MLB

MLB weekend winners and losers: Aaron Judge rises to top of home run leaderboard; double whammy for the Mets

Another weekend of Major League Baseball is in the books. We’re coming together every Sunday to award winners and losers after each weekend of MLB action this season. Here are the big winners and losers from the last few days, including the Rays‘ ace, a red-hot Aaron Judge and a surprising deal.

Winner: Tyler Glasnow

Tampa Bay Rays right-handed starter Tyler Glasnow is having a dominant start to the 2021 season. On Friday when he faced the, at the time, red-hot Mets (they entered the day on seven-game winning streak), Glasnow pitched well into the game and only allowed two runs on five hits and a walk while striking out 10 over eight innings (105 pitches, 70 strikes) in the no-decision. He retired the first 14 batters before Kevin Pillar reached on an infield single in the fifth and Jonathan Villar followed with a home run.

Friday’s start was the fifth time in nine starts Glasnow has racked up double-digit strikeouts. Home runs have been his weakness thus far, having given up three long balls in his last five outings. However, for the season, Glasnow still sports an impressive 2.35 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 85 strikeouts across 57 1/3 innings.

With Friday’s 10 strikeouts, Glasnow, 27, reached a tie with Cleveland’s Shane Bieber for the American League strikeout lead — Bieber retook the lead in his Sunday outing. Glasnow’s 85 strikeouts also broke the Rays franchise record (previously held by him) for the most strikeouts through 10 starts. Glasnow’s strikeout percentage (38.6) is a career-best and only behind Gerrit Cole, Bieber and Brandon Woodruff in the league. With a new pitch usage this year — he’s throwing more sliders in 2021 — Glasnow is finding himself looking better than ever on the mound in 2021. 

Loser: Mets

Yes, the Mets are a loser this weekend in part because they were dominated by Glasnow and were swept by the Rays as their seven-game winning streak disappeared. But the Mets — and their fans — are really losers this weekend because of what a former Mets prospect did. Jarred Kelenic, who was shipped to Seattle in a deal headlined by Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz, made his major-league debut on Thursday. It did not take long for the No. 3 prospect in baseball to deliver. Kelenic went 3 for 4 with three extra-base hits, including his first MLB homer, in Friday night’s win against Cleveland. Here’s the outfielder going deep:

Mets fans will be left wondering what could’ve been for the remainder of Kelenic’s career and were reminded of their team’s ill-advised 2018 swap this weekend. Mariners fans, meanwhile, should be a little chafed about the timing of Kelenic’s debut. He could’ve been smacking MLB dingers and helping Seattle win games in April, but the organization decided suppressing his service time was more important.

Winner: Aaron Judge

Aaron Judge rose to the top of the MLB home run leaderboard this weekend, hitting four long balls in three games against the Orioles. The Yankees slugger homered twice on Friday night in Baltimore and then made it a three-game home run streak with long balls on Saturday and Sunday. HIs most recent blast went 443 feet. Take a look:

Judge has homered 24 times against the Orioles since 2017. Sarah Langs of MLB.com points out that Mike Trout (vs. the Mariners) is the only player with more homers against one opponent in that span. With the four-homer weekend barrage, Judge now has 12 on the season. He enters the week tied with Shohei Ohtani, Mitch Haniger and Ronald Acuña Jr. for the MLB lead.

Loser: Angels (Shohei Ohtani excluded)

The Los Angeles Angels have made a quick descent to last place in the American League West. After a hot start to the season the Angels have now lost 10 of their past 14 games. The Angels had a bad weekend and they would’ve had a really bad weekend if they were not saved by Shohei Ohtani on Sunday. The two-way star hit a game-winning home run in the ninth inning at Fenway Park as the Angels avoided a sweep at the hands of the Red Sox.

So now the Angels have two players doing what nobody else in baseball can do, and it still doesn’t equate to sustained team success. Even the club’s other bright spot, superstar outfielder Mike Trout, is in a slump. Trout went 18 straight at-bats without a hit before singling in the ninth inning on Sunday to set the stage for Ohtani. Things are not great all around for this team, and this weekend’s series vs. the Red Sox only highlighted more of their issues. We’ve discussed the Angels lack of big offseason gets, particularly starting pitching, in recent years. It’s come back to haunt them again. Dylan Bundy, the Angels No. 1 starter, is now winless in eight starts this season. Bundy had a breakout campaign in 2020 (3.29 ERA, 142 ERA+ in 65 2/3 IP) and was expected to be the team’s ace this season. The 28-year-old right-hander allowed a season-worst seven earned runs in four innings during Saturday’s 9-0 loss to the Red Sox. Not great.

While it is still early in this 162-game season, the Angels will need to turn things around sooner rather than later if they hope to avoid wasting another year of Trout’s (and now Ohtani’s) prime without playing a postseason game.

In a surprise move, Albert Pujols reportedly landed a deal with the defending champion Dodgers over the weekend. After the future Hall of Famer was designated for assignment by the Angels earlier this month, it appeared he was headed for retirement. But the banged-up Dodgers are taking a chance on Pujols and will likely use him in a backup/pinch-hitting role. 

Regardless of how much time Pujols gets with the Dodgers, the 41-year-old has the chance to end his career more ceremoniously than getting cut by the Angels on a weekday afternoon.



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