by Will Overton
As we move closer and closer to the mid way point of the season there is less and less time for some of fantasy baseball’s notable slow starters this season to turn things around. We are seeing signs of change from some of them though including Justin Masterson and Justin Upton who both had strong showings last night. Here is a rundown of who else showed up strong last night for their fantasy owners:
- Miguel Montero – C, Arizona Diamondbacks: Everyone was hitting the ball in the homerun derby between Arizona and Seattle yesterday, but one of the prime sluggers of the day was Miguel Montero. After a frustratingly slow start to the season for Montero things have really started to heat up. Montero went 3 – 4 yesterday with 3 R, 1 HR and 4 RBI. He’s been getting it together all month, but these last eight games he’s been lighting it up. In his last eight starts Montero is hitting .344 with 4 HR and 13 RBI, as well as scoring nine times as the rest of the offense heats up as well. Surprisingly some standard leagues still have Montero on the waiver wire because of the slow start and there’s no way that should be happening.
- Justin Masterson – SP, Cleveland Indians: We witnessed the best start of the season for Justin Masterson last night as he shut down what has been a very hot Reds offense. Masterson threw a complete game and had one unearned run charged against him on three hits. Masterson didn’t walk a single batter and he struck out nine. Masterson only gave up four fly balls the entire game. In three starts he has lowered his ERA from 5.09 to 3.98 after allowing just one run in 23 innings with a 24:3 K:BB ratio. His poor start to the season is a mystery still, but it’s turning around and he should be picked back up in all formats. Currently his ownership rate is under 50%.
- Chris Archer – SP, Tampa Bay Rays: He couldn’t out do the phenom that is Stephen Strasburg, but Chris Archer held his own extremely well in his major league debut. Archer went 6 IP with 3 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB and 7 K. Archer has the skills to be a top end strikeout pitcher, but the big concern is control and he showed excellent control last night. Jeremy Hellickson is aiming to come back after just two starts missed, so Archer might not be up for long, but his next start is against Kansas City and he may worth running until at least that one is over. Keeper and Dynasty league owners have to like the glimpse they got last night though.
More Quick Thoughts
- Maybe Justin Upton is starting to come around now. Upton picked up two hits yesterday and now has a hit in seven of his last eight games and two hits in four of them. Possibly more important is that Upton hit a homerun for the first time since May 23rd. He’s got to pick things up eventually, he’s too good not to, why not now.
- Just when things had started slowing down for Kyle Seager they have picked back up. Seager is 7 for his last 15 and hit a HR for the second day in a row yesterday bringing his season totals to 10 HR and 45 RBI. Standard leagues should be picking him up again.
- Another Mariners player is putting himself on fantasy radars too as Casper Wells is now 11 – 21 in the last week. The more he hits the more he’ll play and he’s gone on a few hot runs before. Deep league players should consider him at least a temporary add until things cool.
- He has been somewhat inconsistent this season, but these last two starts Yu Darvish has been rolling, going eight innings in each start. Darvish allowed two runs yesterday and struck out eight. Darvish has 19 K’s in his last two starts and just five walks which is an improvement for him.
- It would only be temporary because Jonathan Lucroy should be back at least by the all-star break, but Martin Maldonado is hitting for some solid power right now and could make a deep league fill-in. Maldonado hit his third HR in seven games yesterday and his fifth of the month.
- Still waiting for Edwin Encarnacion to lose his power? He hadn’t hit a June HR until three days ago, but he’s now hit one in each of these last three games and has 20 for the season. It doesn’t look like he plans to stop hitting HR’s this season.
- Coming off his worst start of the season Tommy Milone turned in his best start of the season last night as he cruised for a one run complete game. Milone has put together a solid rookie season, but his lack of K’s, just 2 last night, make him hard to own in non-dynasty or deep leagues.
- You don’t get many dominant starts from Jake Westbrook anymore, but you did get one last night. Westbrook threw a complete game allowing just one unearned run, only surrendering one hit and one walk. Westbrook had five strikeouts in the game. Don’t expect a whole lot more games like this one, but enjoy this.
- It had been two weeks for Jason Heyward in between HR’s. Two weeks ago he hit two of them in one game and he did it again yesterday. Heyward still might not be living up to the expectations of some, but he’s on pace for 25/25 and I won’t complain about that.
- Just another start for Stephen Strasburg who is trying to keep pace with the great R.A. Dickey among National League starters. Strasburg struck out 10 in seven innings and only allowed two runs. Strasburg has now won each of his last six starts which is a nice bonus.
- Things are still going pretty well in Francisco Liriano’s second chance this season as a starter. Liriano gave up only one run last night over 6.2 IP with 6 K’s and only 2 BB. Since rejoining the rotation Liriano has a 2.67 ERA in five starts and a 35:12 K:BB ratio in his 30.1 IP. For right now at least he’s ownable in all league types again.
- Getting his first start since June 9th Daniel Nava leadoff for the Red Sox and went 4 – 5, scoring twice. Nava has picked up a couple hits as a pinch hitter the last two games, but with the outfield getting more crowded Nava is going to need games like this to stay in the lineup. Probably just a deep league guy right now until things are clearer.
- After a really strong start to the season Rafael Betancourt has now blown his last two save opportunities. Betancourt had only blown one save all season prior to these two chances and he still has a 3.28 ERA so I don’t think he’s at risk of a chance any time to soon.
- In his six starts prior to last night Gavin Floyd hadn’t allowed less than four runs in any game, and he only gave up four once. He was on his game last night though as he pitched 6.1 scoreless innings, allowing four hits, one walk and striking out four. Floyd isn’t top level as a pitcher or anything but he’s better than he has been and he should get things turned around.