by Ray Kuhn
Monday was a busy day around baseball. Aroldis Chapman is now a Cub, the Blue Jays are closing in on Melvin Upton Jr, and we saw two top prospects make their debuts; Alex Bregman (hitless) and David Dahl (1 for 4). As July draws to a close, there were also 10 games that were played and filled fantasy implications. Let’s take a look at some of the performances that stood out from the night in baseball.
1) Is There Something Wrong with Jake Arrieta?
There is pitching well, and then there is what Arrieta did last season and in the first few months of this season. The level of dominance we saw from Arrieta is not something we see often or for that long of a time. On Monday, the Cubs lost on the day Arrieta took the mound for the fourth straight time and they are 3-7 in his last 10 starts. This is on the heels of winning 23 of his starts in a row. Things were going just fine for Arrieta, one run in 5.2 innings, until Todd Frazier hit a three run blast. Arrieta’s ERA now sits at 2.76 for the season. After posting BABIP’s of .188 in April and .235 in May, those marks have jumped to .319 for June and July. Not to take away from Arrieta’s success last season, but he did benefit from a .246 BABIP. There is a lot more to success than that, but we shouldn’t expect the level of success we saw from Arrieta during the 23 game streak.
2) Alex Dickerson Was San Diego’s Offense
Based on San Diego has been going this season, that doesn’t mean much, but the fifth spot in the order looks to belong to Dickerson. With Upton just about 100% on the move, Dickerson stands ready to take advantage of the available playing time. Last night, he went 3 for 4 (a triple away from the cycle) and drove in both San Diego runs. In 72 at bats with the Padres this season, Dickerson is hitting .280 with four home runs and 13 RBI after hitting .382 in 62 games in Triple-A with 10 home runs and 51 RBI.
3) Justin Verlander Picks Up the Victory
Verlander continued the success he has been having this season as he picked up his 10th victory of the season last night. It was a much better start for Boston’s new addition, Drew Pomeranz (six innings, two earned runs), but Verlander was just slightly better. The right-hander limited Boston to just one run in six innings on five hits and two walks while striking out five. Verlander’s ERA for the season dropped to 3.64, and over his last seven starts it’s 3.18. With 144 strikeouts in 138.1 innings and a WHIP of 1..08, this is more in line with the Verlander we became accustomed to seeing.
4) It Was a Stringy Night for Jeremy Hellickson
It took a little while for the Phillies’ bats to get going last night, but you shouldn’t discount Hellickson’s start just because he didn’t get a win. Hellickson limited the Marlins to just one hit and one walk in six innings of work, but he also struck out just one batter. Sometimes it’s easy to forget, given some of his recent struggles, that Hellickson is still just 29 and that for off from being a highly regarded prospect. In his last seven starts, Hellickson has put up just a 2.20 ERA and 0.84 WHIP (his marks for the season are 3.65 and 1.12), and he could be an interesting pitcher to watch down the stretch.
5) Braden Shipley Did Not Have a Good Debut
It is clear that this is a lost season for the Diamondbacks. After the moves they made this past off-season, I wouldn’t call it rebuilding though. However, at this point it makes sense to give some young players a chance to show what they can do while the team plays out the string. Shipley got that call on Monday after he had a 3.70 ERA in 19 starts this season in Triple-A. I wouldn’t necessarily call Shipley a top prospect, but he is a young pitcher with some potential. However, the Brewers didn’t exactly give him a kind welcome to the majors as they got to him for six runs on eight hits and four walks in 5.1 innings. Milwaukee also hit three home runs as they piled on in the fifth inning to chase Shipley. I would wait before buying on Shipley.
6) Adrian Beltre Wouldn’t Let Texas Lose
Beltre went deep twice on Monday, and both were timely home runs. In the seventh inning, Beltre brought the Rangers to within one run on a solo blast, and then he ended things in the ninth inning. With Texas trailing by a run, Beltre hit a two run shot to give the Rangers an walk-off victory. Belre is simply showing no signs of slowing down as he is up to 16 home runs and 63 RBI this season with a .281 average.
7) Michael Pineda Shuts Down the Astros
We know Pineda has good stuff and is a talented pitcher. Pineda also has shown that he is capable of having success. The problem though, is that he just doesn’t do it often enough. Last night though, he had no problems dispatching the Astros. Pineda picked up just his fifth victory of the season with seven strong innings in which he limited Houston to just one run on five hits and two walks. Aside from a lead-off home run by George Springer, Pineda was in control the rest of the night as he struck out eight batters. Based on his inability to repeat them, it’s performances like this that also frustrate fantasy owners.
8) Albert Pujols Has a Big Day
There is no mistaking that Pujols is on the decline, but that doesn’t mean he is no longer useful from a fantasy perspective. Instead, you just need to adjust your expectations. In fact, if you look past the .254 batting average, it is difficult to argue with Pujols’ production. He went 3 for 4 on Monday, all singles, and drove in four runs to raise his RBI total for the season to 76.
9) Jay Bruce Shows Some Power
By this time next week, Bruce will likely not be calling Cincinnati home, but he is not letting the rumors effect him. Bruce went deep twice last night, both two run shots, and is now up to 23 home runs on the season to go along with 77 RBI. His .272 average is the best we have seen out of him since he hit .281 in 2010, and he is just three home runs and 10 RBI away from matching his totals from last season.
10) Brandon Belt Produces from the Sixth Spot
Based on the slump Belt has been in over his past 15 games, .207 average, it says a lot about his previous performance that he is batting .284 on the season. In an effort to get him going, Bruce Bochy moved Belt down to sixth in the order last night, and it seemed to have worked. Belt went 3 for 4 with a home run and two RBI as he looks to get back on track. What is slightly concerning, is that while Belt is hitting .217 in July, his BABIP hasn’t seen the same dip (.341) although it is .211 since the All-Star break. I wouldn’t be concerned about Belt’s slump and would look at him as a buy low candidate.