It certainly was a busy, and enjoyable Sunday of baseball around the league. As we look towards the next week, let’s take a look back at some of the performances that stood out:
1) Vazquez Moves up in the Order
We don’t need to emphasize how difficult the catching position can be, so it doesn’t take much to get our attention. Christian Vazquez has been having a pretty solid season thus far, and it was interesting to see him batting second on Sunday. It was just the second game of the season for Vazquez there, and while he spends, and will spend, the majority of the time in the bottom third of the batting order, it does show that he has become a useful fantasy asset. Yesterday, Vazquez went 2 for 6 with two RBI to bring his batting average up to .290. Vazquez, who singled twice, is now up to 25 RBI on the season, and while he isn’t going to move the needle, he won’t hurt you either; especially in the batting average department.
2) Winker Sets the Table, and Clears the Bases
Jesse Winker had a game that supporters of the Cincinnati outfielder certainly weren’t surprised by, but it was also pretty interesting. Batting lead-off, Winker went 4 for 5 on the day, and despite the Reds scoring 11 runs, he crossed the plate just once. However, Winker did drive in five runs on the afternoon, while hitting his 11th home run on the season (a two run shot) and raising his batter average to .244. So far this season, Winker is a player who leaves you wanting more, as he has just 23 RBI and 31 runs scored so far in 2019. Over his last 15 games, Winker has been moving in the right direction, as he is hitting .295. With a .250 BABIP, it shouldn’t be surprising to see Winker’s batting average move in the right direction. At this point, the outfielder doesn’t do much that jumps off the page, but he does have solid plate skills.
3) Another Day, Another Home Run for Lowe
Yes, Joey Wendle has returned, but the utility man will have to struggle to find playing time. It is clear, and also pretty obvious, that Wendle won’t be able to slide back into an everyday role at second base, because Brandon Lowe is there. In his customary third spot in the batting order, Lowe went deep for the 15th time this season. The second baseman, who went 2 for 3 yesterday, is now up to 44 RBI on the season to go along with his .293 batting average. With a .346 batting average in his last 15 games, along with four home runs and 12 RBI, Lowe isn’t slowing any signs of letting up. And with a 15.1% barrel rate and 18 degree launch angle, Lowe also checks off the applicable Statcast boxes to back up his home run production.
4) Bauer Shuts Down the Tigers
The Detroit Tigers quite frankly, just never had a chance on Sunday against Trevor Bauer. It hasn’t been the best of seasons for Bauer, but based on how a lot of other pitchers are performing this year, it’s hard to really complain about the right-hander. And we certainly saw what he is capable of yesterday as Bauer threw a complete game shutout while scattering just four hits. Bauer, who didn’t walk a batter, struck out eight as he lowered his ERA to 3.41. We should keep in mind though, that despite what we saw yesterday, it hasn’t been the smoothest of rides for Bauer as he is struggling with his control (3.74 walks per nine innings) while benefiting from a .238 BABIP; which helps explain the 4.12 FIP and 4.43 xFIP.
5) Foltynewicz Picks up the Victory
Based on the fact that Atlanta scored 15 runs on Sunday, Mike Foltynewicz didn’t need to do much to pick up his second victory of the season, but the right-hander did take a step in the right direction. It hasn’t been the smoothest of seasons for Foltynewicz, but yesterday he limited the Phillies to just one run in six innings of work while scattering four runs and striking out six. The strikeouts shouldn’t been a surprise, but the one problem, for the right-hander, as it has always been, is the control. Yesterday, Foltynewicz walked five batters, but for the season, he has actually been pretty good walking just 2.93 batters per nine innings. The problem though, is that he is allowing 2.44 home runs per nine innings, and when you do that, it makes it pretty difficult to win games. Even after yesterday’s start, Foltynewicz’s ERA is still 5.53. If he is able to get the home runs under control, there might be some value here. Until then, tread very carefully.
6) Adams Power Was on Display
When Matt Adams is in the lineup, anyone looking for power should pay attention. Adams made his two hits count yesterday, as both left the park. With a three run shot, followed by a grand slam, Adams drove in seven runs on the afternoon. In 124 at bats so far this season, the first baseman has nine home runs and 27 RBI, to go along with a .258 batting average. Playing time isn’t often consistent for Adams, but with that being said, projecting his stats over 500 at bats does lead us to a favorable conclusion.
7) Gardner Drives in Four
With seemingly the entire Yankees’ roster injured, Brett Gardner has stepped up to be a dependable option in New York’s outfield. Of course, with Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge on their way back and Edwin Encarnacion heading into town, Gardner’s playing time is certain to be reduced, but he will still have a role for the Yankees. The fact that Clint Frazier was sent back to Triple-A, does bode well for Gardner, as does the fact that the outfielder has had some success so far in 2019. Yes, after a two hit effort on Sunday, he is still hitting just .230, but with a four RBI performance, he is up to 31 on the season. We can also be sure that the Yankees will cautious with the playing time of Stanton and Judge, so I wouldn’t cut bait with Gardner just yet.
8) It Was a Pretty Good Homecoming
Despite the fact that he never pitched in Houston, it was a reunion of sorts for Trent Thornton as he faced the team that traded him this past winter. The right-hander has a live arm, and has been erratic at times, but we saw what he is capable of on Sunday. Granted the Astros’ lineup wasn’t at full strength, but Thornton still was able to shut down an impressive array of hitters on Sunday with 6.2 innings of scoreless baseball. Thornton scattered six hits and three walks while striking out seven to pick up his second victory of the season to lower his ERA to 4.36. It shouldn’t really be surprising, that for as good as Thornton is when it comes to striking out opposing hitters (9.43 per nine innings), he is also hindered by control issues (4.36 walks), and that is going to hold him back.
9) Renfroe Continues to Show off the Power
Granted it was in Coors Field, but Hunter Renfroe’s power plays everywhere. After hitting three home runs in Friday night’s game, Renfroe went deep twice more yesterday, to bring his total for the season to 23. With a .256 batting average, Renfroe hasn’t proven to be a liability in that department either, as he has earned himself consistent, and steady, playing time in the middle of San Diego’s batting order. Renfroe is now up to 43 RBI on the season while posting a .391 ISO; as if we needed proof that the power is real.
10) Leake Picks up Another Victory
As far as starting pitchers go, it doesn’t get much more boring than Mike Leake. But the right-hander has been a productive, and relatively solid option so far this season. Leake picked up his sixth victory of the season on Sunday with seven strong innings of three run ball, two earned, to lower his ERA to 4.14. Oakland managed seven hits off Leake, including two home runs, as he didn’t walk a batter while striking out seven. That was a nice bonus for Leake, who is currently striking out just 6.49 batters per nine innings. Despite the solid ERA, what tempers my enthusiasm around Leake, even though he walks just 1.51 batters per nine innings, is his problem with the long ball; 2.07 per nine innings.