It was some extremely entertaining holiday baseball. While the biggest story may be the Yankees shrinking division lead (now 1.0 game over the Orioles and 2.5 games over the Rays), that is meaningless to fantasy owners. What we care about it the continued unbelievable performance by Kris Medlen, the impressive start by Yu Darvish, J.A. Happ’s strikeout run and so much more. Let’s take a look:
- Kris Medlen – Atlanta Braves – Starting Pitcher – He continued to be absolutely light out as he allowed 1 R (0 earned) on 5 H and 0 BB, striking out 12, in a complete game victory. He is now 7-1 with a 1.56 ERA and hasn’t allowed an earned run in his past four starts (33.0 innings). He actually hasn’t allowed more than 1 ER in a start since joining the rotation on 7/31. Considering he entered the day with a 95.4% strand rate as a starting pitcher it is easy to say that a regression is going to come sooner or later. However, he also had induced a significant number of groundballs (54.7%), shown good control (1.11 BB/9) and plenty of strikeouts (8.41 K/9). While the walks may too regress, there is no reason to shy away from him. He is proving that he is a viable option in all formats.
- Andrew Werner – San Diego Padres – Starting Pitcher – He allowed 2 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 8, over 6.0 innings against the Dodgers. In his last two starts (12.0 innings) he now has 15 K and is sporting a 3.00 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in his three starts since joining the Padres rotation. Of course, while it is a small sample size, he has benefited from a .222 BABIP and 87.8% strand rate (as well as an unsustainable 10.6% line drive rate). He has shown that he can bring groundball stuff (55.3%) and good control (he had a 2.18 BB/9 in 103.0 innings at Double-A). While I don’t believe he can maintain this type of strikeout stuff, he is proving that he is an intriguing pitcher for those in the deepest of formats. While I would expect a regression and wins are going to be tough, he has the makeup of a pitcher that could be a viable option. With the expected regression it is tough to recommend him, but it all depends on your other options.
More Quick Thoughts:
- Ross Detwiler continues to pitch well for the Nationals, tossing 7.0 shutout innings allowing 4 H and 3 BB, striking out 3. He entered the day with a 2.74 ERA at home and a 4.01 ERA on the road. So, while it isn’t quite as dramatic a split as some pitchers have, it’s worth noting. He also hasn’t been a big source of strikeouts, with 86 K over 140.0 innings, so that also is something to keep in mind. He entered play with a 52.0% groundball rate, 2.44 BB/9 and 16.2% line drive rate. If he maintains those numbers, he is going to have value with the potential to win games. Just be wary about tough starts on the road or if you need strikeouts.
- Don’t read anything into Vinnie Pestano’s save yesterday (1.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 0 BB, 1 K), as Chris Perez was not with the team due to his wife giving birth (according to reports). We knew Pestano was the next in line, but he’s not going to be a source of saves down the stretch barring an injury.
- J.A. Happ continued his strikeout binge, allowing 3 R (2 earned) on 6 H and 2 BB, striking out 9, over 5.0 innings against the Orioles. He’s now struck out at least 6 in each of his past four starts, striking out 30 over 23.1 innings of work. That said, does anyone really trust him pitching in the AL East? He has always had upside, but he is way too risky coming down the stretch.
- It hasn’t been happy days for Giancarlo Stanton of late. He went 0-4 with 2 K yesterday, his fifth straight game with at least 2 K. Over this stretch he is 3-20 with 0 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R and a whopping 11 K. Obviously, we all know the power is going to be there, you just need to ride out these types of streaks.
- Mike Fiers had another poor outing, allowing 6 R (4 earned) on 6 H and 4 BB, striking out 4, over 3.1 innings of work. It’s the third time in his past five starts where he has allowed at least 4 ER. Considering he entered the day with a 27.1% line drive rate, it really shouldn’t be a complete surprise. Unless he can reduce how hard he’s getting hit, his slide could easily continue.
