There were some struggling players who showed signs of performing yesterday, including Bryce Harper, Michael Young and Cameron Maybin. Throw in a 19 inning marathon between the Cardinals and Pirates, another poor outing by Zack Greinke and much, much more, and it was an exciting day of baseball. Let’s take a look at all we need to know:
- Bryce Harper – Washington Nationals – Outfielder – After a slump that felt like it lasted an eternity, Harper is finally starting to heat up again. He went 2-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R yesterday, giving him a home run in each of his past two starts (he appeared as a pinch hitter on Saturday). In those two starts he’s gone 4-7 with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 4 R. While Harper has been overshadowed by the tremendous play of Mike Trout, we all know the type of potential that he brings to the table. He entered play with a .291 BABIP (despite a 20.3% line drive rate), so clearly there is room for plenty of improvement. Don’t shy away from him now.
- Domonic Brown – Philadelphia Phillies – Outfielder – We have long heard about the hype, but is he finally prepared to deliver? He went 3-4 with 4 RBI and 2 R yesterday, though he had gone 8 games without an RBI prior to that. In 67 AB with the Phillies he has yet to homer or steal a base, a continuation of his struggles at Triple-A (5 HR and 4 SB over 220 AB). Does he have the potential to catch fire? Absolutely, but I wouldn’t count on it off of this one game. He should be owned in all deeper formats for what could happen, but it would definitely be nice to actually see a few more signs that it is ready to come to fruition.
More Quick Thoughts:
- What exactly is there to say about the Pirates-Cardinals marathon, with the Pirates winning 6-3 in 19 innings… We could spend the entire column looking at different performances, but the most notable would be Jaime Garcia’s, who made his first start back off the DL. He went 8.0 innings allowing 2 R (0 earned) on 5 H and 0 BB, striking out 10. While we can’t expect him to continually post that many strikeouts, he has good control and generates groundballs (he had 10 groundouts vs. 2 fly outs yesterday). In other words, he is a good play in all formats, though a low-end one.
- Don’t look now, but there has officially been a Michael Young sighting! He went 3-5 with 1 HR, 5 RBI and 2 R. It’s his first HR since May 7 and his first RBI since August 5 (he had just 3 in August entering the day). Are we really getting excited over this one game? I wouldn’t be, but he has had more than enough success in his career to at least take notice. Monitor him closely and see if this is the start of a turn around.
- Has the Tigers search for a #5 hitter settled on Jhonny Peralta? He went 1-4 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R yesterday giving him 5 RBI in his past 2 games and 8 RBI over his past 6. Of course, he’s also gone 6-22 over that span, so it’s not like he’s been particularly on fire. That said, he’s the best option they have at the moment and should continue to get an opportunity to drive in runs.
- Nate McLouth as the Orioles third place hitter? Don’t get too used to it, though he did deliver a good game by going 2-5 with 2 RBI and 1 R.
- It was another good start for Mat Latos, allowing 4 R (2 earned) on 6 H and 3 BB, striking out 6, over 8.0 innings of work. He’s now worked at least 7.0 innings in each of his past five starts. Over his past six he has posted a 1.50 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 34 K over 42.1 innings. Throughout his career he has tended to struggle early in the season and really come on afterwards, so hopefully you never gave up on him. He is now sporting a 3.56 ERA, 1.18 ERA and 140 K on the year. He’s a good option in all formats.
- Chad Billingsley won his sixth consecutive start, tossing 7.0 shutout innings allowing 3 H and 2 BB, striking out 4. He hasn’t allowed a run in his past two starts (15.0 innings) and has allowed 6 ER over 41.2 innings over this stretch. He has always had the potential to put up good numbers and entered play with a .315 BABIP and 71.4% strand rate. The real difference is that he is showing better control (2.58 BB/9), which would be a career best. If he can maintain that there is no reason to think he can’t continue to post these types of numbers the rest of the way.
