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This is the first installment of a weekly series called Statcast Sunday, where we will take a deep dive into the Advanced statistics driving the Washington Nationals season.
When it comes to the Washington Nationals offense, there are some glaring question marks. There are only a few hitters whom you could consider to be having a good season, with the rest playing like you would expect a sub .500 team to play. The lack of offensive production could be coming from a source that gets substantial attention in the front offices of Major League Baseball, exit velocity.

The MLB defines Exit Velocity as “the speed of the baseball as it comes off the bat, immediately after a batter makes contact.” This is essentially the purest statistic to measure how hard a player hits a baseball, with no other factors being brought into the equation.

The average for the MLB is 88.3 MPH, per Baseball Savant. In 2019, the Nationals have posted a team Exit Velo of 86.9 MPH, well below average. This number is bad enough to give the Nationals the position of 3rd worst in all of baseball.

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Nationals Exit Velo this season, bottom 3 in the league.

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However, it is not the entire team that is to blame for the awful placement among the league in Exit Velo. Some of the team ranks among the leagues best. Anthony Rendon, for example, averages 92.5 mph, good enough to put him in the top 6% in the league.

The players who are bringing the Nationals down are members like Victor Robles. Robles is averaging 80 mph exit velocity, eight MPH less than the league average. This is enough to put Robles in the bottom 1% of the league.

The Nationals are not hitting the ball very hard relative to the rest of the league, but it is a good sign that the veterans like Rendon are hitting it hard.

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NEXT: Top 10 Rookie Seasons in Nats History
The data suggests that some of the players on this team, particularly the younger players, need some time to adjust to a full season of major league pitching. Over time, we could see this area of the Nationals offense improve.

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The Blue Jays’ two greatest needs are starting pitching and outfield. Might they solve both needs with a single trade?
The Seattle Mariners have recently announced that they are “deep in sell mode“. Problem is, many of the contracts they are hoping to move are arguably under water. Might they be tempted to trade current assets for salary relief, much as they did when they included Edwin Diaz in a trade package to induce the Mets to take on the contract of Robinson Cano? And if they did, might the Jays be able to take advantage?

First, let’s talk about Mike Leake. He is under contract for 2019 ($16m), 2020 ($15m) and has a 2021 mutual option for $18m with a $5m buyout. So the M’s owe him roughly $28 million for the next year and a half. Problem is, Leake has been struggling – he has a 4.71 ERA and a 4.66 SIERA so far in 2019, and his fastball velocity has dropped from 93 mph in 2015 to less than 89 mph now. The only thing going for him is his workload – he has averaged over 190 innings over the last 6 years and has averaged 6 innings in each of his 12 starts in 2019.

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Clearly not worth $28 million – particularly to a Mariners team with an active payroll just over $130 million. But still of value to a team looking for an innings-eating #5-ish starter for 2019 and 2020 – just long enough for their minor league arms to be ready to take over. Remind you of anyone?

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Second, let’s talk about Mitch Haniger. Acquired by the M’s from Arizona in the 2016 Jean Segura trade, Haniger exploded with 7 WAR for Seattle over the 2017 and 2018 seasons. But there were red flags.

Haniger was maintaining a .330+ BABIP – not likely sustainable, given his skill set. Sure enough, in 2019 his BABIP has regressed to a more logical .268 and as a result his wRC+ has declined to 115 – almost exactly as was predicted by Steamer and ZiPS entering the season. So Haniger now looks like an above-average defensive right fielder with a good but not elite bat. Worth perhaps 2-3 WAR, depending on injuries. Well worth having, but no longer the “untouchable” he might have been in 2017.

So why would the Jays be interested? Well, given their current outfield situation, a 2.5 WAR outfielder with some experience batting leadoff who can also play centre field in a pinch is nothing to sneeze at. Plus, Haniger is only eligible for arbitration in 2020 and a not a free agent until 2023. And of course, there is always the chance that moving to the Rogers Centre Launching Pad could make good magic happen.

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Can you see where I am going here?

