best among the team’s starters.

Though he has some stiff competition, ESPN’s Cy Young Predictor says he has the 3rd-best chance of winning the honor, behind only Walker Buehler and Julio Urias.

Honorable mention: Corbin Burnes (SP, Brewers; 13 IP, 21 K, 3 BB, 6 H, 2.08 ERA). I guess he should be the stud due to recent events, but I think I’m jaded against no-hitters now.

Pitching dud: Edwin Diaz (RP, Mets). The hurler has lost 2 games, blown a save and owns a WHIP of 5 over the past week. As one of Diaz’s primary skills is blowing saves, here is a compilation of him ruining games. And here’s one of his “2019 lowlights”.

Diaz owns a career .318 winning percentage, the 3rd-worst among active pitchers with at least 300 innings pitched. If any player is proof teams should not be wooed by one amazing standout campaign, Diaz is that man.

Dishonorable mention: JT Chargois (RP, Rays; 2 2/3 IP, 4 H, 3 BB, 2 ER, 1 L, 1 BSV).

Studs and duds: September 4 – September 10

Edwin Diaz draws my ire again, while Marcus Semien is putting together an MVP argument.

Offensive stud: Marcus Semien (2B, Blue Jays). After a 2-for-4 showing last night, Semien is now 11-for-27 over the past week for a .407/.529/.926 line. He has 4 home runs, 10 RBI, 6 runs scored and 6 walks, which are especially impressive since his season on-base percentage is .344 and his career mark is .325.

Semien is in Most Valuable Player territory, as he leads the American League in Wins Above Replacement (6.5), is second in total bases (307), third in doubles (36) and fourth in home runs (38). Don’t forget the accolades: An All-Star, he was also the May Player of the Month, after he hit .368 with 8 home runs and 22 RBI.

2021 has been an excellent rebound campaign for the former shortstop, who hit just .223/.305/.374 in 53 games last season.

Honorable mention: Nelson Cruz (DH, Rays; .429 BA, .929 SLG, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 10 R).

I don’t know the result of this play, but Urshela was probably out. (Wikipedia).

Offensive dud: Gio Urshela (3B, Yankees). Urshela continued his reign of futility with an 0-for-3 performance with a strike out yesterday, making him 2-for-15 with 5 Ks and 2 errors over the past week and 4-for-36 with 11 strikeouts since his return to the field in late August. Since his batting average peaked at .303 on May 16, he’s hit just .233/.266/.370 with 64 Ks and 9 walks in 227 at-bats. Urshela is signed through 2021; with the way he’s performing, I’m not sure New York will bring him back.

Dishonorable mention: Daniel Johnson (OF, Indians; 1-for-11, 5 Ks).  

Of course it is: Houser’s nickname is “Doogy.” (Wikipedia).

Pitching stud: Adrian Houser (SP, Brewers). It’s good to see a fresh—and unexpected—face in this position every once in a while.

After pitching a complete game shutout against St. Louis on September 4, the righthander followed up with a 6-inning, 1-hit, 0-earned run performance against Cleveland yesterday. Though the latter wasn’t a perfect showing—he walked 5 batters—it elevated him to this heralded title.

Between the two appearances, he tossed 15 innings and allowed just 4 hits, while striking out 12 batters. It has been a great season for the hurler, who is 9-6 with a 3.25 mark in 25 games (23 starts) after going 1-6, 5.30 in 2020.

The former 2nd round pick was acquired from Houston with reliever Josh Hader and outfielders Domingo Santana and Brett Phillips for pitcher Mike Fiers and outfielder Carlos Gomez in 2015. Milwaukee got the better of that deal.

Honorable mention: Jose Berrios (SP, Blue Jays; 2-0 W-L, 13 1/3 IP, 15 K, 2 BB).

Pitching dud: Edwin Diaz (RP, Mets). I just got done railing against Diaz yesterday and wouldn’t you know, here he is again. After blowing a save and taking 2 losses over the past week, Diaz has proven he cannot close in New York and that his stunning 2018 with Seattle (1.96 ERA, 57 saves, 15.2 K/9) was the exception and not the norm.

Though he still strikes batters out with great frequency (12.9 K/9 this year, 17.5 K/9 last season), that ability has become nothing more than a novelty since he flunks at every other facet of his job—most importantly, saving games and ensuring victories. He’s signed through the end of 2021. It might be time to say goodbye.

