Mookie Betts paced the Dodgers' 13-3 rout of the Royals on Saturday, going 3-for-4 with a solo homer and two runs scored. Betts led Los Angeles to its 12th straight win with a huge game from the leadoff spot, setting a tone with a leadoff homer in the top of the first to kickstart a five-run frame. The long ball was the 26th of the season for Betts, who's currently on pace for a career-high in homers (his personal best is 32) despite spending time on the IL this season. Even more impressively, he leads the National League with 84 runs by virtue of batting first in the NL's top offense. He's rounded his statistical line with 60 RBIs, a .277 batting average, an .887 OPS, and nine steals, as the 29-year-old former MVP continues to be one of the best all-around players in baseball. He's also opened August on fire, hitting .362 with three homers, five doubles, and 13 runs in 11 games this month.
Lance McCullers Jr. excelled in his return from the IL on Saturday, blanking the A's over six innings while allowing just two hits and four walks and striking out five. McCullers exploited one of the worst offenses in baseball in his season debut and had plenty of run support as the Astros cruised to an 8-0 victory. He did look a bit rusty in his first start since last season, throwing just 47 of his 81 pitches for strikes and issuing four free passes (although he did lead MLB in walks last year). Regardless, it was an encouraging sign for McCullers, who has the potential to be a difference-maker in fantasy leagues down the stretch, similar to Chris Sale after his late-season return to the Red Sox last year. McCullers can count on plenty of run support and help from his teammates as well, given that Houston has the best record in the American League. Fire him up against the White Sox on the road in his next outing.
Aaron Nola took a hard-luck complete-game loss against the Mets on Saturday after giving up one run on four hits and one walk with eight strikeouts over eight innings. Nola fell to 8-9 despite going at least eight innings for the fifth time this season, lowering his ERA to 3.07 in the process. Nola quickly settled down after giving up a run in the first inning on Pete Alonso's RBI single, but unfortunately for him he was pitching against an even sharper Jacob deGrom and received no run support. That's been a common theme this season for Nola, who's having deGrom-esque luck in that department. The Phillies are somehow just 10-13 in Nola's starts this year despite the fact that 14 of them have been quality. He's now allowed only one earned run in three straight outings and will look to get revenge in a rematch with the Mets at home next week.
Jacob deGrom came out on top in a 1-0 pitching duel against Aaron Nola on Saturday, racking up 10 strikeouts over six scoreless innings against the Phillies with just two hits and no walks allowed. deGrom's third start back from the IL was his best one yet, as he did not allow any runs and completed six innings for the first time this season. He also showed excellent command, throwing 57 of his 76 pitches for strikes. He's now 2-0 with a 1.62 ERA in three starts this season with an absurd 28:1 K/BB ratio in 16 2/3 innings. The two-time NL Cy Young winner is just as dominant as ever, showing no signs of rust or declining performance at age 34 after missing the first four months of the season. He can be fully trusted in a tough road matchup against the Braves his next time out.
Adam Wainwright got stuck with the no-decision on Saturday despite firing nine innings of one-run ball against the Brewers, limiting Milwaukee to three hits and one walk while striking out eight. The 40-year-old Wainwright turned back the clock in his finest start of the season thus far, going nine innings for the second time but with one less run and five more strikeouts than his complete game last month. Unfortunately for him, he was up against reigning NL Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes, so the game wasn't decided until extra innings. It was a strong rebound performance for Wainwright, who did not allow a run until the seventh inning and threw 71 of his 109 pitches for strikes after getting shelled for six runs on eight hits in four innings during his previous start. He's now gone at least seven innings with one earned run or less in three of his last four starts, lowering his ERA to 3.27 and continuing to prove that age is just a number.
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