by Ray Kuhn
As we wind down the abbreviated regular season, the hope is that everyone is sweating out multiple fantasy titles. Regardless of that fact, we also must keep an eye things as we look towards next season. Let’s take a look at some of the performances that caught our attention yesterday:
1) Kuhl Holds Chicago Down
You never know what you are going to get in each game, and Chad Kuhl taking a no hitter into the fifth inning on Thursday certainly wasn’t that. Kuhl ultimately threw seven shutout innings limiting the the Cubs to just two hits and three walks while striking out five and lowering his ERA to 4.27 on the season to go along with a 1.36 WHIP. Kuhl does have 44 strikeouts in 46.1 innings on the season, but there really is nothing to see here despite the strong conclusion to his season as his 5.47 FIP makes things look even worse.
2) Fuentes Picks up Two More Hits
We know how frustrating the Rockies can be when it comes to deploying their prospects and young players, but Josh Fuentes has been getting his share of playing time as of late. The right-handed hitter batted fifth on Thursday against the right-handed Kevin Gausman and he added two more hits while raising his batting average to .321. In 84 at bats, Fuentes has driven in 15 runs and while he is bound to catch your attention since he calls Coors Field home, I would keep my distance. With just one barreled ball this season, an exit velocity of only 84.5 miles per hour and a hard hit rate of just 24.1%, the profile just doesn’t look good.
3) Peterson Closes His Rookie Season Out Strong
Entering the season, David Peterson wasn’t on our radar for making much of an impact, but that quickly changed. The southpaw was thrust into the rotation early on in the season, and for the most part, he didn’t disappoint. Peterson picked up his sixth victory of the season on Thursday against the Nationals with seven innings of one run ball. Washington managed just four hits against the southpaw who only walked one batter while striking out four and lowering his ERA to 3.44. The improved control was a good sign as entering last night’s start, Peterson had walked 4.85 batters per nine innings while also benefiting from a .239 BABIP. Peterson finishes his rookie season with a FIP of 4.78 and I’m going to be careful not to overrate the southpaw entering 2021.
4) Hernandez Has Another Solid Game
Cesar Hernandez often goes overlooked when looking at middle infielders, but batting second for the Indians has led to some solid production. He went 3 for 4 on Thursday with three RBI and one run scored to bring his batting average up to .283. The second baseman enters the final weekend of the season with an impressive 33 runs scored to go along with 19 RBI.
5) Ryu Shuts Down the Yankees
I for one was skeptical of how Hyun Jin Ryu would do in the AL East this season, but that ultimately was unfounded. The southpaw picked up his fifth victory of the season with seven shutout innings against the Yankees while limiting them to five hits and two walks while striking out four. Ryu’s ERA now sits at 2.69 his last start of the regular season with a 1.15 WHIP and 72 strikeouts in 67 innings across 12 starts. With a 3.00 FIP and 3.31 xFIP, at least in this strange season, we have to like Ryu’s prospects for next season.
6) A Three Hit Night For Hays
At this point, Austin Hays qualifies as a post hype prospect, but at 25-years old he is finally healthy, and we shouldn’t sleep on him. On a night where the Baltimore offense exploded for 13 runs, Hays went 3 for 5 with three runs scored and an RBI as he brought his batting average for the season up to .275. A team like Baltimore is the perfect spot for Hays to find his footing in the major leagues, and he is finishing the season on a high note. In his last seven games, Hays is batting .444 but his StatCast metrics do give us some pause as there is nothing especially remarkable about the quality of his contact.
7) Castro Goes Deep Again
The Tigers aren’t one of those teams that generates much in the way of excitement, but we shouldn’t look past Willi Castro. Castro is getting a chance to show what he can do, and the 23-year old shortstop found himself batting second for Detroit once again last night. He went 3 for 5 with three runs scored, three RBI (23 overall), and his sixth home run of the season. Castro is batting .350 through 123 at bats and he doesn’t appear to be slowing down. What could slow him down though, is the natural regression expected out of his .446 BABIP.
8) Bregman Busts Out
Perhaps the Astros offense is just waiting for the right time to bust out, but it certainly came on Thursday as they put up 12 runs. Alex Bregman has struggled this season, but thanks to hamstring injury, he is only up to 124 at bats on the season. The third baseman finished just a single shy of the cycle as he hit his fifth home run of the season while driving in three runs and scoring twice. Entering the last weekend of the season, Bregman is batting .254 with five home runs and 20 RBI and he likely will be a value come draft day next season. With a .204 ISO, Bregman’s power is down from what he have come to expect from him, but the sample size is small. Bregman has equal 13.3% strikeout and walk rates and I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt next season, however he will be one player who warrants a deeper dive.
9) Kim Picks up Another Victory
He went from unknown to projected bullpen option to rotation savior all in the span of two months, but Kwang Hyun Kim picked up his third victory of the season on Thursday. Kim threw five innings of one run ball against the Brewers allowing five hits and two walks while striking out three to bring his ERA down to 1.62. The southpaw has kept baserunners to a minimum this season with a 1.03 WHIP which is good since he has only struck out 24 batters in 39 innings so far this season. But with a .217 BABIP and 4.51 xFIP, I’m not sure we can expect Kim’s success to continue into next season.
10) Buehler Finds Success in His Tune Up
While fantasy owners couldn’t have been too happy about losing out on a victory, can you really blame the Dodgers for treading carefully with Walker Buehler as they prepare for the playoffs. The right-hander threw four innings of shutout baseball limiting Oakland to one hit and one walk while striking out six. At the conclusion of the regular season, Buehler’s ERA sits at 3.44 in 32.2 innings, and it’s hard to really read too much into the right-hander’s performance in the small sample size. Watching Buehler work in the playoffs will certainly prove to be more valuable.