by Will Overton
Playoff races are heating up in MLB and fantasy title races are heating up in fantasy baseball too. Every game matters and players are hopefully hitting their peaks. Here were the top stories of the night from last night’s action:
- Rick Porcello Goes The Distance
The breakout season of Rick Porcello continued last night with a complete game shutout against the Tampa Bay Rays. Porcello scattered just three hits in the game and didn’t walk a single batter while striking out four. Porcello just reached the century mark for K’s last night despite throwing 165.1 innings. Still, he helps make up for that with only 32 walks and a 1.12 WHIP despite so many balls being put in play. Porcello this year looks a bit like Kyle Lohse in his best years who makes up for his lack of K’s with solid ratios and a good amount of wins.
- The Heat Is Starting To Return To Marcell Ozuna’s Bat
The month of August had been really unkind to Marcell Ozuna up until about six days ago. Ozuna went 3 – 4 last night though with 2 R, 1 HR and 2 RBI. He is now 9 – 23 in these last six games with 6 R and 6 RBI as well as HR’s in back to back games now. Ozuna has been a pleasant surprise for the Marlins this season, making good on the promise of power potential he had shown in the minor leagues. Big league pitching will adjust to him and that maybe part of what we saw earlier this month, but at just 23 he should be able to continue to adjust himself and keep up with them. I think we’re seeing just the beginning of Ozuna’s breakout this season.
- Is Kendrys Morales Starting To Find His Grove?
After getting a late jump on the season it looked like Kendrys Morales might not get the switch flipped this season. However, it looks like things are starting to come together and the timing is pretty good for Seattle and fantasy owners alike. With two hits last night Morales now has five multi-hit games in his last ten and is 12 for his last 38 at the plate. Morales also homered last night for the third time in seven games after hitting only one long ball in his first 215 AB’s of the season. Morales was absolutely not worth owning up until two weeks ago, so it makes sense that he’s only owned in 20% of ESPN leagues, but now he is worth owning, so jump on board.
- Michael Pineda Slowly Trying To Make His Way Back
Last week Michael Pineda made his first start in four months and just his fifth start in a season and a half. Pineda threw five good innings last week and last night he made his second start since the injury. Pineda went six last night and allowed only two runs on four hits while striking out three. Pineda threw a total of 89 pitches last night as the Yankees continue to ease him back into a full workload. It’s easy to forget given how little he has pitched the last year and a half, but Pineda is still just 25 years old and full of potential to be a great pitcher. He could very well be worth the investment for owners for the remaining month and a half of the year.
- The Comeback Trail Also Welcomes Gerrit Cole
After seven weeks on the DL Gerrit Cole made his return last night and was impressive against the Braves. Cole allowed two runs over seven innings, striking out six and walking four. Prior to his injury Cole had been good, though not quite what fantasy owners had hoped for after his impressive debut last year. Still, we saw last September and October what Cole was capable of and we have to hope that we’ll see it again this year too. If we do Cole could push the Pirates towards the playoffs and help fantasy owners towards a title.
- The Waiver Worthy Ender Inciarte Impressive Again
The Diamondbacks Ender Inciarte continues to get it done as the leadoff hitter for Arizona. Inciarte was mentioned earlier this week as a nice outfield pickup for fantasy owners and he continues to prove why. Last night, a day after having his 16 game hitting streak snapped, Inciarte went 2 – 4 with a two run homerun. Inciarte is known more for his speed than his power, and it should stay that way, but over the course of a full season it wouldn’t surprise me to see him reach double digit homeruns. Inciarte’s run scored last night also gives him 41 for the season and 12 for the month of August so far. Inciarte should continue to be a decent option for 12 team or deeper leagues that use five outfielders.
- Second Half Success: Wei-Yin Chen Keeps On Rolling
After last night Wei-Yin Chen now has a second half ERA of 2.72 and is 4 – 1 in six starts. Chen allowed three runs last night over 7.1 IP, walking just one and striking out seven. The strikeouts are something that are starting to pile up too as Chen gets better and better. Chen has 27 K’s in his last 26.2 IP to raise his K/9 up to 6.82, a much more respectable number that could quickly climb up over seven per nine if he continues at his current rate. The Orioles are really only lacking a lock down starter and Chen is trying to show that he could potentially be the guy to do it.
- The Hits Keep On Coming For Jon Jay…Is That Good Enough?
Maybe the hottest hitter from a batting average angle in all of baseball this month has been Jon Jay. The Cardinals current leadoff hitter is now on a 12 game hitting streak after reaching base three times last night. Jay’s batting average for the month is now .447 which is pretty incredible since we’re 20 days into the month, even more impressive when considering he was 0 for his first 12 in the month. The question is how much value does that hold when only four of the hits are for extra-bases? I think it still holds plenty of value, especially with Jay leading off right now. Jay has scored 13 runs this month, all of them in his last 11 games. Jay also has 12 RBI on the month which is a solid total for a leadoff hitter. Jay doesn’t have power, but he does have fantasy value.
- Mike Aviles Is Making A Bid For More Playing Time
It helps that Mike Aviles can play so many positions and it helps that Lonnie Chisenhall has hit a bit of a roadblock. Mike Aviles is also helping himself though as he vies for more playing time. Aviles went 3 – 4 last night at the plate, including a homerun and a pair of RBI. Aviles has now homered in two of his last three starts, certainly catching the attention of the Cleveland coaching staff. Aviles has become more of a utility man than anything else, but when given regular playing time in the last he has been a double digit power, double digit steals guy. If given every day at-bats for the next month he’d be worth owning in deep leagues for sure and possibly as a middle infielder in some 12 team leagues. Just keep an eye on that playing time.
- A Mini Miracle: Jake Peavy Wins His Second Straight Start
The Giants took a flier on Jake Peavy hoping he would regain some of his old pitching magic. I don’t know that we can say that is happening yet, but he did win his second straight start last night, which is pretty impressive considering he only has three wins total for the season. Peavy allowed just two runs in seven innings, despite giving up 10 hits total. Maybe most importantly though he struck out eight while not walking a single batter. Peavy is not what he used to be at all, but he’s not necessarily valueless either. Peavy could still bring you some value for the next month as he tries to help pitch the Giants into the playoffs.