There is nothing like having a full slate of baseball to enjoy on a relaxing Sunday, and that was the case yesterday. So lets not waste any time while jumping into some of the performances that stuck out from a busy day:
1) He May Be Boring, But Don’t Knock It
Hitting clean-up for a legitimate playoff contender has to count for something, and while Nick Markakis isn’t going to jump off the fantasy page at anyone, he still deserves your respect. Yes, the power, at least from a home run perspective, isn’t there, but the run production certainly is. The outfielder hit his third home run of the season on Sunday, but more importantly he drove in his 21st home run of the year. After reaching base four times, two hits and two walks, Markakis is now hitting .333 with a .926 OPS. That is the type of production, that while not flashy, is the perfect compliment your team often needs.
2) Batting Average is Overrated
While no, not really, it’s still one of the five categories that we get scored on in fantasy baseball, but batting average is looked at a lot differently these days. The problem, is that as fantasy owners, we need to adjust to the norms across baseball, and batting average isn’t what it used to be. It has always been a struggle for Jay Bruce, but with a .183 batting average so far this season, it is a little worse. However, with a .138 BABIP, Bruce’s batting average can only go up closer to his .246 career average. What really matters, is the fact that Bruce hit a grand slam on Sunday for his 11th home run of the season which brought his RBI total up to 22.
3) Should We be Paying Attention to Turnbull
It goes without saying that Spencer Turnbull flew under the radar to start the season, but his performance so far in 2019 says that we should be paying attention to him. On Sunday, Turnbull took advantage of the weak hitting Royals lineup with seven strong innings of one run ball. Since Detroit’s offense wasn’t able to get things going, he is left with a no decision, but that shouldn’t take away from his performance. With six hits and one walk, Turnbull kept the traffic on the bases to a minimum while lowering his ERA to 2.31. The right-hander gets close to half his outs on the ground, and with a 5.9% home run to fly ball rate, Turnbull has been able to limit the damage. His 4.26 xFIP does throw a little cold water on things, but at worst, Turnbull is a solid streaming option to take advantage of against the weak hitting AL Central.
4) Marte Sends Everyone Home Happy
Starling Marte hasn’t gotten off to the best of starts so far this season, but we still have a long way to go in 2019. The outfielder has returned from injury, and had his second two hit game of the month yesterday. I know that’s not saying much, and Marte is batting .250 for the season and just .206 for the season, but we’ll take any sign of optimism we can get. Marte sent everyone home happy on Sunday with a three run homer in the 13th inning. It was Marte’s fourth home run of the season, along with 15 RBI, and it’s really just the batting average that is lacking. Marte might be worth exploring as a buy low option.
5) Eflin Cruises Again
This is getting old, but Zach Eflin threw another gem on Sunday. The left-hander picked up his fourth victory of the season with a strong outing against Washington lineup that was a lot weaker than normal with Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto. However, that shouldn’t discount the success he had in throwing seven innings of one run ball. A Kurt Suzuki solo homer was all the Nationals managed off Eflin who scattered three other hits while walking two and striking out five and lowering his ERA to 3.00. The problems though, that we keep on coming back to and that is causing our skepticism, is that Eflin is striking out just 6.64 batters per nine innings with a FIP of 4.32 (4.68 xFIP). With just 1.50 walks per nine innings, Eflin has been limiting the traffic on the base paths, and you can’t argue with the visual results to this point, but I’m still not convinced enough to over invest in the right-hander. It also worth noting though that Eflin has increased his slider usage this season from 25.2% to 36.7%.
6) Porcello Limits the Damage
2019 couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start for Rick Porcello, but he is trending in the right direction. Yesterday against the White Sox, Porcello limited the damage to two pitches, but it could have been worse. Ryan Cordell and Jose Abreu both made Porcello pay with solo home runs, and the day would have looked a lot different had runners been on base. The right-hander struck out seven and didn’t walk a batter while lowering his ERA, once again, to 5.11. That is misleading as after allowing 11 earned runs in his first two starts, Porcello has limited the damage to just 10 runs in his five subsequent starts.
7) Odor Leaves the Park
For the second year in a row, Roughned Odor has gotten off to a slow start, but I would still resist the urge to give up on him. After spending some time on the Injured List, Odor has returned and is looking to find his groove. However, after his two hit effort on Sunday, Odor is still hitting just .141. Through 78 at bats, the results quite simply have not been there, and the only place for that and his .200 BABIP to go is up. We have to remember, that 78 at bats has never made a season, and things certainly went in the right direction on Sunday with his second home run of the season while driving in three runs (eight overall).
8) Posey is Putting Together a Solid Season
Over the past few years, the bar has been lowered for Buster Posey, and he is batting third for the Giants almost by default, but 2019 has been going pretty well for him. After picking up two hits yesterday, Posey is hitting .257 for the season, so while it is not to the prior MVP level that he established, it is still better than a lot of other catchers. Posey went deep for just the second time this season, but his ability to drive the ball is certainly on display as he also doubled for the 11th time this season. With three RBI, Posey is up to 13 on the season, and that is good enough for him to be a Top-10 option at the catcher position.
9) Bregman Has a Grand Day
The grand slam was on display all across baseball yesterday, and Alex Bregman took things south of the border. Between the general home run explosion across baseball and the high altitude in Mexico, balls were flying out of the stadium all weekend. Bregman’s ninth home run of the season was a grand slam, and he now sits at 23 RBI. The third baseman, who also singled on the day, is hitting .281 on the season, and he is showing that his elevation to first round status last season was not a fluke.
10) Bryant is Trying
The game was already decided by that point, but fantasy owners have to be pleased with Kris Bryant’s grand slam on Sunday. It was the fourth home run of the season for Bryant, who is clearly struggling, and after his two hit effort, he is hitting .243 on the season. It was the fourth home run of the season for Bryant, who despite his struggles, still has 19 RBI on the season. In reality, Bryant is batting .275 in his last 15 games, so there’s no need to be terribly concerned.