The Minnesota Twins took a chance on Chris Archer when they signed him during the offseason. Before this season, Archer had only thrown 19 ⅓ innings over the past two seasons. He dealt with multiple injuries that prevented him from seeing action on the rubber.
It seemed as if Archer’s career was taking a turn for the worse, but the Twins gave the two-time All-Star a shot, and he did not disappoint in his last start on June 25.
He picked up his second win of the season against the Colorado Rockies and he was lights out.
Our MLBbro went five innings, giving up one hit and striking out five. And he was in total command from the first pitch.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli has been pleased with Archer’s recent performance on the mound.
“He’s getting as strong as he’s, I think, ever been or at least in recent history,” manager Rocco Baldelli said in an article from mlb.com. “This is what it looks like. He looks good, and he can go out there and win a game for you.”
This season Archer has made 14 starts, which leads the team and has a 2-3 record with a 3.14 ERA. Those are some impressive numbers for Archer, especially since he’s been limited the past few seasons.
Some may have forgotten about how dominant a pitcher Archer was early in his career and he still in fact is very dominant on the mound.
When the Twins signed Archer, the team knew how much of a hard worker he was, and he has displayed that all season.
“He’s going to be handled differently than everyone else, and we’re paying attention to it,” Baldelli said. “We’re doing our best to give him what he needs, and he’s giving us everything he’s got.”
Archer has been very productive in recent starts. He has not allowed more than two earned runs in his last five starts and he’s been a workhorse in the Twins rotation.
“I thought if I didn’t go seven, it was not a good outing,” Archer said after his performance against the Rockies. “But the game has changed, the circumstances of my body are different than they were eight years ago. So yeah, my expectation is a little different, but I always want to put up zeros. I always want to leave the game with the team having a chance to win.”
And he has done just that, especially during the month of June. Archer has put his team in numerous positions to win ball games. His teammates have enjoyed watching him progress throughout the season.
“What he’s doing, he’s being Chris,” Byron Buxton said. “Going out there, taking the ball every five days, giving it all he’s got — it’s all you can ask for.”
This is the Chris Archer we have been waiting to see and it will be exciting to watch how he progresses throughout the remainder of the season.
The NL East has become a battle of familiar faces as the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves begin to pull away from the pack. Let’s take a look at two MLBbros who have contributed in critical areas to both teams.
More Money, More Cash, More W’s
This offseason, Steve Cohen and the Mets front office were as aggressive as we’ve ever seen the little brothers from Queens. They spent big money on Mad Max Scherzer and expected a major bounce back from oft injured ace Jacob DeGrom. But injuries to both have forced the Mets to lean on the last Black Knight left in the Big Apple, Taijuan Walker.
Walker has a 6-2 record so far this season, but as we all know in today’s game we have to go beyond the win-loss record to discuss a pitcher’s true impact. Over his last seven starts, Walker has given up 39 hits in 42.1 innings pitched, while striking out 37 batters along the way.
When opponents have been able to hit Walker, he has done a great job of minimizing the damage. According to FanGraphs, his left-on-base percentage this season is 74.9. One reason Walker may be confusing hitters this season is the fact that he has tweaked his pitching arsenal considerably.
Last season, Walker primarily threw a four-seamer, a sinker and a slider. These three pitches made up 78.6 percent of the pitches that opponents saw, which became predictable as the season went along. This year, not only has he added another pitch to his arsenal (a cutter), Walker has dropped his sinker from his primary rotation of pitches.
Instead of relying on his sinker as his second out pitch, Walker’s split-finger fastball has hitters handcuffed this season, managing just a .155 batting average against the pitch. Walker has held down the fort as the Mets await the return of their aces. That could be scary for the teams chasing the Mets.
Atlanta Fighting Back
The Braves have battled back from a rough start of the season to remain right in the race. MLBbro Travis Demeritte was called up and eventually sent back down, but Michael Harris II has flashed on the five-tool player he was advertised to be.
When I asked Atlanta Braves third base coach Ron Washington what he saw in the young centerfielder Michael Harris II, he didn’t mince words.
“Ballplayer,” Washington placed a heavy emphasis on this word as he began his statement. “He’s not enamored by the big leagues. We aren’t expecting much out of him, which helps him to relax. He’s certainly shored up our defense in the outfield, he’s running the heck out of the base paths. He’s swinging the bat, the kid is a baseball player.”
We’ve raved about the defense since his arrival in the bigs, but Harris has been a much stronger presence in the ninth spot than many anticipated. Harris is hitting .360 over his last seven games, which included collecting four hits in three games against their newfound rivals from the west, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The rook hasn’t been overpowered by fastballs and is also hitting off-speed pitching surprisingly well out the gate. Harris has hit .377 against fastballs and an impressive .300 against off-speed pitches, although off-speed pitches have only made up 13.7 percent of the total pitches he’s seen so far.