Pitching dud: JT Chargois (RP, Rays; 2 2/3 IP, 4 H, 3 BB, 1 L, 1 BSV).

Studs and duds: September 2 – September 8

Semien has slugged .511 since 2019. Before then, his mark was .403. (Wikipedia).

Offensive stud: Marcus Semien (2B, Blue Jays). Semien had an All-Star-quality 2019 campaign, when he hit .285 with 33 home runs and 92 RBI, but he wasn’t selected to the elite roster.

Well, he finally got that All-Star call this season and has been playing like a veritable MVP over the past week. In 24 at-bats, he slashed .375/.483/1.042 with 5 home runs, 12 RBI and 6 runs scored; he now has 33 dingers, 90 RBI and 99 runs scored on the year as a whole.

The defensively adept 30-year-old has developed into one of the league’s premier middle infielders, with his slugging prowess reminiscent of Alex Rodriguez, Nomar Garciaparra, Miguel Tejada and — now that he is at second base — Jeff Kent and Alfonso Soriano.

If you believe Baseball-Reference, Semien is basically a carbon copy of the Phillies’ Didi Gregorius statistically, per their similarity scores. But, hey, Gregorius has never been an Offensive Stud.

Honorable mention: Frank Schwindel (1B, Cubs; .414/.469/.724, 3 HR, 9 RBI).

Offensive dud: Gio Urshela (3B, Yankees). Urshela was 2-for-9 with 2 errors and 2 Ks over the past week. I have written a poem:

Gio, oh Gio
Your offense makes me ill
I hope each day you won’t mess up
But my heart knows that you will.

A major leaguer, so you’re called;
It’s with New York you play
Though you strikeout and make us shout,
You’re in the lineup every day.

Your fielding is a letdown
Too many errors you commit
So the Yankees won’t release you,
Perhaps then you’ll just quit

Okay, I’m being too harsh
But let’s be honest, bud
Your play leaves me no option—
You’re today’s Offensive Dud.

Dishonorable mention: Daniel Johnson (OF, Indians; 1-for-11, 4 K, 1 E).

Pitching stud: Logan Webb (SP, Giants). Webb is back on top, again, with another week of marvelous pitching performances. This has become a common refrain with the wonderful Mr. Webb, who over his past two starts tossed 14 innings, struck out 16 batters and walked just one. His 2.57 mark over these past couple outings lowered his ERA—yet again—from 3.33 on August 1 to 2.64 now.

The Giants are in a tight race with the Dodgers for dominance in the National League West. Anchored by a pitching staff without any major superstars, it’s Logan Webb and other lesser known names—well, lesser known before 2021—that have elevated San Francisco to such successful heights. The entire staff is a unit, but since Webb’s leading the charge, I guess that makes him the Big Unit. Wait, I think that’s been taking.

Honorable mention: Sandy Alcantara (SP, Marlins; 15 1/3 IP, 20 K, 1 BB, 2.93 ERA).

Chargois had a 4.53 ERA and 89 ERA+ in 60 games with the Dodgers. (Wikipedia).

Pitching dud: J.T. Chargois (RP, Rays). Dang it, J.T., I just said something nice about you the other day, too. In the past week, the Louisiana-native has tossed 2 2/3 innings, surrendered 4 hits, 3 walks, a homer, a couple earned runs, taken a loss and blown a save. It’s not an attractive line, but his campaign has been impressive overall. In 46 innings over 47 appearances, he has a 2.54 ERA and 161 ERA+. Not bad for a hurler who didn’t pitch in the majors in 2020 and had a 6.33 mark the year before. It has taken a while—he is now 30 years old—but perhaps Chargois is finally living up to his second-round draft status.

Dishonorable mention: Andres Machado (RP, Nationals; 0-2 W-L, 3 1/3 IP, 5 H, 5.40 ERA, 1 BSV).

Studs and duds: September 1 – September 7

Frank is putting the “win” in Schwindel, amirite, guys? (Wikipedia).

Offensive stud: Frank Schwindel (1B, Cubs). Though he had an 0-for-4 performance last night, the Cubs first baseman’s hot hitting keeps him in the top spot.

Over the past week, he is still carrying a .433/.469/.833 line with 4 home runs, 12 RBI and 7 runs scored. His career marks, despite starting off with a .067 average with Kansas City in 2019 and a .150 mark with Oakland this year, have been elevated to .309/.349/.580 due to his surge with Chicago. His 162-game averages are 37 home runs, 111 RBI and 84 runs scored and, though those numbers are likely unsustainable, they sure look pretty.

