by Will Overton
While everyone seems caught up and fixated on the start of football season, baseball is still going strong and nothing is better than September baseball. There was a lot of great action yesterday to talk about from yesterday. We saw some big time prospects look to be on the verge of breakouts. We also had veterans like Adrian Beltre showing they have plenty of life left too. We’ll cover all of that and more in the 10 stories of the day:
1) Madison Bumgarner Wins A Dual Of Cy Young Candidates Over Jake Arrieta
There is little room for error in a game featuring two guys as good as Madison Bumgarner and Jake Arrieta. Yesterday the only real difference was that the Cubs let a run score on an error, giving Arrieta a third run allowed, though only two earned like Bumgarner. Both pitchers went six innings and Bumgarner allowed five base runners and Arrieta allowed six. Bumgarner’s 10 strikeouts topped Arrieta’s seven though. The NL is loaded with talented pitchers, but Bumgarner may just be the best of the bunch this season and this definitely helps his Cy Young chances.
2) Father Time Not Catching Up To Adrian Beltre At All
Adrian Beltre may be 37 years old, but he isn’t showing signs of his age yet. Oddly enough, his numbers are only getting better as the season wears on which you wouldn’t expect. Beltre was 3 – 5 last night with a couple runs scored and a solo Home Run. Beltre now has five HR’s in his last nine games, and he looks ready to follow up his nine HR August with a big September too. Beltre has 26 HR’s and 90 RBI now, and at 37 he’s looking at a real good chance for another 30 HR and 100 RBI season which no one predicted in the preseason.
3) The Strong Second Half Of Billy Hamilton Continues
Billy Hamilton had another solid game last night, and we’re starting to see that at just 25 years old, Hamilton still has time to fill in some of these holes in his game. Last night Hamilton kept his big second half rolling with a 2 – 4 game, drawing a walk, scoring three runs and swiping a base. In the second half of the season Hamilton is hitting .295 with 32 R and 36 SB. Hamilton is showing more plate patience, which has earned him the chance to be the everyday leadoff hitter. If Hamilton could put together a season with a .270 AVG and a .340 OBP the numbers of runs scored and stolen bases he could end up with is incredible.
4) Ups and Downs Continue For Blake Snell
It’s been a really weird rookie season for Blake Snell who has had a lot of ups and downs along the way. Things have been especially rough lately, but Snell bounced back nicely last night. Taking on the Blue Jays potent offense, Snell handled them fairly easily with a six inning game, surrendering just one run on two hits and two walks, striking out seven. There is obviously tremendous upside in Snell’s future, and when he keeps the walks down he is extremely solid. Snell is just 23 and so the ups and down are expected, but it’s going to even out soon enough and I think Snell ends up in the elite tier someday.
5) Coco Crisp’s Return To Cleveland Starts Out Well
Without much time to spare the Indians were able to nab Coco Crisp from the A’s before September 1 and he made his re-debut for the team last night. Crisp was the team’s DH and leadoff hitter last night and he went 3 – 5 with three runs scored. Crisp was having some struggles in Oakland with a .234 average, but he still had 11 HR’s and 7 SB’s coming to Cleveland. It remains to be seen how often he will start, so taking a wait and see approach makes sense. That said, if he’s playing at least two out of three games and hitting leadoff he’s got value.
6) Are We Witnessing The Long Waited For Kevin Gausman Break Out?
For the third game in a row Kevin Gausman went through a start without allowing a single run to score. Last night it was six scoreless innings against the Yankees, the same team he held scoreless last time. Gausman allowed two hits and two walks and he struck out eight. Gausman has not allowed a run now in 19 straight innings, and in those 19 innings he’s allowed 15 H and 4 BB and struck out 19. Gausman has these moments where he looks like he’s one of the best pitchers in baseball, then he drops off for a few starts. We know Gausman has all kinds of talent and so this could be the run that sparks his breakout, but there’s not guarantee.
7) The Move To The National League Has Worked Wonders For Ivan Nova
Last night was Ivan Nova’s sixth start since being dealt to the Pittsburgh Pirates and he was great once again. Nova allowed two runs to the Brewers in six innings last night on five hits and a walk, striking out six. Nova now has a 2.89 ERA in his six starts for Pittsburgh, and while it’s not great, his 6.8 K/9 is decent enough to go with that sub 3.00 ERA. Nova has been getting even better in his most recent starts with just four runs allowed in his last 21 IP over three starts, with 16 K’s and only 2 BB’s. Nova has become worth a roster in most formats at this point.
8) Adonis Garcia Looking For A Strong Finish To The Season
It’s not easy to rack up numbers for a guy in Atlanta’s offense, but Adonis Garcia is making it happen right now. Garcia went 2 – 4 last night with 3 R, 2 HR and 3 RBI, and this was his fifth straight multi-hit game. Garcia is now 11 for his last 22 and has 9 R, 2 HR and 6 RBI in these five games. Garcia clearly can’t keep up this pace, and we do know that the Braves offense leaves a little to be desired in production. Garcia is as hot of a hand as you’ll find right now and with a few weeks to go riding the hot hand is a good strategy. Not sure how much long term upside is here, but he has value at this moment and that’s what matters.
9) Apparently, Byron Buxton Is Ready To Turn It On Now
After multiple call-ups and failed attempts to stick in Minnesota for long, Byron Buxton is getting another shot now and apparently looking to make good on it. Buxton was a September call-up and has started all three games since coming up. Last night Buxton went 3 – 4 with 2 R, 2 2B, 1 HR and 2 RBI. Buxton is 6 – 10 in these three games with 5 R, 2 HR and 5 RBI, the most impressive stretch of games he’s ever put up at the big league level. Buxton is only 22 so it’s not like anyone was writing him off as a bust yet, but there are questions out there about whether he can stick. If he can turn these three games into a big month it’ll go a long way towards putting any doubters behind him.
10) Rich Hill Finally Great Again For The Dodgers Last Night
The Dodgers have had Rich Hill on their team for five weeks and last night he made just his second start for them. Hill has been dealing with blisters and made his first start for LA on August 24th and finally made his second one last night. Hill is so good when he is on the mound though. Last night he held the Padres scoreless for six innings, allowing only one hit and striking out eight. Last time he pitched he held the Giants scoreless for innings too. For the season Hill has a remarkable 1.94 ERA and 1.03 WHIP with 101 K’s in 88 IP. You can’t help, but wonder what Hill’s numbers would be like if he was able to pitch more, but you take what you get. When he is healthy and he is taking the mound, he has to be in your lineup though, period.