Could anyone have really predicted this type of performance from Ben Sheets? Is it time to give up on Ivan Nova after he was rocked again? Could the Nationals be preparing to make a change at the back of their bullpen? Let’s answer these questions and all the rest from yesterday’s games:
- Chris Tillman – Baltimore Orioles – Starting Pitcher – Is it that the Seattle Mariners bring out the best in Tillman or has he actually turned a corner? He was fantastic last night, allowing 1 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, over 7.1 innings to improve to 5-1 with a 2.38 ERA on the year. You can argue that he hasn’t faced the best talent (outside of the Yankees, which represented his worst start as he allowed 4 ER over 5.0 innings), but you still have to perform and he has thrived. He entered the day with a 55.9% strand rate, a number you would actually think he could improve upon, and a realistic .282 BABIP. The key for him will be improving his strikeout mark, as he entered with a 6.75 K/9, compared to a 9.27 mark in 89.1 innings at Triple-A this year. If that number rises, the sky truly is the limit though that is no guarantee.
- Ben Sheets – Atlanta Braves – Starting Pitcher – His story just continues to get more and more unbelievable. He tossed 7.1 impressive innings against the Phillies, allowing 1 ER on 7 H and 1 BB, striking out 0. It’s the latter number that opens your eyes a little bit, though he entered with 23 K in 24.2 IP so it’s not that concerning. That said he entered the day with a 27.9% line drive rate and 83.3% strand rate. In other words, enjoy the ride while you can but I wouldn’t expect it to last unless something changes dramatically.
More Quick Thoughts:
- Erik Bedard combined with two relievers to two-hit the Arizona Diamondbacks (in fact, Paul Goldschmidt was the only batter to reach base, going 2-3). Bedard led the way, tossing 7.0 shutout innings allowing 2 H and 0 BB, striking out 5. It hasn’t been a pretty year for Bedard and he was coming off a start where he allowed 8 ER over 4.1 IP. He has allowed 1 ER or fewer in three of his past four outings, but he has proven to be completely unreliable. He has potential, but you need to use him at your own risk. If you are going to use him he really is only viable at home, where he has a 2.38 ERA (compared to 6.75 on the road). Just keep that in mind.
- Justin Verlander was the star for the Tigers, allowing a pair of unearned runs against the Yankees over 8.0 innings of work. He allowed 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 14. We all know he’s great, so there’s not much more to say.
- It has been a real struggle for Ivan Nova, who allowed 7 ER on 11 H and 0 BB, striking out 5, over 5.1 innings of work. He has now allowed 16 ER over his last 10.1 innings of work. The numbers are better than this, however, as he entered play with an 8.05 K/9 (though he’s never shown that type of potential before), 2.91 BB/9, 74.7% strand rate and a below average .327 BABIP. Home runs have been a consistent problem (1.42 HR/9), as his HR/FB has nearly doubled from a year ago (15.1% vs. 8.4% in ’11). With those types of numbers, it’s hard not to recommend sticking with him at this point, especially if he can maintain striking people out.
- The top four batters in the Red Sox lineup combined to go 11-18 with 8 RBI and 6 R. This is the type of onslaught we all would’ve expected, isn’t it? Jacoby Ellsbury (3-5, 1 RBI, 3 R), Carl Crawford (2-4, 3 RBI, 2 R), Dustin Pedroia (3-4, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 SB) and Adrian Gonzalez (3-5, 3 RBI) are all starting to catch fire at the same time. Imagine what’s going to happen when David Ortiz returns to the mix?
- The Minnesota Twins scored 14 runs, so obviously there were a lot of heroes. The biggest may have been Justin Morneau, however, who went 3-5 with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 3 R. He now has 7 RBI over his past four games and is hitting .275 with 15 HR and 54 RBI on the year. Given all of the concerns entering the year it’s great to see him back to producing. He’s a viable option in all formats.
- Tyler Clippard allowed 1 ER on 1 H and 1 BB, striking out 3, over 1.0 inning to blow his fourth save and has now allowed a run in back-to-back outings and three of his past five. He’s also blown three saves since July 17. With Drew Storen pitching well, it is probably only a matter of time.
- Bryce Harper went 0-4 with 1 R yesterday, leaving him at .171 with 1 HR, 1 RBI, 7 R and 0 SB in his past 10 games. In fact, his struggles have lasted even longer than that, as he hit just .222 with 1 HR and 7 RBI in July. He was bound to struggle sooner or later, so I wouldn’t get too worked up about it. He should turn it around before long.
- Brandon Phillips returned to the Reds lineup, going 0-5 while hitting third. Fantasy owners just need to be thankful he avoided a trip to the DL.
- The key piece to the trade sending Zack Greinke to Los Angeles, Jean Segura made his Brewers debut last night hitting eighth and going 0-4 with 2 K. His wheels are his key to success, so you have to wonder how productive he’ll be hitting this low in the order.
- Adam Dunn went 0-4 with 3 K yesterday and has hit a bit of a cold stretch. He hasn’t homered in his past 8 games, going 3-31 with 1 RBI, 0 R and 10 K. Is it a slump or a regression to his 2011 form? Obviously we aren’t getting that concerned. If you own him you knew streaks like this were possible, so stay the course and wait for him to turn it around.
- This Jered Weaver guy is pretty good, huh? He tossed a complete game shutout allowing just 4 H and 0 BB, striking out 9, over the A’s to improve to 15-1 with a 2.13 ERA and 0.92 WHIP. If we wanted to nitpick we can point to luck metrics (.230 BABIP, 81.7% strand rate) and a decline in strikeouts (6.94 K/9) as reasons for concern. It’s all justified, actually, and he could be in for a slight regression at some point this season but he is also one of the top pitchers in the game. If you are going to sell make sure you get a premium return or sit tight.
- The Cubs had both Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters in the lineup, but both failed to impress. Jackson was hitting leadoff and went 0-4 with 4 K, while Vitters went 0-4 with 2 K while hitting seventh. As I’ve said (and will continue saying) the strikeouts could be a major issue for Jackson, who now has 5 K in his first 8 AB. In yearly formats it is tough to recommend trusting him.
- Jerry Sands batted sixth for the Dodgers, as expected, and went 0-3. I know he’s had his struggles in the past, but if given an opportunity I still have confidence that he can produce good numbers in the Major Leagues. Don’t write him off based on what has happened in the past.