by Will Overton
Yesterday was a fun day of baseball with a lot of good storylines to follow. We had the season debut of a former Cy Young/MVP winner. We had a few young guys getting their first big league wins. We had Gerrit Cole cementing himself as an elite pitcher in the game. That’s just the pitching performances…
Here is the complete list of the 10 most important stories of the day:
1) Justin Verlander Makes His Season Debut
After two and a half months of the season spent on the DL, Justin Verlander made his season debut yesterday afternoon for the Tigers against the Cleveland Indians. Verlander made it through five against Cleveland, allowing two runs on three hits, walking two and striking out two. Verlander touched 96 on the radar gun which was a welcome sight for his first start back. Verlander racked up 87 pitches in the game and likely would have stayed in had it not been his first start back. The Tigers and fantasy owners alike are holding out hopes that Verlander’s offseason triceps surgery will bring back more of 2012 Verlander then 2014. For fantasy owners the potential reward is worth the risk to see what happens here. The first start wasn’t a slam dunk, but it was certainly still a positive sign.
2) It May Surprise You, But…Russell Martin Has Been The Best Catcher In Fantasy
32 years old and he’s clearly still going strong as Russell Martin keeps churning out big games for the Blue Jays. Martin was 2 – 5 yesterday with 2 R, 1 HR and 1 RBI. Martin now has three homeruns in his last five games, giving him 10 for the season now. Martin’s career high in HR’s is 21 back in 2012 for the New York Yankees. There’s a real chance that Martin could rival or top that number this season playing half his games in the Rogers Centre. Martin deserves to be placed in the conversation of the best catchers in fantasy baseball.
3) Pay Attention Folks, Mitch Moreland Is White Hot Right Now
The Twins and Rangers game was quite the shootout yesterday offensively. Moreland was 2 – 5 yesterday at the dish, scoring a run, hitting a homerun and driving in four runs. Moreland’s three run shot yesterday was his third homerun in seven games. Moreland also has nine runs scored and 10 runs driven in since the start of June and he’s a big part of the Rangers recent success. The big problem here is whether the playing time will continue as playing time has always been an issue with Moreland. Between DH and First Base, Moreland should keep regular playing time against righties, though with Kyle Blanks active he’ll probably not see many AB’s against lefties. Still, he’ll play enough against the right handers that he’s worthy of a spot on most teams.
4) Whether You Realize It Or Not, Gerrit Cole Is An Elite Starting Pitcher
He might be just 24, but it’s clear to me every time he takes the mound, Gerrit Cole is one of the league’s best starting pitchers and that won’t be changing anytime soon. Cole picked up his 10th win yesterday when he allowed two runs, one earned, against the Phillies over six innings, striking out seven. Cole has now won all five of his last starts and for the season he has 11 quality starts in 13 trips to the mound. Cole also hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any of those 13 starts, leading to his 1.73 ERA. Now throw in his K rate, which has risen this season to 9.92 K/9 and there is no doubting the elite status of Cole.
5) Joe Ross Shines Against The Milwaukee Brewers
Joe Ross had never pitched a game above AA ball before last Saturday when he made his major league debut against the Chicago Cubs. Last night Ross made his second start in the big leagues and was spectacular against the Milwaukee Brewers. Ross went eight innings, allowing just two runs on seven hits with a walk and eight strikeouts to grab his first career win. You really love seeing the K’s especially. Ross looked sharp at Double-A this year with a nice bump in K’s, but you never know if that’ll translate to the bigs the way it did last night for Ross. You still have to proceed with caution considering the inexperience, but Ross has a pretty high ceiling.