With superstar Ronald Acuna Jr. potentially joining Ozzie Albies on injured reserve soon, the Braves need Harris to continue surprising everyone if they have any hope of catching Walker and the Mets.
Cedric Mullins had a breakout year last season. He was the only player to finish with 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases and he was the first Baltimore Orioles player to do so.
Mullins let the league know that he means business. This season, he hasn’t had the success he had last year, but our MLBbro is still making an impact for his team. He’s been seeing the ball really well during the month of June and this is what Orioles fans have been waiting to see all season.
Through 22 games this month, he has 26 hits with a home run and 11 RBI.
He’s currently riding a four-game hitting streak and had a tremendous series against the Chicago White Sox where he had three multi-hit performances.
Mullins has had some of his best offensive performances this season during June. On June 12, he had a four-hit performance against the Kansas City Royals.
It was his second four-hit performance of the season, the first one coming back in May against the St. Louis Cardinals. After his impressive 2021 season, Mullins put himself in an elite category as one of the top outfielders in the game.
He hasn’t showcased his home run power that much this season, only hitting six home runs through 71 games, but he’s still shown that he’s one of the top hitters on the team.
Let’s not forget how talented he is in the field as well.
He’s one of the best at tracking balls down and taking hits away from batters. His all-around game is very impressive and there’s a lot of games left to be played this season, so don’t be surprised if Mullins catches fire and starts hitting home runs.
Earlier this month, Mullins talked about his performance at the plate this season and the mindset he has had.
“The balls that I typically do good damage to I’m just missing,” Mullins said in an article from masnsports.com. “That is just baseball. Do what you can with it. Continue to put the work in, make small tweaks to continue to get better and make adjustments to the pitchers and keep playing hard.”
One important thing to note is Mullins is having fun out there with his team. He’s evolved into a leader and when he’s playing like he knows how to, his energy rubs off on the entire team.
“It’s been awesome,” Mullins said. “It’s interesting looking at the record. We’ve had a lot of close games that could have went our way and we could be looking at a totally different situation right now. This group is always playing hard and we’ve obviously shown that we are not a quitting team and we don’t falter just because we are behind. That is something the team will need to be a winning club.”
Mullins is getting into a rhythm at the plate and that’s a great sign for Orioles fans. Look for him to have a strong second half this season.
Phase 1 of the fan voting process of the 2022 MLB All-Star game was just complete, as the MLB released its standings. The two leaders so far: Aaron Judge and Mookie Betts.
Aaron Judge is on a tear for the best team in baseball, the New York Yankees, as the team has earned a 52-19 record so far, and is on pace for 120 wins. During the 58 games that he has played, he is batting .304, with 27 home runs, 53 RBI, with an on-base percentage of .379, and a slugging percentage of .658. He also has a total of 79 hits and 58 runs scored.
His runs scored and home run total are both leading all of baseball, and Judge is on pace for 60 home runs, which would be the first time anyone has reached that milestone since 2001, when both Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds each hit over 60.
Mookie Betts, who just recently went on the injured list with a cracked rib, had one of the best months of May in the history of the Los Angeles Dodgers. During that month, he had 12 home runs, 27 RBI, an on-base percentage of .411, a slugging percentage of .741, and was batting .342 during that span. Overall, in the 60 games he has played, he is batting .273, hitting 17 home runs and 60 RBI, a .349 on-base percentage, and a .535 slugging percentage.
If Betts or Judge can continue to lead the All-Star polls, and either be the voting leader when it is all said and done, it would be the first time a Black player would have the most All-Star votes since Ken Griffey Jr. of the Seattle Mariners did it in 1999.
As Betts locked in his massive deal back in 2020, now it is Judge’s turn to get his. Judge, who had just agreed to a one-year, $19 million contract to avoid arbitration, is set to be a free agent at the end of the 2022 season.
He turned down an seven-year, $213.5 million offer at the beginning of the season from the Yankees, and with the season he is having, it is looking like he made the right decision. He is set for an even bigger payday, whether that is from the Yankees, or from a different team.
As Judge is essentially a lock to start in the Midsummer Classic, Betts will be, too, if he can make it back from the IL in time. After the All-Star break, the next focus is to continue their respective sensational seasons during the second half to try and lock up awards for the season, like MVPs, All-MLB team slots, and most importantly, a championship. Although there are nine players in each lineup, plus the pitchers, neither the Dodgers nor the Yankees will be the last one standing without their stars continuing to do what they are doing.
