On this first Sunday of the NFL season, we had a full slate of baseball action taking place as well. If your attention was elsewhere, we have you covered with some of the performances that caught our attention:
1) Solak Cleans Things Up
All Nick Solak has been doing each season is improve his performance, and with a .289 batting average, 27 home runs and 74 RBI in the minor leagues prior to his promotion, the infielder has certainly impressed in his new home. That success earned Solak a trip to Texas to close out the season, and with him batting cleanup on Sunday, it is clear what they think of him. Solak rewarded their faith by going 3 for 4 with two walks, a run scored, and four RBI. In 64 at bats, Solak is batting .328 with two home runs and 11 RBI, and he is a young player who certainly can close out the season strong and is someone to keep an eye on for next season.
2) Alcantara Cruises
It has been an up and down season for Sandy Alcantara, and the best thing about it, is that he has had the freedom to remain in the rotation for the entire season. We have seen both the good and bad from the right-hander, and Sunday it certainly was the best Alcantara has to offer as he picked up his fifth victory of the season. The Royals never got anything going against him as they were limited to just four hits and two walks as Alcantara picked up a complete game shutout while striking out eight. With a 4.04 ERA on the season, the overall body of work is pretty solid and things set up well for Alcantara to continue building on things next year. In order to do that though, improvements and adjustments do need to be made. Striking out 6.87 batters per nine innings while walking 4.09 is not a recipe for success, and that also explains why his FIP if 4.61 and the xFIP jumps to 5.30. Tread carefully, because the lack of strikeouts are a liability, and it’s also unclear whether he can make the adjustments to get to the next level. But based on this season, it would be worth a late round pick.
3) He Just Isn’t Slowing Down
I know we talked about Eugenio Suarez the other day when he made his return after missing a few games, but the third baseman isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. Or even close to it to be honest, as the third baseman went deep twice on Sunday as all he is doing, is increasing his ADP for next season. Suarez is now up to 44 home runs on the season to go along with 95 RBI and a very respectable .269 batting average and 81 runs scored. As far as Suarez’s batted ball metrics go, he increased his barrel rate by about three percent to 12.9% and he also brought his launch angle up from 14.9 degrees to 17.5.
4) Glasnow Returns
By no means is it what fantasy owners were expecting, or really noteworthy, but Tyler Glasnow did make his return on Sunday. At this point, it is more about next season, although, depending on how Tampa Bay plans to use him for the rest of the season, I would expect it to be quite conservative. Glasnow threw two innings and allowed two runs, a Randall Grichuk homer, on two hits and a walk. What did caught our attention though, is the fact that Glasnow recorded five of his six outs via the strikeout. With a 2.15 ERA and 0.93 WHIP in 50.1 innings with 60 strikeouts, it is clear Glasnow has a lot of potential for next season, but his health is always going to be our number one concern. At least, he got things off to a good start yesterday.
5) Cabrera Drives in Three
After being cast aside by the Rangers, Asdrubal Cabrera hasn’t missed a beat with the Nationals. They wasted no time inserting him right into the middle of their lineup, and all he has done is hit. Yesterday, Cabrera went 4 for 5 with three RBI which brought his total for the season up to 78. Overall, Cabrera is batting .258 for the season, and in his last 30 games, he has been a completely different player than even the one we saw over the past few seasons. Cabrera’s recent stretch, although who knows how long it will truly last, is something to grab a hold of as he is batting .355 in his last 30 games with four home runs and 27 RBI.
6) Flaherty Cruises to Victory
After a slight mid-season speed bump, things are just getting better and better for Jack Flaherty. That success continued with eight shutout innings of work on Sunday as the right-hander picked up his 10th victory of the season. The Pirates managed just five hits and a walk against Flaherty as he struck out 10 to bring his ERA down to 2.99. Over his last seven starts, Flaherty’s ERA is just 0.57 along with a 0.70 WHIP as he has struck out 56 batters in 47 innings. This is the natural next step for Flaherty, but at the same time, we have to be careful to give his last season success the proper weighting for next year.
7) Keep That Train Rolling
The Astros scored 21 runs on Sunday, the second time this season they surpassed 20 runs, and there are many offensive performances we could note. But, is it really surprising to see Houston’s bats go off, and Yordan Alvarez driving in six more runs really isn’t all that surprising. The rookie is now up to 70 RBI for the season, even after having the start of his major league season delayed by more than two months. But it’s Gerrit Cole that truly warrants our attention as he did something on Sunday that has only been done once since 1939. With 15 strikeouts in eight innings of work, Cole has now eclipsed the 14 strikeout mark in each of his last three starts. A Shed Long solo homer was the only base runner Cole allowed as he picked up his 16th victory of the season while lowering his ERA to 2.73. With 281 strikeouts in 184.1 innings, Cole is in good shape to reach the 300 strikeout mark for the year as he is slated to be the first pitcher off the board next season.
8) Seager Makes His Hit Count
Based on his injury last season, it was assumed that Corey Seager would slide right back into things this year, but that hasn’t been the case. The shortstop has struggled to find his groove, and he likely will be a bargain on draft day next season. In his last 15 games, Seager is batting just .193, but for the season he is hitting a solid .261. Seager made his one hit on Sunday count, as it was a three run homer. That brought his totals for the season up to 14 home runs and 69 RBI in 429 at bats, which quite honestly, just blends into the background. As far as next season goes, Seager has to be drafted where his performance, not his potential, dictates, because that is the only way to return positive value.
9) Manaea Picks Up His First Victory
This is why you can’t check out on the season. After returning from injury, Sean Manaea showed why he should have been stashed, roster space dependent of course, on your Injured List this season. The southpaw was victorious against Detroit thanks to seven innings of one run ball in which he allowed just a solo homer, one other hit, and two walks. Manaea was overpowering as he struck out 10, and the fact that Oakland let him throw seven innings shows that there is no concern about his health moving forward.
10) Power/Speed on Display with Lindor
It’s all about the players that bring both power and speed to the table, and Francisco Lindor certainly is that. On Sunday, Lindor went deep for the 29th time this season while also stealing his 21st base. That brought Lindor’s average for the season up to .298. With seven home runs in his last 15 games, the power has been a recent addition to Lindor’s game, well for this season at least as he hit 33 and 38 home runs in the two previous years. Now after his recent surge, Lindor is primed to reach those levels again; just without the RBI (67 on the season).