It’s crazy to think that we now have just two weeks left of setting lineups on Mondays, and they likely will be the two toughest weeks there are. Let’s continue to stay informed, and take a look at some of the performances that stood out from last night’s action:
1) Folty Pulls Out a Good One
Now, if only Mike Foltynewicz could do this consistently. At this point, it’s hard to expect him to do so, but starts like last night are what keeps us on the hook as the talent is there. Yesterday, he picked up his sixth victory of the season with seven innings of one run ball. It was a rather efficient start as Foltynewicz scattered just three hits while not walking a batter and striking out seven. That brought his ERA down to 5.00 on the season, but he is going to have to do a better job of limiting the long ball; 1.91 per nine innings. With a 2.95 ERA in his last seven games, things are at least moving in the right direction for Foltynewicz, and while its a little stressful with him in your lineup, it is the right move.
2) Paxton Tames Fenway and the Red Sox
I was wrong. For as well as James Paxton has been pitching as of late, a 2.98 ERA in his last seven games, but facing the Red Sox on the road didn’t seem all that appealing to me. The fact that Paxton is making two starts this week, and that he entered last night with 168 strikeouts in 132 innings did help to make that decision at least a little easier. And then Paxton’s performance took care of any doubt as he continued his recent success with 6.2 innings of shutout baseball. Boston managed four hits and three walks off Paxton as he struck out seven to bring his ERA down to 3.96 on the season while picking up his 13th victory. This is exactly what the Yankees thought they were acquiring.
3) Jake Gets a Little Support
And by support, I mean three runs. But when you pitch like Jacob deGrom does, that really is all you need. The right-hander picked up his ninth victory of the season while allowing just a Wilmer Flores solo homer over seven innings before handing the ball over to Seth Lugo for the last six outs. Aside from the home run, deGrom allowed just one walk and two other hits as he struck out 11 to bring his ERA down to 2.70. For the second straight season, things are shaping up for deGrom to potentially win the Cy Young once again despite a sub-par win total. With just a 1.03 WHIP and 231 strikeouts in 183 innings, it’s hard to find many pitchers better.
4) History in the Making, Part One
We have never seen a rookie lead the league in home runs, but that appears to be the path Pete Alonso is traveling down. After going deep twice on Monday, Alonso is now up to 47 for the season, and he is also primed to surpass Mark McGwire’s rookie record as he heads north of 50. Aside from one slump this summer, Alonso has been relatively consistent this season, and with a .270 batting average, the rookie isn’t a liability either. And even if he were, 47 home runs and 109 RBI more than make up for that. With 12 home runs and 29 RBI RBI in his last 30 games, Alonso’s resurgence came at just the right time.
5) History in the Making, Part Two
Had Yordan Alvarez started the season in Houston, it’s very possible rookies would be leading both leagues in home runs. After scoring 21 runs on Sunday, the Astros’ bats stayed hot and put up 15 on the A’s; including 11 in the first two innings. Each of those innings included a home run from Alvarez, and his numbers are impressive for a rookie even if they were over a full season. In 263 at bats, Alvarez is now up to 24 home runs and 72 RBI with a .316 batting average, and to say he is a force to be reckoned with, would be an understatement. Just please, do yourself a favor and resist the urge to project Alvarez’s numbers over a 600 at bat season.
6) Don’t Forget About Chirinos
The Astros have so many stars, prospects, and top performers, that it’s easy for someone like Robinson Chirinos to get forgotten about. With a .236 batting average, Chirinos isn’t a top option at the position, but he certainly has benefited from being part of the Astros’ lineup. Batting towards the bottom keeps the pressure off, and there is often traffic on the bases. Last night, Chirinos’ power was on display as he look advantage of left field in Minute Maid Park with two home runs. As part of a 3 for 6 performance, Chirinos went deep twice to bring his home run total for the season up to 17 while driving in six runs (55 overall). There are better options, but Chirinos can be a solid contributor of counting stats as the season draws to a close.
7) Have a Day, Rookie
A .300 batting average in the minor leagues this season with 26 home runs and 76 RBI will get you attention, but Trent Grisham’s performance has been up and down since his promotion to Milwaukee. Last night’s performance helped to make up for some of those struggles as Grisham went 5 for 6 on the night with two runs scored and two RBI. The outfielder is too talented to give up on, and 96 at bats certainly doesn’t make a career. That makes him someone to keep an eye on, not only for the remainder of this season, but as we head into 2020 as well. Grisham missed out on the cycle by a home run, but he does have four so far with the Brewers along with 13 RBI and 14 runs scored.
8) Have a Debut
Javier Baez’s hairline fracture is Nico Hoerner’s opportunity, and last year’s first round draft pick wasted no time taking advantage of it. We found out Monday morning that the shortstop was getting the call to the major leagues, and all Hoerner did in his debut, was go 3 for 5 with four RBI and two runs scored. In 89 minor league games, Hoerner is hitting .297 with five home runs, 28 RBI, and 49 runs scored, so that gives us a good idea as to what we can expect from him. Clearly he should be owned in all leagues, but we also shouldn’t be looking for much in the power department from Hoerner; at least so far.
9) Two More Hits for Stallings
It’s not much, but Jacob Stallings has been slightly moving up the batting order, he hit sixth last night, as he continues to receive the majority of playing time behind the plate for Pittsburgh. He won’t be a difference maker, but after going 2 for 3 on Monday, Stallings is hitting .268 on the season, and that makes him more appealing than a lot of other catchers for that reason. Just don’t expect much else though, as while Stallings did hit his fifth home run of the season last night, a solo shot, he has just 11 RBI in 157 at bats. With a .353 batting average in his last seven games, Stallings is heating up at just the right time.
10) Bieber Cruises to Victor
When we go into next season, it will be Shane Bieber who is the first Cleveland pitcher to come off draft boards. The right-hander continued making his case on Monday as he picked up his 14th victory of the season with seven innings of one run ball against the Angels. Bieber scattered five hits while not walking a batter and striking out eight to bring his ERA down to 3.17 for the season along with a WHIP of 1.00. As the season has progressed, Bieber has gotten even better, as in his last 15 starts, he is sporting a 2.58 ERA and 0.94 WHIP. Overall, Bieber has 241 strikeouts in 195.2 innings as he establishes himself as an ace.