by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
On the day Ichiro Suzuki recorded his 4,000th career hit (including his time in Japan), there was plenty of other noteworthy performances. Jeremy Hellickson continued his struggles. Ian Kennedy did everything he could to make us forget about his struggles in Arizona. Anthony Rizzo busted out with a pair of home runs. Let’s look at those performances and all the rest from yesterday’s games:
- It was a great start from Jonathan Niese, allowing 1 ER on 5 H and 3 BB, striking out 9, over 7.0 IP against the Braves. In his past two starts he’s now allowed 2 ER over 13.0 IP, striking out 18. While he’s not likely to strikeout that many long-term, he proved last season that he has the upside to be a solid fantasy option. He owns a career groundball rate of 49.5% to go along with good control and more than enough strikeout stuff. Calling a pitcher’s park home, he is someone that needs to be owned in all formats.
- Aramis Ramirez homered for the second time in three games, going 2-3 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R. He now has a three game hitting streak, also scoring at least 1 R in each of those games. Its been a disappointing season, as he has struggled with injuries, but Ramirez should improve on the 8.6% HR/FB he entered the day with. In other words, if you need power he’s a good gamble for the final few weeks of the year.
- It was nice for owners to see Mike Morse produce, going 2-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R. He had gone 0-16 in his previous four games Nd hadn’t hit a HR since August 2 (his first game off the DL. We all know that, when healthy, Morse has power and should also see his luck improve (.268 BABIP entering the day despite a 19.0% line drive rate). While he isn’t a must start option yet, he could get back there in five-outfielder formats. Don’t give up hope.
- It seems a lot easier to pitch well with a big lead, doesn’t it? Felix Doubront got the job done, allowing 1 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 3, over 8.0 IP against the Giants. After failing to make it past 4.0 innings in either of his past two starts (9 ER over 8.0 IP), it certainly is nice to see him rebound. Consider him a viable option, especially in favorable matchups. Depending on your league you can either stream him or keep him on your bench and plug him in when appropriate.
- Interesting to see both players who are primed to lose playing time to Xander Bogaerts making big contributions yesterday. Will Middlebrooks went 1-3 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R and Stephen Drew went 1-5 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R. Can they hold Bogaerts off and keep him pinned on the bench? Not likely…
- It was a light out performance for Ian Kennedy, tossing 7.0 shutout innings against the Pirates. He allowed just4 H and 3 BB, striking out 8. While he struggled in his previous outing, he has allowed 2 ER or fewer in three of his four starts since being traded to San Diego. He obviously hasn’t fully regained our trust, but there obviously is reason for optimism. He does need to get his control in order (13 BB over 25.1 IP), but at this point he appears a good gamble if he’s still sitting out on waivers.
- It was another less than stellar outing for Jeremy Hellickson, failing to go at least five innings for the fourth time in five starts. Taking on the Orioles he allowed 4 ER on 7 H and 3 BB, striking out 3, over 4.1 IP. Just to make matters worse, he hasn’t struck out more than 3 in a game since July 10. As we’ve said all along, while he may not be this bad, it’s not a surprise that the luck has turned this season.
- Nick Swisher went 1-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R. He now has a seven game hitting streak, going 10-33 with 3 HR, 6 RBI and 6 R. It also gives him 4 HR in his last 10 games. Always an incredibly streaky hitter, get him active while he’s heating up.
- With Jose Bautista on the DL, Anthony Gose should see an increase in playing time. He went 1-3 with 1 R and 1 SB yesterday and we all know how much speed he has. Of course, he was hitting .239 at Triple-A prior to joining Toronto, thanks to a 27.3% strikeout rate. In the Majors this season he owns a 27.1% mark and is at 30.4% for his Major League career. It’s hard to steal bases if you can’t get on, isn’t it? If you are desperate for SB than sure, but it’s hard to trust him.
- With Joe Mauer out with concussion symptoms, Chris Colabello was recalled and thrust right into the middle of the lineup. He went 0-4 with 3 K, but he has. Shown power potential in the minors. The Twins should give him a chance, to see if he could fit into their 2014 plans, so those in deeper formats should continue to monitor him.
- Wasn’t the move to the NL supposed to help Brandon McCarthy? He got bombed yesterday, allowing 7 ER on 8 H and 1 BB, striking out 2, over 2.1 IP against the Reds and now owns a 5.44 ERA and 1.50 WHIP. He’s been hit ridiculously hard 27.6% line drive rate) and he hasn’t seen an uptick in strikeouts (5.76 K/9). In other words, it’s impossible to trust him.
- It was a big day for Jason Castro, going 2-3 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 3 R. On the season he’s hitting .273 with 15 HR and 47 RBI. Sure, we would love to see more RBI, but that is more indicative of the lineup around him. He’s emerged as a viable catcher in all formats.
- The Cubs moved Starlin Castro into the leadoff spot, where he went 1-5 with 1 R. The bigger dividends came from Anthony Rizzo, who was moved to the second spot and went 3-4 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R. As we’ve said, he does make decent contact (18.5% strikeout rate) and has been played by poor luck (.254 BABIP), helping to lead to his atrocious average. That said, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get white hot over the final few weeks, so obviously keep running him out there in deeper formats.
- After looking good in his last outing Jake Arrieta got bombed by the Nationals, allowing 6 ER on 5 H and 4 BB, striking out 5, over 4.0 IP. The move to the NL should be beneficial, but he’s not more than a matchup play.
- Andre Rienzo earned his first Major League win, allowing 2 ER on 5 H and 3 BB, striking out 5, over 6.0 IP against the Royals. Of course, he’s allowed 2 ER or fewer in three of his last four starts and does offer more strikeout stuff than he’s shown this far (9.00 K/9 at Triple-A prior to his recall). Rookies tend to be inconsistent, so don’t consider him a must start, but if the matchup is right he is worth considering.
- Edward Mujica earned the save, allowing 1 ER on 2 H over 1.1 IP. It’s the first run he’s allowed since July 4, so it was bound to happen sooner or later. He hasn’t had many save opportunities lately, and the Ks have also been down (4 K over 11.0 IP in August), but now we are getting picky.
- Was Jim Johnson unavailable? It was a save opportunity and he was not seen, despite pitching just once since August 16. Instead, after Brian Matusz walked his lone batter, Tommy Hunter tossed a perfect inning to earn the save. If you are desperate for saves, he is worth grabbing.
- Could the Rockies quickly move back to Rex Brothers as their closer? He threw a perfect eighth inning, lowering his ERA to 1.51, though there is still some questions about his control (4.19 BB/9). However, he’s thrived in the closers role while Rafael Betancourt imploded yesterday, allowing 2 ER on 3 H and 1 BB over just 0.1 IP. It was just his third outing since returning from the DL and only his second blown save of the season, so it’s possible the team gives him a little bit more rope. That said, Brothers could be the closer in 2014 and it makes more sense to give him as much experience in the role as possible. If you own either, keep them stashed until this scenario plays itself out.
- Jose Veras earned a save for the Tigers, but he also only had an opportunity because the Tigers blew the game open after he entered. Don’t read anything into it.
- Brad Ziegler entered into a non-save situation, but he struggled allowing 2 ER on 4 H and 1 BB, striking out 2, over 0.2 IP. J.J. Putz was then called on to get the final out. Could a change be coming? Those desperate for saves should consider stashing Putz.
- Chia-Jen Lo, who has been in the closer mix for the Astros, allowed 1 ER on 1 H and 2 BB over 1.2 IP to take the loss. Of course, before we rule him out from save opportunities, it was the first run he’s allowed in the Majors. This remains a situation that is tough to count on moving forward.