Much of baseball’s focus is on the trade deadline and the moves that are made and those that aren’t. However, there was still plenty of action on the field. Let’s take a look at who thrived and who struggled during yesterday’s games:
- Hisashi Iwakuma – Seattle Mariners – Starting Pitcher – He was electric last night against the Blue Jays, allowing 1 ER on 4 H and 3 BB, striking out 13, in 8.0 IP. In his past three starts he has allowed 4 ER over 19.0 innings, striking out 23 in the process. Obviously, the strikeout number is not one we should probably expect on a regular basis, especially considering he had posted 23 K in 30.1 innings as a relief pitcher this season and is more of a control pitcher. That said, he has the potential to be a solid option for those in deeper formats, helping in the WHIP department and pitching in a pitcher’s park. However, his next start comes at Yankee Stadium, so if you want to grab him I’d keep him stashed for the time being.
- Brandon Belt – San Francisco Giants – First Baseman – Is he finally starting to get things going once again? He went 2-6 with 2 R yesterday and is now 6-16 in his past four games. It’s not much, and he did leave 7 on base yesterday, but at least it’s something. He needs to really get hot by the end of the week, as Hector Sanchez is set to return from the DL (which could lead to more time at first base for Buster Posey). If Belt wants to be more successful he needs to start hitting more home runs (6.7% HR/FB) and reduce the strikeouts (26.9% strikeout rate). He has the potential to do both, but fantasy owners would prefer to have him on their bench until he proves otherwise.
More Quick Thoughts:
- Nick Markakis went 3-4 with 2 RBI and 1 R yesterday, continuing his hot streak since returning from the DL on July 13 (18 games). Over that stretch he has posted 9 multi-hit games, going 28-77 with 1 HR, 4 RBI and 13 R. He’s been primarily hitting out of the leadoff spot, which explains the low RBI total. It’s definitely nice to see him get going, just keep in mind that he may be more of a source of runs moving forward.
- Long proven to be one of the most frustrating pitchers for fantasy owners, Max Scherzer continued his up and down ways against the Red Sox yesterday. Yes he struck out 9, but he also allowed 5 ER on 7 H and 2 BB over 6.1 innings in the process. He hasn’t had an outing like this in a while (in his previous 8 outings he allowed more than 3 ER just once) and has struck out at least 7 in eight of his past nine outings. It’s hard to argue with using him thanks to his upside and strikeout potential, you just have to be prepared to stomach an inflated ERA thanks to these types of starts.
- There’s nothing positive to say about the pitching in the Angels-Rangers game, as the team’s combined for 23 runs (though, Ervin Santana did allow just 3 ER over 5.0 innings, which has to be considered a success). The biggest performance came from Kendrys Morales, who went 2-5 with 2 HR, 6 RBI and 2 R. Morales had gone 8 straight games without a HR with just 4 RBI over that span. It shouldn’t be a surprise to have seen Morales take some time to get things back on track considering his lengthy absence, but he did enter the day with a 22.4% line drive rate and plenty of promise. Keep him in mind if you are looking for a sleeper source of power over the final two months.
- Nice to see Josh Hamilton produce a nice game, going 3-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 2 R. Hopefully this helps to get him back on track.
- Dan Uggla went 1-4 with 2 RBI and 1 R. Is it a lot? Absolutely not, but he now has an RBI in back-to-back games and has struck out just 6 times in his past 24 AB (no more than 1 in a game). Hopefully, while the results have been there yet, this is the start of things to come for him as he tries to right the ship.
- Yonder Alonso continued his hot streak, going 4-5 with 1 RBI and 1 R. Over his current four game hitting streak he has gone 9-18 with 1 HR, 6 RBI and 2 R. He continues to struggle with his power, with just 5 HR on the season, though that really shouldn’t be a surprise (as we’ve discussed before). Consider him more of a doubles hitter who should produce a decent average (.305 BABIP, though 23.3% line drive rate should allow an improvement).
- The biggest stories for the Cubs came from the trades they made (Paul Maholm, Reed Johnson and Geovany Soto sent packing), but they also beat up Erik Bedard and the Pirates. Bedard allowed 9 runs (8 earned) on 7 H and 2 BB, striking out 7, over 4.1 IP. Since the start of June it’s the sixth time he’s allowed at least 4 ER (fourth time of at least 5 ER).
- Danny Valencia is getting another chance to man third for the Twins with Trevor Plouffe on the DL. He had a nice game yesterday, going 2-3 with 2 RBI, and has gone 3-11 with 3 RBI and 2 R in three games since returning from the minors. While he showed promise in ’11 (15 HR), he was struggling at Triple-A this year as well (.250, 7 HR in 268 AB). Leave him for the desperate.
- In his first start back from the minor leagues Brett Wallace was slotted at 1B and hitting cleanup, going 0-4 with 2 K. He had been hitting .297 with 16 HR in 310 AB at Triple-A (Pacific Coast League), though a 24.8% strikeout rate and .365 BABIP tell us that the average could be inflated. If he can’t make consistent contact he is going to struggle. Scott Moore, who went 2-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R, could get more looks in the middle of the order (he was there on Sunday before Wallace was recalled). He is now 5-10 with 1 HR and 3 RBI in his past three games (without a strikeout). For the desperate, Moore is worth a look.
- The Rays and A’s went 15 innings, what more do we really need to know? The two hitters hurt most by the lengthy game were B.J. Upton and Josh Reddick, both of whom went 0-7. Upton continues to struggle with making contact, with 101 K over 339 AB, leaving him with a .242 average. Yes, he has power and speed, but if he’s going to hit under .250 (he’s at .242) the value is going to be capped.
- Chris Johnson made a quick impact for the Arizona Diamondbacks, going 1-4 with 1 HR, 4 RBI and 1 R in his first game. He now actually has 3 HR in his past four games. While he remains a low-end 3B option (it’s not like he moved to a better hitter’s park), he does offer an upgrade at 3B for the Diamondbacks and is worth owning in deeper formats.