by Will Overton
There are less than two weeks to go in the season now and every game and at-bat matters for fantasy owners chasing that title. We here at Rotoprofessor are staying with you right down to the very end of the year breaking down all the baseball action. Right now we have the top 10 storylines from last night including some big power performances from veterans and rookies alike:
1) Two Find The Seats For Matt Kemp
Things got off to a little bit of a slow start for Matt Kemp after being traded to the Atlanta Braves, but they have certainly been picking up here in September. Last night Kemp went 2 – 4 with a pair of HR’s and three runs batted in. Kemp is hitting .361 so far in September with 7 HR’s and 18 RBI and he is now 4th in the NL in HR’s and 2nd in RBI. Until about halfway through last season it looked as though Kemp was done as an elite outfield option, but that isn’t the case anymore. The Braves offense is pretty terrible, but it hasn’t really slowed down the production of Kemp.
2) The Future Can Be Very Bright For Blake Snell, But There Is Work To Be Done
This season has been a really mixed bag of positives and negatives for Blake Snell. After allowing seven runs in seven innings over his last two starts Snell rebounded last night against the Yankees. Snell held the Yankees scoreless over five innings of work, allowing five hits and three walks, striking out six. Last night was an example of what Snell’s season has looked like. He gets himself in a lot of trouble, but he seems to work his way out of it. This is how Snell has a 3.65 ERA despite his unsightly 1.64 WHIP. Snell has walked 5.2 per nine innings which is really terrible, but his 9.8 K/9 rate is helping balance that out and keep him from giving up more runs. Snell is just 23 and his future is bright, but he needs to bring these walks down or else he won’t get so lucky next season.
3) The Second Half Success Of Chase Anderson Continues
While he was pulled a little bit early, Chase Anderson posted another solid stat line last night. Anderson only allowed one run to score against the Pirates over 5.2 IP, allowing four hits and one walk, striking out six. In the month of September Anderson has an ERA of 1.21 with a 1.03 WHIP over four starts. Since the all-star break Anderson has an ERA 2.81 and his 51 K’s in 60.2 IP is even an improvement with a 7.6 K/9 rate which is definitely an increase. I liked Anderson as a preseason sleeper and it didn’t work out in the first half, but with the way he is finishing this season I may be back on him in the spring of next year too.
4) Albert Pujols’ Power Is As Good As Ever
It’s clear that Albert Pujols has lost a bit in overall talent level, but the power is still alive and well in the bat of Pujols. Against the Astros last night Pujols went 2 – 4 with 1 R, 1 HR and 2 RBI. This brings Pujols season total in HR to 31, reaching 30 HR’s for an incredible 14th time in his career. The RBI totals are even more impressive as Pujols no sits at 116 with over a week to play still. Pujols has only driven in 120 or more once since 2006, but he almost seems like a lock to get there this season at the age of 36. Age really is just a number to some guys.
5) Despite The Loss, Mike Fiers Pitches A Great Game
While Mike Fiers may have been outpitched by Ricky Nolasco ( 7 IP, 0 R), it doesn’t make his start any less impressive. Fiers surrendered two runs on four hits and three walks over the course of 6.1 IP, striking out nine batters along the way. This is the second great start in a row for Fiers who has just the two runs in his last 12.1 IP. Fiers has been up and down all season, and ultimately proving to be just a streaming option this season. The biggest disappointment may be his lack of strikeouts too. Fiers had a K/9 rate over 9.0 over the course of his career coming into this season, so his 7.1 K/9 rate this season is definitely a bummer. Fiers next, and likely last, start of the season is against the Mariners and he could be a useful option in that outing with the way he has pitched these last two times out.
6) Yet Another Home Run Hit By Carlos Santana
The Cleveland Indians are determined to not give an inch in their hunt for the division title and playoffs. A big part of that has been Carlos Santana who has been hitting with some real pop of late. Santana went 2 – 3 last night with 1 R, 1 HR and 4 RBI, also drawing a walk. In his last four games now Santana is 9 – 16 with three HR’s as well as five runs scored and seven runs batted in. Santana has already surpassed his season high in HR and looks to keep on adding to it, and he may still yet pass his season high in R and RBI too. This is the kind of return fantasy owners have been hoping for and at a supreme value considering Santana was often chosen well after pick 100 in drafts this last year.
7) Instant Impact: Trey Mancini Not Wasting Time Showing Off For Fantasy Owners
If you are still locked into a tight race for HR’s in your fantasy league, one guy worth watching may just be Trey Mancini. Last night Mancini went 2 – 3 with a 3-Run HR hit. This was the second start in three days for Mancini since his call-up and in both games started he has gone yard. We knew Mancini had power, but it’s a bit of a surprise to see it on display this strongly this soon. The Orioles are fighting for their playoff life right now and if they make the choice to stick with the hot hand and keep using Mancini at DH he could be a nice fantasy option to end the season.
8) In A Must Win Game Justin Verlander Shows Up
The Tigers needed vintage Justin Verlander last night and they got him. Verlander allowed two runs to score over six innings, allowing four hits and two walks, and Verlander racked up 11 strikeouts. This is the second time in four starts that Verlander has notched 11 K’s and in his last six starts he hasn’t struck out fewer than seven in any one game. Verlander now also has an incredible run of 13 quality starts in his last 14 games and a 2.13 ERA in the second half. On top of that Verlander also has a 10.7 K/9 rate in the second half as well. Verlander’s struggles continue to be keeping the ball in the park, he allowed two HR’s last night, but his strikeouts and overall numbers have him back in the discussion for elite pitchers.
9) Yasmani Grandal Feeling The Power
In the seventh inning of last night’s game Yasmani Grandal broke the game open when he hit a grand slam. He then followed that up an inning later with another HR, a solo shot this time. In total last night Grandal went 4 – 4 and drove in the five runs. The power has been the name of the game for Grandal all season and it’s what has kept him fantasy relevant, despite a less stellar .231 batting average. After the two bombs last night Grandal has 27 HR’s for the season in just 373 AB’s, good for a AB/HR ratio of 13,8 which is one of the best in the whole league. This is also what will keep Grandal fantasy relevant going forward because this kind of power isn’t easy to find, especially at catcher.
10) A Dominant Jeff Samardzja Wins Pitching Dual With Christian Friedrich
Going into the seventh inning last night it didn’t look like either starting pitcher was going to back down, but it was in the seventh that Christian Friedrich finally let his guard down and allowed a pair of runs to score. Meanwhile, Jeff Samardzja kept his scoreless run going through the seventh inning, ending his night with just four hits scattered over seven innings, no walks and nine strikeouts in route to winning his 12th game of the year. Samardzja has made some clear gains by going back to the National League, and while there have been ups and down along the way he has re-emerged as a guy fantasy owners can actually use in almost any format again. It’s particularly good to see him get his strikeout rate going like he did last night as his ratio has been a little bit down this year.