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Monday was pretty light with only eight games on the schedule, but that didn't stop another no-hitter from almost happening. This time the Houston Astros teamed up to take the no-hitter into the eighth inning against the Orioles. Maikel Franco would break it up with a home run, but the real story was the starter in this game: Jake Odorizzi. He pitched five no-hit innings himself with nine strikeouts to just one walk. He didn't do much differently in this one outside of his fastball velocity averaging a season-high 93.4 MPH. Odorizzi is a solid waiver add in the Ross Stripling mold.

On the hitting front, offense has been way up in June after an historically bad April and a decent May. Here's how the league-wide stats compare:

April-May: .236 BA, .288 BABIP, 24% strikeout rate, 13.2% HR/FB

June: .247 BA, .295 BABIP, 23.3% K, 14.6% HR/FB

We've seen this massive jump in June likely for a number of reasons. First, June is naturally a launching pad for offense as weather starts to heat up. Second, MLB is cracking down on foreign substances among starting pitchers. In fact, Monday was the first day umpires checked pitchers as Jacob deGrom was asked to take his belt off in front of 30,000 people. With pitching trending down, offense has done the opposite. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come for the game's great hitters who have uncharacteristically started slow this season.  

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Struggling starters

A's SP Frankie Montas was a sleeper pick for some this April, but he has delivered mixed results so far in 2021. On Monday, he got rocked by the lowly Rangers lineup. Montas lasted just 5 2/3 and allowed eight runs, nine hits, two walks and added six strikeouts. The under the hood numbers are most troublesome. He got through just 87 pitches and induced just six swinging strikes. On the bright side, Montas delivered a 3.39 ERA over his 10 starts before this, but he continues to get hit hard (which could be a sign of things to come). He's allowing a 90.6 mph average exit velocity and a 45% hard hit rate. With the MLB cracking down on pitchers using foreign substances, it's notable to mention that Montas' spin rate on his fastball was down 157 rpm and also down 195 rpm on his slider.

Scott wants to wait a few more starts before concluding definitively that we should panic, but it's interesting to see his overall numbers come down alongside the major drop in spin rates.

After recently getting back on track, Reds SP Tyler Mahle struggled against the Twins on Monday. Mahle lasted just four innings and allowed three earned runs, five hits and three walks. He hit a batter with a pitch. The good news is that he racked up eight strikeouts and 16 swinging strikes on 93 pitches. The bad news is he allowed a 94 mph average exit velocity. The worse news is that like Montas, his spin rates were down 133 rpm on the fastball and a whopping 209 rpm on the slider. He is a potential sell candidate if the spin rates continue to stay in this deflated range and he continues to struggle to get outs.

The last struggling pitcher to highlight is Dodgers' Julio Urias. Unlike Montas and Mahle, Urias didn't see his spin rates drop, but he still got hit hard on Monday when he allowed six runs, six hits and four walks in just four innings of work.

Chris is most concerned with Urias moving forward because his expectations for him were the highest. At one point, Chris had him as a top-30 SP. Scott is concerned with the fact that Urias is no longer going deep into games. With the injuries the Dodgers have suffered to their rotation, this could be a sign of things to come, and that would sap his value.

Scott thinks it was encouraging to see Mahle get five-plus whiffs on all three of his pitches and is less concerned about the Reds hurler moving forward.

More news and notes

  • Mets SP Jacob deGrom made it through a start healthy! Here's his stat line vs. Atlanta: 5 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 18 SS on 70 pitches. His velocity was fine, averaging 99.6 MPH on the fastball. His scoreless streak is now at 30 innings and his ERA is down to 0.50. deGrom has allowed one or zero earned runs in 12 straight starts.
  • Royals SS Adalberto Mondesi was placed on the IL with a strained left oblique. It's June 22 and he's played just 10 games.
  • I don't think he's necessarily close to a call up, but Royals SS Bobby Witt Jr. has five straight multi-hit efforts at Double-A. He's .343/.405/.672 in June, which has elevated his season-long OPS to .913. 
  • Twins OF Byron Buxton left early after getting hit by a pitch on his left hand.
  • Cleveland SP Aaron Civale left Monday's start with an apparent finger injury. He'll visit a hand specialist. Civale had thrown 4.2 shutout innings with five strikeouts to that point. Cleveland cannot afford another injury with Shane Bieber and Zach Plesac on the IL.
  • Fernando Tatis, Jose Ramirez and Nelson Cruz each returned for their respective teams Monday.
  • Astros OF Kyle Tucker won't return until the mid-late part of the week.
  • Twins 3B Josh Donaldson has now sat out four straight games with that right calf injury. 
  • Dodgers 2B Max Muncy will return to the lineup Tuesday. Cody Bellinger will be back Wednesday.
  • Diamondbacks 3B Eduardo Escobar was out of the lineup Monday and has been diagnosed with a slight strain of his right quad.
  • Cleveland DH Franmil Reyes will begin a rehab assignment this week. He was batting .257 with 11 homers in 40 games before getting hurt. Reyes is 77% rostered.
  • A's SP Jesus Luzardo was optioned to Triple-A. He had a 6.87 ERA with a 1.63 WHIP. He's 53% rostered but can be safely dropped in all but the deepest leagues. 
  • Marlins SP Sixto Sanchez was cleared last week to extend his throwing distance off flat ground to 75 feet. 
  • Mets OF Jeff McNeil returned from the IL. He's 81% rostered.
  • Mets 2B Jonathan Villar left Monday with a right calf tightness.
  • Mets SP Joey Lucchesi was diagnosed with a significant UCL tear in his left elbow.
  • Mets RP Jeurys Familia was placed on the IL.
  • Mets RP Robert Gsellman will be out 6-8 weeks with a torn lat.

Prospect updates

  • The Angels' first-round pick last year, Reid Detmers, struck out a career-high 14 while allowing two runs over six innings on Sunday at Double-A. That included an immaculate inning.
  • Rays SS/2B Vidal Brujan went 2-for-5 with a homer and we hope he keeps it up so we can see him join Wander Franco soon!
  • Tigers 3B Spencer Torkelson hit his second home run since being promoted to Double-A.

Fringe hitters who are hot

  • Twins SS Jorge Polanco: 86% rostered
  • Tigers 2B Jonathan Schoop: 79%
  • Nationals OF Kyle Schwarber: 83%
  • Orioles OF Ryan Mountcastle: 81% 
  • Phillies OF Andrew McCutchen: 71%
  • Padres OF Tommy Pham: 83%
  • Dodgers 2B Gavin Lux: 78%

Streaming options

Tuesday

  • Twins SP Bailey Ober vs. CIN
  • Cardinals SP Johan Oviedo at DET
  • Blue Jays SP Ross Stripling at MIA
  • A's SP Cole Irvin at TEX
  • Angels SP Andrew Heaney vs. SF
  • Mariners SP Chris Flexen vs. COL (in SEA)

Wednesday

  • Red Sox SP Garrett Richards at TB
  • Mariners SP Justus Sheffield vs. COL (in SEA)
  • Diamondbacks SP Caleb Smith vs. MIL
  • Cardinals SP John Gant at DET
  • Tigers SP Matt Manning vs. STL
  • Nationals SP Eric Fedde at PHI