The Jays have a need for a Leake and a Haniger. They should (?) have the salary room to accept a bad Leake contract (assuming he waives his no-trade clause) in exchange for a good Haniger one. Of course, there would be other pieces involved (some of the Jays’ middle infield talent?) but the essence of the deal would be similar to the Diaz+Cano trade.

NEXT: Is it wise to start Aaron Sanchez already?
The bottom line

The Jays have the advantage that, with the many young players projected to be on the 2020 roster, their payroll should be manageable enough to accept a bad contract or two if in exchange they could get assets that would accelerate the rebuild – and decrease the rebuilding pain.

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Adrian Sampson provided evidence Sunday that he doesn’t need to follow a closer to the mound for the Texas Rangers to be successful.

The 27-year-old right-hander struck out a career-high 11 in seven innings and earned his first major league win as a starter, leading the Rangers over the Kansas City Royals 5-1.

Texas won three of four in the series. The Royals ended a 1-6 trip that left them with a major league-worst 8-23 road record.

Sampson (4-3) posted his previous three victories in relief of an opener during his last three outings. He gave up one run and eight hits, and walked none.

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“I knew I’d be out there in the heart of it, and it was just good to get a win today,” he said.

Sampson brought an 0-4 career record into this season in six appearances for the Rangers and Seattle Mariners beginning in 2016.

“I’m pretty sure we won’t use (a closer) next time,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “That was amazing what he did. Showed us a lot. Showed me a lot. It showed our entire staff a lot — guts.”

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Texas reliever Jesse Chavez pitched a scoreless ninth to run his shutout streak to 18 1/3 innings.

Brad Keller (3-7) allowed three runs in seven innings. The American League leader in walks with 42 didn’t walk anyone but had two wild pitches, one that scored a run.

Texas took a 1-0 lead in the third on three opposite-field singles and added two runs in the fifth, the second on an opposite-field single by Nomar Mazara.

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Sampson escaped a jam in the fifth in which the Royals used bunt singles by Terrance Gore and Billy Hamilton to load the bases with none out. He retired Whit Merrifield on a liner to third base, Adalberto Mondesi on a swinging third strike on an off-speed pitch and Alex Gordon on a called third strike on another off-speed delivery.

“A lot of times a young pitcher will get in that situation and want to try to power his way through it,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He did just the opposite. He totally abandoned his fastball and went soft.”

Jorge Soler hit his career-high 15th home run in the sixth inning for Kansas City’s run.

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The Royals loaded the bases in the eighth inning with two outs, but Shelby Miller got Cam Gallagher to fly out to center field.

Sampson became the first Texas pitcher with at least 11 strikeouts and no walks since Cole Hamels had 12 with no walks on Sept. 19, 2015 against Seattle.

YOST, UMPIRE NOT IN HARMONY
Yost was expressing his displeasure about Whit Merrifield striking out on a foul tip to end the top of the seventh inning with home plate umpire Todd Tichenor when they were interrupted by the singing of “God Bless America.” The pair then stood side by side at the plate facing center field.

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“We were still kind of going after it, still talking about it during `God Bless America,”‘ Yost said. “It’s a tough call for the home plate umpire. Base umpire’s got to see that.”

GALLO TO IL
Rangers CF Joey Gallo, who’s tied with three others for second place in the AL with 17 home runs, was placed on the 10-day injured list with a left oblique strain that happened in Saturday’s game and will probably miss about two weeks.

“Hopefully it’s going to be a quick trip,” he said.

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BIRTHDAY — AND IT’S A BOY
Rangers RHP Chris Martin celebrated his 33rd birthday. After the game at the plate with expectant wife Danielle, he swung easily at a slowly tossed pitch that exploded with blue power as a gender reveal.

SHORT HOPS
Texas scored a second run on a third wild pitch, in the eighth inning by Jake Diekman. … Mondesi hit his major league-leading eighth triple, breaking a tie with Merrifield. … Royals 3B Cheslor Cuthbert had his second career three-hit game.

TRAINER’S ROOM
Royals: C Martin Maldonado, who left Saturday’s game in the sixth inning with right forearm tightness, was available but given the day off.

