Friday night didn’t see the same impressive debuts that Thursday did, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t plenty of exciting baseball. Could Mike Fiers continue his strong stretch? Has Justin Upton quietly started to turn a corner? Will Anthony Gose make an impact or is his time in the Majors on life support? Let’s answer these questions and all the rest:
- Mike Fiers – Milwaukee Brewers – Starting Pitcher – He was impressive again, tossing 6.1 shutout innings allowing 4 H and 3 BB, striking out 9. Since June 16 he has allowed just 4 ER with 50 K over 48.0 innings of work. While his .291 BABIP is not unrealistic, he is getting pounded to the tune of a 26.6% line drive rate (including a 28.8% mark in July). In other words, there’s a good chance that the bubble bursts before long. Enjoy the hot stretch while you can, but don’t become too attached to him. He has shown good stuff in the minor leagues (9.61 K/9, 2.36 BB/9 in 93 appearances, 47 starts), so there is hope. Still, the line drive rate has got to concern us.
More Quick Thoughts:
- Think the wind was blowing out in Wrigley yesterday afternoon? The Cardinals slugged 5 HR (all off Travis Wood) to help Lance Lynn earn win 13 on the year. Of course, that doesn’t mean Lynn was impressive as he allowed 6 ER on 8 H and 2 BB, striking out 3, over 5.0 IP. He had been pitching well of late (1 ER over 19.0 IP), though it is the fourth time in his past seven starts where he has allowed at least 5 ER. Given the conditions I wouldn’t be concerned, especially after the way he had been pitching in July. Stick with him in all formats.
- Is it really a surprise that Aaron Cook struggled, allowing 6 ER on 7 H and 1 BB, striking out 1, over 4.0 IP? I know he had been pitching well, but you need to strikeout batters to have continued success. I’m not even talking about a K/9 above 8.0, but something. In 40.0 innings this season he has 4 K. In other words, don’t even bother considering him.
- Anthony Gose went 1-4 with 1 RBI and 1 SB while hitting ninth for the Blue Jays last night. He doesn’t start against lefties and, with Travis Snider raking (he went 1-3 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R yesterday), it could be Gose who loses his job once Jose Bautista is ready to return from the DL. Gose can fly and definitely has a future, potentially as the leadoff hitter the team desperately needs for 2013, just don’t count on him for the rest of the season.
- It was another impressive day for Yasmani Grandal, going 2-4 with 3 RBI and 2 R. I know he excited everyone with his power early (4 HR in 5 games), but he has hit just 1 since. Don’t look for him for power, but it’s days like this that we can realistically expect. A catcher who can get for a good average definitely has value, just make sure you know what you are getting.
- Amazingly Ben Sheets did it again, allowing 1 R on 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 4, over 6.0 innings against the Phillies. He is now 3-0 in his three starts, allowing just 1 ER over 18.0 innings. Forget about the metrics (which point to a regression), I don’t think anyone really believes he can maintain this. Enjoy it while you can, because it’s not going to last.
- Scott Diamond got plenty of support from Joe Mauer (3-5, 2 RBI, 3 R), Josh Willingham (2-5, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 R) and Justin Morneau (2-4, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R), but don’t let that diminish his performance. Diamond tossed a complete game shutout, allowing just 3 H and 0 BB, striking out 6. He has used tremendous control (15 BB over 100.0 IP) to get the job done as the luck (76.1% strand rate, .301 BABIP entering the day) is realistic. We’d like to see more Ks, like he showed us last night (he entered with just a 4.95 K/9), but it’s hard not to like what he’s done.
- The A’s and Orioles played a wild game, with both closers blowing saves. Ryan Cook was brought in for a four out save, but struggled to get one out allowing 1 ER on 3 H and 0 BB, striking out 0, over 0.1 IP. Jim Johnson came in for a conventional save, but the results were far worse. He allowed 6 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 0, over 0.1 IP. Neither closer is in risk of losing their job at this point, though Cook has allowed an earned run in each of his past three outings. It’s something to keep a close eye on.
- Alexei Ramirez went 2-5 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R. That’s now three straight two-hit games, with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 4 R. Hopefully you didn’t give up on him, as it wouldn’t be surprising to see him have a strong final two months of the season.
- It was Starling Marte’s second career game, and it showed what the risks could be with him. Obviously, we don’t draw conclusions off of one game (just like we shouldn’t have gotten too excited over his Major League debut), but he went 0-4 with 1 RBI and 2 strikeouts last night. As I said yesterday he is going to show power and speed, but strikeouts could prevent him from hitting for a strong average. Just keep that in mind before depending on him if you are in a shallower format.
- Has Justin Upton turned a corner? You need to walk before you run, and you can see he has been showing significantly better patience at the plate. He went 2-4 with 1 RBI and 2 R yesterday and now, over his last 10 games he is hitting .300 with 1 HR, 5 RBI, 10 R and 1 SB. Even more impressive, however, is that he has just 3 K vs. 10 BB (on year he has 81 K vs. 46 BB). It is a clear step in the right direction and the other numbers should start coming before long. Now is the time to buy if you can.
- Ryan Roberts started his third straight game for the Rays, going 0-4. He is now 1-8 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 4 R since the trade. He wasn’t playing regularly for the Diamondbacks and you have to wonder how long the Rays will stick with him (at least until Evan Longoria returns). Once Longoria is back, Roberts should fall into a utility role, something the Rays have plenty of options for. In other words, don’t go crazy to get him in any format.
- Dustin Ackley went 2-4 with 1 RBI and 1 R yesterday, giving him back-to-back two-hit games and 1 R scored in four of his past five. It’s not a lot, but at least he is finally showing signs of getting things going. Thus far he has avoided being sent to Triple-A, a fate his teammate Justin Smoak couldn’t avoid. We all know Ackley’s potential and, with his small signs, I wouldn’t give up on him yet.
- The extra inning home run for Hanley Ramirez (1-5, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R) is going to get the focus, but don’t let Brandon Belt’s performance fly under the radar. Playing because Pablo Sandoval is still sidelined, Belt went 3-5 with 2 RBI, 1 R and 1 SB. Maybe this will finally be the start of another hot streak for Belt, but he definitely has the potential to post big numbers going forward.