by Ray Kuhn
While we never start the week off with a full slate of games, there is always enough action to pique our interest from a fantasy perspective. In fact, there were 11 games across baseball last night, and all provided some level of fantasy impact. Derek Fisher went deep again as part of his five game cameo with the Astros, and as a parting gift, he was sent back down to Triple-A with the return of Josh Reddick. Before the year is out, we will see Fisher again in the majors; whether or not it is with the Astros is up for debate. Let’s take a look at some of the performances of note from last night:
1) Kluber Gets Way More Than he Needed…
All Corey Kluber needed was one run of support last night, but he got 12 from his offense. The right-hander went the distance for a complete game shutout in Baltimore last night as he picked up his sixth victory of the season. At this point, it is safe to conclude that Kluber is fully healthy and has found his groove following a DL stint earlier in the season and a slow start. Kluber limited the Orioles to just three hits as he struck out 11 and didn’t walk a batter. After last night, Kluber’s ERA now sits at 3.58, with a WHIP of 1.09, as it continues to trend in the right direction. With 80 strikeouts in 65.1 innings, Kluber is pitching at an “ace” level.
2) Some Power in Cincinnati…
No one is surprised to see Joey Votto among the home run leaders for the National League, but he has a teammate right there with him. On Monday, Scott Schebler went deep for the 19th time this season as continues to be legitimate source of power production. While his .254 batting average isn’t an asset, it also isn’t a liability, and you are there for the home runs anyway. It was a solo shot for Schebler, who also doubled for the 10th time this season on Monday, and the outfielder is now up to 37 RBI on the season. Schebler currently sports a .294 ISO and with a .244 BABIP, we could also expect to see some batting improvement this season.
3) A Comeback in Miami…
It is just one game, but perhaps last night’s effort by the Marlins will be a turning point in their season. After finding themselves in a six run whole, Miami came back with six runs in the third inning to tie the game, and they were ultimately victorious. But what we care about, is how they tied the game. And that came on one swing of the bat from power hitting first baseman Justin Bour. Bour has been on a tear as of late, and his grand slam on Monday was his 18th home run of the season. With 48 RBI and a .307 batting average, Bour is making a strong case for being part of the All-Star festivities in Miami next month. Spurred by a strong May, 11 home runs and a .344 average, Bour has kept the momentum going into June, and while he may not be a .300 for the rest of the season, I would sign up for .275 with his power production. The most important thing, is that he is batting .378 with six home runs against southpaws.
4) An Unlikely Shutout…
First, let’s qualify this by saying that San Francisco’s offense is not very good. Like look to stream pitchers against them bad. That was the case last night as R.A. Dickey shut out the Giants over seven innings. Dickey has been struggling this season, his seven innings of work brought his ERA just below five (to 4.91), but they weren’t able to get anything going at the plate. The knuckleballer scattered just three hits and one walk while striking out six and picking up his fifth victory of the season. This will likely go down as Dickey’s best start of the season, he sports a 5.70 FIP, but the true lesson here is to take advantage of the Giants’ struggles at the plate.
5) Cutch Goes Deep…
Maybe 2017 won’t prove to be a lost season for Andrew McCutchen. While he is never going to be the player he once was, McCutchen is trying to show that he isn’t completely done. And fantasy owners who either bought low or held onto the outfielder are beginning to reap the benefits. On Monday, McCutchen went 2 for 5 with three RBI and his 13th home run of the season (a two run shot). Despite his early season struggles, the outfielder is hitting .260 with 40 RBI which is relatively solid production. As his .276 BABIP continues to rise, his batting average will do so as well. After batting .200 in 45 games in the third spot of the order, moving to sixth has really gotten McCutchen going as he is batting .378 there in 22 games.
6) The Cubs Really Have a New Lead-off Hitter…
What I originally thought would be a one time thing is now going on a week, and Anthony Rizzo is settled in just fine to the top of the order. Batting there again on Monday, Rizzo picked up two more hits to raise his average to .268. One of those hits was a triple, and Rizzo also drive in his 46th run of the season. Rizzo’s batting average was due to increase regardless of where he hits in the order due to his .256 BABIP, but he has been having success starting things off for the Cubs. In six games as the lead-off hitter, Rizzo is batting .440 with three home runs and nine RBI. Despite the success, I still don’t expect this to be a permanent move, but regardless it worked at the time as it got both Rizzo and the Cubs going.
7) Smoak Keeps it Up…
Not only has Justin Smoak become a consistent power threat, but he is also hitting .300 on the season. After a 3 for 4 effort last night, that is where Smoak’s average sits. But the one hit everyone cares about, was his 20th home run of the season. After the solo shot, Smoak is up to 46 RBI on the season as he appears to be in the midst of a career season. It is a true improvement for Smoak, who always had power but never consistency, as his .295 BABIP is the same as it was last season; when he hit .217. Smoak’s power change is real, as this season his ISO is .300 while his career mark .179.
8) Merrifield Continues to Hit…
After bursting onto the scene last year, Whit Merrifield went cold pretty quickly and that was all we saw from the utility player. This season though, we are seeing more of the same from Merrifield, and you have to wonder if there is some legitimate value there. Batting lead-off on Monday, he played two positions (second base and right field) and picked up two more hits to raise his batting average to .292. Merrifield scored a run and also picked up his 25th RBI of the season; just five shy of Eric Hosmer. After a .361 BABIP last season, this season is a lot more reasonable for Merrifield as his BABIP is .311. You aren’t going to much power or speed out of him, but Merrifield does have a solid bat and some versatility, so while there isn’t much upside, there is some value.
9) Zunino Shows off the Power…
Here is the power production we thought Mike Zunino was capable of. The Mariners catcher went deep twice on Monday, both two run shots, as he spurred Seattle to victory. Zunino is now up to nine home runs and 30 RBI on the season he continues to grab more and more of the playing time behind the plate for Seattle. The strikeouts aren’t terrible, 65 in 47 games, but they also aren’t ideal. However, when you are getting power production like that from likely your second catcher, you aren’t going to complain. Plus, Zunino is hitting a respectable .257 so far this season. While the power is real, I wouldn’t expect the batting average to continue (.380 BABIP), but this is a stretch of success that should not be ignored.
10) Offense Rules for the Dodgers…
The fact that Clayton Kershaw picked up the victory should not be surprising. Nor is the fact that Kershaw struck out 10 batters. What we didn’t expect though, is that the southpaw allowed four home runs and six runs in 6.1 innings of work. It didn’t matter though as the Dodgers picked up 10 runs themselves. Clay Bellinger continued his outstanding start by going deep twice. Bellinger now has 21 home runs and 47 RBI in 51 games with a .269 batting average. Not to be outdone, Justin Turner was 4 for 4 with a walk and four RBI on Monday and he is now hitting .399 on the season.
Make sure to check out all of our updated rankings:
|First Base||June 3|
|Second Base||June 5|