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UP NEXT
Royals: RHP Glenn Sparkman (1-1, 4.21) will open a home series against the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday. His previous start lasted two batters into the second inning, when he was ejected for hitting Tim Anderson for White Sox.

Rangers: LHP Drew Smyly (1-3, 6.98) will start Tuesday’s series opener at home against the Baltimore Orioles on five days’ rest unless Woodard decides to move up LHP Mike Minor (5-4, 2.74).

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ST. PETERSBURG — Only so much can be made from a single four-game series as the calendar flips from May to June, but given that the Twins came to Tropicana Field with baseball’s best record, it was certainly an opportunity to gauge how the Rays matched up.

In the final assessment, they didn’t match up too well.

Following their 9-7 loss in the series finale Sunday, the Rays found themselves losers of three straight against Minnesota. But they ran into a team that was leading baseball in nearly every offensive category at an inopportune time.

The Rays (35-22) were without two of their top hitters — Tommy Pham and Avisail Garcia — in the three games they lost. Another top hitter, Yandy Diaz, missed the first three games of the series before returning from the injured list for the finale.

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The Rays haven’t had too many stretches like this so far this year. The three straight losses mark their second-longest losing streak of the season, coming after six straight wins, a streak that included a three-game sweep of the Blue Jays to open the seven-game homestand that ended Sunday.

“It’s June,” manager Kevin Cash said. “We went 4-3 on the homestand. It would’ve been nice to be better than that but … more times than not, we’re going to be satisfied with a winning homestand.”

Ultimately, however, the Rays must play better against good teams. The loss made them 9-10 against teams that entered Sunday night with winning records. They were 26-12 against the rest of the majors.

“I don’t think anybody’s happy about how the last couple days went,” Sunday starter Ryan Yarbrough said. “But at the same time, we realize the team we have here, and I don’t think anybody’s confidence has wavered at all. … It’s just a matter of taking into account what we did well, what we think we can work on after the off day (Monday) and get back at it.”

A bullpen stretched to the seams forced Yarbrough, ideally used to follow an opener, to take his lumps on a day he didn’t have his best stuff. The Twins pounded him for seven runs in seven innings as he allowed 15 baserunners (10 hits, two walks, two hit batters and one batter who reached on an error).

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More damage would have been done had the Rays not turned four double plays for Yarbrough. But that’s not to say the Rays should be credited for great defensive play.

It was ugly early.

The game began with a Christian Arroyo throwing error. Leftfielder Brandon Lowe overpursued a fly ball off the bat of Miguel Sano and allowed the ball to hop high off the turf and over his head for a run. And first baseman Ji-Man Choi’s throwing error on a pickoff play — he sailed a throw past second base and into the outfield — opened the gates for a four-run fifth inning that give Minnesota a 7-0 lead.

“That’s not really us,” Cash said. “We’re going to make some mistakes on defense, but when you play a team that’s rolling right now like Minnesota, every little thing you give them, it certainly feels like they take advantage.”

The Twins (40-18) proved to be the more sound team. They executed a safety squeeze to start their fifth-inning scoring. Centerfielder Byron Buxton killed a potential Rays rally, making a catch on Diaz’s hard-hit drive to center while hitting the wall, then doubling up Austin Meadows off first base.

The Rays had no answer for former Tampa Bay right-hander Jake Odorizzi, who struck out nine and allowed just three hits over six scoreless innings. They tapped into the Twins bullpen in the seventh, scoring five runs to cut their deficit to two.

Jonathan Schoop then hit a two-run homer off the C-ring catwalk in leftfield in the eighth to extend the Twins’ lead, and Arroyo hit his second homer in as many games with a two-run shot in the bottom of the eighth to cut the Rays’ deficit to two again.

And though the Rays can take some comfort in that the reason they sat Pham and Garcia, and were careful with Diaz, is to ensure their durability for later in the season, the Twins were also without their top slugger, Nelson Cruz, who is on the injured list.

