Taijuan Walker has silenced many of his haters this season by taking the city that never sleeps by storm. He has the seventh-lowest ERA in the Major Leagues and struck out a career-high 12 batters during his start this week against the Chicago Cubs.
Through the first three months of the season, Taijuan Walker has been the steal of the off season. The Mets were the only team to offer him a contract, which is for 2 years and $20 million with a player option for the third.
“Everything’s worked out well for everyone,” Walker told reporters. “I’m glad the Mets were my only offer.
Taijuan Walker's 2.12 ERA is the second-lowest in history by a Met in his first 12 starts with the franchise.
The lowest: Al Leiter, who produced a 1.70 ERA over his first 12 starts in 1998.
In Tuesday’s start against the Cubs, Walker struck out a career-high 12 batters and lowered his ERA to 2.12 which is good for seventh in the league. It was his third start this season without allowing a walk and he has caught fire since returning from the Injured List.
In the four starts since his return, Walker has thrown 24 innings and struck out 31 hitters.
His Black Knight rotation mate Marcus Stroman has been the Andre 3000 to Walker’s Big Boi. In his last two starts, Stroman has thrown 13 innings with 15 strikeouts and only one earned run.
Taijuan will get the Fathers Day start for the Mets as they travel to the nation’s capital to take on Josh Harrison, Josh Bell and the rest of the Nationals.
2. Mookie Betts
We have high expectations for Mookie, being that he is the best player in all of baseball. He got off to a slow start this season for his standards, but during the past week, Betts showed flashes of his MVP-caliber skills.
He’s hit .318 with three home runs, four RBI, eight runs, five walks and a .727 Slugging Percentage in his last seven games.
Bett’s has four multi-hit games this month and on Tuesday night against the Phillies, it was the 7th inning of a 3-3 game when Mookie stepped to the plate and blasted a solo home run.
It was the first time he hit a homer with Dodger stadium completely full.
Mookie travels to Arizona this weekend to take on the Diamondbacks who will be rocking their city connect uniforms on Friday night.
3. Marcus “Rock Any Park U” Semien
Marcus Semien has kept his hot bat from the month of May going in June. The reigning American League Player of the Month is batting .263 with three home runs this month, including a leadoff bomb Wednesday night against the Yankees’ Garrett Cole.
Through his last seven games, Semien is hitting .286 with three home runs, six RBI, seven runs and a stolen base. He is on track to start at second base for the American League All-Star team and is in the middle of what is a career year leading up to his free agency this offseason.
Bobby Bradley has been rocking out since joining Cleveland on June 5th as they have been riddled with injuries and he has given them exactly what they have been missing: power at the first base position. Thursday Bradley hit his fourth home run in just 10 games this season. He is now batting .375 with four home runs and 11 RBI.
Bradley has also helped the Indians stay afloat in a wide-open American League. Since his call up they have a record of 8-2 and sit in second place in the American League Central, four games behind Tim Anderson’s White Sox while being only a game back of Michael Brantley and the Houston Astros for the final Wild Card spot.
After finishing a four-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles Thursday, Bradley will travel to Pittsburg to take on Ke’Bryan Hayes and the Pirates.
Justin Upton was named Rob Parker’s Home Boi Highlight after batting .360 with 10 runs scored and two home runs last week. He recently moved to the leadoff spot in the Angels lineup and raised his batting average from .120 to .232.
Being a relief pitcher in baseball has to be the greatest job in the world. Observing the action from the bullpen, you have one of the best views in sports to watch the greatest game ever created.
Despite that, it comes with a high price as the pressure is on 100 percent, the second you enter the game.
After just the first half of the season, a few of our MLBbro relievers have become diamonds under the pressure.
Here is my #HighFive list of a few current black relievers and how they have fared this season.
Devin Williams, Milwaukee Brewers
The 2020 National League Rookie of the Year got off to a slower start than expected this season after posting a 0.33 ERA in 2020, but has recently stemmed the tide and appears to be back to his dominant self. He currently has a 3.55 ERA with 40 strikeouts in 25 innings.
In six appearances during June, he has only given up one run while striking out 11. He also has only given up more than two hits in an appearance three times this year and has not allowed a home run since April 24.
The Brewers are tied for first place in the NL Central. Williams will need to continue to lock the 7th and 8th innings down in order to get the ball to Brewers’ closer Josh Hader who is one of the filthiest in all of baseball.
