June 22, 2021 will forever be the day that Wander Franco burst onto the scene at 20 years old. Maybe he doesn't live up to expectations like many prospects before him or maybe, just maybe he turns into Juan Soto. The overwhelming odds would be somewhere in the middle but boy was that fun to watch. You can read more about him below but baseball is in great hands between Franco, Vladimir Guerrero, Ronald Acuña, Fernando Tatis, and Shohei Ohtani.

On the pitching front, we've waited a while to say this but Charlie Morton officially looks like he is back. He had his best start of the season Tuesday, limiting the Mets just one hit over seven innings with a season-high 11 strikeouts. That marks back-to-back outings of at least seven innings and at least 18 swinging strikes for Morton. He's opted to ditch his sinker in favor of more four-seam fastballs and curveballs, which is working! Don't change a thing, Chuck!

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Franco is fabulous in debut


We've talked for months about how all of the top hitting (and for the most part pitching) prospect call ups have been massive disappointments. Even Jared Kelenic struggled so mightily he had to be sent back down to the minors. Hopefully, Tuesday was a sign of things to come for Rays SS Wander Franco as he was dominant in his debut. Franco started his first game by batting in the two hole for Tampa and finished the game 2-for-4 with a double, a walk and a towering three-run home run to tie the game. 

Under the hood, the numbers were even more impressive. He had three batted balls over 95 mph -- all qualifying as hard-hit balls. In the field, he also made an incredible double play to help Tampa. It seems as if the top prospect in baseball is for real and likely here to stay.

Scott isn't ready to crown Franco a top-5 shortstop rest of season after watching things unravel for Kelenic after his strong debut, but that's not to say he will follow the same path. Having said that, if you are looking to potentially sell high, now is the exact time to do it. This debut will certainly have managers interested. Chris suggested offering Franco for Corey Seager

Cole sees a major dip in his spin rates

Yankees SP Gerrit Cole has seen his spin rates drop since the report surfaced linking him to using foreign substances and following the MLB's crackdown, but nothing like what we saw on Tuesday.  However, once again, it didn't seem to impact his bottom line all that much. Cole went seven innings and allow two runs on three hits and three walks. He struck out just six batters and induced a healthy 14 swinging strikes on 108 pitches.

Here's the bad news: This was the first time that Cole went consecutive games with six strikeouts or fewer since 2017. His spin rate on his fastball was down 245 rpm and his spin rate on his slider was down 243 rpm. Those are not typos. 

Flexen continues to flex on em

Mariners SP Chris Flexen is rostered in just 35% of leagues, but that might have to change as he continues to find a way to get the job done. On Tuesday, Flexen delivered his fourth quality start in his last five outings. He went 6 2/3 against the Rockies allowing just four hits, two walks and one run. He also struck out six batters. Perhaps the most impressive single stat of Tuesday's outing were the 19 swinging strikes he induced on 100 pitches. 

It's hard to figure out exactly what has changed with Flexen as the pitch mix is the same, but in his last two starts, he has upped the induced swinging strikes. He has also maintained his spin rates. Scott is skeptical this will last, but if you're looking to get a jump on the waiver wire, he has a two-start week coming up next week, you might want to get a jump on it. 

Scherzer and Girardi get into a stare down


In his return from the IL, Nationals SP Max Scherzer got into a very interesting development with Phillies manager Joe Girardi. In the middle of the fourth inning, Girardi had Scherzer checked -- the third time in the game -- in just over three innings. Scherzer was so offended that he nearly stripped down to his birthday suit on the mound and started barking at Girardi. He closed the inning about by striking out J.T. Realmuto before staring down Girardi. Ultimately, Girardi was ejected from the game.

However, the real story might instead be the spin rate drops for Scherzer. However, just like Cole, it didn't really impact his bottom line. Scherzer went five innings and allowed one earned run, two hits and three walks. He struck out eight batters and induced 19 swinging strikes on 106 pitches. Of course, the fastball spin rate was down 133 rpm and both of his breaking pitches saw spin rate dips of over 200 rpm.

More news and notes

  • Twins OF Byron Buxton did indeed go on the IL with a fracture in his left hand. Manager Rocco Baldelli said the team has yet to determine if Buxton will have surgery but it sounds like could miss a month or two. It's pretty ridiculous that people are calling Buxton injury prone because he got hit by a pitch. It looks like Trevor Larnach's playing time is safe for now. 
  • Possible replacements for Buxton rostered in fewer than 50% of leagues: Joc Pederson, Jesus Sanchez, Hunter Renfroe, Trevor Larnach
  • Marlins OF Jesus Sanchez went 1-for-3 with his second HR -- 109 mph exit velocity -- 439 feet to center field.
  • Trevor Larnach went 1-for-5 with his fifth HR
  • Deeper league replacements for Buxton: Taylor Ward, Steven Duggar, and Tony Kemp
  • Blue Jays OF George Springer was activated and batting fifth Tuesday. He finished 0-for-4.
  • Diamondbacks 2B Ketel Marte exited with a left hamstring injury. He missed over a month with a right hamstring injury earlier in the season.
  • Dodgers OF Mookie Betts left Tuesday with an illness.
  • Nationals SP Max Scherzer and Yankees 1B Luke Voit were both activated for their respective teams, as expected.
  • Braves SP Max Fried was placed on the IL because of a blister on his left index finger, retroactive to June 19. This really came out of nowhere.
  • Mets OF Michael Conforto will be activated on Wednesday.
  • Mets SP Marcus Stroman exited Tuesday due to left hip soreness.
  • Angels OF Justin Upton was removed with lower back tightness.
  • Royals SP Danny Duffy is set to return from the IL Wednesday against the Yankees but will be limited at first. He had a 1.94 ERA with a 1.13 WHIP and remains 75% rostered so a lot held onto him.
  • Blue Jays SP Alek Manoah has received a five-game suspension and undisclosed fine for intentionally throwing at Maikel Franco over the weekend. He's appealing the suspension.
  • Twins 3B Josh Donaldson was out for his fifth straight game with that strained right calf.
  • Red Sox SP Chris Sale threw a bullpen session Tuesday and will face hitters Saturday. He's on pace for a rehab assignment some time in July.
  • Despite having an MRI on his wrist, Mariners 2B Ty France was in the lineup Tuesday and plans to play through his bone bruise.
  • A's RP Trevor Rosenthal resumed baseball activities and could start a throwing program sometime later this week.
  • Brewers SP Brett Anderson was placed on the IL with a bone bruise in his right knee and will need extended time before he returns.

Prospect updates

  • Blue Jays SP Nate Pearson was placed on the minor league IL with a right groin strain. This comes after two strong starts in a row at Triple-A.

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