Bryce Harper's HRs continue to come against pitches on the outer third and middle-third of the plate pic.twitter.com/tpAuvJggVP— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 28, 2015
Bryce Harper: 13 HR in May.. only players age 22 or younger with more in month: Joe DiMaggio (15, July 1937), Bob Horner (14, July 1980)— Katie Sharp (@ktsharp) May 28, 2015
I remain convinced this is the Bryce Harper we would have seen since 2013 if he never hit the fence. When he's healthy, he conquers worlds.— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) May 28, 2015
In all seriousness: at what point do teams just stop pitching to Bryce Harper?— James Wagner (@JamesWagnerWP) May 28, 2015
2. Max Scherzer, Nationals: Scherzer matched up against Jon Lester, giving us $365 million worth of pitching talent, more than the annual gross domestic product of the Federated States of Micronesia. Scherzer made mincemeat of the strikeout-prone Cubs, fanning 13 in seven innings. He has won his past five starts, lowered his ERA to 1.51 and is finding the National League very much to his liking. Compared to 2014, Scherzer's batting average allowed is down 39 points, his OPS allowed is down 145 points, his K rate is up 2.5 percent, and his walk rate is down 3.4 percent.
One simple thing he's doing: Throwing more pitches in the strike zone, 4 percent more often than he did last season. Of course, it's not quite that simple. He has thrown more pitches in the upper half of the strike zone, 6 percent more often than he did in 2014. As you might expect, that means he's throwing more fastballs. The chart shows how his pitches break down.
So more fastballs and slider, fewer changeups and curveballs, and thus fewer walks. And it hasn't hurt him yet in other areas. I don't know if it's a slight change in mindset or a reflection of weaker NL lineups, but it's clearly an approach that is working.
After starting 7-13, the Nationals have gone 21-6. That stretch started with what Nationals fans will refer to as "The Uggla Game," the dramatic 13-12 win over the Braves. In this 27-game stretch, the Nationals lead the majors in runs per game and are eighth in runs allowed per game. It's also right about the time Harper heated up.
3. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners: In what may turn out to be the best pitchers' duel of the season, Hernandez locked up with Chris Archer of the Tampa Bay Rays for eight scoreless innings. Archer had fanned 12 and thrown just 94 pitches, but manager Kevin Cash removed his right-hander for closer Brad Boxberger. Mistake. For the second straight game, Boxberger gave up the game-losing home run. After walking Seth Smith and Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz swatted a 1-0 fastball into the fish tank in center field. Meanwhile, Felix completed a 101-pitch shutout. Archer ended up with a game score of 90, Hernandez with 86. Last year, there was no game where both starters recorded at least an 85 or higher.
4. Steals of home! OK, a double steal isn't quite as cool as a straight steal, but Jimmy Paredes stole home as the back of the double steal for the Baltimore Orioles in their 5-4 win over the Astros. Good enough!
5. Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees: He hit a three-run homer to pass Lou Gehrig on the all-time RBI list. (Depending on the source, Rodriguez either passed Gehrig or is tied with him at 1,995 RBIs. Either way, that's a lot of RBIs.) The Yankees also completed a three-game sweep of the Royals with the 4-2 win, limiting them to four runs in the three games. Andrew Marchand writes that Rodriguez has become the leader of the Yankees.