While some teams were off on Thursday, we still had a solid slate of action. Games literally went from morning to night, and what a surprise, there was more than a few home runs and a good deal of offense. Let’s take a look at some of the more noteworthy performances:
1) The Slider Was Working in Flushing
To be honest, everything was working yesterday afternoon for Jacob deGrom, but the slider was a large part of that. The right-hander leaned on his slider a lot more than he previously has, and it brought success for deGrom. Everything was working for him, as he spotted his fastball with the slider to pick up his sixth victory of the season. San Diego managed just four hits and one walk off the Mets’ ace as he struck out nine in seven innings of work. deGrom’s ERA now sits at just 2.86 on the season, and games like that are what remind you what the right-hander is capable of and how good he truly is. This season has taught us not to trust pitching, but deGrom is one pitcher who we can feel confident in.
2) Goldy is Getting on Track
Paul Goldschmidt is simply too good of a hitter to struggle as he did early in the season, and St. Louis is also one of the better environments to play in as well. Earlier in the month, Goldschmidt was the perfect buy-low candidate, and that window is closing quickly. Yesterday, the first baseman went deep for the 22nd time this season as he is working to get his season numbers in line with his career totals. The good thing about that, is that owners you acquired Goldschmidt over the past two weeks are going to get the benefit of his production. Overall, Goldschmidt is still hitting just .253 with 53 RBI after going 2 for 3 with a walk on Thursday. In his last 30 games, the first baseman has nine home runs with 24 RBI, and over his last seven games, he is hitting .333. None of this is that outlandish to what we have come to expect from the first baseman, so at this point, simply enjoy the ride as he looks like a different hitter at the plate than he did in April.
3) Just Play the Man
This could apply to multiple players on the Rockies, but in this case, we’ll focus on Ryan McMahon. Getting the start at third base, McMahon showed why Colorado should give him regular playing time, and Garrett Hampson also went deep to remind the Rockies what they have in him. Versatility does work in McMahon’s favor as he is eligible everywhere in the infield except for shortstop, and in 283 at bats so far this season, he has produced. Yesterday, he went 2 for 3 with a walk to bring his average up to .265. Included in that, was McMahon’s 11th home run for the season as he drove in three runs (48 RBI on the season). McMahon is a frustrating player to own due to the playing time, but in both daily leagues and deeper leagues, he does need to be owned.
4) Just an Overall Solid Hitter
It’s not exciting to say, but when talking about Daniel Murphy, it is the truth. Yesterday, Murphy had another standard game as he went 3 for 5 with two RBI and three runs scored. While he is not the prototypical clean-up hitter (or fifth hitter depending on the lineup), or first baseman, from the power perspective, it shouldn’t hinder your outlook on him. However, it does need to be adjusted. However, Murphy did go deep on Thursday, his 10th on the season while also bringing his RBI total up to 51. With a .287 batting average so far on the season, Murphy is a little behind his career pace, but he is hitting .327 in his last 15 games. After a stint on the Injured List earlier this season, Murphy has just 268 at bats under his belt so far this season, so we have to like the pace he is on.
5) Xander Goes Nuts
Talk about an offensive outburst on Thursday for the Red Sox, as they kicked off their series against the Yankees by scoring 19 runs. Playing a large role in that, was Xander Bogaerts as the shortstop went 4 for 6. The shortstop started things off with a three run homer in the first inning to start the carnage against Masahiro Tanaka, and he then ended the night with a solo homer against Austin Romine who was brought in for mop-up duty. After reaching a career high with 23 home runs last season, he also hit 21 in 2016 so the power wasn’t exactly shocking, Bogaerts has matched that total so far in 2019 as he is embracing the home run revolution. And after his four RBI last night, Bogaerts is up to 80 RBI on the season as he looks to surpass last season’s 103. And with .315 batting average so far this season, we aren’t seeing the power at the expense of efficiency either.
6) Cruz Has Himself a Game
Expected Nelson Cruz to age and go quietly is turning into a fool’s errand. To be honest, this isn’t exactly a new story, and instead something we have been repeating over the past few seasons. But with Cruz’s power production showing no signs of slowing down, it is something we must continue to repeat as the end will come at some point. It is clear though, that it won’t happen in 2019. And in case you forgot, Cruz went deep three times on Thursday. That brought Cruz’s home run total for the season up to 25, and with his five RBI, he now has 58 for the year to go along with a .278 batting average. With the home run production, you would expect to potentially see some more RBI, but we really can’t complain about anything we are seeing from Cruz.
The final four bullets are courtesy of The Rotoprofessor
7) A lackluster pitcher’s duel in Kansas City…
While both Adam Plutko (5.1 IP, 3 ER, 7 H, 2 BB, 1 K) and Mike Montgomery (5.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 0 K) pitched fairly well, neither of them had much success in terms of strikeouts. Plutko is the far more interesting option from a fantasy perspective, but in 54.0 IP in the Majors this season he’s managed a 5.33 K/9 courtesy of an 8.5% SwStr%. That alone is going to limit his potential upside, but the fact that he’s coupled it with a 30.9% groundball rate (which leads to significant risk in home runs) and why is there any intrigue really? He’s nothing more than a plug and play streaming option, so don’t value him (or Montgomery in the case) as anything more than that.
8) Jonathan Villar breaks out of slump and delivers in a wild one…
In a game that went 16 innings and saw a position player get a save, Villar’s performance is noteworthy. While he finished just 2-8 he added 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3 R and 3 SB. He had stolen just 1 base since June 29 so it’s easy to see why the performance was so important. With speed down around the game his 20 SB makes him extremely valuable, especially having added 12 HR, 44 RBI and 62 R. Of course he’s hitting just .248 thanks to a 24.5% strikeout rate and 25.1% Hard%. Given the other numbers it’s something that you can accept, and any improvement in his Hard% (something you’d expect) could bring significant value down the stretch. Kick the tires and see if you can buy low.
9) Danny Santana erupts and it’s become impossible to ignore…
He went 3-5 with 1 HR, 6 RBI and 2 R yesterday and is now hitting .322 with 14 HR, 42 RBI, 47 R and 12 SB over 258 AB. The big question is whether or not he can maintain this production considering his abysmal approach, as he’s posted 15.0% SwStr% and 41.7% O-Swing%. As it is he’s posted a 27.9% strikeout rate and 4.0% walk rate, and it’s not impossible that the strikeouts rise further. He also will likely see his BABIP (.406) regress despite a 44.6% Hard% and you have to wonder if his 21.9% HR/FB is maintainable. Enjoy the ride while it’s going, but don’t expect it to continue indefinitely.
10) Is it time to give up on Mallex Smith…
He went 0-4 yesterday and is now hitting .233 with 5 HR on the season. His only value comes from his 27 SB, especially since he also isn’t scoring a lot of runs (47). You could argue that he should be more productive, especially with his speed, as he’s posted just a .305 BABIP. He also could draw a few more walks as his approach isn’t bad (29.1% O-Swing%). It’s frustrating, but speed is too valuable to simply lose hope.
Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs