by Will Overton
A night where a big No-Hitter stole the show, there was a lot of other big stuff going on too. There were a whole lot of long balls leaving the field last night, and a lot of runs scored in general. There was also a lot of strikeouts with multiple pitchers hitting double digits in K’s last night. With lots to get to, let’s get to work breaking down the big stories of the night:
1) A Night To Remember for Jake Arrieta Who Records a No-No
It’s one thing to throw a no-hitter once, it’s another to do it twice and it’s another thing all together to throw them in back-to-back seasons like Arrieta has now done. In fact there are only nine total starts standing between this no-hitter and the one Arrieta threw last season. The Cubs ace ended up walking four in the game while striking out six as well. This is now the third time in four starts that Arrieta has not allowed a run to score against him this season and he has an ERA of 0.87 through four starts. Right now Arrieta is putting himself in the conversation or best pitcher overall in fantasy baseball.
2) Feeling the Power: Kris Bryant Hits Two Out
The 16 runs that the Cubs scored seemed like a little bit of overkill on a night where their pitcher threw a no-hitter. Lot of Cubs bats had it going last night, but none more so than Kris Bryant. The young third baseman went 4 – 6 in the game with 4 R, 2 HR and 6 RBI. After getting off to a little bit of a slower start to this season Bryant is heating up now and it sure was good to see him sending the ball flying like that. One encouraging sign to note early on this season is the strikeouts, where Bryant has 14 K’s in 72 plate appearances so far. Last season Bryant had a K rate of 31%, so his 19% rate this season so far is a big time step up and is hopefully a trend that will continue.
3) The Hot Start to 2016 Continues for Edinson Volquez
With two straight seasons in a row now of solid pitching performances Edinson Volquez is looking to make it three in a row now and he’s off to a good start. Last night Volquez kept the Tigers guessing, holding them scoreless for seven innings, allowing five hits and a walk, striking out five. Volquez has not allowed more than two runs in any of his four starts this season and for the most part he’s been able to manage his walks which is a big deal for him. Volquez can’t keep up his 1.46 ERA pace, but we’re seeing some really encouraging signs from him so far.
4) The Power Surge Continues for Robinson Cano
After a couple of down seasons in terms of his power, Robinson Cano has come out this season and is one of the leaders in the major leagues in power hitting so far. Last night Cano went 3 – 5 with 2 R, 1 HR and 4 RBI and he now leads the AL in HR’s with 6 and is second in RBI with 14. Surprisingly it’s Cano’s average that is lacking right now, sitting at .246 right now. You hope he isn’t sacrificing the average to try and get the power numbers back up, but I think it evens out soon enough and we see him steadily rise to what we expect from him.
5) Matt Wisler Pitches Well, But Is Outdone By Clayton Kershaw
It was a fantastic outing from Matt Wisler against the Dodgers last night as he went 6.2 IP with a line of 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB and 6 K. Unfortunately for Wisler his counterpart Clayton Kershaw went eight innings of one run ball and struck out 10 while the Braves bullpen allowed the game winning run. Still, despite not getting a win this was a big outing for a 23 year old starting pitcher who has had a lot of ups and downs early in his career. Wisler has had some good moments so far this season, going at least six innings in each of his starts so far and he has 16 K’s in 20 IP. Still I have a hard time buying in fully at this point because he has been so up and down throughout his career, even in the minor leagues.
6) Is This Some Kind of Career Resurgence for Ricky Nolasco?
The Minnesota Twins haven’t had a whole lot of bright spots so far this season, but Ricky Nolasco has been one so far. In two seasons in Minnesota, Nolasco has been terrible both seasons, but still found his way into the rotation again this season and has been surprisingly good all the sudden. Last night Nolasco shut down the Brewers with a line of 6.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB and 7 K. This is the third start in a row of at least 6+ innings, something he did just once in his eight starts last season. Suddenly Nolasco isn’t as hittable and has actual control on his pitches. Nolasco is 33 and I have a hard time trusting that he’s really turned this corner again, but we’ll see how it plays out. Outside of deep leagues I wouldn’t get too invested just yet.
7) Production Continues to Come at the Top From Joey Rickard
The Orioles seem to have struck a little gold with Joey Rickard, a 24 year old rookie, as their leadoff hitter. Rickard went 3 – 5 last night with 2 R and 1 SB. In 14 games now Rickard has hit safely in all but one of them and in that one he still get on-base through a walk. Surprisingly the counting numbers haven’t been rolling in with just seven runs and four runs batted in so far, but some of that may have to do with the early ineffectiveness of Adam Jones and Chris Davis which should turn around. I think we’ll see the runs start adding up soon and he should also approach the 15 – 20 stolen base range.
8) The Strikeouts Keep Piling Up for Rich Hill
Another outing where Rich Hill went out and just kept throwing the ball past people. Hill went six innings for Oakland and allowed two runs, just one earned, and he struck out 10 in the game. This is now the second time this season already reaching double digit K’s and he has 29 K’s in 19 IP, good enough for second most K’s in the American League right now. The control has been spotty, nine walks so far, but at 36 Hill clearly still has something to give fantasy owners. The biggest key might just be staying healthy and not wearing down as Hill hasn’t started double digit games in a season since 2009 and even then he only had 13. For now though you can’t ignore these strikeouts and he has to be added to most teams.
9) Is Ian Desmond Finally Breakout Out Of His Slump?
For the owners who have been patient with Ian Desmond so far and have been waiting for his bat to come around last night was a good sign. Desmond went 2 – 4 last night with 2 R, 1 HR and 3 RBI. This was Desmond’s first homerun of the season and he also knocked in more runs last night than he had the rest of the season combined. One odd thing is that Desmond has still been scoring lots of runs despite his poor offensive output, he now has 11 runs scored, despite only having nine hits total. So if he can get going, the numbers are going to start adding up. Desmond got off to a slow start last season and eventually started turning it around, hopefully that’s what we’re seeing now.
10) The Bat of Colby Rasmus Stays Hot
Colby Rasmus kept his bat rolling last night when he went 2 – 3 at the plate with a pair of HR’s and three runs batted in. This now gives Rasmus five HR’s and 11 RBI, both of those top 10 in the American League so far. It also raises his batting average to .311 and even more impressively his OBP to .467 as he has 14 walks so far. Rasmus is actually second in the AL in OPS right now. He’s still striking out at about a 25% clip which is too high, but it looks like he might be trying to be more than just a homerun hitter. Rasmus is actually still available to be owned in about 35% of ESPN leagues and if he’s available in your league you should jump on him.