by Will Overton
Division races are heating up in baseball and we’re seeing players bring their best stuff out. We saw it from Max Scherzer and A.J. Griffin, we saw it from Ian Desmond and Nate McLouth. This is the time of year when heroes are made in baseball and as these guys push towards that it can only help your fantasy team as well.
Here is the recap of last night’s games:
1. Ian Desmond – SS, Washington Nationals: It’s amazing to see where Ian Desmond was at the beginning of this season and where he is now. Desmond wasn’t even drafted in some leagues and was a fringe guy in all the rest of them. And now, he just hit his 23rd homerun of the season last night. Desmond was 2 – 3 last night including that HR and it extended his hitting streak to ten games, it also raised his average up to .295. Desmond is 17 – 42 in these ten games with 8 R, 4 HR and 9 RBI. Despite missing a month of the season with injury Desmond is on pace to approach 25/25 in HR/SB and 75 runs and RBI’s. It’s entirely possible that Desmond could someday be a 30/30 hitter and will certainly be a top 5 shortstop in next year’s drafts.
2. Ryan Dempster – SP, Texas Rangers: In two of his first three games as a pitcher for the Rangers Ryan Dempster gave up eight runs. Since that time Dempster hasn’t allowed eight runs total in five starts combined. Dempster allowed two runs in 7 IP last night with 8 K’s. Dempster has 36 K’s in 33 IP in these last five starts. And at this point it doesn’t matter if Dempster is at home or on the road because he has been handling things well in both home and road starts. Dempster hasn’t faced a truly top notch offense in any of these five games, but he’s clearly found his groove in the AL.
More Quick Thoughts
- After only winning two starts through August 21st Cliff Lee has now won three of his last four starts. Lee didn’t allow any earned runs in 7 IP last night and has only allowed 5 ER in his last 34 IP. The win total is tough to stomach, but Lee really hasn’t really lost as much as that total might make you believe.
- Being an everyday player is suiting Matt Carpenter well. He has been on a tear this last week Carpenter went 2 – 4 last night with a HR. He has multiple hits in three of his last four starts and is 7 – 16 over the last four games.
- The Reds/Pirates game was a solid pitching duel between A.J. Burnett and Homer Bailey. The win went to Bailey who only allowed one run in 7 IP with 4 K’s. Meanwhile Burnett gave up two runs in 6 IP with 8 K’s. Burnett continues to have a very strong bounce back season.
- Anyone else incredibly excited about the upside of Matt Harvey and what he could do next season for the Mets and your fantasy team? Harvey went 5 IP and struck out another 10 batters last night, allowing only one run. Harvey has now struck out 63 batters in 52.1 IP over 9 starts with a 2.92 ERA.
- The return of Nate McLouth to the big leagues has become quite the cool story. And now McLouth is leading off for the Orioles and is pushing to be worth of standard league five OF ownership. McLouth was 2 – 5 last night, and is now 8 – 17 in his last four games. McLouth should score a good amount of runs and steal his share of bases as the season winds down.
- His average is pretty awful, but Curtis Granderson is officially one of the league’s premier power hitters. Granderson went deep twice last night to bring his season total to 37. Granderson has struggled since the all-star break hitting .209, but he hasn’t lost his power.
- Sometimes with a catcher all you can really hope for is solid power and an average that won’t sink you. Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s average is pushing the limit, but he’s one of the best power hitting catchers in baseball right now. Salty hit his 24th HR last night, along with a double and a triple in a three hit night. The power has him bordering on being a top 10 catcher.
- This season is going to end a lot better than it began for Rickie Weeks. The Brewers 2B went 2 – 5 last night and hit a HR for the second night in a row. He has two hits in five of his last nine games. And he has 6 HR’s so far in the month of September. This should give fantasy players hope that Weeks bounces back strong next season.
- It’s never appealing to use a member of the Cubs team, but Travis Wood is pitching really well right now. Wood allowed just one run in 7.2 IP, this coming off of a one hit 6 IP performance in his last start. Wood has a 2.51 ERA in his last five starts and could be a good spot start here on out.
- Since joining the Giants Marco Scutaro has been rolling, but he’s white hot right now. After going 3 – 5 last night Scutaro is now 17 – 39 in his last nine games. In those nine games he has 9 R and 9 RBI as well. He’s a guy you have to be plugging in the lineup right now.
- We are now looking at seven incredible starts in a row for Max Scherzer after he held the White Sox to one run in six innings last night. Scherzer is 6 – 0 in these last seven games and has lowered his ERA almost a full point. He also a 60:9 K/BB rate over 49 IP.
- Going into last night’s games Kevin Youkilis was riding a pretty nasty slump going into last night’s game, but he busted out in a big way with 2 HR’s and 4 RBI. Youk isn’t a must play week to week anymore, but if he can heat back up a bit he could provide a help still down the stretch.
- It looks like the Royals are going to give a bit of an extended look to David Lough down the stretch. He was 2 – 5 in the leadoff spot last night and has multiple hits three of his first five games. He’s got good speed and a little power, could be a nice deep league play.
- Chalk up another win for A.J. Griffin who improved 6 – 0 with a 1.94 ERA in 11 starts. Griffin went 8 shutout innings and struck out 6. Griffin has allowed just two runs in his last 20.1 IP. At this point he should be owned in all leagues and started with confidence in almost any matchup.