Unlike the Colorado Rockies broadcast, although who can blame them, we won’t hide any scores or stats from you here. To say that yesterday afternoon’s game didn’t go according to plan for the Rockies would be an understatement, but that is just your friendly reminder to never know what to expect. From a fantasy perspective, let’s take a look at some of the performances that stood out from a busy Monday around the league:
1) A Shark Attack in Colorado
Weeks in which he is slated to take the mound twice, are all the reason why you should keep Jeff Samardzjia around. The problem though, is that when his first start of the week is in Colorado, that usually means he ends up on your bench. Instead, the right-hander received 19 runs of support, and only allowed two runs in 6.2 innings of work while picking up his seventh victory of the season. Samardzjia scattered four hits and one walk, and both of the runs came on long balls, while he struck out nine batters to lower his ERA to 3.93. Overall, Samardzjia has been a solid option this season, but his 4.46 FIP and 4.91 xFIP are good reminders to keep him at arms length. However, that could mean missing performances like last night, so we just have to keep in mind how much of a risk pitching often is.
2) Verdugo Goes Deep
Talking about Cody Bellinger hitting a home run, or two in this case, is really old news as he is now up to 33 on the season. The same can be said for Max Muncy and his 24th home run, so instead let’s dig a little deeper into Alex Verdugo. Long a top prospect, Verdugo is finally getting a chance to show what he can do this season, and the outfielder is proving that the hype was real. However, Verdugo’s skill set was never really about the power, but instead just about his ability to make solid contact and drive the ball; just not over the fence. Last night though, Verdugo went deep for the 11th time this season as part of a 3 for 6 effort at the plate. Verdugo, who is continuing to earn regular playing time is now hitting .311 with 43 RBI, and he will continue to be a critical part of the Dodgers’ lineup.
3) Devers Continues to be a Run Producer
With his two RBI last night, Rafael Devers has already matched his total from a year ago; 66. It’s hard to remember sometimes, that Devers is still just 22 years old, but it is clear that this is the season we are seeing the third baseman truly take the next step. The potential and tools were always there, but this season, his third as a major leaguer, Devers is putting things together. After his 2 for 5 effort, which included his 27th double, Devers is how hitting .326 on the season. It’s truly hard to argue with the quality of contact Devers is making this season as he sports an exit velocity of 92.7 miles per hour along with a 49.7% hard hit rate.
4) A Rare Power Show From d’Arnaud
At this point, waiting for Travis d’Arnaud to realize any level of his expectations is a truly fruitless affair. The problem for d’Arnaud, mostly at least, has been his health, but he is still young enough to turn things around. If there is any team for d’Arnaud to figure things out with, it is going to be Tampa Bay, as getting a chance with a conventional team such as the Rays, could be just what the catcher needs. Batting lead-off on Monday, d’Arnaud went deep three times in a rare outburst of power as he brought his home run total up to nine on the season. With a .252 batting average and 28 RBI, he drove in five last night, d’Arnaud is worth a look in the never ending quest for production at the catching position, but keep your expectations in check, as we have been down this path before.
5) A Complete Performance from Mercado
Oscar Mercado has been flying under the radar, up to about a month or so ago when the Indians began giving him regular playing time. And at this point, we can finally see his true power and speed combination flourish. Throughout his minor league career, speed has never been an issue, but Mercado’s home run power, aside from his 13 home runs at Double-A in 2017, has been slow to develop. Last night, we saw what he is capable of, as Mercado went deep twice, as part of a three hit effort, to give him six home runs in 183 at bats. Additionally, Mercado also picked up his seventh stolen base as he is batting .284 with 19 RBI. It’s easy to be excited and swept up in Mercado’s success, but we also need to maintain a level of perspective here as he never was truly a top prospect. At the same time though, the skills are there.
6) Castillo Continues to Dominate, with a Caveat
Last night, things were relatively tame for Luis Castillo, as he walked just three batters in six innings. Considering he is walking 4.50 batters per nine innings, that is a small victory, but it is always going to be an albatross that follows Castillo around and puts a limit on his value. After allowing three runs on seven hits, his ERA sits at 2.41 with a 9-3 record, but his 3.67 FIP and 3.72 xFIP might paint a better picture as to where his true value lies. Castillo has benefited from a .236 BABIP, but with a 55.9% ground ball rate, the right-hander is doing a good job of preventing hitters from making solid contact. After striking out 10 batters last night, Castillo is up to 10.77 strikeouts per nine innings, and that is where his true value lies.
7) Fried Picks up Another Win
Going into the season, predicting wins is a very necessary task, but it’s also quite difficult, and often very variable. Everyone knew that the Braves had a plethora of young, talented pitchers, but who ended up in the rotation was an open ended question. One pitcher who has taken his chance and run with it, is Max Fried. The left-hander went into a difficult environment, Milwaukee, against a tough lineup, and he emerged with his 10th victory of the season. Fried was very economical, 78 pitches in five innings, as he kept the Brewers off the scoreboard while scattering just three hits and two walks while striking out five. The left-hander’s ERA now sits at 4.08, but with a 3.86 ERA and 3.44 xFIP, things might even get better for Fried. Although, as with all young pitchers, we do have to keep an eye on his innings as the season progresses.
8) Mikolas Cruises to Victory
While Miles Mikolas scattered eight hits last night, the right-hander didn’t walk a batter or allow a run as he picked up a complete game shutout. It was the sixth victory of the season for Mikolas, who has now lowered his ERA to 4.15 as he looks to bounce back from a slow start. The fact that the right-hander struck out just three batters shouldn’t come as a surprise as that is one part of his game that is sorely lacking. With a 3.71 ERA in his last 15 starts, Mikolas is back to being a solid, dependable, innings eater, but nothing really more than that.
9) Junis Starts the Week off Right
Two start weeks lead us to inserting pitchers into our starting lineup that would never otherwise be on our radar, but there certainly is value to that part of the game. Starting the week off by facing the Chicago White Sox certainly puts a pitcher on our radar, and with Jake Junis closing out the week against the Tigers, the match-ups worked in his favor. But past performance this season worked against Junis, and he certainly was a risky option. With Junis picking up the win last night (fifth on the season), things are already off to a good start for the right-hander this week. It was perhaps Junis’ best start of the season as he threw seven innings of one run ball while scattering five hits and two walks while striking out 10. While his ERA is 5.08 on the season, there is some potential there as evidenced by last night and his 4.57 xFIP. I would still tread quite carefully though.
10) Don’t Sleep on Albert
The batting average may not be there, the consistent playing time isn’t always there (273 at bats on the season), and he clearly isn’t the same player he once was, but there is still some value left to Albert Pujols. When he does play, Pujols still bats in the middle of the Angels’ lineup, and he hasn’t forgotten how to drive in runs. On Monday, Pujols went 3 for 4 (his 12th double of the year and two singles), while driving in three runs. That only brought his batting average up to .242, but with 14 home runs and 52 RBI, you can’t simply write Pujols off; at least in deeper leagues.