Before we head into the weekend, lets first take a look at an exciting Thursday of action. And no, we don’t get to count Stephen Strasburg’s five RBI.
1) German Keeps on Winning
A stint on the Injured List hasn’t appeared to slow Domingo German down, as he just keeps on winning. Yesterday, the right-hander picked up his 12th victory of the season in 16 games (15 starts) as he limited Tampa Bay to two runs in six innings. It wasn’t a particularly dominating outing, German allowed four hits (including two solo homers) and two walks while striking out five, but with a 3.38 ERA for the season, you can’t argue with the results. At the same time though, German’s ERA in his last seven games is 4.54, but he just keeps on picking up victories. What you have to like about the right-hander, is that as he is striking out 9.72 batters per nine innings, he is walking just 2.15 batters. Of course, with 1.53 home runs allowed per nine innings, the long ball is a problem, but that shouldn’t be surprising, and the fact that German doesn’t allow too many walks does work in his favor. German’s 4.02 FIP, thanks to his .249 BABIP, does warn of some regression (which we have already begun to see), but the right-hander is still a solid option, I just don’t see much upside. The fact that he only has a 39.5% ground ball rate could also be a cause for concern.
2) Harper Continues to Drive in Runs
For all of the criticism that comes Bryce Harper’s way, he is still having a pretty good season. Sure, he didn’t make the All-Star team and there are many other hitters who, rightfully so, have caught our eye, but the production is there. Harper is being paid to be a run producer, and after driving in two runs yesterday, he is up to 69 RBI on the season. Harper went 2 for 3 with his 27th double of the season and two runs scored to bring his average up to .258 on the season. Over his last 15 games, Harper has begun to find his groove, as he is hitting .339 with 14 RBI, and the buy low period has expired.
3) And This is the Sale we Know
It honestly, is not something we are used to seeing this season, but Chris Sale actually picked up a victory on Thursday. For Sale, it was just his fourth win on the year as he kept Toronto off the scoreboard in six innings of work. Sale limited the Blue Jays to just two hits and two walks as he lowered his ERA to 4.05. Of course what we are really after, is the strikeouts, and Sale fanned 12 yesterday, but he needed 101 pitches (67 strikes) to do it. Base runners haven’t been a problem for Sale, 1.08 WHIP, the ones that do reach base have been scoring with ease. It sounds like a broken record, but Sale has to be better over the remainder of the season, I mean he just has to, right? With a 3.21 FIP and 2.96 xFIP, the underlying data says Sale should be better, and the fact that he is striking out 13 batters per nine innings also helps. I know we have been saying this all season whenever Sale has a good start, but maybe yesterday will be what the left-hander needed.
4) The Power Supply is On
As long as Jorge Soler continues to hit home runs in the middle of Kansas City’s lineup, we can live with his .248 batting average. It might have taken a while, so long that in fact Soler fell off the fantasy radar, but the slugger is finally living up to his potential. The solo shot was Soler’s 26th home run of the season, and his two run shot brought his RBI total up to 69 for the season. For a player who likely wasn’t drafted in most leagues this winter, Soler certainly represents a favorable return on investment. On the other side of things though, with power being as plentiful as it is around the league, be careful not to overrate Soler either.
5) Luplow Goes Deep
Jordan Luplow is a player who is likely kicking around the fringe ends of your league, but there is some value to the outfielder. The problem though, is that Luplow doesn’t play everyday, and he is best left for deeper leagues, and those with daily roster moves. When he is in the lineup, mainly against southpaws, Luplow has produced, and it is those stats that usually find him at the top of your waiver wire searches. In 160 at bats so far this season, 90 against left-handers and 70 against right-handers, there is quite a difference in performance. Including last night, Luplow has nine home runs against southpaws along with 19 RBI compared to one and seven against right-handers. Overall, Luplow is hitting .263 on the season, but he is a strict platoon option. The fact that he bats in the fourth spot against left-handers also works to his advantage as he is hitting .311 against them.
6) Dejong Goes Deep
I wouldn’t read too much into the fact that Paul Dejong made the All-Star team, as the Cardinals have moved the struggling shortstop down to seventh in the batting order. However, while you can classify Dejong’s season to this point as disappointing, not all is lost. Last night, he went 2 for 4 with his 14th home run of the season and three RBI (40 overall) while bringing his batting average up to .251. Over his last 30 games, Dejong is hitting just .215, but the talent and past production (albeit a small sample size) is there to the point that you shouldn’t just give the shortstop away.
7) Dozier Drives in Two
Brian Dozier certainly isn’t the player he once was, and he can’t be treated as such, but there is still some fantasy value to be found. For now it appears that the Nationals are going to stick with Dozier at second base, as Carter Kieboom did little to distinguish himself when he was promoted earlier this season. Last night, Dozier went 2 for 3 with two walks, two RBI, and two runs scored as he filled the box score while bringing his batting average up to .235. Dozier does have 14 home runs, but with just 35 RBI and 36 runs scored, it is clear he isn’t the same player he was in his prime, so he has to be treated accordingly.
8) Another Strong Start for Miley
While the drop-off is quite steep from Houston’s two aces down to Wade Miley, we shouldn’t discount the left-hander. Miley has been a solid option all season for the Astros, and that continued on Thursday. He took a no-hitter into the fifth inning, and then while he got into trouble in the sixth inning and his pitch count rose, the book on Miley was closed at 5.1 innings of work and two runs, one earned. Will Harris bailed the left-hander out by generating an inning ending double play, but with a 3.25 ERA, it’s hard to argue with what we have seen from Miley this season. With just three strikeouts, 7.44 per nine innings this season, that is one part of Miley’s game that is lacking, and his 4.53 FIP is also a little concerning. At the end of the day, Miley is good for a quality start, and his eight victories on the season do give him some value.
9) Gibson Picks up Another Victory
With the way offense is across the league, you can do a lot worse than a 4.03 ERA. After picking up his ninth victory of the season on Thursday with seven innings of three run ball, that is where Kyle Gibson sits, and that is perfectly reasonable. Last night, Gibson limited the A’s to six hits while not walking a batter and striking out seven. With a 1.23 WHIP and a strikeout per inning, Gibson has become a solid, mid-rotation fantasy option who most weeks, does deserve a spot in your lineup. What you see from the right-hander is what you get, and as long as you don’t overrate that performance, there is no harm in that.
10) Another Win for Davies
I will admit it, from a fantasy perspective, I just don’t respect Zach Davies. After last night, he has an 8-2 record with a 2.79 ERA, so clearly this is a me problem, but I’m comfortable saying he is a better pitcher for the Brewers than he would be for my fantasy team. Take note, that I said “would be” because if you are picking Davies up from the waiver wire, his 2.79 ERA is meaningless. That already happened, and unless he keeps that performance up, you aren’t getting the benefit of those stats. And in my mind, he won’t. Let’s take a look at last night’s start. Yes, Davies allowed one run in seven innings on five hits and three walks, but he didn’t strike out a single batter. On the season he is striking out just 5.58 batters per nine innings, about one less than last season, while walking 2.87. That is too close together for me, and the lack of strikeouts also becomes a liability. Then we get to Davies 4.29 FIP and 5.18 xFIP, and my desire to invest decreases even further. In 20 starts, twice Davies has allowed six runs and once five runs, but other than that, he really hasn’t been blown up; yet anyway. The fact that he doesn’t generate strikeouts is concerning, but he has been getting the job done. Look at him as a streamer, not someone that is 8-2 with a 2.79 ERA, and you should be alright. Because again, overall, he has been getting the job done this season.