The races are really starting to heat up, both in the Major Leagues and for fantasy owners. Are you in it? Is it time to throw in the towel? It’s a tough call and sometimes the decision changes by the hour. Let’s try to help answer that question as we look at who thrived and who struggled yesterday:
- Gio Gonzalez – Washington Nationals – Starting Pitcher - David Wright led the Mets onslaught of Gio Gonzalez, going 2-4 with 2 HR, 5 RBI and 2 R. Gonzalez was the bigger story, though, allowing 6 ER on 6 H and 3 BB, striking out 2, over just 3.1 IP. It s the third time all year he as failed to go 5.0 innings and the fourth times he’s allowed at least four earned runs. However, three of those have come in his last five starts and his 24.7% line drive rate (to go with a .269 BABIP entering the day) suggest this may be just the start. We will take a much closer look at Gonzalez in the next few days, but he may be a prime sell high candidate.
- Edinson Volquez – San Diego Padres – Starting Pitcher - Talk about a gem, Volquez spun a complete game, 1 hit shutout against the Astros to outpitch Lucas Harrell (7.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 6 K). Volquez did walk 3 to go along with 5 K. Volquez has been pitching exceptionally well of late, allowing 5 ER over his last 33.2 IP. Unfortunately, the control has still suffered over that stretch with 19 BB. That is always going to make him a huge liability (his WHIP is 1.34) and a lot of his success has come at home (2.84 ERA vs. 4.17 on the road). If you have enough depth I could see using him when he’s starting at Petco Park, but only if you are in a comfortable position in WIHP.
More Quick Thoughts:
- Tough loss for Madison Bumgarner, who threw a gem but was beat by Tim Hudson (7.1 IP, 2 ER, 8 H, 2 BB, 3 K). Bumgarner allowed 3 R (2 earned) on 3 H and 0 BB, striking out 8. He was done in by the long ball, allowing a pair of home runs. He has been exceptional since the All-Star Break, allowing 3 ER on 5 H and 2 BB over 14.0 IP. He is one of the top options in the league and needs to be viewed as such.
- Ubaldo Jimenez got beat up once again, allowing 5 ER on 7 H and 5 BB, striking out 5, over 5.2 IP. He continues to struggle with his control, with 4 walks or more in five of his past six outings (he entered the day wi a 5.35 BB/9). Te bottom line is the strikeouts are done, the walks are up and he is generating the same number of groundballs that he once did. Considering those three things, how can you trust him? If you think he can turn it around (and I am not so sure for 2012), you need to have him on your bench until he proves it.
- Alex Avila went 1-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R. It’s not much, but it is his first home run since May 22 and his first multi-RBI game since May 25. Granted, he did miss a few weeks due to injury, but he has been back since June 21. A far cry from his breakout 2011, hopefully this is the start of things to come.
- Monster game for Brandon Phillips, who went 2-4 with 1 HR, 5 RBI and 2 R. He was hitting third in place of Joey Votto and, if he keeps that spot, he could be inline for plenty of RBI opportunities. The other benefactor was Drew Stubbs, who found himself hitting leadoff and going 1-3 with 2 R. The average is going to continue to be a concern thanks to the strikeouts (he struck out once yesterday), but he could really get a boost in runs scored if he can hold the top spot.
- Cole De Vries had a solid start against the Orioles, allowing 1 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, over 6.0 IP. While he had an awful outing in his previous start (7 ER over 5.0 IP against the A’s), he has been solid overall allowing 2 ER or less in five of his eight starts. He is sporting a 3.95 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in 41.0 IP, though he did enter the day with a .216 BABIP (and 23.4% line drive rate). He’s your typical Twins prospect with elite control (2.57 BB/9 in the minor leagues), but he doesn’t strikeout enough batters and appears to be pitching over his head. He’s a huge risk moving forward.
- It was a one man show for the Mariners… OK, actually two men as Felix Hernandez was his normal dominating self (8.0 IP, 1 ER, 8 H, 1 BB, 3 K, W). The offense, however, came courtesy of Jesus Montero who went 3-4 with 1 HR, 4 RBI and 1 R. He now has 8 RBI over his past three games and a five game hitting streak (four straight multi-hit games). While he’s struggled overall this season, you obviously need to ride him while he’s hot.
- Hanley Ramirez did homer in back-to-back games recently, but overall he is in a bit of a funk. The strikeouts have been piling up of late, as he went 0-4 with 2 K yesterday and has 11 K over his past 7 games. While he’s hitting .246 on the year, we all know he’s better than that. All we can do is stay patient.
- In his second start off the DL Clay Buchholz looked good, allowing 1 ER on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 6, over 8.0 IP. I know the numbers are bad overall, but we all know he also is better than he’s shown. I wouldn’t consider him a high-level option, but depending on your format he should have value in the second half.
- Cody Ross went 2-4 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R and now has gone 5-9 with 3 HR, 9 RBI and 4 R in his past two games. Can you say scorching hot?
- It was another solid effort for A.J. Griffin, allowing 2 ER on 7 H and 0 BB, striking out 4, over 6.0 IP. In fact, in his five starts for the A’s he hasn’t allowed more than 3 ER in any of them (and 3 ER is his high mark). That said, the strikeouts have yet to show up in the Majors and he’s sporting a lot of luck (.227 BABIP, 86.1% strand rate). While you can ride him while he’s hot, I would be very cautious depending on him moving forward.