The evening started off with a rain out in New York, and things only picked up from there. We had Arizona starting the game off with three straight home runs, the benches clearing in the first inning in Atlanta, and plenty of other exciting action. With about half the teams in action to start off the week, the extra time to set our lineups was certainly appreciated. Let’s jump right into some off the performances that stood out:
1) Wacha Returns to the Rotation
It is safe to say that the 2019 season hasn’t gone according to plan for Michael Wacha. It was just one start last night, and against the Marlins too, but the right-hander did move things in the right direction. Wacha, who was making his first start since May 22nd, threw six innings of shutout baseball in Miami for his fourth victory of the season. Overall, it was a strong start for Wacha who scattered five hits and two walks while striking out just four. We need to see more than just one start from Wacha before it is time to invest again, and his 5.63 ERA certainly should keep people away. And despite his success last night, Wacha is still best left for the waiver wire until he can improve his 5.46 walks and 1.93 home runs per nine innings. St. Louis has also proven that they won’t hesitate to have a quick trigger with the right-hander as well.
2) Santana is Proving to be Useful
Danny Santana’s current source of playing time is coming from Joey Gallo’s injury, but the utility player has proven to be a viable depth option this season; both for the Rangers and your fantasy team. The dual eligibility, second base and the outfield, certainly helps, but the production is there as well. Santana went 4 for 5 last night to bring his average up to .306 on the season while scoring two runs and driving in one. In 144 at bats so far this season, Santana has 28 runs scored, 10 doubles (two on Monday), and 16 RBI to go along with four home runs and seven stolen bases. There isn’t really much here, well the stolen bases are nice, that jumps off the page at you, but Santana is doing enough to keep him fantasy relevant while also batting over .300. For a minimal investment, you could do a lot worse than ride Santana.
3) Morton Stays Perfect
While his nickname may be “Ground Chuck”, Charlie Morton’s performance has certainly been of a higher quality. We could say maybe of the Morton’s Steakhouse variety, but now we have just lost ourselves. Regardless, it’s hard to find much fault in the right-hander’s performance so far this season. After throwing seven shutout innings on Monday, Morton improved to 8-0 on the season while limiting the A’s to just two hits and two walks. Morton, who struck out seven, now is sporting a 2.10 ERA for the season while striking out close to 11 batters per nine innings. With a 51.6% ground ball rate and just 0.44 home runs per nine innings, opposing hitters really haven’t gotten much of a chance off Morton so far in 2019. Morton’s 3.32 xFIP (2.67 FIP) say that the good times will slow down, but either way, the right-hander is proving that his success in Houston was not a fluke.
4) Choi Goes Deep
When you think of first baseman, Ji-Man Choi is not someone who immediately, if at all, comes to mind. In fact, he probably wasn’t even on many, if any at all, pre-season draft prep lists other than in the deepest of leagues. But there is Choi batting in the middle of Tampa Bay’s lineup while also producing, so far in 2019. Now, Choi isn’t producing to the level of the other, elite, options at the position, but you could also do worse if forced to plug a hole created by either injury or just poor performance. As part of a two hit effort on Monday, Choi went deep for the seventh time this season, a two run shot, to improve to .287 on the season with 25 home runs. Over the last 14 days, Choi has been especially hot, as he is hitting .358 with four home runs and 11 RBI with the batting average jumping to .545 in his last seven games.
5) Markakis Drives in Four
I feel like I’m beating a repetitive drum here, but once again, we are talking about Nick Markakis. He does nothing that jumps off the page, and I likely would never trade for him, but if he ends up on your team, there is nothing to complain about. Now, don’t get me wrong, I would target him in a trade, but only if the other owner was willing to just cast him aside. The fact that Markakis does not hit home runs, although he did hit his fifth of the season on Monday, is the largest hindrance on his value. Markakis, who went 4 for 5 last night, is now hitting .276 on the season with 33 RBI (four last night). There is nothing about any of those numbers that stand out, but the compiler does consistently generate value.
6) Marte Shows off The Power
At this point in the season, there are few places better to bat, than right in front of Josh Bell. The first baseman’s success is one of the more welcome developments of the 2019 season, but it also ensures that Starling Marte will see some good pitches to hit. That was on display last night as the outfielder went deep twice as part of a three hit effort in what was just a wild offensive game in Atlanta. Marte is now hitting .289 for the season with nine home runs and 30 RBI; four last night. When you factor in Marte’s 11 stolen bases so far in 2019, along with the fact that he is hitting .369 in his last 14 games, we have a five category contributor on our hands.
7) Sanchez Didn’t Need Much
As a pitcher, it’s always nice to receive run support, and Washington scored 12 runs for Anibal Sanchez last night. And all the right-hander needed was one of those runs. It has been a rough season for Sanchez so far in 2019 as he picked up just his second victory of the season with six innings of one run ball. A Leury Garcia solo home run was all Chicago managed off Sanchez who scattered just three other hits and a walk. Despite the fact that he is just 2-6 on the season, Sanchez has pitched better than that, no lead is safe with the Nationals’ bullpen, as evidenced by his 3.92 ERA. The problem though, is that Sanchez’s 4.42 FIP and 5.02 xFIP say that he deserves his record. For the season, Sanchez is striking out 8.45 batters per nine innings, but last night, he struck out just one batter. The real problem, and it was under control last night, is that Sanchez is walking 4.22 batters per nine innings. Rolling with Sanchez in your starting lineup isn’t an easy decision, and it has to be match-up dependent, but he can be a solid option.
8) Kingery Makes the Most of His Chance
The contract extension that Scott Kingery received before last season didn’t do anything to guarantee his playing time. All it did, was put the rookie infielder on the Opening Day roster, but Kingery failed to take advantage of the situation. Now, with Andrew McCutchen and Odubel Herrera sidelined, Kingery is getting his playing time in the outfield. Listing the players who didn’t go deep last night in Philadelphia, between the Phillies and Diamondbacks there were 13 home runs, would in fact be easier than the players who didn’t hit a home run. As far as the Phillies went, Kingery led the way with two home runs. That gave him six on the season, in 105 at bats, as he went 3 for 5 with three runs scored and two RBI (both were solo shots). Kingery is now hitting .324 with 15 RBI and 17 runs scored as he is finally showing what he is capable of.
9) Escobar Isn’t Slowing Down
When Arizona acquired Eduardo Escobar last season, he was viewed as a versatile utility infielder who had shown the ability to provide solid production with everyday playing time. But did anyone expect this? If they had, the trade price, were he moved at all, certainly would have been a lot higher. Escobar joined in the fun last night as he homered two more times, and that gives him 17 home runs on the season. With a 4 for 5 effort, he also added his 16th double of the year, Escobar brought his average up to .299 on season while scoring three runs. Overall, Escobar drove in five runs, and with 54 RBI so far in 2019, he is establishing himself as a key run producer. So far this season, Escobar has seen a surge in his ISO, up to .295 from .217 last season, and he remains an interesting option for the remainder of the season as he is an unlikely candidate to keep up this pace. But with all of the home runs so far this season, why couldn’t he?
10) Calhoun Makes it Count
Hitting just .243 after two hits on Monday, Kole Calhoun isn’t going to stand out to many fantasy owners. But with a .332 on base percentage, he does make up for that in OBP leagues, but the power department is where Calhoun proves his value as a depth outfielder. Calhoun went deep for the 14th time of the season last night, and the solo shot gave him 36 RBI for the season. This isn’t anything that will really grab your attention, but with all of the home runs flying out of parks, you have to catch up and make sure you have enough. Calhoun is a cheap way to do that.