Happy Monday, everybody! It's especially happy for Blue Jays fans that get to routinely watch one of the best offenses in baseball. Entering Sunday, the Blue Jays were averaging 4.9 runs per game (seventh in MLB) with a team OPS of .765 (second in MLB) -- and then they scored 18 runs on Sunday. They don't have George Springer yet! Vladimir Guerrero Jr. once again leads baseball with 21 home runs and is on pace for 50 over 150 games. 

As usual, there were a ton of great pitching performances this weekend, but perhaps none more impressive than Aaron Civale. He pitched eight shutout innings against the Mariners, allowing just one hit and one walk. Civale finished with a career-high 11 strikeouts. He made a tangible change to his pitch mix, too, throwing a season-high 25 curveballs and a season-low two sliders. On the season opponents were batting .282 with a .564 slugging percentage against his slider. It's definitely something to watch with Civale his next time out.

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Gilbert showing key signs of improvement


We touted Mariners SP prospect Logan Gilbert as a must-add who we were willing to go to up to 20% of our FAB budget on, but like most top prospect call-ups in 2021, he was a disappointment early on. It seems as though now Gilbert has settled in. On Sunday, he shut down Cleveland over 6 2/3 innings when he allowed just one earned run on four hits and one walk. He also struck out six batters and induced 19 swinging strikes on just 92 pitches. He induced 10 of those on the four-seam and at least four swinging strikes on three different pitches. This is now consecutive starts with 18-plus swinging strikes for Gilbert and that underlying stat alone should give you all the confidence you need.

After his slow start, Gilbert is just 56% rostered. Now he has delivered two straight starts with 39 combined swinging strikes. Hopefully you displayed patience with him. He's not being sent down any time soon like Jarred Kelenic was. Instead, he's showing signs of what got us so excited about him in the first place. Gilbert should be considered as close to a must-roster SP as you can get right now. Finding a third pitch he can rely on has been the key difference, and oh yeah, his spin rates are fine!

Spin rate down for several aces

Scott touted Cleveland SP Shane Bieber as worthy of being the No. 1 SP off the board in preseason drafts, but 2021 hasn't gone anything like 2020 for the ace. It all came to a head against Seattle this weekend. Bieber last just 5 2/3 innings and in the process allowed five runs, 10 hits and two walks. He added eight strikeouts and 17 swinging strikes on 107 pitches, but the strikeouts haven't been an issue for him all season long.

More importantly, the stats under the hood were troublesome. Bieber allowed eight hard-hit balls. On his curveball, his spin rate was down a whopping 284 rpm and another 157 rpm on his slider. The spin rate on his curveball was down nearly 200 rpm in his last start before this. And this is one of Bieber's top pitches. With everything going on in baseball regarding the league's intended crackdown on pitchers using sticky foreign substances to increase their spin rate, a drop in rpm is certainly at least somewhat concerning.

The walks are way up with Bieber this year -- new for him -- and that goes along with his BABIP being way up. More hits are dropping in, the walks are up and he is no longer a plus pitcher in the WHIP category.

Here are a few other key pitchers who have seen their spin rates plummet:

  • Dodgers SP Trevor Bauer vs. TEX: 6.1 IP, 9 H, 6 R (4 ER), 2 BB 8 K, 15 swinging strikes on 117 pitches. His four-seam was down 166 rpm and his cutter down 123 rpm.
  • Brewers SP Corbin Burnes vs. PIT: 4 IP, 9 H, 4 R (3 ER), 3 BB, 8 K. His cutter (his best pitch) was down 163 rpm.
  • Tigers SP Tarik Skubal vs. CWS: 6 IP, 7 H, 4 R (3 ER), 3 BB, 6 K. His fastball spin rate was down 113 rpm and his slider down 201 rpm.

What's maybe most notable is that Bauer, Bieber and Burnes -- three of baseball's aces -- had their worst start of the season against some of the worst offenses in baseball following the MLB cracking down on foreign substances used to increase spin rate. Consistency is what might end up being lost more than anything else in this MLB crackdown. Just like Bieber, control and walks were an issue for Burnes. That requires consistency. 

More news and notes

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  • Mets SP Jacob deGrom left Friday's start with flexor tendinitis in his right elbow. He checked out fine after playing catch, though, and is in line to start this week. 
  • Angels OF Mike Trout is expected to have a clearer return timeline once he's cleared to resume jogging in the coming days.
  • Nationals SP Stephen Strasburg is scheduled to meet with a specialist soon before the Nationals determine the next step in his recovery from nerve irritation.
  • Dodgers 1B/2B/3B Max Muncy was placed on the IL with a right oblique strain.
  • Angels SP/DH Shohei Ohtani now has outfield eligibility on CBS.
  • Diamondbacks SP Zac Gallen, dealing with a sprained UCL, threw 46 pitches over 2 2/3 innings in a simulated game Saturday. The D-Backs are hopeful he can return by the end of June.
  • Padres OF Trent Grisham and Giants OF Mike Yastrzemski were reinstated from the IL for their respective teams Saturday.
  • Yankees SP Luis Severino exited his rehab start Saturday with a right leg injury.
  • Dodgers SS Corey Seager is about two weeks away from beginning a rehab assignment.
  • Braves OF Ronald Acuna left Sunday with right pectoral tightness.
  • Cubs SS Javier Baez was scratched from Sunday's lineup because of thumb soreness.
  • Dodgers 1B/OF Cody Bellinger has missed two straight games with hamstring tightness.
  • Yankees OF Aaron Judge sat Sunday with back spasms.
  • Nationals SP Max Scherzer left Friday's start with groin inflammation.
  • Twins OF Byron Buxton will travel with the team on their upcoming trip to Seattle, though we don't know exactly when he'll be activated.
  • Mariners OF Mitch Haniger was removed Sunday after fouling a ball off his knee. X-rays revealed a deep bone bruise.
  • Tigers 1B/2B Jonathan Schoop was scratched Sunday with hand soreness.
  • Twins SP Michael Pineda left his Sunday start with right forearm tightness. He's likely to miss at least one start.
  • Phillies SS Didi Gregorius will not be activated Monday. He experienced some stiffness in his injured right elbow during his rehab assignment.
  • Astros SP Jake Odorizzi will follow Lance McCullers in Tuesday's game against the Rangers, but it is expected to remain in a six-man starting rotation thereafter.
  • Padres SP Ryan Weathers will return to the bullpen. The Padres do not appear to be assigning another pitcher to the rotation, instead opting to shift from a six-man to a traditional five-man rotation.
  • Twins OF Max Kepler and Yankees 1B Luke Voit began rehab assignments Sunday.

Prospect updates

  • Mariners OF Jarred Kelenic ripped a homer and grabbed a steal on Saturday.
  • Cardinals 3B Nolan Gorman had five homers over the weekend at Double-A. Has been playing 2B this season as well. He's batting .328 with 10 homers and three bags.
  • Tigers 1B/3B Spencer Torkelson, last year's first overall pick, has been promoted to Double-A. He was batting .311/.445/.566 with five home runs, 27 RBI and three stolen bases at High-A.
  • Nationals SP Cade Cavalli pitched seven no-hit innings with 15 Ks at High-A. The 2020 first-round pick now has three straight double-digit strikeout games.

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