by Ray Kuhn
We only have a few Sunday’s left without regular season NFL action competing with baseball, and this was one of them. The day was not without action and excitement as trading deadlines in some fantasy leagues are upon us. Let’s take a look at some of the performances that stood out from the day around the diamond.
1) Matt Wieters Helps Lead Baltimore to Victory
In case you needed some proof to expect the unexpected, the Orioles delivered on Sunday. Entering the seventh inning, Baltimore was trailing 7-1, but they still ended up victorious with Wieters playing a leading role. On the day, Wieters went 5 for 5 with two hits and two runs scored during Baltimore’s rally. The catcher finished a home run shy of the cycle, and the effort brought his disappointing batting average up to .245 on the season. While Wieters has not lived up to expectations this season, the catching position in general has been a wasteland throughout baseball, so he is still one of the better options. Entering action today, Wieters was hitting .134 over his past 30 games, so the only place he really can go from here is up.
2) Another Day, Another Gem
This is really getting to be old hat here for Michael Fulmer. It feels like in just about every recap we have, there is another dynamite start from the right-hander to discuss. Sunday was no different as Fulmer took care of business in Texas for his 10th victory of the season. Fulmer threw a complete game shutout while allowing just four hits to go along with nine strikeouts. The right-hander’s ERA is now just 2.25 with a WHIP of just 1.02. In 120 innings, Fulmer has 103 strikeouts against just 32 walks and he is showing no signs of slowing down.
3) Power is on Display in Fenway
Mookie Betts isn’t exactly known for his power, although that is not to discount that aspect of his game. Or at least entering this season that wasn’t the case for the five-tool player. For the second time this season, Betts went deep three times in the same game, and he is up to 26 already this season. Last season, Betts had 18 home runs in his rookie season with a fly ball percentage of 42.4%. In his sophomore season, Betts’ fly ball percentage has actually dropped to 38.4% but his home runs have risen thanks to a 14.2% fly ball per home run rate (compared to 8.2% last season). The good news, is that Betts’ power aspect hasn’t impacted any other parts of his game as after today’s efforts, he also added a single, his batting average is up to .313 on the season. Betts drove in eight runs on the afternoon, which gave him 84 on the season which should put him in the running for the MVP.
4) Ryan Braun Has a Big Afternoon
Perhaps lost to many, except Braun owners, the outfielder has been having quite a successful season for the rebuilding Brewers. On Sunday, Braun went 3 for 4 which included two home runs and his 19th double of the season. Braun is up to 22 long balls on the season and his six RBI Sunday brought his season up to 65. The outfielder is hitting .328 so far this season and over his last 30 games he is sporting a .345 average. In fact, this season will go down as Braun’s best season since 2012.
5) Steven Matz Flirts With History
It hasn’t been the smoothest of seasons for Matz while he is dealing with the fallout from last year’s workload and a bone chip in his pitching elbow. Pitch counts have also been an issue for Matz, but all of those problems seemed to disappear on Sunday. Matz took full advantage of facing the Padres and their weak offense and for a while it looked like history would be made at Citi Field. Through 7.1 innings, Matz held the Padres without a hit before Alexei Ramirez singled into right field. Matz was then lifted after 105 pitches and he allowed just two walks to go along with eight strikeouts. The southpaw picked up his ninth victory of the season while lowering his ERA to 3.40 on the season. It likely won’t be a smooth rest of the season for Matz, but there is no reason why there won’t be more good than bad.
6) Lorenzo Cain Goes 4 for 4
It hasn’t been the smoothest of seasons for Cain who has battled both injury and ineffectiveness. Cain has not gone deep in his past 30 games, and entering action on Sunday, he was hitting just 224 in his last 15 games. On the season though, Cain is batting a respectable .279 and his three RBI gave him 46 on the season. In reality though, Cain really isn’t that far off from his career norms, aside from the missed time.
7) There Was a Look into the Future in the Bronx
A day after Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge began their major league careers by going deep in back to back at bats, Judge kept the good times rolling on Sunday. Judge went deep for the second straight game, and despite the fact that Yankees lost, there was still more to happy about for the Yankees. Gary Sanchez, who is now up for good and receiving regular playing time, hit a two run homer for his second career blast. It is just two games into Judge’s career, but his power is real.
8) Sean Rodriguez Takes Advantage of the Start
Rodriguez is the perfect example of a utility player, and he is worth keeping an eye on when he is in the lineup. That was the case on Sunday, and Rodriguez went 3 for 4. In the first inning, Rodriguez hit a three run shot which was his 12th home run of the season in 203 at bats. Rodriguez, who later added an RBI single, has driven in 39 runs on the season. It is hard to argue with Rodriguez’s production when he is in the lineup, but his erratic playing time does limit his value to daily leagues.
9) Troy Tulowitzki Shows off His Power
If you ignore the batting average, .248, and the fact that Tulowitzki can’t seem to stay healthy, you have a pretty solid player with some fantasy value. Over his past seven games, Tulowitzki is hitting .302, and while i wouldn’t bank on that continuing, the fact that his BABIP is currently just .261 it means that there is some upside. On Sunday, Tulowitzki went 3 for 4 with his 20th home run of the season. His three RBI brought his season total up to 61 in just 330 at bats. If you are looking for some power out of the middle infield, there aren’t too many better options.
10) Jimmy Paredes Has a Three Hit Day
Here we go again. It’s time once again for Paredes to get his shot, this time with the Phillies, and go streaking. Paredes went 3 for 4 on Sunday with three RBI, a double, and his fifth home run of the season. So far this season, Paredes has gotten 115 at bats and is hitting .226 with 14 RBI. Over his last seven games, Paredes is hitting .333, but you must resist the urge to put too much stock in it. Although, there is nothing wrong with riding a Paredes hot streak if there is a minimal investment.