by Ray Kuhn
There’s nothing like starting the week with one lonely matinee game. Thanks to the Red Sox and Indians, fantasy owners had to scramble to get their lineups set at lunch time. We then had nine games on the evening slate to enjoy. Let’s take a look at some of the performances that stood out.
1) Drew Pomeranz Picks up the Victory
Pomeranz got the day started off right with his ninth victory of the season in Cleveland. The southpaw’s career in Boston started off slow with 12 earned runs in 14.1 innings, but he has been just what the Red Sox expected since. So far this month, including Monday’s winning effort (7.2 innings, five hits, two runs, two walks), Pomeranz has a 2.37 ERA in 19 innings with 17 strikeouts. On the season, it brought his ERA down to 2.99 to go along with a WHIP of 1.15. Pomeranz has benefited from a BABIP of .254 thus far, but it’s been hard to argue with the overall body of work. Just don’t expect too much from Pomeranz, but the good starts should out weigh the bad.
2) The Yankees Keep on Winning
It’s not supposed to work out like this. You generally don’t trade your best players and then begin to win. But that is what we are seeing in the Bronx, as on Monday it was Chad Green who was the star. Green didn’t allow his first hit until the fifth inning, and then was able to navigate out of a jam with runners on second and third with one out. The right-hander made it through six shutout innings allowing just those two hits while striking out 11 to pick up his second victory of the season. It has been an up and down season for Green who has nine games, five starts, under his belt was spending time in Triple-A as well. The sample size is small, but look past the 4.05 ERA as his xFIP is just 2.79. Last night was Green’s first successful start, but 16 Triple-A starts the right-hander has a 1.52 this season. And in case you were wondering, Green’s margin of victory came from an Aaron Judge RBI double.
3) Alex Gordon Picks up Two Hits
In some games, there was a lack of offense on Monday, and that was the case in Detroit. However, it was a good sign for Gordon to pick up two hits and a walk while scoring a run. Gordon doubled for the 11th time this season and raised his average to .216 on the season. Things have been turning around though for the Royals’ outfielder, as entering action on Monday he was hitting .370 in his last seven games. Last night was the third straight game with two hits for Gordon who might finally be healthy and finding his stride.
4) Martin Prado Keeps on Hitting
There aren’t many less exciting, but high performing, players than Prado. The issue though, is that Prado is one-dimensional and he plays a position where power, which he doesn’t have, is in demand. Prado went 3 for 5 with an RBI on Monday to raise his average to .324 on the season. It was the 55th RBI on the season for Miami’s number two hitter who has also scored 56 runs on the season. We aren’t talking about an exciting player here, but Prado does have a very useful skill set which could come in handy down the stretch.
5) Kevin Kiermaier Shows off Both Power and Speed
It was a good day for Tampa’s offense, and Kiermaier led that charge. Out of the second spot in the order, the outfielder went 3 for 4 with a walk and stole two bases. Kiermaier went deep in the seventh inning for the seventh time this season, a three run shot. Not known for his bat as much as his glove, Kiermaier does bring some power and speed to the table, just not enough of either to really be considered a factor. However, if given more at bats (he has just 228 so far this season), it wouldn’t be a stretch for Kiermaier to be a 15/20 player. Over his past seven games, he is hitting .370, so at the very least it is something to monitor. After all, the only place for his .255 BABIP really to go, is up.
6) It’s a Grand Night for Adrian Beltre
While there are younger, perhaps more exciting options at third base, Beltre just continues to produce. On Monday, he was just 1 for 2 with walks, but that one hit was a big one. Beltre’s fifth inning grand slam put the Rangers up for good, and they never looked back. It was Beltre’s 19th home run of the season, and it also brought his RBI total up 77. He is certainly not slowing down, as over his last 30 games, Beltre is hitting .314, and that mark jumps to .356 if you look at his last 15 games (he is hitting .290 for the season). At .289, Beltre’s BABIP so far this season is coming in slightly off his career mark of .299 as he is working on his best season since 2012.
7) Robbie Ray Picks up the Victory
On Monday, Ray did not have to worry about run support. The Diamondbacks scored 10 runs in total, and when Ray officially departed, Arizona was leading 7-2. Therefore, it shouldn’t be surprising that Ray picked up his sixth victory of the season, but fantasy owners would have liked to see him pitch deeper into the game. Thanks to his pitch count, 107, Ray made it through just five innings. While he allowed just two runs, the Mets managed eight hits and two walks off Ray who also struck out five batters and lowered his ERA to 4.47. Base runners have been a problem for Ray this season as he sports a WHIP of 1.47, while it is hard to argue with his 161 strikeouts in 133 innings. However, we must not that Ray’s BABIP of .359 has worked against him as evidenced by his FIP of 3.62.
8) Bryce Harper Has a Perfect Day at the Plate
Harper has not had many of these this season, as 2016 has been a struggle at times for the outfielder. On Monday though, Harper reached base all five times he came to the plate going 3 for 3 with two doubles and two walks. It was just his second game back after missing a week with a neck issue, and Harper did at least erase any doubts about his health. On the season, Harper is hitting just .240, with a .198 mark over his last 30 games, and no home runs in his last 15. To say this is not the Harper we have grown accustomed to seeing would be an understatement, but truly the only place for him to go from here is up; his BABIP is .247 compared to his career .319. You have to assume he has hit rock bottom, and perhaps the week off will prove to have a positive benefit for him.
9) King Felix is Victorious
Statistically, there isn’t much about this season that makes it looked like a Felix Hernandez season we have grown accustomed to seeing. Last night was the second straight solid outing from the right-hander who pitched 6.2 innings of two run ball against the Angels for his seventh victory of the season. Hernandez limited the Angels to just four hits, but for the second straight start, he walked four batters while striking out eight. At this point, Hernandez’s 3.24 ERA is his worst mark since 2011 while his 1.24 WHIP is the highest we have seen it since 2008. And the scary thing, is that Hernandez has benefited from a .250 BABIP this season and his FIP of 4.49 says that things could be even worse.
10) Gregory Polanco Drives in Four
Polanco has batted all over Pittsburgh’s order so far this season, and Monday was his ninth game batting out of the eighth spot. While the sample size is small, nine games, it seems to agree with Polanco who is batting .304 from there. On Monday, he went 2 for 4 with four RBI and his 17th home run of the season, a two run shot. Polanco, who is hitting .277 on the season, has now driven in 65 runs as he continues to look like a future star.