David Price, Los Angeles Dodgers
Black Ace Club Member, five-time All-Star, Cy Young Award winner and World Series champion David Price is taking on a new challenge this season as he is coming out of the bullpen for the Dodgers for the first time since his World Series run during his rookie year with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Price is one of the most accomplished Black starters in the history of baseball and for sure in the current generation. His 20-win season in 2012 gave him the green light to enter the Black Ace fraternity but with the Dodgers being loaded with pitching options it was thought that Price would be best used out of the bullpen.
His first two outings this year were a little shaky, but we’ll take that as time spent getting used to his new role. After giving up five runs in his first two starts, only four runners have scored in 14 appearances.
Price has an ERA of 3.74 with 24 strikeouts and a 2-0 record, his most recent win coming on Monday after 0.2 innings of scoreless baseball. He is no longer using speed to blow batters away, rather movement and ball placement have led to many ground balls and fly ball outs for him.
Amir Garrett, Cincinnati Reds
Amir Garrett is literally the biggest reliever in the game. He stands 6-foot-5, 239 pounds, and was suspended earlier this season for seven games after being involved in a benches-clearing brawl against the Chicago Cubs in the beginning of May.
Amir Garrett strikes out Anthony Rizzo, words are exchanged and then both benches clear during the Reds and Cubs game. pic.twitter.com/dGX508V2Gh
— Bally Sports Cincinnati (@BallySportsCIN) May 1, 2021
He saw struggles before his return, but when he arrived he came with a vengeance, allowing only three runs in eight appearances and 10 strikeouts for the rest of May.
After a bump in the road to start June, Garrett has still been a great anchor for the Reds’ bullpen. In his last four games, he has given up one run in three innings and has struck out six. It may take a while to bring his 8.34 ERA down to more of a respectable number. He’ll need to stay dominant and keep his focus on one start at a time.
Taylor Hearn and Demarcus Evans, Texas Rangers
The Texas Rangers are the only bullpen in baseball with multiple Black relievers. One throws for the left side and the other the right, but both get it done by throwing flames in Texas’ heat.
Hearn made the Rangers’ Opening Day roster and has had a Jekyll and Hyde beginning to the first three months of the season. After a few April struggles, he seemed to turn it around in May as he posted a 1.93 ERA with 12 strikeouts in 14 innings.
As the calendar turned to June, Hearns arrow shifted in a downward direction. He has given up six runs in six innings, three of them being home runs.
Evans made his MLB debut May 25 and has instantly become one of the team’s best relievers. He won the team’s Minor League Reliever of the Year award for two straight seasons and he’s showing the batters in the Majors are not much tougher. In 8.1 innings, he has only given up two runs and has 11 strikeouts with a 2.16 ERA.
Resilience is the common characteristic found in the makeup of strong MLB relievers. Evans has that. He’s got guts too.
With the Rangers appearing to be in seller mode as the trade deadline inches closer, Hearn and Evans have the chance to showcase their abilities to be stable pieces in the bullpen for years to come.
Dusty Baker continues to bring good mojo to H-Town. The winningest Black manager in MLB history has the Houston Astros sporting the best offense in baseball and leading the Majors in almost every hitting category.
With fans being allowed back in ballparks for the first time since 2019, people are finally getting their chance at vengeance against the Astros for their sign-stealing scandal during their 2017 World Series run.
From Los Angeles to New York, entire stadiums are at war against Dusty’s 26-man crew, and he’s proven to be the perfect general for the fleet. Protecting his players like a bulletproof vest and keeping the conversation on baseball because that’s what he does best.
After taking over a franchise in the midst of chaos and scandal, Baker probably should have been the Manager of the Year, considering what he had to deal with and the negative microscope that his team was under.
Baker shook off the haters, maintained the fort, and shocked MLB by leading the Astros to Game 7 of last year’s American League Championship Series. Baker has them right back in contention this season as they are Top 5 in the American League in offense and pitching.
Let’s get to their bats first: Right now, the Astros currently lead all of MLB in runs, hits, RBI, batting average, total bases, On Base Percentage, and OPS.
Baker sits in 12th place all-time with 1,925 wins as a manager, 36 of them coming this year. His Astros are three games back of the Oakland A’s for the top spot in the AL West. He’ll look to add two more to his win total during a quick homestand against Demarcus Evans, Jason Martin and the Texas Rangers.
Nobody in all of baseball had a better week at the plate than Baltimore Orioles’ center fielder Cedric Mullins.
CM Storm takes the top spot in Week 10 of our #HighFive list and remains hotter than a new stereo system during a blackout.
1. Cedric Mullins
Mullins rocked out in Cleveland this weekend to the tune of a .750 batting average, going 9-for-12 with three home runs, four RBI and five runs scored on his way to earning a feature on Monday’s Homeboi Highlights.
