by Simon Jones
Friday was another night where the elite performers built on their stellar 2017 campaigns with big performances from Max Scherzer, Eric Thames and Aaron Judge. Carlos Gomez, Justin Bour and Tyson Ross shone in their returns from the DL and there were rough outings for some young pitchers.
So let’s look at some of the bigger stories from Friday’s games.
1) Another Thames binge on the way….?
For the first month of the season, Eric Thames was the hottest hitter in the major leagues. Then, as the calendar turned to May, Thames transformed from one of the most valuable players into one of the least valuable. There was still the occasional homer, and he maintained an exceptional walk rate that meant his OBP stayed at a reasonable level, but a sub .200 average and few counting stats meant it was hard to keep him in your line up. The signs are that another hot spell has arrived, as Thames had his third successive game with a home run and multiple hits. Friday’s heroics saw him take Ryan Buchter deep for a 10th inning walk off shot. Suddenly Thames represents and intriguing fantasy trade target again.
2) Scherzer looking like the best pitcher in baseball….
Friday was another wonderful outing for Max Scherzer, dominating the Mets with eight innings of one-run ball, giving up only four hits and a walk. His 10 Ks represented the fifth consecutive time he’d racked up double-digit strikeouts as well as going 7+ innings. In the process, Scherzer has lowered his ERA to 2.26 and WHIP to 0.84. Scherzer’s 134 strikeouts are second only to Chris Sale across the major leagues.
3) Biagini roughed up by the White Sox….
Joe Biagini’s run of promising starts came hit a brick wall on Friday, as the White Sox chased him from the game early. Biagini lasted only one-plus innings, giving up seven runs (six earned) on eight hits and a walk. The trouble started early with a four run first inning, highlighted by a two-run Jose Abreu triple, and he was never able to get back on track. Up until last night Biagini’s transition from the bullpen had been promising with three consecutive quality starts.
4) Paxton hit hard again….
At the start of May, James Paxton appeared to be having a breakout season. He was sitting with a 1.43 ERA backed up by a 1.62 FIP, and it looked like 2017 was the year that Paxton finally put it together. However he hit the DL with a forearm strain, and despite a promising first outing on May 31st, he hasn’t looked like the same pitcher. Friday represented a low point for Paxton, as the Rangers ponded him for seven runs on seven hits and three walks, in less than four innings. In his last three outings, Paxton has coughed up 14 earned runs, compared to only six in his first seven starts. These are concerning times for Paxton owners, and the situation is worth monitoring over the next couple of starts.
5) Texas duo sharp in return….
Whilst James Paxton was struggling in Arlington, it was a different story for two returning Rangers. Tyson Ross was pitching for the first time since April 2016 and limited the mariners to two runs across 5 2/3 innings. After such a long break, it wasn’t surprising to see him issue three walks and not to go too deep into the game, but this was really encouraging. Carlos Gomez had a big night at the plate, after being out for a month with a hamstring strain. He went 2-for-4 with a home run and for RBIs. Gomez is potentially sitting on a few waiver wires, so makes an interesting grab ongoing.
6) Cain continues June onslaught….
It’s hard to know what you’ll get with Lorenzo Cain. 2015 appeared to be a long overdue breakout where he was a valuable fantasy asset and in real life, as he finished in the MVP top three. 2016 was undermined by injuries and poor results, and 2017 seemed to be going the same way, with 12 stolen bases the only saving grace in an otherwise pedestrian stat line. Fast forward two weeks or so, and Cain looks like a totally different player. Last night, he hit two home runs against the Angels, giving him four in his last three games and six in his last six. That’s eight HRs in June compared to just two up to May 31st. There’s also 16 June RBIs, compared to just 10 before. Conversely, there’s not been a single stolen base attempt in June. The hope is that this will continue, just as long as he can remain healthy and not have his season derailed again.
7) Straily blanks the Braves….
Dan Straily had his best outing of 2017 on Friday as he dominated the Braves in Atlanta. Straily allowed only four hits in 6 1/3 innings, striking out eight in the process. Straily has backed up his 2016 showing this year, but with stronger and more sustainable peripherals, posting a 3.58 ERA supported by a 9.23 K/9 and 3.74 FIP. If your league rewards wins, then Straily will always suffer and has only posted five wins in 14 starts with the Marlins this year.
8) Wood continues stellar season….
Alex Wood’s 2017 continues to get better and better, as he moved to 7-0 and he pitch eight innings of one-run ball against the Reds. Wood struck out five with no walks and now boasts a 72:15 K:BB rate across 61 2/3 innings. Wood has lowered his ERA back to 1.90 on the season, and continues to look a strong option as long as he can remain healthy.
9) Bour homers on return from DL….
Justin Bour didn’t miss a beat on his return from the DL on Friday. Bour hit a solo shot in the fourth to bring him to 17 on the season. Again it was noteworthy that this was yet another home run off a lefty – Sean Newcomb. Prior to this season, Bour hit just .223 against lefties with no home runs. In 2017, he’s hitting .357 with six home runs.
10) Judge hits league leading 23rd long ball….
It wouldn’t be a round up without an Aaron Judge update. He didn’t disappoint on Friday as he hit his 23rd homer of the year. Judge additionally hit a triple, walked twice and drove in three runs. He now holds an incredible .339/.447/.713 slash line with 23 HRs and 6 SBs.
Make sure to check out all of our updated rankings:
|First Base||June 3|
|Second Base||June 5|