Chris Paddack's Legend Grows (Three Up, Three Down)
Chris Paddack, RHP, Padres
The rookie righthander’s legend continues to grow. Paddack outdueled reigning National League Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom on Monday night, tossing 7.2 scoreless innings while allowing only four hits, one walk and striking out a career-high 11 batters. Among all qualified starters, Paddack ranks first in MLB in WHIP (0.69), opponent average (.130), opponent OPS (.389) and hits allowed per nine innings (3.98). He ranks second in ERA (1.55). Perhaps his most amazing feat, courtesy of statistician Ryan Spaeder, is this: Paddack has 46 strikeouts and just 29 baserunners allowed through seven games this season. No pitcher in baseball history has as many strikeouts and as few baserunners allowed through their first seven career starts.
Zach Davies, RHP, Brewers
Paddack’s 1.55 ERA leads the National League. The man behind him? That would be Davies (1.56 ERA). After being limited to 13 starts last year because of shoulder and back issues, Davies has returned to form and kept the Brewers afloat while the rest of the rotation scuffles. Davies has held opponents to two runs or less in each of his seven starts this season, keeping the Brewers in the game every fifth day. Overall, Milwaukee is 5-2 in Davies' starts this season. They are 13-17 in games started by anyone else.
Michael Brantley, OF, Astros
Brantley’s two-year deal with the Astros went relatively under the radar last offseason, just like most of his career. True to form, the veteran outfielder has continued his quiet, standout ways in Houston. Brantley leads the American League in hits (40) through Tuesday, while also ranking in the top 20 in batting average (.326, seventh), slugging percentage (.548, 14th) and OPS (.918, 15th). After two straight All-Star seasons in 2017-2018, Brantley appears well on his way to a third All-Star appearance with his new club.
Jackie Bradley Jr., OF, Red Sox
Most of the blame for the Red Sox’s 17-19 start falls on their pitching staff, but their offense hasn’t exactly been a buzzsaw either. The Red Sox are batting .248/.331/.407 as a team this year, which is down across the board from their .268/.339/.453 slash line last year. Bradley has been the face of that decline. Among 179 qualified hitters, Bradley ranks dead last in OPS (.419) and second-to-last in batting average (.150). His 18 total bases this season are tied with, among others, the Royals’ Kelvin Gutierrez, who has been in the majors for less than two weeks, and the Rockies’ Daniel Murphy, who missed nearly four weeks with a fractured finger.
Trevor Cahill, RHP, Angels
The Angels signed Cahill and fellow righthander Matt Harvey to fill out the back of their rotation and buy time for prospects Griffin Canning and Jose Suarez to continue developing in Triple-A. Canning is already up in the majors, and with Suarez back from a shoulder injury, the leash may not be much longer for Cahill. The veteran righthander has surrendered a major league-worst 12 home runs this season, leading to a 6.95 ERA and an average of less than five innings per start. He’s failed to pitch more than 4.1 innings in any of his last four starts. With fast-rising pitching prospect Patrick Sandoval now also reaching Triple-A, the pressure is growing on Cahill to turn it around, and turn it around fast.
Ian Desmond, OF, Rockies
The Rockies’ five-year, $70 million deal for Desmond continues to look like one of the worst free agent signings this decade. Desmond is off to yet another poor start, batting .183/.243/.343 through 32 games in an acceleration of his already precipitous decline. Overall, Desmond has hit .244/.307/.385 in two-plus seasons in Colorado, with his batting average and on-base percentage dropping each consecutive season. The Rockies are still on the hook for the $38 million owed to Desmond from 2019-2021, plus a $2 million buyout for 2022. If things continue the way they are, the Rockies may have to accept it as a sunk cost and move on sooner rather than later.