Saturday is upon us, and that means a full slate of MLB action with plenty of day baseball. The surging Braves are going for their ninth win in a row, while the Rays are trying to maintain their slim lead over the Yankees in the AL East. Meantime, the White Sox are trying to get above .500 for the first time since May of last year. Now let’s dig in. 

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Baseball schedule/scores for Saturday, June 15

Ketel answers the bell

First pitch of the game from Stephen Strasburg, 18th home run of the season for Arizona’s Ketel Marte

Yes, that’s 18 for the switch-hitting Marte. Oh, and he hit another one in this same game so let’s make it 19. 

Coming into the season, his career high was 14 (set last year). It’s mid-June, and he’s already bested that by a comfy margin. Coming into 2018, Marte had eight career dingers in 249 games. So this is quite the power trajectory he’s on. 

Legit? Yeah, it seems to be. His average exit velocity and expected slugging percentage are in line with someone who’s hitting for power, and he’s also significantly upped his launch angle this season, which suggests some swing tweaks are underpinning the power breakout. 

As for the surprisingly relevant Diamondbacks, Marte has been a big part of their success to date. He’s a guy with speed who’s capable of pinning down multiple premium positions, and he’s on pace for 40 or so homers. That’s a winning player, and most encouraging is that Marte is still just 25 years of age. 

Fletcher continues to be key piece for Halos

The Angels on Saturday ensured at least a split of their four-game series with the AL East-leading Rays, and they also pulled back to within one game of the .500 mark. Central to those efforts was infielder David Fletcher, who hit his fifth home run of the season: 

Fletcher’s round-tripper turned a 1-0 lead into a 3-0 advantage, and since the Angels wound up winning by a pair of runs it turned out to be a meaningful one. Fletcher on the season is now batting .307/.360/.442 with five stolen bases in 66 games. Throw in his ability to play four or five different positions and be a defensive asset in the infield, and you’ve got a useful player. Coming into Saturday, Fletcher had a 2019 WAR of 1.7, which is quality for a player who’s been in the starting lineup 57 times to date. 

You’re probably not going to see Fletcher hit that many homers, as he ranks near the bottom of the league in exit velocity and hard-hit rate and never showed much pop in the minors. However, he’s got excellent bat-to-ball skills. Thus far in 2019, he’s logged more walks than strikeouts, and he’s in the very top percentile of MLB when it comes to avoiding strikeouts. All of that’s yielded an expected batting average of .317, which as you see above is higher than his actual mark. 

A contact, high-average hitter who can add value at that money positions while also stealing the occasional bag isn’t going to be an MVP threat, but he can be a useful roster piece. That’s exactly what Fletcher’s been thus far for the Angels, who continue to try to hang in the second AL wild-card picture. 

Quick hits