by Will Overton
After a wild night on Thursday full of trade activity right up to the end of the night, the focus was back on the field last night. As we entered the last month of play there was plenty of baseball action to talk about, and we are going to break it all down here. From the rise of the old Doug Fister to the struggles of Gerrit Cole, we have it all covered in our 10 stories of the night:
1) Mike Clevinger With His Second Scoreless Outing In A Row
For the second start in a row Mike Clevinger went out and pitched six scoreless innings. The first one was against the Royals, and yesterday it was the Tigers who Clevinger took down. This is also the third scoreless outing in his last five, with two terrible starts sandwiched in between there. There have been ups and downs along the way this season, but the Indians and fantasy owners have to be happy with what they have gotten from the 26 year old who has a 3.50 ERA and a 10.2 K/9 rate. The walks are an issue (4.6 BB/9), but it seems crazy more fantasy teams haven’t caught on to the upside of Clevinger at this point as he should be owned in a lot more leagues.
2) The Power Surge of Jorge Polanco Continues
The Minnesota Twins have moved Jorge Polanco to the middle of their lineup and he’s taking the role to heart, by becoming quite the power hitter. Polanco was 2 -3 last night for the Twins, hitting a HR and driving in 3 RBI. Polanco has now hit safely in 15 of his last 16 games, and he has a remarkable 7 HR’s in his last 12 games. Polanco hit just three HR’s in the first four and a half months of the season, but he can’t stop hitting them now. Polanco’s power is going to run out soon, but he might be worth grabbing while it’s still going.
3) Gerrit Cole Struggles Against The Reds
The Cincinnati Reds got the best of Gerrit Cole last night. Cole surrendered five runs in six innings of work, allowing a total of six hits and three walks. Cole has been up and down a lot this season with moments where he looks like the elite level pitcher everyone has thought he would become. Then he goes through stretches like he’s in now where he’s allowed 14 runs in his last 25.1 IP. The promise is still there even in the struggle, with 28 K’s in these last 25.1 IP as well. I don’t think you should drop Cole or anything, but you have to ride the waves he carries you on which can be a struggle.
4) Despite The White Sox Losing, Reynaldo Lopez Has Promising Outing
The White Sox are loaded with promising young players, and 23 year old Reynaldo Lopez is one of them and he is getting a late season job interview to see how ready he is for the big show. Lopez last outing was a rough one, but he bounced back nicely last night. Lopez finished the night with a line of 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 BB and 7 K. After allowing seven walks in his first 10.1 IP in the bigs, it was nice to see him show some control tonight. Lopez showed us he has the upside tonight, but I think he’s likely just a streaming option in redraft leagues the rest of this season.
5) Have We Been Witnessing The Rise Of Jimmy Nelson?
There have certainly been rough moments this season at times, but overall we’ve seen Jimmy Nelson go from a fringe starter in 12 team leagues to a must own guy in all formats, finally living up to the promise he’s always had. Last night might have been the best we’ve seen yet as he completely dominated one of the league’s best team in the Nationals. Nelson went seven scoreless innings, while striking out 11 batters. Nelson now has 192 K’s in 170 IP, third highest strikeout total in the NL. Nelson is going to have to be in consideration as a top 25 pitcher going into next season if he can keep this up.
6) Justin Upton Has An Impressive Debut For The Angels
In his first game as a member of the Los Angeles Angels, Justin Upton hit third, right between Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. Upton paid instant dividends by going 2 – 4 at the plate and scoring two runs. Upton has been one of the hottest hitters in all of baseball since the all-star break and I don’t think that is going to slow down in LA. Upton is in a favorable spot hitting between Trout and Pujols and I expect the numbers to keep piling up over the last month of the season.
7) Kevin Gausman Puts Together Back to Back Strong Starts
Just when I have given up on Kevin Gausman and written him off, he does something to reel me back in again. The Blue Jays and Orioles had a 13 innings pitchers dual last night, and Kevin Gausman got it started for the O’s. Gausman pitched six scoreless innings, finishing the night with eight strikeouts and only one walk. This is Gausman’s second straight scoreless start, and he now has seven quality starts in his last nine outings, bringing his ERA from 6.39 to 4.79. We all know how good Gausman can be when he’s rolling and he’s rolling right now, so I would suggest riding this out.
8) Another Young Gun: Taijuan Walker Delivers An Impressive Start
The young guns of the league were on display last night, and Taijuan Walker was not going to be outdone. Walker made it through only five innings, but they were five scoreless innings and he struck out 10 batters in those five innings, a really impressive rate. Walker has now allowed only one run in his last 16.2 IP to bring his ERA down to 3.42. It’s taken Walker a little longer than expected to put it together, much like Jimmy Nelson, but he seems to have it going now and Walker seems poised to make the next step.
9) Turning Back The Clock: Doug Fister Channeling His Old Self
For the third start in a row Doug Fister has given the Red Sox a vintage performance, this time against the Yankees. Fister took down the Yanks with a line of 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB and 5 K. He has now given up just four runs in his last 23 innings with 18 K’s and just 5 BB’s. Fister looked to be washed up early on in the year, but all the sudden he’s getting fantasy owners attention. It’s hard to just forget about those early starts that were so bad, but with just a month left to go in the season, riding a hot hand like Fister may be beneficial.
10) Clayton Kershaw Returns In Spectacular Fashion
After being out for six weeks, Clayton Kershaw returned last night against the San Diego Padres, and it looked like he hasn’t missed a beat. Kershaw threw six scoreless innings, allowing only two hits and no walks, striking out seven. The injury to the Ace is a shame because he was on his way to his best season ever, which is saying something considering some of the seasons he has had. Still, with that said you can expect a few more elite starts like this before the playoffs and fantasy owners must be happy to have their ace back.
Make sure to check out our Mid-Season Top 50 Prospects by clicking here!