CM Storm has been getting it done all year, and with All-Star voting recently opening up, he has taken his play to another level in hopes of earning one of the three starting outfield positions. In his last seven games, he has an average of .536 with a 1.036 Slugging Percentage, three home runs, nine runs scored and five RBI.
The fleet-footed outfielder’s .323 batting average is sixth place in all of Major League Baseball. His 76 hits lead the American League and are good for third in the Majors. Mullins will look to gain more All-Star momentum and inch closer to a mid-season batting championship during this weekend series in Tampa against the Rays.
He recorded hits in 10 of his last 11 games before going hitless Thursday, which is something he has not done often this year.
J.P. has upped his game on the offensive side of the ball this season. In addition to adding on more weight, he has drastically improved his batting average against left handed pitchers. This season, he is hitting .365 off lefties with eight doubles as opposed to a .242 average in 2020 and a .160 line in 2019.
3. Taijuan Walker
One half of the New York Mets Melanated Mound Marauders sits in the three spot on this week’s High Five list. Taijuan Walker has gotten straight to business since returning from injury May 29th. In his last 34 innings, he has only given up five earned runs.
Walker is going through a stretch where he has allowed no more than one run in five of his last six starts.
Taijuan brought his best stuff to Baltimore on Wednesday as he had one of his best starts of the season. He struck out nine through seven innings, allowing just one run and making one of the plays of the year, stopping a line drive and throwing a runner out at first from the ground.
He sits in sixth in the MLB with a 2.07 ERA leading into his next start Tuesday against the Chicago Cubs.
4. Ke’Bryan Hayes
Ke’Bryan Hayes missed two months after suffering a wrist injury at the beginning of the year and since returning to the Pirates’ lineup has wasted no time in reminding us that he is one of the best young players in the game.
Hayes is 9-for-26 with a .346 average, a home run, three RBI and four runs scored.
We as fans have to feel cheated for not getting to watch Ke’Bryan play ball much this season and it’s going to be a treat seeing him get the chance to develop in front of our eyes for a young Pittsburgh team that is in dire need of a spark plug.
5. Tim Anderson
Tim Anderson has been a consistent force for one of the best lineups in baseball through this entire season as he has his White Sox five games ahead of the pack in the American League Central.
During his last seven games, Anderson has a .379 batting average, a .552 Slugging Percentage, a home run and six RBI. His .302 batting average puts him just outside the top 10 in Major League Baseball.
Byron Buxton is set to begin his rehab stint in Triple-A St. Paul with the hopes of returning to the Big League club this weekend. Buxton has been seen running at 100 percent. If all goes well, he should return to the Twins’ lineup for their weekend series in Minnesota against Michael Brantley and the Houston Astros.
He will look to reclaim the starting job in centerfield for the American League All-Star team and put his name back in the conversation for Most Valuable Player.
Buxton came out the gate throwing harder haymakers than Ali to begin this season. It seemed he had finally put all five tools together as he hit .370 with nine home runs, 17 RBI and five stolen bases in his first 24 games of the year.
In April, he was awarded the AL Player of the Month Award after batting .426 with a .466 On Base Percentage, eight home runs, 14 RBI, 15 Runs Scored and three steals. He also set Twins’ franchise records for March and April in batting average, slugging percentage and OPS.
His defensive play in centerfield had him on his way to winning the first Gold Glove of his career. On May 6, Buxton hit a grounder to the shortstop in the late innings of what would end up being a loss to the Texas Rangers.
Buxton has always been a hustler as he has beaten out multiple routine plays throughout his career.
This time as Buxton crossed first base it was apparent something was wrong. He did not return to the game and ended up having a Grade 2 right hip strain, which put him on the Injured List for the last 30 games.
His absence has truly shown how valuable Buxton truly is to Minnesota. Buxton had a Wins Above Replacement rating of 2.7 before his injury, good for third in MLB. Marcus Semien, who won the AL Player of the Month for May, is tied with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for first in the American League with a WAR of 3.1.
The Twins were sitting in first before Buxton went down and since then are 13-17 and have fallen into last place, 12 games behind the first-place White Sox in the AL Central.
Buxton is returning just in time to have his name in conversations to be at this year’s All-Star Game next month in Denver. Fan voting determines the starting lineup for each division while the managers decide on the rest of the rosters.
I believe the fans will handle their business and vote Buxton as the centerfield starter despite him missing time with a few injuries this season.
The All-Star Game is a collection of the greatest talent in the sport, and fans will be cheated if they are not able to see Buxton chase down balls in centerfield while hitting home runs out of the launching pad that is Coors Field.