LEADING OFF: Baez back in bigs, Goldschmidt returns a father
A look at what’s happening all round the major leagues Saturday:
The Cubs will look for more power from Javier Baez, a 22-year-old top prospect who was recalled from Triple-A Iowa earlier this week and hit his first homer on Friday. The slugger’s all-or-nothing approach led to plenty of power with the Cubs in 2014, but just a .169 average. He was sent back to the minors this year, where he worked to tone down his swing, starting with shortening what used to be an exaggerated leg kick. The Cubs will face the Diamondbacks without OF/C Kyle Schwarber, out with a mild rib cage strain. Jake Arrieta (17-6, 2.11 ERA) makes his first appearance since no-hitting the Dodgers on Sunday.
Arizona gets back 1B Paul Goldschmidt, who has been out since Wednesday after he and his wife, Amy, welcomed their first child. Entering Friday night, Goldschmidt and the Brewers’ Ryan Braun were the only players this year with at least 20 homers and 20 stolen bases.
IS MOORE BETTER?
Rays LHP Matt Moore will make his first start since being demoted to Triple-A Durham following a lackluster return from Tommy John surgery. An All-Star in 2013, Moore had the surgery early in the 2014 season and returned to the Rays this July, but posted an 8.78 ERA in six starts. He was demoted and struggled initially in Triple-A, too, but dominated in his last few outings, including a 16-strikeout performance against Columbus on Aug. 22. Nathan Eovaldi (14-2, 4.17) goes for the Yankees.
The Rangers will look to LHP Derek Holland (2-1, 2.82) to continue the team’s surprising postseason push. Holland has made three starts since returning from a four-month DL stint after tearing his left labrum in Texas’ home opener. He pitched well in his first two outings, then busted out with 11 strikeouts in a shutout of the Orioles on Aug. 30.
30 FOR A-ROD?
Alex Rodriguez leads the Yankees against the Rays after hitting his 27th homer on Friday night, and the 40-year-old is closing in on his 15th season with 30-plus homers. Just four other players have hit 30-plus long balls after turning 39 – the last to do it were Barry Bonds and Steve Finley in 2004.
Felix Hernandez (15-8, 3.66) returns to the Mariners rotation after having his previous start skipped to get some extra rest. King Felix has been unusually homer prone of late – Boston tagged him for three long balls and 10 runs in a 22-10 loss on Aug. 15. Hernandez’s statistics are down across the board compared to recent seasons, except for in the win column, where he’s already tied the second highest mark of his career.