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MLB Weekly Wrap-Up: April 5-12

Twitter: @Padres

The first full weekend of the 2021 Major League Baseball season has come to a close, and there were plenty of moments, great games, and controversy. Let’s take a dive into the most notable events.

Joe Musgrove‘s No-Hit Gem

On Friday night, Joe Musgrove accomplished history as he threw the first no-hitter in Padres’ franchise history. San Diego was the only remaining team to have never thrown a no-hitter, and now leaves Cleveland with the longest streak since last throwing a no-no (1981). Musgrove only allowed one baserunner all game on a hit by pitch against Joey Gallo. He finished the night with nine innings, 0 hits, 0 walks, and 10 strikeouts. He did have some luck on his side though, as five batted balls had an xBA over .500, with the highest being David Dahl‘s 9th inning lineout at an .890 xBA. Acquired from Pittsburgh over the offseason, Musgrove seems to have broken out in his first two starts with the Padres, as he’s thrown 15 shutout innings with a 0.99 FIP (the streak is currently 31.0 IP).

Globe Life Field

At the very start of the week, the Texas Rangers became the first North American sports team to open up to full capacity since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with almost every seat taken in a stadium that holds up to 40,300. The sold out crowd got to see their team lose 6-2 to the Toronto Blue Jays, who ironically can’t play in their own stadium due to COVID protocols in Canada. Since there’s now no mask mandate in the state of Texas, most fans sat in the stands with no mask in sight, living life as if it’s normal again. There’s quite a mixed reception to the Rangers’ decision to do this, but only time will tell how good or bad of a move this was.

Marlins-Mets Controversial Ending

In the Mets home opener against the Marlins, Michael Conforto got hit by a pitch in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded to win the game for New York. However there was quite the controversy around the play, as it appears that Conforto leaned into the pitch.

SNY's Mets' booth blasted the dubious HBP call the Mets won on
SNY

According to the MLB rules, “Strikes supersede hit-by-pitches, meaning if the umpire rules that the pitch was in the strike zone or that the batter swung, the HBP is nullified.” Home plate umpire Ron Kulpa could’ve called it a strike, which he originally motioned the strike three call, meaning Conforto would be out. Who knows what would’ve happened if the right call was made, but both teams will have to live with the result of it since it’s a non-reviewable play.

Trevor Bauer

Speaking of controversy, it was announced that some baseballs from Trevor Bauer‘s last start will be examined by Major League Baseball in suspicion of doctoring the baseballs. Many people in the baseball community have suspected Bauer of using pine tar, as last year the spin on his fastball increased 400 RPM out of nowhere. Bauer also sold merchandise on his website that stated “Legalize Pine Tar” during the offseason but took it off the site. If this is all true, it’ll be pretty ironic since Bauer was very vocal about the Astros’ pitchers cheating in the same fashion and has been anti-pine tar on Twitter in the past. With Major League Baseball starting to use Statcast to try and crack down on pitchers doctoring balls to their advantage, future punitive actions could loom if pitchers get caught. It’s still unknown if Bauer cheated, or what the potential consequences would be for any pitchers getting caught.

Brent Honeywell

The long-awaited Major League debut of Brent Honeywell happened in Tampa Bay’s 8-4 loss to the Yankees on Sunday. Honeywell hasn’t pitched in a professional game since 2017, the year he won the Futures Game MVP. In the span between 2017 and his debut, he has gone through four separate arm surgeries which included Tommy John, elbow surgery, decompression surgery on his right ulnar nerve, and an arthroscopic surgery. Before all these setbacks, Honeywell was regarded as one of the best pitching prospects in all of baseball, and most notably had a pitching arsenal that included a very rare Screwball.

Top Rays prospect Brent Honeywell showed off his nasty screwball in the  2017 Futures Game | MLB.com

After a 1,300-day wait, the 26-year-old right hander went 2 perfect innings while striking out 2. He threw the infamous Screwball once, and topped out at 95.4 MPH on the fastball. It’s an incredible story, and hopefully he can be a big part of a very injury riddled Rays’ pitching staff.

Byron Buxton

Arguably no hitter has started the season hotter than Minnesota’s centerfielder Byron Buxton. This week, he went 7-for-15 with 2 home runs and a 1.500 OPS. So far, he leads Major League Baseball in wRC+ and is second in fWAR behind Mike Trout. Buxton, a former number one overall prospect, has had lots of struggles due to injuries, as he’s only played over 100 games in a season once, in 2017. While he’s more well known for his blazing speed and great defense, his bat has progressively gotten better in the last few years. He’s had an above average wRC+ in the last two seasons, and last year was above the 85th percentile in Hard Hit %, Barrel %, and Average Exit Velocity (AEV). If Buxton can stay healthy for the whole season, I would not be shocked to see his name near the top of the WAR leaderboards.

What To Watch Next Week

While this week was quite an eventful one, there’s quite a lot to look forward to in the upcoming week. Most notably, the Dodgers and Padres are set to play in their first matchup of the season starting on Friday. Arguably the two best teams in baseball, it is bound to be must watch TV, especially with Fernando Tatis Jr. potentially coming off the IL next weekend after a shoulder subluxation. Twins’ third baseman Josh Donaldson is also set to come off the IL after suffering a hamstring strain in the first game of the season. Also, while it’s not known what day, Shohei Ohtani is expected to start his second game of the year on the mound. Ohtani has been dealing with a blister on his middle finger which caused him to miss his scheduled start on Sunday vs the Blue Jays. He’s going to throw a bullpen at the beginning of the week and will likely pitch on the weekend if there are no issues. This season has been fun to watch so far, and it will be a pleasure to watch another full week of action!