Yesterday brought with it a typical Coors Field battle that saw the Rockies win in walk-off fashion to complete a game in which 21 runs in total were scored. The other afternoon games were a little more tame, but Tampa Bay’s offense broke out last night. There were also some other noteworthy performances in yesterday’s action, so let’s take a look at some of them:
1) Wieters Gets the Rare Start
No one is going to accuse me of grabbing the low hanging fruit or going for the clicks with this one, but Matt Wieters’ does warrant a little bit of our attention. The veteran backup, his role behind Yadier Molina is quite secure, went 2 for 4 on Thursday with his third home run of the season (a solo shot). Wieters’ batting average is now up to .387 for the year, in 31 at bats, with nine RBI. To say that when given a chance Wieters has produced far this season, in a very small sample size, would be an understatement, but it is worth noting. As the season progresses, it is possible (with the emphasis on possible) that Molina does get a little more rest, and that will open up some more playing time for Wieters. If batting average is a concern, you might be better off someone like Wieters than an option behind the plate who may be hitting .220, but has more at bats. Also, if Molina does end up on the Injured List, Wieters could become a top-15 option at the position.
2) Hudson Picks up the Victory
We know what Dakota Hudson can do, and the Cardinals also believe in him, but his performance yesterday had to make fantasy owners feel good. There was some traffic on the bases, four hits and three walks, but Hudson was able to limit the damage to just one run while striking out four. Hudson’s fourth victory of the season brought his ERA down to 3.94 on the season which is a long way from the 5.63 it was at the end of April. Hudson’s ERA has decreased in each subsequent start, and his ERA for May checks in at just 2.80. I wouldn’t say that we are completely out of the woods on Hudson though, as he does have a 1.36 WHIP this month, but compared to his 1.58 mark for the season, it looks a lot better. Walks still appear to be an issue for Hudson, as he has walked 14 batters in 35.1 innings this month while striking out just 23 batters. While, Hudson has gotten results this month and he has the pedigree, the spread between his strikeouts (6.37 per nine innings) and walks (4.10) is too close for comfort, and that is the driver of his 5.11 FIP.
3) Crawford Drives in Two
Is there any player, who often can be found on the waiver wire, is more boring than Brandon Crawford? Sometimes, that can be taken as a complement, but in this case, it is not. However, so far in 2019, it has been a down season for the shortstop. Even after picking up two hits yesterday, Crawford is still hitting just .215 on the season. I don’t look at the career .251 hitter for much in the batting average department, his BABIP is .275 compared to a .297 career mark, but in the past, the shortstop has been a solid run producer. From 2015 to 2017, he drove in 84, 84, and 77 runs respectively, but last season, that dropped to 54. After his two RBI, Crawford is up to just 15 on the season, but at some point you will come across him on the waiver wire. And it is clear, that the upside is limited.
4) Murphy Ends Things in Colorado
It is clear that Daniel Murphy has been struggling this season, he also spent some time on the Injured List, but he is too good a hitter to simply write off. However, at this point, opposing teams don’t exactly respect Murphy, as Nolan Arenado was intentionally walked to get to him prior to his game winning hit. On the afternoon, Murphy went 3 for 5 with a walk while driving in three runs and scoring once. That brought his batting average up to just .240 on the season, along with 23 RBI. In his last seven games, Murphy has begun to heat up, and he is hitting .375 in that stretch with five walks in 24 at bats. With a .256 BABIP, it was only a matter of time for Murphy to turn a corner at the plate, and his days as a buy-low candidate might be coming to an end.
5) An Unconventional Lead-off Hitter
When Tampa Bay signed Avasail Garcia this winter to a one year contract, not many people gave it much thought. The general consensus was that it was a boring, almost insignificant signing, and was just the Rays being cheap. Instead, two months into the season, they might have been onto something. It is a little odd to see Garcia at the top of Tampa’s lineup, but it is working. Garcia went 3 for 4 with a walk on Thursday, and for the season, he is hitting .301. The outfielder added another RBI to his 2019 tally, 25 overall, while also scoring three runs. In fact, Garcia is contributing across the board with 28 runs scored, 10 home runs, and six stolen bases as he is proving to be one of best, and economical, signings of this past off-season.
6) The Moose Was Loose
It will be interesting to see what happens with Mike Moustakas this off-season, but, once again, he is doing all he can to put himself in the right position. The third baseman started off Thursday’s game with home runs in each of his first two at bats, and while others (Christian Yelich, perhaps?) get a lot more attention, Moustakas is up to 15 home runs on the season. After driving in four runs overall, he is up to 36 RBI while batting .269 after a four hit effort. Batting in the middle of Milwaukee’s lineup sets Moustakas up for all the RBI opportunities he can handle, and there’s no reason not to expect him to continue producing at a similar level.
7) Alonso Goes Deep
No, I’m not talking about Pete Alonso, although it seems more frequent that he hits a home run than he doesn’t these days. Instead, I am talking about the far less successful, and valuable, Yonder Alonso. It has been a down season for Alonso, he is hitting just .180, but there is still a serviceable fantasy option to be found. Nothing Alonso is going to do will jump off the page at you, but at the end of the season, there is no reason not to expect him to eclipse 20 home runs for the third straight season (28 and 23 in 2017 and 2018). Yesterday, Alonso went deep for the seventh time this season, and after the two run shot, he is at 25 so far in 2019 despite his struggles. And with a BABIP of .195 entering action on Thursday, there is no reason not to expect Alonso to turn things around.
8) Junis is Victorious
While scrapping the bottom end of the pitching pool this winter, Jake Junis was one name I found myself drafting or adding to my queue late in drafts. Junis did pick up his fourth victory of the season on Thursday, but it hasn’t been the smoothest of campaigns for him to this point. Given the dearth of pitching options for the Royals, Junis’ spot in the rotation is safe though for him to work through his struggles. In six innings of work last night, Junis allowed two runs, both on solo shots, while also giving up two additional hits along with two walks. The right-hander struck out seven batters, as he showed what he can be capable of. At the same time though, Junis does need to work on limiting the long ball, 1.60 per nine innings, but his 4.44 xFIP does point to there being some upside.
9) Puello Goes Deep Again
To say it has been a long time between major league stints for Cesar Puello, would be an understatement. The 28 year old outfielder had 34 at bats in 2017, in which he hit just .206 with three RBI. At one time, Puello was regarded as a prospect, and he is a .290 career hitter in the minor leagues, but he hadn’t received a follow up call to the major leagues until Wednesday. And just like he did then, Puello turned in another strong performance last night. Once again, Puello went deep, he also singled twice, and through two games he is batting .545 with five RBI. It doesn’t take much to have two strong performances in a row, but I would at least give it a passing glance at the right price, essentially free, to see if it continues.
10) Ryu Dominates Again
Another start, another victory, and minimal stress. At this point, it is getting boring with Hyun-Jin Ryu as all the left-hander does it go out, with little fanfare, and shut down the opposition. Thanks to their lack of a reliable bullpen, the Dodgers asked a lot of Ryu last night as he went 7.2 innings before giving way to Kenley Jansen with a runner on base. Overall, the Mets managed just four hits and one walk against Ryu who struck out seven and held them without a run as he improved his ERA to 1.48 on the season. It was the left-hander’s eighth victory, and he is walking an impressive 0.55 batters per nine innings so far this season. Right now, he is the true Dodgers’ ace.