Around the Majors: July 19: Brad Miller Erupts, Brandon Barnes Cycles, Yasiel Puig Slumping & More

Finally we got back to baseball yesterday!  While fantasy owners were chomping at the bit for live action to resume, it was obvious that the players were as well with some extremely impressive performances around the league.  We saw Brandon Barnes hit for the cycle, Brad Miller erupt for 2 HR and 5 RBI and some impressive pitching performances (like from Felix Doubront and Ervin Santana).  Of course, it wasn’t all positive (like David Price getting beat for 3 HR).  Let’s take a look at these stories and all the rest from yesterday’s action:

  • Yasiel Puig (0-4 with 2 K) continues to get all of the hype in Los Angeles, though he has gone cold recently.  He’s hitting .278 in June (1-9 in last three games) with 1 HR (came on June 1) and 3 RBI (last came on July 3).  As we spoke about (click here for our second half projection), don’t be surprised if his slowdown continues.
  • On the other hand, Hanley Ramirez is playing like the player of old.  He went 1-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R yesterday, putting him at .375 with 3 HR, 9 RBI and 12 R (he also has 5 doubles and 2 triples) in July.  The numbers are going to fall (.383 BABIP, 21.4% HR/FB, 11.0% strikeout rate), so enjoy this hot stretch while you can.  In redraft leagues shopping him around may make sense, though.  We’ll dive deeper into that soon.
  • David Price improved to 3-1 since coming off the DL, though this was hardly his most impressive outing.  He allowed 4 ER on 7 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, over 7.0 innings against the Blue Jays.  The problem was the long ball, as Toronto got him for 3 HR.  It’s never been an issue before, with a career 0.86 HR/9.  In fact this is the first time since July 15, 2011 that he’s allowed more than 2 HR in a game.  In other words don’t look at this outing and assume he’s “regressed” back to his early season struggles.
  • It was another impressive outing for Felix Doubront, who allowed 2 R (1 earned) on 3 H and 3 BB, striking out 5, over 6.1 innings against the Yankees.  He now has six straight starts having allowed 2 ER or fewer (8 ER over 39.1 IP) and has reduced his ERA to 3.76 (on May 8 it was 6.40).  He posted a 2.75 ERA in June and currently sits at 1.80 in July.  His strikeouts are still solid (7.25 & 7.20) and his control is better (3.25 & 3.15).  While he’s not going to maintain his 9.1% line drive rate in July, he’s a good buy in all formats right now.
  • After spending much of the season towards the top of the lineup, Zack Cozart again found himself hitting seventh and going 0-4 with 3 K.  It’s the fourth straight game he has hit seventh, going 4-17 over that span.  He also has struck out 7 times in his past three games.  He has some power, but he’s struggling overall with a 16.0% line drive rate, doesn’t steal bases and, if he sticks towards the bottom of the lineup, isn’t going to score a lot of runs.  In other words unless you are desperate he’s not a very good buy right now.
  • Francisco Liriano allowed 5 ER on 5 H and 4 BB, striking out 4, over 4.1 IP.  Would anyone be surprised if this is simply the sign of things to come?
  • Remember all the good Jeremy Hefner had going for him?  It all got wiped away in one fell swoop as the Phillies rocked him for 8 ER on 10 H over 2.0 IP.  Before we jump off the Hefner bandwagon, keep in mind that the Phillies are a team that has always had his number.  He’s allowed 28 ER on 43 H and 5 BB over 18.1 IP against them in his career.  In other words, if you see the Phillies on the schedule Hefner needs to be avoided at this point.
  • Wei-Yin Chen had his second consecutive impressive outing since returning from the DL, allowing 1 ER on 8 H and 2 BB, striking out 3, over 6.1 IP against the Rangers.  We’ll see how he continues to produce, but overall his strikeouts are done (5.04 K/9) and his line drive rate is up (22.6%).  That’s a scary combination and makes it tough to count on him.
  • Freddie Freeman came into the game as a defensive replacement for Joey Terdoslavich (1-3, 1 R).  That’s good news for fantasy owners.  Monitor the pregame lineup but it appears that his return is imminent.
  • There was good reason to be concerned about Ervin Santana taking on the Detroit Tigers last night.  He was coming off a poor outing and Detroit represents one of the best offenses in the league.  Those who rolled the dice were handsomely rewarded, however, as Santana tossed 7.1 shutout innings allowing 2 H and 1 BB, striking out 6.  He has gotten his HR down (1.10 HR/9), while showing impeccable control (1.93 BB/9, the exact number he did post back in 2008) and limiting line drives (18.5%).  While he could regress, it’s hard to argue that he’s a very good option right now.
  • Jacob Turner allowed just 2 ER to the Brewers, but that speaks more to how weak their offense is.  He allowed 5 H and 4 BB, striking out 2, over 5.0 IP as both runs scored on solo HR.  He has pitched well overall, and owns a 2.44 ERA and 1.17 WHIP.  He hasn’t been striking people out (6.25 K/9) and has benefitted from an 80.6% strand rate, so there are reasons for concern.  Don’t consider him a must use option, instead playing the matchups for now.
  • Look for the Twins’ Chris Colabello, who started at DH last night, to get regular AB now that he’s back in the Majors.  He went 0-4 yesterday and is just 2-20 overall in the Majors, but he raked at Triple-A and could get hot.  In the deepest of formats he is well worth monitoring.
  • Astros’ rookie Brandon Barnes went 5-5 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 3 R, hitting for the cycle.  It was an impressive day, though he is hitting just .250 with 5 HR and 21 RBI on the season.  He does have some speed (9 SB), but has struggled with a 14.7% line drive rate and 26.8% strikeout rate.  It’s hard to consider him a viable option unless something changes there.  This could be the start, but don’t move mountains to grab him.
  • It was a monster day for Brad Miller, going 3-5 with 2 HR, 5 RBI and 2 R.  He’s now hitting .273 with 2 HR, 12 RBI, 10 R and 2 SB in 66 AB since his recall.  He’s hitting the ball hard (24.0% line drive rate) and should be able to improve on his strikeout rate (21.6%) as he adjusts.  He brings power and speed to the middle infield, so if someone in your league hasn’t grabbed him yet you should pounce immediately.
  • Junior Lake made his Major League debut for the Cubs, going 3-4 with 1 SB while playing CF and hitting seventh.  He was hitting .295 with 4 HR and 14 SB at Triple-A and could offer some power/speed.  We’ll do an in-depth look at Lake in the next day or two, so make sure to keep checking back.
  • Chad Gaudin completely stymied the Diamondbacks, tossing 7.0 shutout innings allowing 3 H and 0 BB, striking out 8.  Over his past three starts he’s allowed 2 ER over 19.0 IP, striking out 22.  As a starter this season he owns a 2.23 ERA and 0.94 WHIP, but has also benefited from a .239 BABIP (despite a 22.9% line drive rate) and 82.8% strand rate.  In other words, don’t get too attached.

Bullpen Notes:

  • It wasn’t a good day for Carlos Martinez, who allowed 3 ER on 3 H and 1 BB over 0.1 IP.  What really doesn’t make sense is why the Cardinals sent him down to the minors to get him stretched out, if they were just going to bring him back to the Majors in a relief role?  It doesn’t make sense and it remains to be seen but their ultimate plan is for him.
  • Rafael Soriano took the loss for the Nationals, allowing a HR to Andre Ethier.  It’s going to happen, so obviously don’t read anything into the situation.  Soriano is locked in as the Nationals closer and it’s going to take a lot more than this for that to change.

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