How should fantasy owners proceed with struggling starting pitchers like Tommy Hanson and C.J. Wilson? They certainly failed to impress last night, unlike youngsters Matt Harvey and Mike Fiers. Can we depend on them? Throw in some big performances at the plate (like Bryce Harper and Evan Longoria) and it was a big day of baseball. Let’s answer these questions and all the rest from yesterday’s games:
- Matt Harvey – New York Mets – Starting Pitcher – He shined once again, allowing 2 ER on 6 H and 2 BB, striking out 6, over 6.1 innings to outpitch Tyler Cloyd (who was simply making a spot start and can be ignored for now). In his first seven starts he has now posted a 2.76 ERA while striking out 49 batters over 42.1 innings of work. While he did enter play with a .247 BABIP, he has proven that he has strikeout stuff and a bulldog type attitude. Yes, there are going to be some bumps in the road but he has proven that he should be considered a good option in all formats.
- Tommy Hanson – Atlanta Braves – Starting Pitcher – He just continues to allow a ton of baserunners. Over 4.2 innings against the Padres yesterday he allowed 4 R (3 earned) on 8 H and 2 BB, striking out 3. He has made seven starts since July 14 (35.0 innings) allowing 48 H and 23 BB. That’s good for a WHIP of 2.03, a number that is clearly unacceptable. This is a long enough stretch that it is hard to simply call it poor luck. Considering he did this in San Diego, it’s hard to even suggest simply playing matchups. With fantasy titles on the line, you may want to consider benching him depending on your other options.
More Quick Thoughts:
- Yunel Escobar led the way for the Blue Jays as they defeated CC Sabathia (7.0 IP, 5 R (2 ER), 9 H, 0 BB, 8 K). He went 4-5 with 1 HR, 5 RBI and 2 R on the day. It has been a disappointing season for Escobar, who entered the day with 4 RBI in August, 12 since July 1 and no more than 11 in any month. He is still hitting .252 with just 8 HR and 2 SB on the season. Without much power or speed he needs to hit for a much higher average to have fantasy appeal. He did enter play with a .266 BABIP so there is room for upside, but he is a mediocre option at best.
- With Kenley Jansen unavailable it was Ronald Belisario who got the save opportunity for the Dodgers. He delivered allowing 0 ER on 2 H and 0 BB, striking out 0, over 1.2 innings of work. While he may not be the long-term answer if Jansen can’t take the mound, those desperate for saves may as well add him just in case. However, chances are he doesn’t hold much value.
- Prior to the season would anyone have projected A.J. Ellis to be hitting over .280 with 11 HR and 41 RBI at any point in 2012? That’s where he is after going 2-4 with 1 HR, 4 RBI and 2 R yesterday. He entered play with a .350 BABIP and a 25.6% line drive rate, neither numbers you would expect to be replicated. We can enjoy him in 2012, but look for him to not come close to these numbers in 2013.
- Chris Heisey had a big day for the Reds, going 2-3 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R to help Mat Latos (7.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 3 BB, 7 K) earn the victory. Nice night, but since Heisey doesn’t play regularly he can safely be ignored in all but the deepest of formats.
- It was an inauspicious debut for Joe Saunders with the Orioles, allowing 7 R (6 earned) on 10 H and 2 BB, striking out 4, over 5.1 innings of work. Considering his 4.22 ERA and 1.36 WHIP pitching in the NL West does anyone really expect much jumping to the AL East? He should be ignored in all formats.
- Joe Kelly’s first start back in the rotation was bad, as he allowed 5 ER on 8 H and 3 BB, striking out 3, over 5.0 innings of work. It was only one start, but with the Pirates in the thick of a pennant race every game matters. They could turn back to Lance Lynn, give Kelly another start or potentially call Shelby Miller up from Triple-A. The latter could be the best option and is definitely worth stashing immediately in all formats.
- Pedro Alvarez is one of the streakiest players in the game, and right now he is delivering. He went 2-4 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R yesterday and is now 8-13 with 3 HR, 7 RBI and 5 R over his past three games.
- It was a monster game for Evan Longoria, going 2-5 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R last night as he led the charge against Matt Harrison (5.1 IP, 7 ER, 12 H, 1 BB, 5 K). Bad starts happen, so Harrison owners shouldn’t panic. As for Longoria, he hasn’t quite hit the ground running since coming off the DL as he entered the day hitting .243 with 3 HR in 70 AB since coming off the DL. That said it was a long layoff and we all know what’s possible. There’s a good chance he helps to carry your squad down the stretch.
- Despite all the hype, we all know that Bryce Harper has far from lived up to expectations. While Mike Trout has shown that it’s possible for a young player to perform at elite levels, that generally is the exception not the rule. Harper gave you a little taste of his potential last night, going 2-5 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R. He has a long ways to go, but he does have 14 HR and 13 SB on the season and could be a potential 30/30 threat as soon as 2013.
- Jeff Samardzija allowed 3 R (2 earned) on 7 H and 0 BB, striking out 10, over 7.0 innings, a tremendous line but it wasn’t enough. Mike Fiers outpitched him, allowing 1 ER on 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 6, over 7.0 innings. Fiers had allowed 15 ER over his previous 19.0 innings, so this was a much needed turnaround. While his overall numbers are believable (.296 BABIP, 76.5% strand rate) and he has shown good control (2.05 BB/9) and an ability to generate strikeouts (9.09 K/9), it all isn’t rosy. He has been hit hard, to the tune of a 27.1% line drive rate (at least 25% in each month he has thrown 25+ innings). If that continues we would expect more poor outings, so keep that in mind. That said, with a minor league K/9 of 9.61 and BB/9 of 2.36 he is an intriguing prospect. He just needs to be watched closely, but is definitely worth owning.
- Hunter Pence hasn’t done much since joining the San Francisco Giants, but he delivered last night going 1-3 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R. In 105 AB since the trade he is hitting just .219 with 2 HR and 19 RBI. It’s possible that he is pushing a little too hard, with a 26.5% strikeout rate and 44.7% fly ball rate (career mark is 32.3%). We know the player that he is, so I wouldn’t panic. Give him time and he will deliver.
- Bruce Chen stymied the Tigers last night, tossing 8.0 shutout innings while allowing just 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 4. It’s a very impressive performance, but this is Bruce Chen we are talking about. Don’t get too excited.
- It was a nice day for Joe Mauer, who went 3-5 with 2 RBI and 1 R to put him at .312 with 8 HR and 68 RBI on the season. It’s obvious (like we didn’t need further proof) that his 28 HR campaign a few years ago was the major exception, but if he can hit 10-12 with a .300+ average owners are going to have nothing to complain about. It gets even better when you realize that he’s scored 68 runs, the most of any catcher (Buster Posey is next at 59). Is Mauer the elite catcher in the league? Of course not, but he should be considered a very good option. Just be prepared to find a little bit more power elsewhere.
- While C.J. Wilson got the victory, he wasn’t overly impressive against the Red Sox. Going 6.0 innings he allowed 3 ER on 8 H and 2 BB, striking out 4. He finishes August with a 7.99 ERA and 1.87 WHIP, after posting a 4.23 ERA and 1.36 WHIP in July. We all know he’s better than this and hopefully last night’s performance is a step in the right direction. However, he has been consistently hit hard for the past three months (23.5%, 23.1% and 24.1% line drive rates). While his .373 BABIP and 52.2% strand rate in August may be extreme numbers, if he doesn’t reduce the balls hit hard his numbers will not be what we expected (probably closer to July). Just be prepared, watch closely and plan accordingly.