by Will Overton
While we are halfway through the month of August we can take a look at who have been some of the better second half performers so far and what their performances mean going forward. That’s what we are doing in several of these top stories as we analyze the recent hot streaks of guys like Chris Archer and Adrian Gonzalez who were so bad in the first half. Here are the top 10 stories of the night:
1) Better Late Than Never: Chris Archer Finally Rolling
In what may have been his best start of the season, Chris Archer shut the San Diego Padres down last night. Archer held the Padres scoreless for 7.1 innings, allowing four hits and a walk, striking out nine. Archer has a 2.72 ERA in his last six starts with five quality starts and at least six innings of work in all of those outings. Archer also continues to be one of the best strikeout pitchers in all of baseball with 50 K’s in 39.2 IP. Archer has had his share of struggles this season and even with a strong finish the overall season will be disappointing, but going forward into next season he could still be looking like a top 20 pitcher.
2) The Long Balls Keep Coming From Brad Miller
Every year there is a guy with a big second half who helps fantasy owners to a title. Brad Miller might be the guy this year, as six weeks ago he was on the waiver wire in almost all leagues and now he’s a HR hitting machine. Miller went 3 – 4 last night and hit a HR, driving in two runs. Miller now has five HR’s in his last five games, and he has a total of 15 since the start of July. In fact, just in the last three weeks alone he has 10 long balls. Miller is owned in almost all league formats now, but it’s amazing to see how in just six weeks time he has gone from fringe fantasy guy to a must own and a very interesting name to watch the rest of this season and going forward.
3) The First HR Hit As A Blue Jay From Melvin Upton Jr.
After a slow start to the beginning of his Toronto Blue Jays career, Melvin Upton Jr has started putting it together now. After getting multiple hits just once in his first 16 games with the Jays, Upton picked up two hits last night for the third time in four games. Upton went 2 – 3 in the game with 2 R, 1 HR and 3 RBI. Slowly but surely Upton is starting to show some fantasy value again finally and as he starts to get hot he could help fantasy teams out down the stretch.
4) An Unexpected Pitching Duel Between Yordano Ventura and Anibal Sanchez
Neither pitcher was able to get a decision and ultimately it was the Tigers bullpen that blew the game, but Yordano Ventura and Anibal Sanchez put on a great performance last night. A surprising one as well considering how disappointing both guys have been this season. Ventura finished with a line of 6.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 2 BB and 7 K. This is now eight straight starts for Ventura allowing three runs or fewer with a 3.12 ERA in these eight starts. Meanwhile, Sanchez carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning, finishing the game with just one hit allowed over seven, walking two and striking out eight. Sanchez got roughed up last time out, but this is now three starts in four games with one run or fewer allowed and we’re at least getting glimpses of the old Anibal finally. Ventura is the safer add of the two, but also the higher owned guy. Sanchez is a gamble, but the reward could be pretty big.
5) Could A Hot Bat From Tony Wolters Win Him More AB’s?
The expectations from an offensive standpoint weren’t real high for Tony Wolters when he left the Indians for the Rockies. It may be his bat that earns him some more playing time though. Wolters went 3 – 4 last night with 2 R, 1 HR and 2 RBI. He is now 8 – 12 in his last three starts and has homered in back to back starts. Wolters isn’t known as a power hitter, but we know that Coors Field can have a certain effect on hitters. On average Wolters is starting about once every three games, but that could change down the stretch run. Nick Hundley isn’t doing anything all that impressive and the Rockies know well what they have with him while they may want to figure out just what Wolters upside could be.
6) Once Again, The Good Version Of Carlos Martinez Is Really Good
When Carlos Martinez is going well he can be one of the more dominant pitchers in fantasy baseball. Martinez was dominant last night against the Astros, allowing one run on three hits over seven innings. Martinez walked just one and struck out seven. Up to this point Martinez has been a bit off since the all-star break, but this is a good reminder of what he is capable of. Martinez has been struggling to get strikeouts lately as well, so his seven in seven innings last night is a nice sign too. Fantasy owners are certainly hoping this is the start of a strong finish for Martinez.
7) Where Is The Ceiling For Jackie Bradley Jr’s Future?
Some thought Jackie Bradley Jr was just a fluke when he was on his big hit streak earlier this season, but he has continued to have solid value. Last night Bradley went 2 – 3 with 2 R, 1 HR and 4 RBI. In the last four games Bradley has hit three HR’s and driven in eight runs and suddenly what had been a poor month of August has started to turn around. Last night’s HR gives Bradley 20 for the season and he should be able to approach 25 before the end of the season, Bradley also has 70 runs batted in and 71 scored, which means he should hit 90 – 100 in both categories. Is this just a career year or are we just scratching the surface of what Bradley can do? I do believe he is capable of 30-100-100-10 seasons going forward and I see his ceiling as a top 10 outfielder in fantasy.
8) Two HR’s Hit From Adrian Gonzalez
The hitting streak of Adrian Gonzalez continues in style last night. Gonzalez was 2 – 4 at the plate last night with a pair of HR’s and a total of five runs batted in. This now runs Gonzalez hit streak to 10 games and it’s nice to see the power mixed in now too. Gonzalez batting average has been steadily rising since the start of July, but the power just hasn’t been coming around. With the first baseman seemingly hitting his stride at the plate it would be nice to see a bit of a power surge starting last night and going forward.
9) A Healthy Yu Darvish Is One Of The Game’s Best Starters
When discussing elite starts in baseball and fantasy baseball, Yu Darvish name doesn’t come up, but that’s only because he struggles to stay healthy. When Darvish is healthy he is absolutely in that discussion of the elite. Last night Darvish posted a line of 7 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 1 BB and 9 K, picking up a win for the second start in a row. Since his most recent DL stint ended Darvish has an ERA of 2.70 in seven starts and an 11.8 K/9 ratio, numbers that could rival any other starter in the league in that span of time. There’s no way of knowing how long Darvish will stay healthy, but as long as he’s taking the mound he is elite.
10) Is Lonnie Chisenhall Still A Valuable Fantasy Asset?
It looked like the luck of Lonnie Chisenhall had run out after some pretty rough games in the month of August, but there continue to be random flashes of success. Chisenhall went 3 – 5 at the dish last night with a HR and three runs batted in. Chisenhall now has nine RBI in his last four games started and once again we are have to recognize Chisenhall as a guy who can help fantasy teams. Chisenhall has begun to be dropped in a lot of leagues, but that should change now. While there will be ups and downs on the road to the end of the season, I think the numbers continue to show up even if they come in streaks.