Around here, we like day games. But on a busy Monday when lineups have to be set and injury news decoded, it’s nice to have all day to so. Weather was also an issue yesterday, but just one game (Detroit at Boston) was a casualty of the elements. Let’s jump into some of the performances that caught our attention from the evening around the diamond:
1) We Are Getting Somewhere With That Launch Angle
If you simply took a look at Yandy Diaz, the first thing that would come to mind, would be power hitter. To say that Diaz is built, or jacked, or any other adjective you choose, would be quite the understatement. So far in his brief career, until this season, Diaz hadn’t really gotten consistent playing time, and he had the results to follow. However, we know that Diaz can hit as last season, he hit .312 in 109 at bats. But a hitter with his strength, should have more than just one home run. Tampa Bay made quite the investment in Diaz this off-season, and so far he is making good on the faith they had in him. Last night, Diaz went deep for the sixth time this season while driving in two runs, 11 RBI overall, and with a .289 batting average, he isn’t sacrificing average for power.
2) Perhaps a Jump Start for Abreu
Jose Abreu has a proven track record of success. While that wasn’t completely evident last season as the first baseman dealt with some injuries, there’s no reason not to trust him. At least that was the thought entering this season, but Abreu took a step in the right direction on Monday. It was a big step in fact, and the type of performance that can instantly, for better or worse, drastically change a player’s stat line. Abreu went 3 for 6 with two runs scored and five RBI on Monday while increasing his batting average to .214 on the season. It was the fourth home run of the season for Abreu who is up to 17 RBI on the year, so in reality it’s just the batting average that is a little disappointing so far this season.
3) We Turned Back Time
At this point, it’s really ancient history going back to when Manny Banuelos was a top prospect. Injuries, poor performances, uneven development, and a few teams later, here we are with Banuelos finding himself part of the White Sox rotation. Given the state of their pitching staff, it’s not exactly much of accomplishment, but we can also say that about pitching in general. Last night’s start did come against the Orioles, so we have to take that into account, but Banuelos did toss four shutout innings on Monday. He scattered five hits and a walk while striking out four batters. In 14.1 innings, the southpaw’s ERA now sits at 2.51. While he is an interesting name to keep on your radar, I would only invest minimally.
4) Peralta Keeps on Hitting
Last season went pretty well for David Peralta, .293 batting average with 30 home runs and 87 RBI, but he didn’t generate too much in the way of attention entering 2019. And so far this season, all the outfielder has done is hit. Peralta picked up another two hits on Monday, his first triple on the season, and his 11th double. While that is clearly not a pace we can expect him to continue, it is impressive nonetheless. So far this season, Peralta is hitting .340, and after driving in another three runs last night, he is up to 14 RBI on the season. And in case anyone is wondering, Adam Jones drove in another two runs to bring his total up to 15 for the season while Christian Walker went deep for the seventh time. While it might not be exciting, Arizona has a pretty solid middle of the order.
5) Don’t Look Now, But He’s Staying
There is no way to defend Dexter Fowler’s struggles on the field last season in his first year with the Cardinals, as it was just flat out bad. It honestly lead us in the direction that parting way with Fowler was the only option as St. Louis had young outfielder who certainly deserved the playing time over him. But now with Tyler O’Neill and Harrison Bader both sidelined with injury, playing time isn’t an immediate concern for Fowler, but regardless, he is certainly hitting like he belongs in the lineup. After a 4 for 5 effort on Monday, Fowler is now hitting .313 on the season. Never to be confused with a power hitter, he went deep for the first time this season (a two run shot) and he drove in four runs all together, tripling his RBI total, while scoring three runs. Fowler has scored 11 runs overall this season, and while the .263 career hitter doesn’t do much especially well from a fantasy circle, he has at least put himself back on our radars.
6) Just a Little Better This Time Out
It really couldn’t have gotten any worse for Steven Matz is his last start against the same Phillies he faced last night. In that start, the southpaw failed to record an out, as he faced eight batters, and each of them came around to score. In six innings of work, 99 pitches of which 64 were strikes, Matz limited the damage to just a Rhys Hoskins solo home run. Matz scattered three hits and two walks in total as he saw his ERA drop to 4.03 on the season. All things considered, that is pretty impressive for Matz who struck out six batters on the evening. It hasn’t always been smooth for the left-hander, health has also been a culprit, but there is a lot to work with here. Again, that is if he stays healthy and refines his stuff.
7) Polanco Keeps on Hitting
Entering last season, Jorge Polanco was somewhat of an under the radar sleeper pick, but then an 80 game suspension kind of put a damper on that. This year though, the young shortstop appears to be making up for lost time. After picking up four hits on Monday, Polanco is now hitting .392 on the season. Polanco, who hit his sixth double and fourth home run of the year, brought his RBI total up to nine as he drove in four runs on the night. Batting at the top of the order, Polanco after scoring twice on Monday, has now crossed the plate 14 times this season, and while his value might be at its peak due to the batting average, it really isn’t that far off from where we can expect him to be.
8) Arenado Makes History
All we care about in fantasy baseball is the present, and Nolan Arenado has that covered. At the same time though, we should take a step back and appreciate the fact that on Monday, Arenado reached the 1,000 hit mark in what certainly has the makings of a Hall of Fame career. Arenado’s exceptional defense was also on display at the end of the game, but let’s face it, what we really care about, is the third baseman living up to his billing as a first round draft choice. That was taken care of with a three hit effort from Arenado as he hit his fourth home run of the season while also doubling twice (four overall), driving in two runs and scoring three times. Last night brought Arenado’s batting average for the season up to .281 to go along with 14 RBI, and once again, he will finish the season as one of the elite options at the position.
9) Is Urshela Carrying Out a Role
Considering the Yankees have an entire starting lineup worth of injured players, you could say that there are some opportunities for playing time to be found. One of those players who is currently looking to take advantage of the situation is Gio Urshela. While he is currently playing third base, it is possible that Miguel Andujar slides over to first base upon his return which would leave Urhsela in the lineup, or the DH position isn’t exactly closed off to competition either. Regardless, Urshela picked up two hits last night while doubling his RBI total from two to four and bringing his batting average up to .297. At this point, it’s not even about clarifying that there is a small sample size, because it’s obvious, but instead, it is all about riding the hot hand from week to week to plug holes in your lineup. In that sense, there likely isn’t much difference between the Yankees and your fantasy team.
10) Piscotty Drives in Three
Stephen Piscotty is never going to be an exciting outfield option. However, I feel like he is always a player that I keep on coming back to. While the batting average might not be spectacular, he’s currently hitting .258, it’s going to end up being pretty close to league average, so there’s not too much downside there. And when he does pick up hits, Piscotty makes them count as he has proven himself to be a solid run producer. Last night, he hit his fourth home run of the season, a solo shot, and also added two other RBI as part of a two hit effort while bringing his RBI total to 14. Piscotty is generally towards the middle of Oakland’s lineup, and he is a solid, if understated source of RBI.