by Will Overton
The trade deadline is looming and that seems to be consuming all the talk right now in fantasy circles. However, there is still baseball being played and there was a lot of fantasy noteworthy happenings last night. If you were to caught up refreshing the rumor mills, let me catch you up on what went down last night:
1) The Orioles Get A Promising Start From Dylan Bundy
It sounds like the Baltimore Orioles are pretty well committed to rolling with Dylan Bundy in their rotation. Last night was the second start for Bundy since being moved to the rotation from the bullpen, and this was much better than his 4 runs in 3.1 IP outing. Bundy held the Indians to just one run scored in five innings, allowing five hits and striking out five as well. Bundy was doing very well out of the pen and so it was encouraging to see him put his first start behind him and look strong here. The Orioles have noted that Bundy will be on some form of inning restriction and so we may not see him go very deep into games, which could hurt his fantasy value somewhat. I like the upside of Bundy and he does hold value as a pickup is most formats.
2) Two More Home Runs From The Red Hot Matt Kemp
Matt Kemp kept his hit streak going, running it to seven yesterday and once again home runs were a big part of it. Kemp picked up two hits and both were long balls. Kemp now has six HR’s in his last six games, and these two weren’t solo shots like the others thankfully, as Kemp drove in four runs yesterday. The Padres offense is super shallow on talent, but Kemp is still on pace for a big year personally and with 22 HR’s now, he should be able to reach 30 for the first time since 2011. Kemp is notoriously a second half hitter and he’s off to a hot start again this time.
3) The Phillies Have Yet Another Young Starter Emerging On The Scene
The Phillies aren’t necessarily having a great season or anything, but there’s a lot to like for their fans, especially when it comes to the success their young pitchers have had. Another one has come on the scene in the last month with Zach Elfin. Last night Elfin threw a complete game shutout against the Pirates, allowing just three hits and no walks, striking out six. This is six straight quality start for Elfin now and it’s his second complete game already. Elfin isn’t a big strikeout pitcher, just 26 K’s in 50.1 IP, but he’s highly efficient, he threw just 100 pitches last night, and doesn’t really walk many batters at all. Elfin’s fantasy value is hurt by his lack of strikeouts, but his consistent quality is enough to earn him a look in deeper leagues.
4) If James Paxton Were More Consistent He Could Be Great
Going into Toronto and shutting down the Blue Jays offense is no easy task, but that’s exactly what James Paxton did last night. Paxton worked seven innings of one run ball, allowing three hits and a walk, striking out nine. Paxton will come out and show us how good his stuff can be with outings like this, but then there’s the fact that he has only struck out five in his previous 18.2 IP. Paxton has a lot of potential and I want to buy into him as a fantasy asset, but I can’t do it in standard leagues because of the inconsistency. Deeper leagues, 12 teams or more, are a different story and Paxton’s potential is more valuable there.
5) Another Three Stolen Base Game For Billy Hamilton Who Appears To Be Heating Up
Billy Hamilton is one of the more frustrating guys to own in fantasy baseball because you need to own him with his stolen base upside, but the fact that he doesn’t do much else is maddening. Hamilton had one of those big fantasy games last night where he went 2 – 4 with 1 BB and also 2 R and 3 SB. This is the second time in four games that Hamilton has recorded three steals in a game and he has eight steals total in his last seven games. Hamilton is also 11 for his last 30 at the plate with three walks in that time. Hamilton has worked his way back into the leadoff spot for the Reds which should help his value further, but he’s still only valuable for steals at this point.
6) Kyle Gibson Stifles The Boston Red Sox In A Surprising Performance
We talked about how the mighty Blue Jays were shut down last night, but Kyle Gibson handling the Red Sox in Boston may be more surprising. Gibson gave up just two hits in eight innings and only one run, a solo homerun. Gibson also struck out six in the start. It’s been a rough season overall for Gibson, but he is starting to put it together now. Gibson has an ERA of 3.60 in his last seven outings and also a 7.6 K/9 rate in that seven start stretch. Gibson has shown to be a decent pitcher the last two years with the potential to be even better, but he’s yet to put it together. I think Gibson still falls in the category with James Paxton as a deeper league guy with potential to be even better.
7) Returning From The DL In Style, Dexter Fowler Racks Up Three Hits
After sitting on the DL for the last month with a hamstring injury, Dexter Fowler returned last night to beat up on the Brewers. Fowler went 3 – 4 last night with 2 R, 1 HR and 3 RBI, picking up where he left off. We can nitpick and point out that Fowler hasn’t been stealing as many bases this season as we’d like, but he’s doing a little of everything. A lot of the value also comes with his hitting leadoff for one of the best offenses in all of baseball too. Fowler’s ability to contribute in every category makes him very valuable even if he doesn’t blow up just one category.
8) Things Have Clearly Turned Around For Lance McCullers
After starting the season on the DL for six weeks and then starting out a bit slow afterwards McCullers was dropped in a high percentage of leagues. McCullers has been rolling lately though and he was really on his game last night. McCullers went eight innings last night and allowed only one run on four hits, though he did walk four he also struck out 10. McCullers has brought his ERA all the way down to 3.33 now and he also has 90 K’s in 70.1 IP as well which is an incredible 11.5 K/9 rate. McCullers is only owned in just over 50% of leagues on ESPN and he should be owned in a whole lot more than that.
9) Jake Odorizzi and Sean Manaea Lock Horns In A Strong Pitching Dual
The game between the Rays and A’s ended up coming down to the bullpen, which is almost a shame after Jake Odorizzi and Sean Manaea both pitched eight scoreless innings. Odorizzi gave up five hits and struck out five, while Manaea gave up five hits and had seven strikeouts, neither guy walked a single batter. For Odorizzi this is his second strong start in a row which is nice as he had been going through a rough patch. As for Manaea, despite his poor overall numbers, he has flashed some upside with five of his last six starts allowing two runs or fewer. Manaea is a sneaky pickup for deeper leagues.
10) Justin Morneau Hits His First Home Run As A Member Of The White Sox
The Chicago White Sox have recently added Justin Morneau to their team as their almost every day DH. Morneau started out just 1 for his first 10, but he’s picked it up the last three games and hit his first home run as a member of the White Sox team last night. Morneau is 35 and has been dealing with a lot of injury issues the last season and a half, but on the same token, the last time we saw him playing regularly he was a guy who still had the ability to be a fantasy contributor. I’m not certain how many HR’s we should expect from him, but I do think he may still push a .300 batting average and he will be hitting in the middle of the White Sox order, so there is some value there.