It was a busy and exciting night around the league, and the Mets kicked things off with a win in the first game of their double-header on Monday. Whether it is pennant races around the MLB or in your fantasy league, it will be an exciting two months in baseball. Let’s jump into some of the performances that caught our attention:
1) Jake Continues to Deal
Jacob deGrom is establishing himself as one of the best pitchers of our generation, and his success in afternoon games is unparalleled in history. And yesterday was no different. The right-hander picked up his seventh victory of the season, again we know we can’t measure him by his wins, with seven strong innings of two run ball. deGrom scattered five hits while walking just one batter and striking out eight as he continued his success. On the season, his ERA sits at 2.77, and he continues to get better as the season goes on; a 2.53 ERA in his last 15 starts and a 1.76 ERA in his last seven. With a 1.07 WHIP, there isn’t much traffic on the bases when deGrom pitches, and with 182 strikeouts in 143 innings, he can very easily get out of trouble.
2) Talk About Hot in Flushing
Michael Conforto’s swing passes the visual test, but health hasn’t always worked in his favor, and he has had some inconsistency in his career. But watching Conforto hit over the 15 games, a .298 batting average with six home runs and 13 RBI, is a true indication of what he is capable of. Conforto tied the night cap of the Mets’ sweep on Monday with the perfect example of a “no doubt” home run. The ball was absolutely crushed down the right field line, and the only question, was whether or not it was fair or foul, as it just about went over the foul pole. Overall, Conforto is hitting .258 with 23 home runs 61 RBI on the season as he also kicked the scoring off with a two run single in the first inning last night. With the Mets finding their groove as of late, Conforto has been a big part of that, and fantasy owners should be taking note.
3) Will He Ever Slow Down?
At this point, I’m not sure it will ever happen. I mean all Christian Yelich does, is hit. There isn’t much in the way of ground breaking analysis here, but just know that he is a clear top-5 player, and he should be treated and valued as such. If you think you are getting enough for Yelich in trade talks, stop, and ask for more. All he did last night, was hit two more home runs as part of a four hit effort. Yelich is now hitting .336, on the only knock on him, is that both home runs came with the bases empty, so with just the two RBI, he is now up to 84 on the season. Just in case you were looking for more value from Yelich, we are reminded that he is a true five category contributor with 82 runs scored and 23 stolen bases. Quite simply, you aren’t going to find better production than this.
4) Villar Makes History
From a fantasy perspective, or really even a historical perspective, hitting for a cycle, while acknowledged, doesn’t mean all that much. But, it does get Jonathan Villar a mention in the history books as a noted member of the club, and all told, he did have a productive fantasy evening as well. After going 4 for 5 on Monday, Villar is hitting a very respectable .267 on the season with 15 home runs and 51 RBI (after driving in two last night). With the abundant decline of stolen bases around the league, perhaps the most important thing to note about Villar is the fact that he has 24 stolen bases on the season. With 74 runs scored at the top of Baltimore’s lineup, he added two more last night, Villar is flourishing despite all of the Orioles short comings as he has developed into a legitimate fantasy asset.
5) Porcello Bounces Back
Looking at that ERA will certainly hurt your head, but Rick Porcello is still a solid major league pitcher who we can’t over look. Or perhaps I should revise that statement to say that we shouldn’t dismiss Porcello against all opponents. The right-hander has had his share of rough starts this season, as evidenced by his current 5.54 ERA, but he did also pick up his 10th victory of the year last night. However, as we get to that match-up thing, Porcello had the benefit of facing Kansas City to kick off his week. Porcello limited the Royals to one run on four hits and two walks while striking out five, but you still have to remain somewhat skeptical of the right-hander moving forward. I mean, we can’t just forget about his 8.31 ERA and 1.70 WHIP over his last seven starts. You simply aren’t going to be successful by allowing 1.61 home runs per nine innings, and that is especially the case if you strike out just 7.29 batters. Tread carefully.
6) Castillo Really Dials Things Up
Whenever you get two starts in a week from a pitcher, especially a top tier one, the week or scoring period is always off to a good start. And when said pitcher throws a gem, then you really are in business. That certainly was the case last night as Luis Castillo struck out 13 batters in seven innings of work for his 11th victory of the season. While, for the season, he is still walking 3.94 batters per nine innings, Castillo had another economical night on the mound as he only walked one batter while allowing two runs on three hits. In Castillo’s last seven starts, he has just 11 walks, and that is just what he needed to take the next step in his career. And with a 2.63 ERA the results are there.
7) Minor Throws a Gem
It was a little bit of a surprise that Mike Minor wasn’t moved at the trade deadline, but it wasn’t performance based. Well, maybe it was, but in the sense that Minor has just been pitching too good for Texas to move him. At this point, we have to truly take a step back and give Minor credit for finding his groove and having what is likely the best season of his career. Minor picked up his 10th victory of the year on Monday with seven shutout innings against the Indians while scattering seven hits and walking just one batter to go along with seven strikeouts. That brought Minor’s ERA for the season down to 3.06, but with a FIP of 4.14, it seems that there should be some caution. However, Minor is striking out a batter per inning, and while 3.06 walks per nine innings isn’t exactly ideal, it could be worse, and 1.22 home runs per nine innings really is just par for the course. Minor isn’t an elite option, but he is a solid middle of the road pitcher that you can invest in with confidence.
8) Baez Adds Two More
Javier Baez is clear proof that worrying about strikeouts is overrated. If you watch the infielder’s performance this season and measure it from a fantasy perspective, you would never know that he strikes out 28.2% of the time. But that is simply how Baez makes his outs, as after going 2 for 3 with a walk on Monday, he is batting .290 with a .323 on base percentage. I mean, you would like him to have a walk rate of more than 4.7%, but at the same time, you don’t want to take away his aggressiveness. Last night, Baez went deep twice which gave him 28 home runs on the season along with 76 RBI (he drove in three). For the second year in a row, Baez is primed to turn in a 30/100 season as he shows no signs of slowing down.
9) Gonsolin Picks Up His First Career Victory
We know all about the Dodgers’ and their prospects, and last night we saw one of their top minor league pitchers pick up his first victory. Tony Gonsolin received eight runs of support, including Cody Bellinger’s 37th home run of the season as he tries to keep pace with Christian Yelich, but the reality is that he only needed one of those runs. The rookie threw six innings of shutout ball while allowing just two hits and one walk to go along with seven strikeouts. It was an improvement over his first career start in which he went just four innings against Arizona while allowing six runs, four earned, but Gonsolin did turn things around in his next outing with a four run save in Coors Field where he allowed just one run. After improving even further last night, it still remains to be seen what his role will be for the remainder of the season, but it is clear that he should be on your radar. Last season Gonsolin posted a 2.60 ERA in 26 starts in the minor leagues, and while he has struggled this season in Triple-A, 4.95 ERA in 36.1 innings, I wouldn’t quite hold it against him either.
10) Kingery Goes Deep Again
With the demotion of Maikel Franco, third base now officially belongs to Scott Kingery, as he no longer has to play the utility role and move around the diamond. After a rough start to his career last season, Kingery certainly earned the role so far in 2019, and that continued last night. Batting fifth for the Phillies, Kingery went 2 for 5 with his 14th home run of the season. Overall, Kingery is now batting .276 with 34 RBI in 294 at bats while also chipping in nine stolen bases and scoring 43 runs. If we simply doubled all of his counting stats, we are looking at a very good fantasy contributor, and having a consistent role should also prove to benefit Kingery.