UConn in the MLB: Huskies thriving

Houston Astros' George Springer, right, connects for an RBI single with bases loaded in front of Oakland Athletics catcher Josh Phegley, and umpire Mark Weiner, left, making the score 4-3 during the fourth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

UConn baseball made some noise in postseason play this past year, winning games in the American conference tournament and NCAA tournament. With autumn rolling in, many Hook C alumni will look to make some postseason noise of their own.

About ten months ago, George Springer helped lead the Houston Astros to the crown, becoming the first player from UConn to win World Series MVP. Once again this year, he and many of UConn’s own find themselves in the heat of baseball’s playoff races.

Springer has been nursing multiple injuries this season making it difficult to get settled in at the plate. He was on the 10 day DL due to a sprained thumb at the beginning of August. Upon returning, he fell right back on the shelf for a few days with a quad injury. Now, finally back on the field, he finds himself in the thick of one of the most intriguing divisional races in the league. The Astros are looking for a spark out of their star outfielder, as they hold a slim lead over the feisty Oakland Athletics.  

Matt Barnes is also involved in the playoff race, trying to prove himself to be a reliable weapon out of the Boston Red Sox bullpen. Boston has excelled to become this year’s World Series favorites, holding the best record in baseball. They, at one point, held a surprising 10-game lead over the rival New York Yankees in the AL East.

That lead, however, has dwindled to 6.5 games (entering Wednesday night), and with six games remaining against the Yankees, and a month of season still to go, Boston fans may be beginning to sweat just a tad.

A couple weeks ago, the Red Sox seemed unbeatable, leading Chris Sale to proclaim his team “the best team to ever walk the planet.” Since then, Boston has faltered a bit dropping six of nine games entering Wednesday.

As the Red Sox slumped, Barnes did as well. He has given up 10 runs in his last nine outings. Despite this, he still holds a solid 3.52 ERA on the season, as he had been one of Alex Cora’s most reliable options out of the bullpen in the first half of the year.

As September rolls in, Barnes will hope to regain his early season form. Boston’s bullpen as a whole has been shaky as of late, so they will need to solidify the late innings if they hope to go deep into October. Barnes could be a key part of the solution.

The right hander was left off of the Red Sox’s ALDS roster last year after struggling in September, so Barnes will need to be more effective this year down the stretch in order to be trusted in high leverage situations in the postseason.

Over in the National League, another UConn alum, Scott Oberg, is also in the middle of a divisional race. Working out of the bullpen, Oberg has been strong for the Colorado Rockies. He has posted a 2.83 ERA/1.11 WHIP for the Rockies this year with 35 strikeouts compared to just 10 walks.

Entering Wednesday, the Rockies trailed the Arizona Diamondbacks for first place in the NL West by only one game. Oberg just came off the paternity leave list, and will now continue to be the reliable option out of the bullpen for the rest of the year.

On the other side of the race, shortstop Nick Ahmed is finding a power surge this year, blasting 16 home runs. He is having a career season at the dish, sporting a .439 slugging percentage. He also continues to be one of Arizona’s best defenders, making him a fundamental component of the Diamondback’s every day lineup.

Outside of the playoff race, former UConn outfielder John Andreoli was claimed off of waivers by the Baltimore Orioles last week. After making his MLB debut earlier this season with the Seattle Mariners, the move will be a great opportunity for UConn’s newest major leaguer, as he is due to see more playing time in the majors with the Orioles. Over the weekend, he recorded his first major league stolen base against the Yankees.


Dylan Barrett is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus.  He can be reached via email at dylan.barrett@uconn.edu.