- Curtis Granderson didn’t start for the Yankees, but he did go 0-1 as a pinch hitter. That’s good news for fantasy owners, though continue to be cautious. At this point there’s no real point in putting someone on the DL anyways, so it could still be a few days before he’s ready to start. Monitor the pregame lineup for now.
- The Phillies stuck with Tyler Cloyd in the rotation and he delivered a dandy of an outing against the Reds. He went 7.0 innings allowing 1 ER on 4 H and 0 BB, striking out 9, to earn the victory. He was 12-1 with a 2.35 ERA and 1.01 WHP in 142.0 innings at Triple-A this season, though he did also benefit from a .226 BABIP and 84.8% strand rate. He has always had good control (2.05 BB/9 over minor league career), but I wouldn’t expect too many strikeout days like this one (5.89 K/9 at Triple-A). While he has potential, there’s a lot of risk and I wouldn’t plan on leaning on him down the stretch.
- Tyler Greene is really settling in for the Astros, isn’t he? He went 2-4 with 3 R yesterday and is now hitting .267 with 5 HR, 7 RBI, 14 R and 1 SB in 75 AB since being acquired. Sure, you’d like to see a few more RBI, but he’s hitting near the top of the lineup most nights (he was hitting second yesterday) so it makes sense. He should see regular playing time the rest of the season and offers both power and speed. In deeper formats he is well worth owning.
- Yu Darvish was perfect through the first 5.2 innings and, while he ultimately gave up a few runs, was fantastic once again. He finished allowing 3 ER on 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 6, over 7.0 innings to improve to 14-9 with a 4.29 ERA on the season. He has tended to pitch better against teams the first time around, which obviously is a major concern. There’s no questioning his strikeout ability, but he needs to fine tune things to become one of the elite pitchers in the game. He easily can get there, it is just going to take time. However, for the time being he remains a viable option in all formats thanks to the K alone.
- Daniel Murphy went 2-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R. We all know he can hit, but he needs to do a lot better than .286 if he is going to produce just 5 HR. Without the power, unless he hits .320+ he is a low-end option, at best, and much more suited as a spot play or short-term replacement. Unfortunately, right now I don’t see much changing.
- Chris Iannetta went 3-4 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R for the Angels yesterday. He’s now 17-37 with 2 HR, 8 RBI and 3 R over his past 10 games. That’s the type of production the Angels had hoped for when they acquired. Obviously, we wouldn’t expect him to maintain that type of average (he’s a career .237 hitter), but he should continue to provide some power and RBI production at the bottom of the Angels’ order.
- We weren’t worried about one blown save by J.J. Putz, but what about two? For the second consecutive day Putz blew a save allowing 1 ER on 2 H and 1 BB, striking out 2, over 1.0 inning of work. The truth is, even if the rest of the bullpen (David Hernandez allowed 2 ER in 1.0 IP and Bryan Shaw allowed 1 ER in 0.2 IP) there wouldn’t be a concern. Putz had been so good, he was almost due for a poor stretch.
- Has the hamate injury zapped Pablo Sandoval of his power? Could it be his weight? Whatever it is, despite going 3-5 with 1 RBI and 1 R yesterday the fact that he has just 8 HR has got to be concerning for fantasy owners. In fact, his last home run came on July 8. We know there’s power in his bat, so fantasy owners can only hope that he starts to deliver down the stretch.
- Jose Iglesias is showing us why he is much more regarded for his glove, isn’t he? After going 0-2 yesterday he is 0-16 since joining the Red Sox. He can easily be ignored in all formats.
- Early in the season Hector Santiago was in the mix for the White Sox closing job. Yesterday he was moved into a starting role and he delivered a nice outing allowing 1 ER on 3 H and 3 BB, striking out 6, over 5.0 innings. We all know he has strikeout stuff, so if he sticks in the rotation he becomes an intriguing option though a complete unknown. In 2011 he had 117 K and 53 BB over 127.1 innings as a starter between Single & Double-A. That’s a few too many walks (he had a BB/9 of 4.21 at Double-A in 83.1 innings) so, while his stuff is electric, he could become a major burden on your WHIP. He’s more of an AL-only option.