As far slates go, yesterday was the best of both worlds. Continuous action starting from noon on the east coast, along with a good amount of games to keep our attention. Let’s take a look at some of the performances that stood out. We should also note, that with Dallas Keuchel also coming off the board (Craig Kimbrel signed earlier in the week), he signed with the Braves Thursday night, fantasy owners have some work to do.
1) Wheeler Gets Nothing for His Efforts
If only the Mets’ had gone on their offensive outburst one inning sooner, Zack Wheeler would have picked up the victory. Instead, he was left with a no decision after throwing seven innings of three run ball. Now, there was nothing truly remarkable about the start, as Wheeler lowered his ERA to 4.61, but he also didn’t disappoint. It hasn’t been the best of seasons for the right-hander, who was done in by the long ball on Thursday while allowing just three hits and one walk to go along with six strikeouts. With a 3.58 FIP, after yesterday’s start, Wheeler is worth keeping an extra eye on as we can expect some positive regression. With just about 10 strikeouts per nine innings, along with 2.68 walks, Wheeler is close to, if not slightly better than what we saw from him last season.
2) Archer Gets Through Six Innings for the Victory
When allowing one run over six innings to pick up your third victory while lowering your ERA to 5.20, things aren’t going all that well. That is certainly the case for Chris Archer, who did spent part of this season on the Injured List. On Thursday though, Archer did tame the Braves by limiting them to just a solo homer, along with five other hits and two walks, while striking out six batters. To highlight how rough of a season this been for Archer, through 10 starts, the right-hander has just three quality starts (including Thursday). For starters, control has been a major issue for Archer as for the season, he has 4.70 walks per nine innings. The fact that Archer only walked two batters yesterday, was clearly a contributing factor to his success. He does strike out close to a batter an inning, so there is a little bit of a floor here, but Archer is also one of those pitchers whose reputation says more about him than his actual performance. Last season though, Archer’s 4.31 ERA could have been better (3.75 FIP), but he has gone in the opposite direction so far in 2019. Despite the 5.47 FIP, 4.92 xFIP, there is still a limited buy-low opportunity here. Just don’t expect Archer to be close to an ace.
3) Adames Shows Some Power
Just by nature of lineup construction, I’m going to pay, at least some, attention to whoever is batting fifth in the order. And that brings us to Willy Adames. Over his last seven games, Adames is hitting .367, and for the second straight day, the shortstop went deep. The solo shot was part of a two hit effort for Adames, who is now batting .256 on the season with six home runs and 18 RBI. Aside from the fact that he is a 23, there isn’t much, at least at this point, that really stands out from a fantasy perspective, but there is some potential. If we take it back to his last 30 games, it’s hard to argue with Adames .292 batting average with five home runs and 14 RBI. Adames has brought his line drive rate up to 22.5% so far this season while also seeing his hard contact rate rise from 34.7% to 40.4%.
4) Gant Grabs Another Victory
While he has picked up a few saves so far this season (three), John Gant’s value goes beyond that as a handcuff of Jordan Hicks. While Hicks has struggled at points this season, he did pick up his 12th save of the year on Thursday while lowering his ERA to 3.80. Prior to that, Gant threw 1.1 innings of perfect relief while striking out a batter and picking up his fifth victory of the season. Regardless of whether or not he gets any saves, that, along with Gant’s 1.10 ERA does give him some value. Gant has also limited base runners, to the tune of a 0.67 WHIP while striking out 35 batters in 32.1 innings.
5) The Moose is Beyond Loose
At this point, with the way Mike Moustakas is hitting, I’m not sure it really matters what puns I use. The fact that Christian Yelich went deep on Thursday isn’t exactly surprising as he is up to 23 on the season. But within the Brewers, the outfielder isn’t the only power hitter on the team. Moustakas went deep twice yesterday, as he brought his total to 18. The third baseman is only up to 39 RBI on the season, so he still has a long way to go to catch up to Yelich and his 51 RBI. With a .267 batting average, coupled with that power production, Moustakas is proving to be a top-10 option at third base this season.
6) A Successful Debut
With a 3.28 ERA, between Double-A and Triple-A, Peter Lambert put himself on the major league radar last season. However, 2019 hasn’t worked out nearly as well for Lambert who took a 5.04 ERA at Triple-A into his major league debut in Wrigley Field on Thursday. And all Lambert did was cruise to his first major league victory with seven innings of one run ball. The Cubs managed just four hits and one run off Lambert who struck out nine batters while walking just one. The struggle is real when it comes to hunting for pitchers, but I would still tend to tread carefully with Lambert. You have to invest, but keep that investment minimal as there is a clear learning curve for young pitchers upon their promotion to the major leagues. Two recent cautionary tales of this are Corbin Martin and Mitch Keller.
7) Bregman Goes Deep Again
Despite the injuries, the Astros continue to win, but things have to be getting lonely for Alex Bregman in Houston’s lineup. You wouldn’t have known it from Bregman’s performance though as went 3 for 6 on Thursday with another home run. The “no doubt” shot was Bregman’s 18th home run of the season, and he is now batting .281 with 44 RBI. Nobody should be shocked about this level of production, as it really is a continuation from last season, but the Astros are currently missing George Springer, Jose Altuve, and Carlos Correa, so Michael Brantley is really Bregman’s only true protection. What is clear though, is Bregman’s skills at plate, and it certainly is a positive that he is on his way towards retaining eligibilty at short stop as well as manning the hot corner.
8) Hicks Shows Some Power
Returning from injury is always tough, and that is especially the case when coming off a balk injury that took away most of your spring training. The Yankees are committed to Aaron Hicks as their starting centerfielder, and batting second at the moment also doesn’t hurt, but his role is secure. And with that, the production should follow. Hicks went deep for the second time this season on Thursday, as part of a two hit effort to raise his batting average to .238. The three run shot brought Hicks up to 14 RBI in 63 at bats as he looks to find his stride. And if you needed any indication of that, Hicks is hitting .333 in his last seven games with two home runs and eight RBI. Invest accordingly.
9) Piscotty Goes Deep
When you look at Stephen Piscotty, there really isn’t much exciting about him. And for me, that made him a perfect mid-round target in drafts this past winter. He bats around fifth or sixth in a strong lineup; well at least the middle part. Piscotty won’t wow you with production, but as he once again showing over the first two months of the season, if healthy and in the lineup, he can be a solid compiler. On Thursday, Piscotty went deep for the eighth time this season, a solo shot, while driving two (29 RBI overall) and picking up two hits to boost his average to .265. Again, nothing that will jump off the page at you, but over the course of the season, it is still nice production to have.
10) Kepler Takes the Day
As the Twins are busy running away with the AL Central, they are getting contributions from up and down their lineup. And that production is certainly starting at the top as Max Kepler is truly taking a step forward this season. On Thursday, the outfielder went deep three times, and that gives him 15 home runs for the season. All three home runs, two solo and one two run shot, came of Trevor Bauer as Kepler reached base all five times last night; 4 for 4 with a walk. After 17, 19, and 20 home runs in each of the last three seasons, Kepler is well on his way towards surpassing that mark this season. He has struggled over his last seven games, .172 batting average, and while the production is nice (40 runs scored and 40 RBI), I wouldn’t fully by into this level of production; Kepler is also hitting .266. Some level of improvement from Kepler is expected as his batted ball metrics have improved each season, but I can’t see him keeping up this home run pace all year.