The Willie Calhoun era in a Texas Rangers uniform is officially over as he was traded this week
to the San Francisco Giants for Steven Duggar, an outfielder who was connected in the Yu
Darvish deal back in 2017.
This was as close to an amicable parting as our MLBbro could receive after asking for a trade
once he was optioned to the minors at the start of May. The Rangers obliged by sending him to
San Francisco where he can get an opportunity with a team that still believes he can contribute.
Texas designated him for assignment on June 5th, but Calhoun cleared waivers that allowed
him to remain a part of the organization when the trade happened.
“We wish Willie the best in his opportunity with San Francisco,” Rangers president Jon Daniels
said. “It’s a fresh start for him, as well as being close to home.”
While the fact that our MLBbro will be going home in sorts based on the fact that he was born in
the East Bay city of Vallejo California and attended Benicia High School is a nice story, the
reality of the situation is the San Francisco front office has history with Willie Calhoun.
Giants executives Farhan Zaidi and Gabe Kapler were with the Los Angeles Dodgers
organization when Willie was drafted in the fourth round seven years ago. Back then Zaidi was
the general manager while Kapler was the director of player development.
Kapler discussed our MLBbro this week after the trade went down via NBC Sports.
“I’m personally excited about it. I really like Willie, I think he can really swing the bat,” Kapler told
reporters in Atlanta after a 7-6 loss. “ He can really make contact with pitches anywhere in the
zone and has a history of hitting a lot of line drives to the pull side. I’ve known him for a really
long time, I know what his strengths are, and I’m excited that he’s a Giant.”
In Calhoun’s tenure with the Rangers that spanned 253 games, he hit .241 overall but bottomed
out this season with a .136 average with only one homer and two RBI in 18 games this season.
No matter if the change of scenery is welcomed or not, Calhoun has to find consistency to stick
with the Giants and that starts with his ability to stay healthy. His list of injuries along the
COVID-19 pandemic has really slowed his progress the last few seasons. This horrible injury in
spring training being hit by a Julio Urias fastball along with a forearm injury that needed surgery
affected his confidence at the plate.
MLBbro.com covered Willie Calhoun’s adjustments earlier this season with a helmet change called a C-flap to help him feel better about crowding the plate and putting the ball in play,
particularly against left-handed pitching.
With the Giants set on the main roster healthwise, Calhoun will report to the Triple-A affiliate in
Sacramento where he can get an opportunity to make the main roster later on this season.
Michael Brantley has been one of the best hitters on the planet through the first three of weeks June, while attempting to be the only current player in the Majors with an average of .300 or over for five consecutive seasons. Baseball’s silent assassin, “The Professional”, earns the top spot in Week 11 of our #HighFive List.
1. Michael Brantley
This month Brantley is batting .390 with a .525 slugging percentage and two home runs, including a grand slam last week against the White Sox.
Brantley, a five-time All-Star, has been one of the best at making solid contact this season.
His 24% contact rate is the second-highest rating in the league at producing hard contact this season, only trailing teammate Yordan Alvarez’s 26.5%. Other MLBbros Mookie Betts (22.2%) and Aaron Judge (21.4%) follow Brantley on that list.
Brantley has a hit in 15 of 16 games played this month, including eight with multiple hits.
In 21 of his last 22 appearances, he has not allowed a run to score.
Williams and his Brewers will welcome the Toronto Blue Jays to Milwaukee this weekend.
4. Money Michael Harris II
Michael “Money” Harris II has been the perfect fit for Braves Country since he was promoted to the Majors on May 28th. He makes the #HighFive for the second time in his short career.
The Atlanta native and Stockbridge High School graduate was ranked as the Braves top prospect at the beginning of the season. He will lose that title soon as he has shown he won’t be leaving the Big Leagues anytime soon.
Over his last seven games, Harris is hitting .333 with a home run, three RBI and four runs scored while giving Braves fans a glimpse into a future outfield that includes him and superstar outfielder Ronald Acuna, Jr.
Despite his late start, Harris II is already in the conversation for this year’s National League Rookie of The Year award. He already has one of the higher WAR ratings among all rookies.
This weekend Harris and the Braves welcome the Dodgers to Atlanta for the first time since defeating them in last year’s National League Championship series.
5. Taylor Trammell
When opportunity knocks you have to answer. That’s what Taylor Trammell has done since joining the Mariners in late May after a hamstring injury delayed the start of his season.
Trammell is getting significant playing time with the injury to Kyle Lewis as well as other struggles in the Mariners outfield and Trammell has made the most of it.
Over his last seven games, he is batting .313 with a .625 slugging percentage, four walks, a home run and four runs scored. This weekend Trammell and the Mariners will be in L.A. to take on the Los Angeles Angels.