Cincinnati rookie Aristides Aquino hit his 15th homer of the season on Monday, needing only 122 plate appearances to reach that mark, which is the fastest for a debuting player to hit 15 homers in major league history. Rhys Hoskins previously held the record needing 135 PA to reach 15 homers in 2017. It’s worth noting that in 1,329 plate appearances since Hoskins hit his 15th home run, he has 62 home runs. That’s an average of one home run every 21.4 plate appearances compared to one every nine PA in his hot start. All that to say that Aquino is going to slow down. And given that home run records are being broken on a regular basis, you have to think Aquino may not hold on to the record for long.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">.<a href="">@Aristide_Aquino</a> works on <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#LaborDay</a>.<br> <br>His 15th HR in 122 PAs is the fastest in <a href="">@MLB</a> history passing Rhys Hoskins (135 PA) record.<br> <br>h/t: <a href="">@RedsPR</a> <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; MLB Stats (@MLBStats) <a href="">September 2, 2019</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

Pitching Performance of the Day

Normally a pitcher that throws seven scoreless innings with double-digit strikeouts is an easy choice here, but we’ll have to save that pitcher for a second. We simply can’t ignore what Gerrit Cole did on Monday. Cole only went six innings, but that “only” is rather sarcastic as the 14 strikeouts he recorded had something to do with the brevity of his start. The impressive thing about the start was the 27 swinging strikes he generated. That worked out to a 25.7-percent swinging-strike rate for the day. Cole’s swinging strike rate entering the start was 16-percent, and the league average for starters was 10.7-percent.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Gerrit Cole, 14Ks in 33 Seconds. <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) <a href="">September 2, 2019</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

OK, now back to the guy who tossed seven scoreless innings. That would be Noah Syndergaard who allowed only three baserunners (all via hit) with 10 strikeouts. Syndergaard got torched in his prior outing allowing nine earned runs in only three innings. But in the 14 starts prior, Syndergaard had allowed more than three runs in a start only once. With the solid start on Monday, Syndergaard has his ERA and xFIP back under 4.00 for the season.

One more starting pitcher note quickly on Drew Smyly. Smyly cost you less than $5,000 on DraftKings Monday for some reason, and he delivered big value. Smyly held the Reds to only one run over 5.1 innings with five baserunners allowed and eight strikeouts. Don’t let his 6.65 ERA on the season scare you off. Since joining the Philadelphia rotation in late July, Smyly has a safely-above-average 17.1-percent strikeout rate in eight starts.

Hitting Performance of the Day

Joc Pederson led all hitters in total bases on Monday as he homered twice and doubled in his only three plate appearances. The two home runs got Pederson to 30, which is the first time he has reached that milestone. He now has a 120 wRC+ on the season, which is a bit above his career average. The problem here is that Pederson only got three PA because of this painful, but superb, play he made in the outfield.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Holy crap, Joc Pederson. <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Matthew Reichbach (@fbihop) <a href="">September 3, 2019</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

Thankfully, the news after the game on Pederson was positive.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Joc Pederson‘ injury is not as bad as it looks. He was diagnosed with an abdominal contusion and it appears he basically just got the wind knocked out of him. He&#39;ll probably sit tomorrow, but won&#39;t miss much time, Dave Roberts said.</p>&mdash; Alden Gonzalez (@Alden_Gonzalez) <a href="">September 3, 2019</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

What to Watch for Today

As we’re starting off the post-Labor Day run to the postseason, let’s update you on the relevant playoff races. While the AL divisional races aren’t all that close, there’s a good three-team race for the Wild Card spots in the AL. Tampa Bay currently has a one-run lead on the Indians, who have a half-game lead on the A’s for the second Wild Card spot. 

The NL is slightly more competitive. For one thing, there’s a divisional race undecided as the Cardinals have a three-game lead on the Cubs for the NL Central. Per the Fangraphs playoff odds, the Cardinals are the only current division leader with less than a 95-percent chance to win their division, and they only have a two-in-three chance of holding that lead. Washington has a comfortable 3.5-game lead for the first Wild Card spot, but the Phillies, D’Backs, Brewers, and Mets are all within four games of the Cubs for the second spot.