He developed his power stroke a little later in his career, having never hit more than 5 home runs in a college season.

Honorable mention: Marcus Semien (2B, Blue Jays; .333/.429/1.125, 6 HR, 11 RBI).

Offensive dud: Gio Urshela (3B, Yankees). After a short time away, Urshela returns to his Dud post after a 1-for-8, 2 strikeout, 2 error showing over the past week. That makes him 3-for-29 (.103 BA) since rejoining the Yankees last month and gives him a .245 mark since late May. It has been an off year for the infielder as a whole—his strikeout percentage (25.1) is the highest it’s ever been, while his home run percentage (3.1) is his worst since 2018.

Is Urshela bad luck? New York has lost each of the last seven games in which he’s played.

Dishonorable mention: Charlie Culberson (3B, Rangers; 2-for-10, 3 K, 3 E).

Pitching stud: Max Scherzer (SP, Dodgers). Riding high on a stellar 13-strikeout performance against St. Louis on Monday, the future Hall of Famer retains his position atop the heap.

Should Scherzer win the Cy Young Award—and its looking like he might—it will be his fourth such honor, making him the fifth hurler with at least that many. It’s an illustrious group, counting Roger Clemens (7 CYAs), Randy Johnson (5), Steve Carlton (4) and Greg Maddux (4) among its number.

The other pitchers with three? Well, they’re pretty great, too: Clayton Kershaw, Sandy Koufax, Jim Palmer, Pedro Martinez and Tom Seaver.

Honorable mention: Logan Webb (SP, Giants; 14 IP, 16 K, 1 BB, 2.57 ERA).

Puk had a 3.18 ERA in 10 relief appearances with Oakland in 2019, his first big league season. (Wikipedia).

Pitching dud: A.J. Puk (RP, Athletics). This past week has not been ideal for the former first rounder, who holds a 33.75 ERA with 8 hits and 5 earned runs allowed in 1 1/3 frames. On September 1 and 7, he took the loss, blowing a save the former game and allowing 5 hits in 1/3 of an inning the latter.

This performance brings his season line to 0-3, 6.08 in 12 appearances—not quite what was expected of the top prospect, who was ranked the 83rd, 30th, 18th and 21st-best by Baseball America each year from 2017 to 2020, respectively. The clock is ticking on the lefthander, who, at 26, is no spring chicken. If all else fails, perhaps he can move to the field—he played some first base in college with Florida.

Dishonorable mention: Andres Machado (RP, Nationals; 2 1/3 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 0-2, 1 BSV).

Studs and duds: August 27 – September 2

Twice an All-Star, Grandal has 167 career home runs. (Wikipedia).

Yasmani Grandal is on a run that would make any catcher jealous … even Salvador Perez.

Offensive stud: Yasmani Grandal (C, White Sox). Grandal missed the better part of two months with knee surgery, and upon his return showed the White Sox how much they missed him.

In 5 games since coming back, the backstop has slashed .529/.636/1.353 with 4 home runs, 11 RBI, 6 runs scored and 4 walks. He’s managed to put up solid numbers despite a weak .217 batting mark overall, as he’s averaged nearly a walk per game with 64 in 68 appearances, giving him a .408 OBP on the year. The last time a player averaged a BB in more than 95 percent of his games was Barry Bonds in 2007, when he drew 132 in 126 matches.

Combined with his slugging mark of .515, which is backed mostly by his 18 dingers (he has only 5 doubles), his OPS and OPS+ are .923 and 154, respectively.

Honorable mention: Salvador Perez (C, Royals; .292/.370/.667, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 1 GS). Sorry Salvador, you’ve been demoted.

Offensive dud: Gio Urshela (3B, Yankees). Despite not playing since August 31, Urshela is back on top of the dud pile with a 1-for-17, 5 strikeout, 2 error showing over the past week. It’s difficult to glean anything positive from his run, but look at the bright side: His sole hit was a double and he managed 5 putouts and 8 assists. This Urshela is a far cry from the April and May edition—from April 18 to May 15, he hit .338/.385/.563 with 3 home runs and 13 RBI in 20 games. He’s slashed .241/.275/.387 since.

Dishonorable mention: Jose Iglesias (SS, Angels; 0-for-3, 1 K, 2 E).

