As June nears its end, several major league teams are making their bids for the postseason. As far as the three MLB Pack Pros are concerned, Chicago White Sox left-handed pitcher Carlos Rodón is staking a claim of his own for the AL Cy Young, Washington Nationals shortstop Trea Turner is beginning to reestablish himself as a threat at the plate and St. Louis Cardinals catcher Andrew Knizner is struggling to get appearances.
Carlos Rodón, left-handed pitcher, Chicago White Sox
Rodón is heating up again after a rough end to the month of May. The southpaw already had one June start under his belt heading into this past week, but two solid performances on the road reinforced Rodón’s bid for the American League Cy Young Award.
On June 13, Rodón held the Detroit Tigers to one run on only one hit through seven innings while striking out nine Tigers and walking just two. The 28 year old helped his White Sox maintain their lead in the AL Central with a 4-1 win that day, with Cleveland trailing in the division by 5.5 games by the day’s end.
Five days later, Rodón took the mound in Houston as the White Sox took on the Houston Astros. The lefty pitched another seven innings of one-run ball, but Houston got the win that day by walking it off in the ninth for a 2-1 victory. Despite coming away with a no-decision, Rodón pitched another good game, allowing only three hits and three walks while striking out eight. With a little more help from his offense, Rodón likely would have gotten his seventh win of the season.
Trea Turner, shortstop, Washington Nationals
At the end of a lackluster series against the San Francisco Giants on June 13, Turner’s batting average on the season dipped below .300 for the first time since May 8. Seemingly determined to remedy this drop in performance, Turner’s bat is starting to heat up again, going 5 of 13 in a three-game series against Pittsburgh and 7 of 14 in four games against the New York Mets.
The 27 year old smacked four hits against the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 15, including an RBI triple, his first three-bagger of the season. Turner’s trademark speed showed up again in the series finale against the New York Mets, as he swiped two bags in a 5-2 win for the Nats.
Despite only registering three extra-base hits since the start of the Pittsburgh series, Turner raised his slugging percentage by 20 points in these last two series. This boost was aided by a solo shot against the Mets on June 19, his first homer in over a month. If he can maintain his return to form in the batter’s box, the Nationals may be able to bridge the five-game gap between the team and the division-leading Mets.
Andrew Knizner, catcher, St. Louis Cardinals
As the Cardinals lean more on veteran catcher Yadier Molina, Knizner has hardly seen any action this past week. A pinch-hit appearance on June 18 against the Atlanta Braves saw him pop out to third base to lead off the eighth inning, and the 26-year-old backstop went hitless in three at-bats in the latter half of a doubleheader against Atlanta two days later.
St. Louis currently sits four games behind the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs in the NL Central and five games back in the NL Wild Card race. So, as long as the Cardinals continue to make a postseason push, they will continue to rely on the stalwart Molina over his heir-apparent in Knizner.