I was prepared to write this week, “Call me the spoiler.” This was my best performance since week 16. I only lost to three teams across the league, and ended up in a 5-5 tie with Hog Heat in which I lost the tie breaker. Ties are for Father’s Day. I hate ties, and I hate losing tie breakers.
Let me start off by saying, I wish Matt Shoemaker a speedy recovery. The injury he suffered on Sunday was a scary moment, a hard-hit comebacker that landed square in his skull. He suffered a skull fracture and was placed on the DL today, but was on the ground for a solid five minutes before walking off on his own power. Apparently Shoemaker needed emergency surgery to stop the bleeding in his brain. That he’s talking at all has been reported as good news. It was horrific.
And it sucks to find out that it happened via a stat line. I checked my score when the game started, saw that Shoemaker had struck out two batters in the first inning and already had a 2-0 lead. Looking good, I thought. An hour later I check again, and my score total hasn’t changed. I see that Shoemaker has only gone 1.2 innings, and when I don’t see seven earned runs next to his name, I realize something must’ve gone wrong. To find out what actually happened was a death blow.
This firstly was unfortunate because while I was dominating ERA, WHIP and even Wins this week, I needed to make up some ground in strikeouts. The tie-breaker is a summed total of HRs, Runs, Ks and Wins, and whereas two teams usually can remain pretty close in all the other categories, one team can have a runaway week with strikeouts and come away with the victory. It’s a hint that I should probably value high strikeout pitchers next season.
But secondly, Shoemaker was looking like a potential freeze candidate next year, a solid #3 pitcher or so who I could get in the last round of next year’s draft. He was waiver fodder early in the season, then went on the DL, then came back with a stellar new cutter pitch that made him look like a Cy Young candidate. He eventually regressed back to being a modestly good starter with flashes of greatness, but his bat-missing was not nearly as high as it was mid-season. Depending on his health, that may no longer be an option moving forward into next season.
I don’t blame my week’s loss on just that one injury though. Let’s look at the final box score:
Even though I hit 10 HRs this week, it turns out I left 5 more on the bench. A perfect lineup would’ve had me swapping out Dee Gordon and Yasmany Tomas for Logan Forsythe and Hunter Pence, the former of whom homered and hit .500 for the week, the latter of whom hit two homers off the Cubs, spoiling Jon Lester’s no-hitter bid in an extremely windy day at Wrigley Field.
I don’t know if I could’ve predicted Dee Gordon’s pitiful slump, in which he notched only two hits, one walk and no stolen bases. You have to get on base in order to steal them I guess. Starting Tomas over Pence however was just a lapse in judgment. I figured the Giants had the tougher pitching matchup than the D-backs, and I also questioned whether Pence would get full playing time after missing two games at the tail end of Week 21.
It’s decisions like these that hardly matter for me this late in the season. I was glad to finally notch 5 wins in a week and post a very respectable, sub-3.00 ERA, but I wish that would’ve translated into a win. It wouldn’t have ultimately spoiled Hog Heat’s playoff hopes, but it might’ve bumped him down a seed.
What makes me excited for next week is one thing: Clayton Kershaw. He comes off the DL to face the Marlins and Jose Fernandez this Friday, and all signs following his latest rehab start in Triple-A (3 innings, 5 strikeouts) suggest he’ll be back to top form. I need him to look good if I want to consider freezing him in the first round next year. It’ll be a choice between freezing him or taking someone like an un-freezable Mookie Betts with the second overall pick. And if Kershaw isn’t 110 percent, then I’ll have to look elsewhere and sacrifice Kershaw for next year.