The Twins’ 12-hit attack marked their majors-best 30th game with double-digit hits. They have 10 or more hits in 14 of their past 17 games, averaging 7.8 runs over that stretch.

“There’s not a break in (their lineup)” Cash said. “I can tell you that. They’ve got a good balance one through nine. It seems like a lot of them are seeing the ball really well right now. … They can challenge any pitching staff, good pitching, base pitching, whatever. They’re certainly seeing the ball pretty well.”

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From start to finish, it took the Cardinals some six hours 41 minutes to pull it off, but their 7-4 win over the Chicago Cubs Saturday night/Sunday morning enabled them to accomplish something they hadn’t done for a month — win a series.

Coupled with their extra-inning victory over the Cubs the night before, the Cardinals ended a string of eight fruitless series (0-7-1) as they scored their third victory in succession overall. What was left of a sellout crowd of 46,297 at Busch Stadium witnessed the conclusion just before 1 a.m., after a 3 hour 37 minute rain delay had halted proceedings in the bottom of the fourth, just after the hockey game down the street had started.

Center fielder Harrison Bader, who followed Dexter Fowler’s opposite-field homer in the eighth with one of his own to push a one-run lead to three, said players have to “trick” themselves during such a long delay so that they’ll be ready to play when the game resumes.
“It’s mind over matter,” said Bader. “If you don’t mind it, it don’t matter.

“If we’re going to be here. . we’re going to bring every ounce of energy we’ve got,” Bader said. “We’re going to lay it all out there.”

Cardinals righthander Jack Flaherty has given up just four runs in 17 innings covering his last three starts. And he has no wins to show for it. But Flaherty extended the majors’ longest streak of games with at least five innings pitched and four or fewer hits allowed. That streak went to eight as the 23-year-old Flaherty permitted four hits, two of them homers, while striking out eight and walking nobody in his five innings.

That Flaherty didn’t get the decision mattered not to him as he remained to talk to reporters after 1 a.m. “I mean, I threw yesterday,” he said in false wonderment as to why anybody would want to speak with him.

He preferred to talk about what happened after he left the game. “I love the way we pulled that game out,” he said.

After Flaherty left, the Cardinals went ahead for the first time with three runs in the sixth inning. Marcell Ozuna stroked his third consecutive single and scored from first on a one-out double to center by Matt Wieters as Cubs center fielder Albert Almora Jr., had trouble getting rid of his relay throw back to the infield.

Former Cub Fowler then tagged Tyler Chatwood with a run-scoring single to right. After Bader struck out, Fowler took off for second on a 1-2 pitch to Kolten Wong, who doubled into the left-field corner, chasing in Fowler and the Cardinals had a 5-2 lead.

But not so fast. . .

Chicago struck for two runs in the seventh off John Brebbia and Andrew Miller. Brebbia, a stalwart in the Cardinals’ bullpen all season, retired no one as Addison Russell singled, David Bote doubled him in and Almora Jr. walked. Bote was replacing All-Star infielder Javier Baez, who was a late scratch with a bruised heel.

Lefthander Miller relieved to face lefthanded-hitting Daniel Descalso, who bunted through the box as Miller couldn’t make the play, loading the bases. That hit was the Cubs’ first in their last 26 at-bats with a man in scoring position.

Miller struck out lefthanded-hitting Kyle Schwarber as he would later strike out lefthanded-hitting Anthony Rizzo to end the inning. In between, Miller at least got a glove on Kris Bryant’s smash up the middle, slowing it down so the Cardinals could get a forceout.

“Tremendous job of damage control,” said manager Mike Shildt.

Righthander Giovanny Gallegos, gradually receiving more high leverage situations, whipped through the eighth, recording two strikeouts to give him 38 in 24 innings. Gallegos was acquired from the New York Yankees last summer for Luke Voit.

The homers by Fowler and Bader off lefthander Kyle Ryan stretched the lead back to three runs and gave closer du jour Carlos Martinez breathing room for his first save of the season as he worked for a three consecutive game for the first time this season. Jordan Hicks was unavailable after throwing 35 pitches the night before.
Rizzo extended his hitting streak to 13 games by walloping his 16th homer to right center off a Flaherty changeup for the first run of the game in the first inning.

