by Ray Kuhn
Days like Wednesday when we have wall to wall baseball from afternoon all through the evening simply are the best types of days. When they come in the middle of the week to help us get through the work day, it is even better. Let’s jump right into some of the performances of note:
1) Galvis Continues to Produce
Freddy Galvis shouldn’t be a fantasy relevant player, but it in just about leagues, there are worse ways to fill your middle infield slot. Toronto moved on from Galvis earlier this season as he was merely a placeholder for their young studs, so he then moved onto Cincinnati where he helped to displace Scooter Gennett. Yesterday, reached base in three of his four at bats with a walk a single, and his 25th double of the season. Galvis also added his 61st RBI while bringing his batting average up to a very respectable .278. Factor in his career high of 21 home runs, and 61 runs scored, and it’s a career year for the middle infielder. The fact that he is batting .438 in his last 32 at bats only serves to help his cause.
2) Kiermaier is Finally Staying in the Lineup
With 378 at bats to this point in the season, it hasn’t been a completely clean campaign health wise for Kevin Kiermaier, but it’s also hard to argue with his production. While he is sidelined, there is still a replacement level outfielder in his place, and when in the lineup, Kiermaier is showing off his power and speed combo. The batting average could be better, .246 after a 2 for 4 effort on Wednesday, but it’s all about the stolen bases here. Yesterday, he stole his 19th base of the season, and with the lack of running going on around baseball, that is no small feat. And after going deep yesterday, Kiermaier is up to 13 home runs, with 51 RBI (including his four on Wednesday), as he shows he is not a completely one dimensional player. Even after yesterday, he is still hitting just .167 in his last seven games, but a more games like this do have their appeal down the stretch of the fantasy season.
3) Giolito Completes Me
Alright, we get it with the movie reference, and maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but it’s hard to get much better than Lucas Giolito was on Wednesday. The big right-hander is repaying all the faith that fantasy owners had in him while he struggled to find his footing on the big league level this season, and yesterday he picked up his 14th victory of the season. Giolito also did it while turning in one of his best outings yet as he threw a complete game shutout against the Twins on Wednesday. While Giolito allowed just three hits and struck out 12 (that part isn’t all that surprising), what stood out to me was the fact that he didn’t walk a batter. Improved command has been the biggest for me this season with Giolito, and in his last seven starts, he has walked just 12 batters. Both Giolito’s ERA and FIP check in at 3.20 along with a WHIP of just 1.09 as he has struck out 11.15 batters per nine innings. While I wouldn’t call Giolito an ace, he is pitching like one, and we know that the potential is real, so this shouldn’t be coming as a complete surprise.
4) Corbin Cruises
The first thing that comes to mind when looking at Patrick Corbin’s night, is where were the strikeouts? When a pitcher throws eight shutout innings, you expect to see more than four strikeouts, but again, can you really argue with eight shutout innings? And with just three hits and two walks, it’s not like Corbin was really in trouble either as he picked up his 10th victory of the season. Over his last seven starts, Corbin has 45 strikeouts in 42.1 innings, and for the season he is at 184 in 161.1 innings, so there is no need for concern despite the letdown last night. With a 3.17 ERA and 1.15 WHIP, Corbin clearly has found his groove with the Nationals, and the biggest problem for the left-hander is overcoming Washington’s bullpen.
5) DeShields Does His Job
When it comes to stolen bases, 20 is the new 30; or something close to that at least. Our expectations, and practical targets for that matter, have decreased over the last few seasons for stolen bases, and what is considered acceptable has changed. With this being the case, there is always going to be a place for Delino DeShields on fantasy rosters as long as he steals 20 bases. That is the mark he reached yesterday, as part of a 2 for 4 effort. The fact that DeShields only has 26 RBI after driving in two runs on Wednesday can be overlooked simply because of the production he gives you in that one category. While it clearly will limit his value, there is a place for those 20 stolen bases on your team. His .261 batting average won’t hurt you, and the fact that these stolen bases have come in just 261 at bats, means he is efficient and also that much more valuable in daily leagues.
6) Dickerson Slots in at Clean-up
As Philadelphia looks to get their season, and lineup, on track, their batting order has looked a little unconventional this week in Boston. The ability to utilize the DH spot does help, and it is a little odd to see Rhys Hoskins batting lead-off. With a .239 batting average, including a .168 mark in his last 30 games, it is clear that Hoskins needs a jump start. This has also opened up a spot in the middle of Philadelphia’s batting order, and that means there is an opportunity for Corey Dickerson. Last night, Dickerson went 2 for 5 while driving in two runs. So far in his injury marred season, Dickerson is batting .297 with 37 RBI in just 182 at bats. He too has been cold as of late, .185 in his last seven games, but the track as a solid run producer is there. The fact that Dickerson’s season stats are underwhelming could mean that he is readily available, and even though they are struggling, batting in the middle of the Phillies’ lineup is still a desirable role.
7) Tough Luck Verlander
Justin Verlander made history on Wednesday, and for about half of the night, it looked he really would be making it a night to remember. You can say this about aces in general, but Verlander truly appeared to have no hit stuff as he was moving quite quickly through Detroit’s lineup. Ultimately, Verlander took the loss as both of the runs he allowed in his complete game, left the park. The right-hander didn’t allow a walk as he struck out 11 batters. That meant he became the fifth pitcher ever to strike out at least 10 batters per game in seven straight games. After retiring the first 14 batters of the game, this was a less than ideal outcome, but it is a reminder of how dominate Verlander and his 2.77 ERA truly are.
8) Teheran Bounces Back
After being hit pretty well by the Mets in his last start, things went a little better for Julio Teheran on Wednesday against the Marlins. Surely the opponent did have something to do with it, but overall, Teheran has been more good than bad so far this season. His seven shutout innings brought his ERA for the season down to 3.53 as the right-hander picked up his eighth victory of the season. Teheran scattered five hits and three walks while striking out nine. Despite the occasional rough outing and the 1.33 WHIP, Teheran is good of a pitcher to not start each week unless you have a great deal of pitching depth. Of course that isn’t always saying much, but he is a solid option.
9) Castellanos is Right at Home
It is amazing what being traded to a contender can do for you, and batting in front Kris Bryant isn’t too bad either. Last night, Nick Castellanos scored the tying run on Bryant’s home run as part of a 4 for 5 night with three RBI and two runs scored. The outfielder is now hitting .293 on the season, and that includes a .413 mark with eight home runs and 11 RBI over his last 15 games. That stretch, in which he has also scored 15 runs, has all come as a member of the Cubs as he quickly has become a key part of their lineup. Last night, Castellanos went deep for the 19th time this season, and the RBI brought his total for the season to a very underwhelming 49.
10) Smith’s One Hit was a Good One
Entering this season, it was thought, at least by me for whatever that is worth, that Kelbert Ruiz was ahead of Will Smith as far as catching prospects went for the Dodgers. Now, unless there is a position change, I’m not sure if Ruiz will ever see Los Angeles based on the way Smith is hitting. Last night Smith only had one hit, but he made it count as it was his 12th home run of the season. In 88 at bats, Smith is now hitting .318 with 31 RBI as he quickly has become a key part of the Dodgers’ lineup and cannot be ignored.