by Will Overton
Surprise, surprise, pitching was dominant once again in major league baseball. Still, for the offensive enthusiasts out there the Cubs and Red Sox game had enough offense to make up for everyone else. Here are the top stories for the night:
1. Why Do Fantasy Owners Keep Ignoring Tyson Ross?
This has been an awesome year for Tyson Ross, but last night was his best performance so far. Ross threw his first complete game of the season and it was a three hit shutout against the strong Cincinnati Reds offense. Ross walked none in the game and struck out nine batters. This win lowered Ross’ ERA to 2.93 for the season and he’s now racked up an incredible 111 strikeouts in 116.2 IP. Yet despite these numbers he’s only owned in 51% of ESPN leagues?! This is a travesty. Fantasy owners should keep in mind that Ross is at 116.2 IP, but his career high before this season is 125 IP last year. So there is a chance for regression as Ross’ arm tires. Until that point comes though he should really be owned in all leagues.
2. The Healthy Version Of Chris Young Can Still Get It Done…Even At 35 Years Old
After last night Chris Young has officially thrown 98.1 innings for the Seattle Mariners this season. I think if we set an over/under at 100 IP before the season almost everyone would’ve said under. Chris Young has managed to stay healthy all season so far though and healthy Chris Young is good Chris Young. Young picked up his eighth win of the season last night allowing two runs over seven innings and striking out eight. It was the Astros which is always an asterisk, but he’s been doing this for a while. Young has given up just four runs in his last 25 IP and lowered his ERA all the way down to 3.11 with a 1.11 WHIP. Young is flying under the radar in fantasy land and he really shouldn’t be.
3. Can Austin Jackson Turn Things Around In The Month Of July?
Austin Jackson hasn’t been slumping, after two months it can’t be just a slump. The Tigers Center Fielder hit just .200 in May and .235 in June after coming out of the gate really hot in April. Jackson went into yesterday’s game hitless in his last 15 AB’s, but he hopefully had a breakout yesterday. Jackson went 3 – 5 against the A’s scoring two runs and knocking one in. Jackson batted leadoff yesterday for the second day in a row as Brad Ausmus continues trying to find a spot for Jackson in the lineup that works. If Jackson continues to see time at the leadoff spot he could do some big things in the second half still.
4. Do The Tampa Bay Rays Even Have A Closer?
Another game and another new guy getting a save in Tampa Bay. The Rays haven’t been winning many games, but when they do win they seem to use a different closer every time. Yesterday it was Brad Boxberger pitching the ninth innings and getting a save, striking out two and not allowing any base runners. The day before it was Grant Balfour with the save for the first time in like three weeks. Meanwhile in those last three weeks Juan Carlos Oviedo saved one game and Jake McGee saved three. I don’t know if I want any of these guys outside of deep leagues and AL only, but if I had to have I guess it’d be McGee.
5. When Did Coco Crisp Become A Legitimate Top 30 Outfielder And How Did We Miss It
Coco Crisp is 34 years old right now, and he’s on pace to have his best season of his career for the third year in a row for the A’s. Coco went 3 – 5 yesterday with 2 R, 1 HR and 1 RBI. Crisp now has 7 HR’s this season to go along with his 13 SB’s and he’s scored a very strong 46 runs total. Crisp’s three hits also raised his average to .292 and he’s hitting .348 since the beginning of June. Crisp is on pace to hit 15 HR’s and should steal anywhere between 25 and 30 bases as well. Crisp is suddenly a top 30 outfielder for fantasy purposes and I don’t think we saw it happening.
6. Cole Hamels Gets Outpitched By Tom Koehler…Again
The last two times that Tom Koehler has stepped on the mound for the Marlins he has been facing off with Cole Hamels. For the second time last night, Koehler outpitched Hamels, and this time he got a decision. Koehler threw six shutout innings in which he allowed just three hits, walked one and struck out seven. Over his last three starts Koehler has allowed just four runs in 19 IP and he has 21 K’s. Koehler has 7.14 K/9 for the season. In six starts since June 1 though Koehler has a 9.42 K/9 rate and doesn’t look to be slowing down from that. Because pitching is so deep it’s hard to say that Koehler is a must own in standard leagues, but certainly in deep leagues he is and he should be considered in standard ones too with his K rate on the rise.
7. Highly Touted Mookie Betts Hits His First Major League Home Run
There has been a ton of talk in the fantasy circles this week about the callup of Mookie Betts for the Red Sox. Betts destroyed double-A pitching, then he destroyed triple-A pitching and now he has arrived. The first few games were a bit underwhelming, but Betts made his presence felt last night. The Sox got destroyed, but at least Betts gave the Red Sox Nation something to cheer about going 2 – 5 and hitting his first big league homer. Betts scored on both of his hits and knocked in two runs. Despite his small frame Betts does have some power with 8 HR’s so far this year in the minors and 16 last year. I don’t foresee him being a 30 HR guy, but he could be a 20 HR hitter and paired with everything else he can do that’s not too bad.
8. Tyler Skaggs Strong In His Return
After spending the last month of the season on the DL Tyler Skaggs made his return to action last night and did it with a solid outing that unfortunately netted him a no-decision. Skaggs pitched for 7.2 IP, throwing a total of 87 pitches with great efficiency. Skaggs allowed two runs in his 7.2 IP and he only walked one while striking out six. Skaggs was a bit hit and miss before going on the DL, but he was showing signs of his potential. The strikeouts were starting to come out in force before the injury as well with 30 K’s in 31 IP leading up to the injury. Considering his potential I think Skaggs deserves a long look from fantasy owners now that he’s back in action.
9. John Danks Matches Skaggs And Then Some
Skaggs was great, but John Danks was just as good and even a little bit better on the other side in that game. Danks also threw 7.2 IP and also allowed two runs to score. Danks however outdueled Skaggs in the strikeout department with 10 K’s in total. If you could just take out one really bad start against the Twins Danks has been nothing short of spectacular for the last month and a half. Danks has allowed two runs or less in seven of his last eight starts. He has also pitched six or more innings in all seven games and seven or more in five of those seven games. Even with one really bad start Danks is still sporting a 2.65 ERA over his last eight outings. One thing to be cautioned about though is that the 10 K outing is not the norm for Danks who hasn’t had more than five K’s in any of the other eight recent outiings.
10. Justin Ruggiano Racks Up The Stats In A Rout
It’s hard to know what to take from a rout like the Cubs had against the Red Sox last night. Everyone was hitting on the Cubs team, literally everyone got a hit and seven guys had multiple hits. Still, Justin Ruggiano’s line was the best of them all with a 3 – 6, 1 R, 1 HR and 5 RBI. Ruggiano hasn’t been the fantasy sleeper I expected him to be, but I still think he might have some spark left in the bat. The Cubs don’t have a ton of other options in the outfield and Ruggiano is now 9 for his last 22. Of those nine hits six of them were for extra bases which is encouraging. Being part of the Cubs lineup isn’t great, but he’s been hitting right in front of Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro which is a pretty nice spot to be in. In 12 or 14 team league where 5 OF’s are used Ruggiano may still have value.