But the Cardinals’ Paul Goldschmidt, who already had hit two career homers off lefthander Jose Quintana, belted his 12th homer to right center to tie the game in the Cardinals’ first. Goldschmidt’s drive was measured at one foot beyond Rizzo’s at 422.

Just like that, though, Jason Heyward pounded his ninth homer to right leading off the second and the Cubs again had a one-run edge. The homer was the 11th surrendered by Flaherty, one off the staff lead of 12 by Miles Mikolas and Michael Wacha, and the 83rd given up by the Cardinals’ staff in 57 games, which is an unhealthy pace of 236 for the season. The 83-homer total was 11 more homers than that of the Cardinals.

Quintana made the mistake of walking Flaherty to open the Cardinals’ third. The Cubs’ pitcher retired the next two hitters but Goldschmidt got his seventh hit in 13 career at-bats against Quintana with a lined single to center and Ozuna delivered his 51st RBI of the season and 500th of his career with a single to left as Flaherty scored to make it 2-2. Ozuna, at that point, had 51 RBIs with just 52 hits.

Flaherty’s total of eight games of at least five innings and four or fewer hits tied his own streak of last season from Aug. 5-Sept. 14. The major league record is 10 held by lefthander Johan Santana and Ted Lilly.

The weather prevented Flaherty, who had thrown only 21 called balls in 77 pitches, from pitching into the sixth or seventh. “It (stinks),” said Flaherty. “(Matt) Wieters and I got into a good rhythm. I walked away and I wasn’t tired or anything.”

But he said, “You do what you can to help your team win and when your time comes to come out of the game, you get everybody else’s back, because they’ve got your back. It was fun to watch them do it after the delay. It’s hard. You sit around forever.”

Some players watched the Blues’ game during the delay. Shildt had work to to do. “I sat there and contemplated who was going to pinch-hit and who was going to pitch the sixth,” he said, smiling.

The night might have had more definition if the teams had played one more half inning before the tarp came onto the field, making the game an official game. Until play resumed at 11:21 p.m., though, there had been some thought that what everybody had seen would be a mirage because none of the statistics would have counted and the game would have to be replayed from the start.

If the game had gone five innings tied and then was stopped by rain, it would have been a suspended game and would have been picked up on Sunday.

Shildt said he thought, the cancellation of the game “might be a possibility. Then we got word, rightfully. New York (Major League Baseball headquarters), said, ‘You’re playing. Get your sleeping bags out if you have to,’’’ related Shildt.

“I get it. We’ve gone halfway into the game, and no one wants to pack another game into whenever they come back in July or whatever it is;”

There was a Fox television commitment on the line, too, for the St. Louis and Chicago markets although Shildt said, “I can’t speak to the market.”

When the game ended, there were no fireworks shot off because of the lateness of the game. I don’t know about city ordinances, man,” said Shildt. “I’ve got my hands full.”

John Gant, the best Cardinals’ pitcher this season, gained his fourth win of the season, tying him for the staff lead, by throwing one inning of hitless relief in the sixth, before the Cardinals rallied.

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SEATTLE (AP) – Jose Suarez showed the poise of a veteran in his major league debut.

The 21-year-old allowed three runs over 5 2/3 innings and got plenty of support from Albert Pujols and the Los Angeles Angels offense to beat the Seattle Mariners 13-3 on Sunday.

Angels 13, Mariners 3: Box score

“He was very calm,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said. “Which kind of goes along with his demeanor despite his young age.”
Called up from Triple-A Salt Lake on Saturday night, Suarez (1-0) allowed three runs and five hits, and became the youngest pitcher to start for the Angels since Tyler Chatwood in 2011.

Suarez quickly found his footing in the first inning, setting down the Mariners in order. He worked through a two-run second then nearly put together four straight scoreless innings until Kyle Seager’s solo home run with two outs in the sixth ended his debut.
“I didn’t feel as nervous in the bullpen, but once I got out there and saw some of the hitters, it made it more real for me,” Suarez said.

