by Ray Kuhn
Just like that, we are off and running with a new week. There was the lone afternoon game in Philadelphia that forced fantasy owners to rush while setting their lineups for the week, followed by a decent offering of games in the evening. We had some aces take the mound, and while Stephen Strasburg’s back prevented us from having a true battle of heavyweights in Los Angeles, Clayton Kershaw lived up to his end of the bargain. Let’s take a look at some of the performances that stood out from around the league.
1) Shelby Miller Returns
The way Miller was pitching prior to going on the disabled list, I’m sure the majority of you wished he would just stay away for the rest of the season. To say that Miller has already done enough damage would be an understatement. However, if Miller pitches the way he did on Monday, then there is still enough time left for the right-hander to be an asset. But do we have confidence in him to do that? After the pain he has already caused fantasy owners, it is likely that not many had him in the lineup for yesterday’s start. We also must note that Miller’s victory came against a Phillies lineup that was less than imposing. Miller allowed just one run in 6.2 innings and struck out five batters while only walking one. The problem, is that his next start is in Coors Field, so in reality we still need two more starts before fully buying in; unless of course he repeats yesterday’s performance in Colorado (which you shouldn’t bet on).
2) Jeff Locke Out Duels Madison Bumgarner
Entering last night, Locke is generally talked about as the starting pitcher who will depart the rotation when Pittsburgh is finally ready to promote Tyler Glasnow. However, that is not the pitcher he looked like last night as he took care of business against Bumgarner. All Locke needed was a solo home run from Eric Kratz, and that was enough to ensure victory. For all of the criticism of Locke, most of it his earned, he did pick up his sixth victory of the season last night; although it also shows how frustrating it is to chase wins. Locke threw 6.2 innings of scoreless baseball to lower his ERA to 5.44 while allowing five hits and striking out three and not allowing a walk. There is still little to no fantasy value here as Locke also sports a 1.43 WHIP and has struck out just 43 batters in 82.2 innings.
3) Miguel Gonzalez Keeps Boston at Bay
Let’s stick with the pitchers here, and in Gonzalez, we have another hurler who had success against a better opponent. In this case, it was Steven Wright whose nine innings of one run ball (unearned) lowered his ERA to 2.01. The only people concerned with Gonzalez would be those in deeper leagues, or those streaming starters while chasing victories. Gonzalez has actually been respectable, within reason for the American League, since arriving in Chicago. On Monday, he limited Boston to just one run on four hits and two walks in 6.2 innings while striking out five. In Gonzalez’s last seven games, six starts, he has a 3.89 ERA and two starts ago he limited the Nationals to just one run in six innings.
4) Solo Home Runs Ruled the Day in Miami
Eight runs were scored as the Rockies defeated the Marlins by a score of 5-3, and all of the runs were courtesy of the long ball. The twist though, is that all of the home runs came with the bases empty. Mark Reynolds, who has turned into a very valuable everyday player for the Rockies, went deep twice to raise his total for the season to six. Across the diamond, Marcel Ozuna continued his success this season with two home runs which now gives him 15 on the year. Both of these performances were noteworthy, but shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise as both players have been valuable fantasy options this season. What fantasy owners hope is the start of a hot streak though, is Giancarlo Stanton’s 13th home run of the season. While his batting average for the season still hits at .216, Stanton is hitting 391 in his last seven games.
5) Justin Upton Comes Through in Detroit
Upton is known to hit in streaks, and this season he has yet to find his hot streak. Last night though, he looked like the player Detroit signed over the winter. Currently batting sixth in the order with J.D. Martinez sidelined, also meaning there is more of a need for him to step up, Upton hit a two run shot in the eighth inning and then ended things in the 12th inning with a solo blast. Upton, who also stole a base, is still at just eight home runs on the season, but his batting average is climbing. While for the season it sits at just .237, he is hitting .311 in his last 15 games, and .333 in his last seven. Your window for buying low appears to be closing quickly as five of his home runs and 19 of his 31 RBI have also come in his last 15 games.
6) Carlos Santana Goes Deep
The weather is starting to warm up, so that means Santana will likely do the same. However, if you ignore the batting average, or play in an OBP league, he hasn’t been doing too bad thus far. Santana hit his 15th home of the season last night, and also drove in another run to bring him up to 36 RBI for the season. Santana’s average, .230, really can only go up from here, and he has been hindered by his BABIP of just .214.
7) Kolten Wong, the Center Fielder
Entering the season, Wong was a popular pick as a second baseman with his power and speed combo. As often happens in this game, things did not go as expected, and Wong struggled. That meant, despite his contract, that Wong ended up on the bench and then in the minor leagues to play center field; the success of Armedys Diaz also had a little something to do with that too. After hitting .429 in seven Triple-A games, Wong is now back in St. Louis, but this time in the outfield and batting eighth. Last night, that didn’t appear to hinder Wong as he went 2 for 4 and scored a run. Wong has yet to do much at the major league level to generate any confidence, but yesterday was a step in the right direction as he is talented and worth a speculative add if you have the space.
8) Everybody Hits For Houston
When you score 10 runs, it is often a team affair. But for some members of the Astros’ offense, we are looking at you George Springer and Jose Altuve, success at the plate is a standard occurrence. For Carlos Gomez though, this has been a very trying season. On Monday, Gomez played a part in Houston’s victory by going 3 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored. That raised his average to just .222 for the season, but in his last seven games, he is hitting .429. Gomez is not nearly as bad as he has been early in the season, so get in on the ground floor here if you still can.
9) Justin Turner Goes Deep
Another player who represents a buying opportunity is Turner. His start to the season has not been a smooth one, but as of late he is finding success. Batting third for the Dodgers also helps, as Turner went deep last night for the 10th time this season. After struggling earlier in the season, the third baseman has been on a tear as of late. Seven of his 10 home runs this season have come in his last 15 games with 16 of his 32 RBI. Turner is also hitting .351 during that stretch which has made his season average of .252 look a whole lot better. Turner should no longer be on waiver wires.
10) Clayton Kershaw Dominates
Well his success has become completely expected, it is still hard to ignore, enjoyable to watch, and very much worth noting. Kershaw threw seven innings of one run ball on Monday against the Nationals while allowing six hits. He “only” struck out eight batters while picking up his 11th victory and lowering his ERA to 1.57. What Kershaw is doing this season is flat out amazing as we are quickly running out of superlatives.
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