Pitching stud: Gerrit Cole (SP, Yankees). Despite an excellent showing by Logan Webb (7 IP, 1 ER, 10 K) last night, Cole keeps his title after striking out 24 batters in 13 innings over the past week.

It’s crazy to think he is pitching worse now than earlier in the season—since July, his ERA is 2.87 in 53 1/3 innings. Over the first couple months of the year, it was 1.78 in 70 2/3 frames. In June and July, the hurler swooned big time, posting a 4.68 ERA in 59 2/3 innings—it wasn’t all bad, however, as he still Ked 79 batters and men hit just .225 against him. Too many of those hits left the yard, however, as he surrendered 12 of the 18 homers he’s allowed this year in that ten-start stretch. Hoping that’s all in the past, he’ll be carrying a 0.69 ERA over his past two games into his next one.

Honorable mention: Logan Webb (SP, Giants; 14 IP, 16 K, 2 BB, 0.64 ERA).

Karinchak has averaged 14.3 strikeouts per nine innings for his career. (Wikipedia).

Pitching dud: James Karinchak (RP, Indians). One appearance. One horrid appearance in which he didn’t even manage an out is all it took to land Karinchak here.

Pitching in relief against the Red Sox on August 27, the hurler surrendered 3 earned runs on 2 hits, a walk and a home run for the loss. It further sullied what had otherwise been a great first full campaign. He did not allow a single earned run through his first 13 appearances, striking out 25 batters in 11 2/3 innings. He carried a 2.78 mark and 13.9 K/9 ratio into late July, but allowed 11 earned runs in 9 innings over his last 12 appearances.

Karinchak is a strikeout ace, whiffing 12.8 per nine frames this year and an astounding 17.7/9 in 27 appearances last year. But even the best strikeout relievers falter eventually—his numbers remind me vaguely of Kyle Barraclough and Dellin Betances.

Dishonorable mention: Dillon Tate (RP, Orioles; 1 2/3 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 0-2 W-L).

Studs and duds: August 24 – August 30

Salvador Perez and Robbie Ray—we’ve been seeing these guys a lot lately, haven’t we?

Offensive stud: Salvador Perez (C, Royals). He didn’t even play yesterday and still outpaces anyone else. In the last week, Perez has 5 home runs, 13 RBI and 5 runs scored; he’s tied with the Cubs’ Patrick Wisdom for most home runs and holds the lead in RBI over the past seven days. His slash line is .323/.393/.920—that OBP is especially stunning, as his career mark is barely .300. The catcher is currently riding a tidy five-game hitting streak and has 12 home runs, 28 RBI and a 1.022 OPS since the beginning of August.

Tommy Edman leads the NL with 35 doubles and 512 at-bats. (Wikipedia).

There’s not much to say outside of what’s already been said at this point besides, perhaps, let’s go Salvador!

Honorable mention: Tommy Edman (3B, Cardinals; .414 BA, 2 HR, 3 2B, 10 RBI, 8 R).

Offensive dud: Gio Urshela (3B, Yankees). Urshela continued his slide last night, going 0-for-4 with a strikeout. That unsavory line puts him at 1-for-17 with 4 Ks and a tiny OPS of .059 since his return to New York’s lineup on August 26. Though usually adept defensively, he also committed a couple errors, bringing his season total to 8. Sounds like a case of return-from-the-IL jitters, if you ask me.

Dishonorable mention: Aristides Aquino (OF, Reds; 0-for-17, 8 K).

Pitching stud: Robbie Ray (SP, Blue Jays). While Perez keeps cranking on offense, Ray is dropping stellar start after stellar start on the mound. With 10 strikeouts yesterday, he passed Gerrit Cole for the American League lead with 202 Ks on the season. It is his fourth-career 200 strikeout campaign and first since 2019.

Over his past two games, Ray has 24 Ks in 14 innings, allowing only 9 hits, 3 walks and 3 earned runs, to give him a 1.93 ERA. His season mark has gone down with each start since July 28 and now stands at 2.71—and is 1.72 in that stretch.

In his first 13 starts, the hurler had a 3.50 ERA; in the 13 games since, it’s been 2.02. With numbers like this, fans of the future will be scratching their heads looking at his line and wondering why he didn’t even make the All-Star team.

Honorable mention: Dylan Cease (SP, White Sox; 2-0, 1.38 ERA, 18 K, 13 IP).

From 2011 to 2014, Joe Smith had a 2.25 ERA in 289 games. (Wikipedia).