Suarez also had room to work with, as the Angels put together a seven-run second and five-run fifth, and finished with 15 hits.

Pujols hit his 643rd career homer and drove in five runs. Luis Rengifo hit his first career home run, a solo drive in the sixth that landed above the Hit It Here Cafe in left field. Mike Trout and David Fletcher each had three hits for Los Angeles and Pujols added a two-run double on a flyball the Mariners lost in the sun.
Marco Gonzales (5-6) was tagged for 10 runs on nine hits in 4 2/3 innings. He was the first pitcher in Mariners history to win five games before May, but is 0-6 with a 7.79 ERA in his last seven starts.

“The way I pitched is just unacceptable,” Gonzales said. “I did not give my team a chance to win and I exposed our bullpen way too early. There’s a lot of things I need to work on. First and foremost, I need to take accountability for that. I need to help this team win.”

Much like Gonzales, the Mariners started the season strong at 13-2 and in first place in the AL West, but now sit at the bottom of the division standings at 25-37.

“I’m not going to point any fingers besides toward myself,” Gonzales said. “I think it starts with the guys on the mound, it starts with the starting pitching. It hasn’t been up to par. For us to go out and set the tone, I don’t care how well we hit, we’re not going to do what we want to do.”
Pujols’ 11th homer this year, a three-run drive, capped LA’s seven-run second. He also went deep in Saturday’s 6-3 victory.

Gonzales left with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth, and reliever Connor Sadzeck’s second pitch bounced past catcher Omar Narváez, allowing Tommy La Stella to score from third.

David Fletcher walked to re-load the bases and Trout hit a two-run single. Seager’s error at third base loaded the bases once more for the Angels and Pujols hit a high fly that eluded center fielder Mallex Smith in the sun and bounced over the wall.

Seager finished 2-for-3 with a double to go along with his first home run of the season. Seager has multiple hits in three of his nine games this season.

CAN’T STOP THE BLEEDING
The Mariners have allowed 10 or more runs in 13 games this season, the most in the majors.

SHORT DEBUT
With the Angels traveling to Chicago for an interleague matchup against the Cubs on Monday, Suarez was sent down to Triple A Salt Lake following Sunday’s victory to make room for an additional position player.
“He did really well, but we have six starters right now and we’re going to a National League park and we need another position player,” Ausmus said.

ROSTER MOVES
Angels: RHP John Curtiss was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake on Saturday night to make room for Suarez. The Angels also requested unconditional release waivers on RHP Matt Ramsey, who had been designated for assignment.

Mariners: OF Braden Bishop was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma to fill the roster spot of OF Jay Bruce, who was traded with cash to the Phillies for minor leaguer Jake Scheiner.

UP NEXT
Angels: Trevor Cahill (2-5, 6.92) takes the mound for LA’s interleague pit stop in Chicago against the Cubs on Monday. It’s a make-up game for a snowout in April.

Mariners: Wade LeBlanc (2-2, 6.99) goes for his first win since April 7 when the Mariners face Houston on Monday.

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BALTIMORE — After losing eight of their last nine games, the San Francisco Giants have provided the franchise’s front office with a sense of clarity.

Unlike in 2018, when the Giants hovered around .500 and remained within striking distance of a wildcard spot, this year’s club has completely fallen out of contention.

Only the Miami Marlins own a worse record in the National League and after the Giants lost two of three to their NL East foes earlier this week, it may only be a matter of time before San Francisco sinks into the cellar.

The Giants’ struggles have given first-year president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi no choice but to explore trade opportunities that will help the club rebuild for the future. The team’s best pitchers, Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith, likely won’t remain with the Giants past July 31 while many younger players should receive extended auditions over the course of the summer.

Zaidi won’t be motivated to hang onto pending free agents in hopes the Giants make a miracle run, which contrasts the approach taken by the previous regime at last year’s trade deadline.

The clarity the Giants have already received makes the month of June that much more important for the organization, and on the first of the month, we outlined five things the franchise must do over the next 30 days.

