The Sunday Brief: Top Storylines to Follow This Week

All the stories you need to follow this week in the MLB.

We’ve almost made it! You’ve been following baseball religiously this season, from the new ball in the spring that led to a bajillion no-hitters in the first six weeks, to the ban on spin enhancers which resulted in a bajillion home runs. What period of baseball history have we entered now? [checks notes] Yet another Wild Card race. OK, I’ll take that. As the teams chase each other or race to the bottom (I see you Baltimore Orioles), let’s take a look at some of the highlights of the past week.

Tony LaRussa Suspended

 

If you put on your magical memory caps to travel at the speed of thought back to the early part of the year, you’ll remember when Chicago White Sox manager Tony LaRussa rustled the feathers of baseball fans when he overworked his pitchers and revealed that he didn’t actually know the rules of extra innings. But all of that was overshadowed when his prized early-season hitter Yermín Mercedes took a swing at Willians Astudillo’s eephus pitch when Astudillo — normally a catcher for the Minnesota Twins — was serving as a blowout reliever. Mercedes’ resulting home run got him into hot water with manager LaRussa, who shamed him publicly and resulted in a complete loss of face for the once-burgeoning star. LaRussa approved of the subsequent beaning of Mercedes in the next game versus the Twins, and fans wondered why LaRussa would support the intentional attack on his own player. Although Tim Anderson tried to right the team for a while — with the White Sox donning Mercedes-inspired streetwear for their traveling trips — Mercedes was eventually demoted and the White Sox moved on to demolish a depleted AL Central.

LaRussa was back in the news this week when one of his relievers intentionally threw at MVP-front-runner Shohei Ohtani multiple times. Wright took a three-game suspension, and LaRussa took a one-game suspension. LaRussa’s suspension resulted from arguing with the umpire in defense of his player, saying that the pitches at Ohtani were not intentional.

From the reaction of the broadcast booth and the umpires on the field, it seemed a nearly unanimous agreement that something was wrong with Mike Wright’s pitch sequence. Watch the recap and determine for yourself:

Max Scherzer 3,000 Strikeouts

 

Max Scherzer passed the 3,000 strikeout mark this weekend, which is often considered one of the thresholds for a Hall of Fame pitcher. Max Scherzer has been pitching in the Majors since 2008, originally appearing with the Arizona Diamondbacks before spending the next five years with the Detroit Tigers. In 2015, Scherzer signed a 7-year contract with the Washington Nationals, topping out at 300 strikeouts in the 2018 season. This year, Scherzer was traded with teammate Trea Turner to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Scherzer’s 3,000th strikeout came in the uniform of his newest team. Scherzer will likely pursue another contract this off-season when he will be 37 years old. If Scherzer pitches until he’s 41, he has an outside chance of reaching 4,000 strikeouts. However, in his current career, Scherzer’s 3 Cy Young Awards and World Series ring (and he could add to that this year) make him — arguably — the best pitcher of our generation.

Growing the Game

 

Last week, we saw a young boy show his love for Craig Kimbrel in the stands. This week, that boy got to meet his idol in person. Please enjoy the original video and the follow-up of the boy meeting Craig Kimbrel on the field.

Adam Wainwright 1,999 Ks

 

By next week, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright will cross the 2,000 strikeout mark. Wainwright, who is 40 years old, has never been known as a flamethrower with a high K%. Instead, Wainwright has been known for his strong control (with a career 2.43 BB/9) and his team loyalty. With a 2006 World Series ring and even a Silver Slugger award to his resume, Wainwright will finish the year as a member of the 2,000 K club (barring catastrophe in his next start at Milwaukee). Stay tuned for Wainwright’s big moment next week!

All right, friends! Let me know what you’re reading down in the comments. Be a beacon of loving-kindness for yourself and the world right now, and we’ll check in next week. Enjoy the playoff race!

 

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

Blair Williams

Blair holds a PhD in Japanese history and is the author of "Making Japan's National Game: A Cultural History of Baseball." He's a fan of sci-fi, prog metal, and sipping rums.

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