6) Mike Montgomery Has Been Surprisingly Effective So Far For Seattle
A couple of years back now Mike Montgomery was a top prospect for the Kansas City Royals, thought to be a future left handed star. Montgomery never could seem to put it all together in the Kansas City system though, nor did he find much success in Tampa’s system either. Montgomery landed in Seattle’s organization this offseason and after a decent run at Trple-A, the best he’s had so far in his career, Montgomery got the call to the bigs finally. Since arriving Montgomery has been surprisingly good. Last night the tall lefty got his first big league win with a six inning, one run outing that including three walks and four strikeouts. Now in three big leagues starts Montgomery has allowed just four runs in 19 IP with an 11:6 K/BB ratio. Montgomery’s minor league history shows us there is some upside still to the K’s for Montgomery, though the big leagues is a different scenario. Given the history of Montgomery I still have my reservations about his sustained success, but right now you wouldn’t be blamed for riding a hot pitcher.
7) Montgomery Receives Support At The Plate From Logan Morrison
Obviously Mike Montgomery didn’t need a ton of run support, but Logan Morrison was there to make sure he got it last night. Morrison went 2 – 5 with 2 R, 2 HR and 2 RBI as he continues to climb his way into fantasy relevance after a poor start. Morrison has gotten at least one hit in 18 of his last 19 games started. This was his first homerun in a little over a month now, but he does have seven since the start of May. Morrison hit seventh in the lineup yesterday, but when you look at the Mariners lineup and the guys in front of him, it really shouldn’t be a bad spot to be if they were playing up to their potential as a unit. While Morrison’s power has been spotty the last few years, we know he has some legit boom in that bat at times. He rattled off five in about 10 games at the beginning of May so this may be the start of another power run for him.
8) Nolan Reimold Is Back In Baltimore…How Much Should Fantasy Owners Care?
Nolan Reimold got the callup to the Orioles earlier this week, and has now started three games in a row for them. Last night Reimold went 2 – 5 with a HR and a triple, driving in two runs. Reimold has gotten a hit in all three of his starts and this was his second homerun since the callup. The Orioles don’t have any top flight options at the corner outfield spots right now which is good news for Reimold. The bad news is that while they don’t have top options, they have a whole lot of subpar options along with Reimold to use and they seem content on shuffling these guys in and out. Reimold is the hot hand right now with these homeruns so he’ll get a look for a few games, but if he goes cold it’ll likely be next man up. AL only players should be taking notice and using Reimold til the wheels fall off, but for now others can ignore him.
9) The Marlins Get Mat Latos Back And He Actually Looks Like Mat Latos
The Marlins have been without their big offseason acquisition Mat Latos for the last three weeks due to a knee injury, but he made his return last night at home against the Rockies. Latos struggled hard the first month and a half of the season, posting a 6.12 ERA through nine starts and collecting just two quality starts in those first nine outings. Last night though he looked like the version of Latos the Marlins expected to be getting. Latos allowed only one run over seven innings and fanned 11 Rockies batters. This was a Colorado team outside of Coors Field which we know matters, but earlier this year it didn’t matter who Latos was facing, he was getting lit up. Currently Latos is owned in only 27% of leagues, and while I don’t know he fully gets back to previous years form, he is going to be worlds better than he was early on the rest of the way and is worthy of a roster spot.
10) Quietly, Cameron Maybin Has Been Fantastic For A While Now
The fantasy baseball world seemed to be incredibly hyped for Cameron Maybin moving to Atlanta when it happened. Then Maybin struggled out of the gate, hitting .175 in April, scoring only four runs and losing his every day job. Fans have yet to get back on the wagon all the way, but they should be doing so at this point. Maybin was 3 – 6 from the leadoff spot last night, knocking in three runs and stealing a base. Maybin has now stolen four bases in his last nine games, and he has 11 total this season. Maybin also has six runs scored and 10 runs driven in just since the calendar flipped to June. In 10 June games he has seven multi-hit games and has gotten a hit in 22 of his last 26 games. Quietly Maybin has gone from a bust to a guy now hitting over .300 with 24 R, 5 HR, 32 RBI and 11 SB, cemented in his role as everyday center fielder and leadoff hitter. It’s been quite a turnaround for the once hyped prospect who looks to finally be putting it together.