1. Draft a future star

The Giants hold the 10th overall pick in the 2019 Major League Baseball Draft and on June 3, they’ll have the chance to add a significant piece to the organization’s future core.
The last two times the Giants have chosen at No. 10, they selected Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner.

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There’s an elevated level of pressure that comes with choosing in the top 10, particularly for a franchise that rarely has the opportunity to do so. The Giants have needs at nearly every position, so expect Zaidi and Co. to target the best player available with their first round selection.

Even if the Giants don’t nail their pick at No. 10, they’ll have the 10th pick in each subsequent round which will give the organization more opportunities to add future major league contributors.

2. Survey the trade market

With the elimination of the August 31 waiver deadline this year, July 31 is the last possible date for teams to execute trades. The Giants shouldn’t feel the need to wait that long to part with their top assets, especially if Zaidi receives offers from teams like the Twins, Phillies and Braves who are eager to fill holes on their pitching staffs.

If any teams are willing to overpay for Bumgarner, Smith or a number of other Giants players who will be available this summer, don’t expect the Giants’ front office to wait around. While Zaidi hasn’t used the word “rebuild” in public yet, it’s likely he’ll have no choice but to do so in the coming weeks once the Giants completely turn their attention toward the future.

3. Audition young starters

The Giants have received the clarity needed to explore trade possibilities, but they haven’t completely turned over the rotation to young starters who could play key roles on future staffs.

Expect that to change this month.

Giants starters posted a 7.32 ERA in May, which marked the highest ERA for the team’s rotation in a single month since the franchise moved from New York to San Francisco in 1958. It was the worst month by any starting staff in baseball since the A’s finished September, 2015 with an 8.25 ERA.

Thanks to impressive recent performances by Tyler Beede and Dereck Rodríguez, hope for the future is not lost altogether. Over the next month, that duo plus rookie Shaun Anderson should receive a number of chances. If the Giants want to look at Andrew Suárez again or call up a prospect like Double-A starter Conner Menez, the fan base would welcome the decision to do so.

4. Give the left field platoon a chance

The Giants have spent more than a decade searching for stability in left field, but the search has been nothing short of a lost cause over the last three years. The club has already designated Connor Joe, Gerardo Parra and Mac Williamson for assignment this season, so anyone who can provide even the slightest bit of offensive production will be considered an upgrade.

Rookie Mike Yastrzemski showed promise with a triple and a home run in Baltimore on Friday while power-hitting right-hander Tyler Austin has already proven he can mash lefties. The Giants are temporarily committed to that platoon in left field, and both Yastrzemski and Austin should be given the chance to prove what they can do in an extended audition over the next month.

Yastrzemski is a solid fielder who has demonstrated good plate discipline thus far while Austin is still considered a liability in the outfield. If both players can improve upon perceived weaknesses, the Giants may have a little more confidence in their outfield depth heading into July.

5. Give the fans a reason to show up

The Giants are 12 games under .500, 16.0 games out of the division and headed toward their second 90-plus loss season in the last three years.

The worst part for fans? They haven’t played an entertaining brand of baseball.

While Zaidi is eager to see what some of the younger talents can prove this summer, it’s up to veterans like Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt to give the fans in San Francisco a reason to show up to Oracle Park. Nearly every veteran on the roster has underperformed to date and Giants fans have grown increasingly frustrated with the team’s inability to keep pace with even the worst teams in the league.

A last-place finish would give the Giants a better pick in next year’s draft, but the guess here is that fans might not mind picking in the seven-to-10 range instead of the three-to-five range if it means they see their stars heat up this summer.

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SAN DIEGO — The game between the Miami Marlins and San Diego Padres at Petco Park was delayed for 28 minutes after a swarm of bees settled onto a microphone attached to the netting near the home dugout.

With Padres rookie Josh Naylor about to bat with two outs in the third inning Sunday, players began scattering. Marlins catcher Jorge Alfaro headed to the dugout and plate umpire Gerry Davis moved back from the field.