Pitching dud: Joe Smith (RP, Mariners). Well, it seems the steady, reliable, sidearming relief pitcher Joe Smith is no more. We’ve been left with a shoddy simulacrum who’s pitched to the tune of a 5.79 ERA in 41 appearances this year.

His past few have been especially horrid: In 3 games, he’s tossed 1 2/3 innings and allowed 5 hits and 3 earned runs for an 11.57 ERA. Relative to past duds, that performance is downright excellent, but his 2 losses and 2 blown saves really bring him down.

Smith began the year with a 7.48 ERA in 27 games with Houston, but was traded to Seattle on July 27. And with the Mariners he’s performed well—a 2.45 ERA in 14 games, despite his rough patch—and looks more like the Smith of old. Before this year, he had a 2.98 ERA in 782 career games. This campaign has raised it to 3.10.

Dishonorable mention: Jake Petricka (RP, Angels; 1 IP, 5 ER, 3 H, 2 BB, 0-1, 1 BSV).

Studs and duds: August 23 – August 29

Offensive stud: Salvador Perez (C, Royals). There’s no stopping Salvy. After clobbering another home run last night—that’s five games in a row now, if anyone’s counting—Perez is up to 6 in the past week and 38 on the year. But dingers aren’t all he’s hitting. He’s hitting, period, with a .357/.455/1.000 line, 14 RBI and 6 runs scored over his last seven games. He even has 5 walks, accounting for one-quarter of his season’s total. At this point, all we can do is sit back and watch. If this train ever stops remains to be seen—and it doesn’t look like it will.

Honorable mention: Whit Merrifield (2B, Royals; .323/.382/.710, 4 2B, 2 HR, 9 RBI).

Urshela in the minor leagues—where his performance might one day land him again. (Wikipedia).

Offensive dud: Gio Urshela (3B, Yankees). Looks like he’s still getting back into the groove of things. Urshela, who missed most of the past month with a hamstring strain, went 1-for-13 with 3 strikeouts and 2 errors in four games since his return.

In terms of production, the slump brings the infielder closer to the Urshela of old—this season, he has 11 home runs, 41 RBI, a .266 average and a 99 OPS+; from 2015 to 2018, he hit 8 dingers with 39 RBI, a .225 mark and a 57 OPS+.

If his downward trend continues, Urshela’s 2019-2020 run will prove to be an aberration, as his offense spiked to a combined .310/.358/.523 line with 27 home runs and 104 RBI over that stretch. Even in the minor leagues, he was never much of a hitter, holding a .275/.306/.400 line in 12 seasons there.

Dishonorable mention: Aristides Aquino (OF, Reds; 0-for-14, 8 K).

Pitching stud: Dylan Cease (SP, White Sox). Dylan is back.

After cranking to the tune of a 2.41 ERA through his first 8 starts, then falling to a 4.82 mark over his next 17, the hurler has killed it of late. Over his past 13 innings, he allowed just 8 hits and 3 walks, while striking out 18 batters. His performance resulted in a 1.38 ERA, his best two-game mark of the year, and brings his 2021 line to 11-7 with a 3.82 ERA in a league-leading 27 starts. In 143 2/3 innings, he has 188 strikeouts, which is third in the American League.

Cease was acquired—with Eloy Jimenez, no less—in a 2017 deal with the Cubs for pitcher Jose Quintana. Quintana spent a few years with the Cubs, posting a 4.24 ERA in 439 2/3 frames. If Cease keeps pitching like this, he’ll give the Sox something they can rub in their crosstown rivals’ faces for a long time.

Daniel Bard‘s best years were with the Red Sox … a decade ago. (Wikipedia).

Honorable mention: Jose Berrios (SP, Blue Jays; 10 IP, 17 K, 1 W).

Pitching dud: Daniel Bard (RP, Rockies). Bard retains his crown from yesterday, as no pitcher has done worse than his 0-2, 43.20 line over the past week. Jake Petricka (1 IP, 5 ER), Lou Trivino (1 1/3 IP, 4 ER, 0-2 W-L) and Edgar Garcia (1 2/3 IP, 7 ER) were close, but none matched Daniel’s futility. The Bard had a mastery over the written word; this Bard, well, batters have a mastery over him.

Dishonorable mention: Jake Petricka (RP, Angels; 0-1, 1 BSV, 1 IP, 5 ER, 2 BB).