- Aaron Hill capped off a huge weekend by going 3-4 with 2 HR, 2 RBI, 3 R and 1 SB. Over his past three games he’s gone 6-12 with 3 HR, 5 RBI, 6 R and 1 SB. He’s now hitting .298 with 17 HR, 54 RBI and 9 SB on the season. What caused Hill’s problems in the past has been swinging for the fences, but with a 44.9% fly ball rate that clearly is not an issue this season. While his 36 HR performance in 2009 was clearly the aberration, he has proven to be a very good option in all formats. While he’s not one of the elite 2B, he’s a usable player in all formats.
- All Salvador Perez does is hit, well that’s at least how it feels. He went 2-4 with 3 RBI and is now hitting .307 with 8 HR, 22 RBI and 22 R over 153 AB. He’s your prototypical catcher, so it’s hard to imagine him maintaining that type of runs scored pace, but he has been inserted into the middle of the Royals lineup with Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas hitting behind him. With 18 extra base hits (he has added 10 doubles), even if the power slows he should remain a highly productive option behind the plate.
- Kyle Kendrick tossed a gem for the Phillies, throwing 8.0 shutout innings allowing 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 7, against the Brewers. In his past two starts he has thrown 15.0 shutout innings, going 2-0 with 13 K. That said, does anyone really expect this to continue? Considering his 4.38 career ERA, don’t get too caught up in a little hot streak. It could quickly come to an end.
- With the Rockies destroyed by injuries, they used Dexter Fowler as their #3 hitter and he delivered by going 2-2 with 1 RBI, 1 R and 1 SB. He actually now has three straight multi-hit games (6-9, 1 RBI, 4 R and 1 SB) and in six of his past seven games. Over his past 10 games he’s hitting .410 with 0 HR, 2 RBI, 9 R and 2 SB). Granted, the RBI haven’t been there, but if he is going to be moved into the middle of the lineup they should come. He has 37 extra base hits (14 doubles, 11 triples and 12 HR) and could provide significant value down the stretch. I wouldn’t expect him to hit in this spot going forward but, with the injuries, he should be in a prime batting spot.
- Zack Greinke isn’t doing anything to make people think that he can’t handle pitching in a big market, is he? He was bombed again yesterday, allowing 6 ER on 7 H and 4 BB, striking out 8, over 6.0 innings of work. In five starts for the Angels he is sporting a 6.19 ERA and 1.59 WHIP over 32.0 innings of work. We all know he’s better than that and all fantasy owners can really do is cross their fingers and hope that he figures it out.
- It was a monster game for Coco Crisp, going 3-5 with 1 HR, 5 RBI and 1 R. He now has 7 RBI in his past two games, though we all know that isn’t his game. He’s a speed player, and he has just 1 SB in his past 8 games. Don’t get caught up in the RBI numbers, they are just an added bonus.
- Jarrod Parker got the job done, tossing 8.0 shutout innings allowing 6 H and 1 BB, striking out 2. Of course he continues to get hit hard, entering the day with a 29.8% line drive rate in August (27.6% overall). He entered with a .292 BABIP, a number that could easily continue to regress. He has plenty of upside, but there is the consistent risk of him getting bombed right now.
- Cameron Maybin was another player who has struggled this season yet posted huge numbers yesterday. He went 4-5 with 3 RBI, 1 R and 1 SB, leading the charge against Ryan Vogelsong (3.0 IP, 3 ER, 8 H, 1 BB, 7 K). Even with that performance Maybin is hitting .219 and has just 23 extra base hits in 374 AB (.316 SLG). Sure he entered the day with a .257 BABIP, but he also had just a 14.2% line drive rate. His speed gives him potential, but outside of SB he really doesn’t have too much value for owners at this point.
- Michael Saunders went 2-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R and 1 SB on the season. He now has 11 HR and 17 SB on the season, bringing both power and speed. However he also has struck out 105 times in 404 AB, meaning hitting for a high average is nearly impossible. In other words, he’s similar to Drew Stubbs but without the same potential. Just value him accordingly.
- It was quite a day for Ichiro Suzuki, going 3-4 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R. Both home runs came off of Josh Beckett (6.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 H, 3 BB, 6 K). While he’s had some big moments since coming to New York (5 RBI on August 10), he isn’t providing the speed that we once saw (4 SB in 87 AB). The average is up significantly (.322), but without guaranteed every day playing time he’s a low-end option, at best.