Eventually all the players left the field. An exterminator in a beekeeping suit climbed a ladder and sprayed the bees. He then used a shop vacuum cleaner to remove the dead bees, and the grounds crew tidied up the area.

The Padres’ official Twitter account had some fun during the delay:
San Diego Padres

@Padres
We are in a (check notes) bee delay.

1,011
7:09 AM – Jun 3, 2019
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San Diego Padres

@Padres
NOOOOOOOPE no no no

349
7:22 AM – Jun 3, 2019
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Embedded video

San Diego Padres

@Padres
According to all known laws of aviation, there is no way a bee should be able to fly. Its wings are too small to get its fat little body off the ground.

The bee, of course, flies anyway, because bees don’t care what humans think is impossible.

1,286
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Naylor flied out to end the inning. The Marlins would go on to beat the Padres 9-3.

There was bee delay of 52 minutes on July 2, 2009, during a Padres game with the Houston Astros at the downtown ballpark, which opened in 2004.

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The Pittsburgh Pirates and the rest of Major League Baseball will partake in the annual MLB Amateur Draft tomorrow night. Here is who they might take.
The Major League Baseball Draft is one of the most important events of the year for the Pittsburgh Pirates. It is their chance to bring in some new, quality prospects that could be key contributors in the future. With the Bucs being a small market team, it is even more important for them to find upside players via the draft.

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The Draft is tomorrow night, Monday, June 3rd. It will be shown on the MLB Network who will have Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis from MLB Pipeline, along with the team from Baseball America. Draft coverage has already started, but the actual Draft will kick off at 7:00 PM EST. The Draft is held over three days (June 3-7) with 40 rounds.

The Baltimore Orioles are expected to take Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman with the first overall pick. There have been plenty of mock drafts done over the last few weeks, and this is the consensus for the Orioles. The catcher from Oregon State is considered to be one of the best draft prospects in years.

With the first overall pick being so clear, how clear is the Pittsburgh Pirates pick? Well, that’s not as easy being they pick 18th overall. Furthermore, they have four picks on the first day of the draft, so the team has a chance to add a lot of talent. Who will the Bucs take with their four picks? Here is who we think:

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The Philadelphia Phillies acquired former All-Star outfielder Jay Bruce from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for Class-A infielder Jake Scheiner and cash considerations, the Phillies announced Sunday.

Bruce is owed $8,317,204 this year from his $13 million salary and has a $13 million salary in 2020 — the remainder of a three-year contract he signed with the New York Mets in January 2018. The Mets remain responsible for the second $1.5 million installment of his $3 million signing bonus, a payment due Jan. 31, 2020.

The 32-year-old Bruce is hitting .212 with 14 homers and 28 RBIs. He has struck out 53 times in 165 at-bats.

“I figured this would be the situation,” Bruce told reporters. “It’s bittersweet. I really like the group of guys here [in Seattle]. I got to know some of them and had great relationships. It’s part of the business, though. I get to go somewhere I have a chance to win, and at this point in my career, that’s pretty paramount for me.”

A three-time All-Star for Cincinnati in 2011, ’12 and ’16, Bruce was acquired by the Mets from the Reds on Aug. 1, 2016, traded to Cleveland on Aug. 9, 2017, then became a free agent and returned to the Mets in 2018.

He hit just .223 with nine homers and 37 RBIs in 94 games last year, and New York traded him to Seattle in December as part of the deal in which the salary-shedding Mariners sent second baseman Robinson Cano and closer Edwin Diaz to the Mets.

Philadelphia outfielder Odubel Herrera was placed on administrative leave by the commissioner’s office Tuesday under the sport’s domestic violence policy after his arrest in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Bruce is expected to help fill that void.

Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said Bruce would be used both off the bench and as a starter.

“Jay Bruce makes our bench stronger and I also think he makes our lineup stronger on days when we’ll see a right-handed pitcher,” he said.

Bruce’s last hit with Seattle was memorable: He clubbed his 300th career home run on Friday against the Los Angeles Angels.

Scheiner, 23, hit .256 with two home runs and 19 RBIs for Class-A Clearwater this season.