by Will Overton
The sports world was pretty fixated last night on Foxbrough, MA and the start of the NFL season, and rightly so. Yet, while that had everyone’s attention, there was still baseball being played and fantasy baseball championships and playoff matchups were being impacted. If you didn’t get a chance to catch up on what happened in the baseball world, we are here to fill you in with the top 10 stories of the night:
1) Are We Giving Didi Gregorius Enough Respect as a Fantasy Asset?
Very quietly, Didi Gregorius is turning in a very solid fantasy baseball season at a position that’s not very deep. Gregorius kept his two month hot streak going last night when he went 3 – 5 against the Orioles, scoring a pair of runs and driving in one more run. Just in the last three days Gregorius has scored four runs and driven in five. That is a product of the fact that he has worked his way to the middle of the Yankees lineup setting himself up for a lot of production. Gregorius missed almost all of April, but has already matched his career high in HR’s (20) and is only three RBI short of his career high (70). A shortstop who can hit .300 and putting up splits of 25/80/80 is someone who should much more on people’s radars.
2) The Yankees Continue To Get Exactly What They Need From Sonny Gray
Both fantasy owners and Yankees fans have to be happy with the return from Sonny Gray so far since he was acquired by the pinstripes. I don’t think anyone expected Gray to be a Cy Young contender necessarily, but to string together quality starts and give the Yankees and fantasy teams a chance to win. Last night Gray made good on that, going 5.2 innings and allowing only one unearned run, striking out five in the game. Gray’s ERA is now 2.72 since joining the Yankees and has an 8.4 K/9 rate. Keep running him out there for your fantasy squad and you should continue to see positive results.
3) Is Brandon Nimmo Starting To Make Good On His Promise?
Brandon Nimmo has been considered a top 10 prospect in the Mets farm system, but as a whole this has been a bit of a disappointing season. Nimmo was supposed to take another step forward in terms of power this season, yet in 258 AB’s between AAA and the big leagues he had only three HR’s. Nimmo looks like he’s ready to start showing off some of his promise though and he had a big breakout last night. Nimmo went 3 – 4 last night with 3 R, 2 HR and 3 RBI against the Reds. He is now 7 for his last 13 with 5 R, 2 HR, 8 RBI and 1 SB. The Mets aren’t going anywhere and with Nimmo heating up I have to think he’ll start getting more consistent playing time the rest of the way and with how hot he is right now that could be something fantasy owners want to take note of.
4) Aaron Nola Hopefully Rights The Ship Last Night
He walked away with a no-decision, but a game after getting shelled, Aaron Nola looked pretty good last night. Nola went 5.1 IP, and he allowed three runs, but only two of them earned. Nola also struck out eight batters. The last three weeks have been pretty rocky for Nola and fantasy owners have had to wonder if he was running out of steam, but his “stuff” looked pretty strong last night against a solid Nationals team. It’s not uncommon for young pitchers to run out of steam, so his next couple starts could be interesting to watch unfold. From a long term perspective though, I think this kid has the makeup of an elite pitcher and in the next couple years he will be pushing the top 15 and top 10 at starting pitching.
5) Jorge Alfaro’s Goes Deep and Continues His Hot Hitting
The Philadelphia Phillies are anxious to see what they might have in their top end prospect, Jorge Alfaro. That have to like what they are seeing from him too. Alfaro hit a solo HR last night, his second HR since being called up. Alfaro is 10 for his last 23 and is hitting .355 in his 62 AB’s at the major league level. This is a positive sign, especially since Alfaro was having some struggles at AAA. The way Alfaro is hitting is certainly exciting for fantasy players, but it should come with some precautions. Alfaro did struggle at AAA and he does have a history of an extremely high K rate and very low walk rate. For this year he needs more consistent playing time for fantasy owners. In the long run you should be cautiously optimistic that there could be a catcher on the horizon with 30 HR upside.
6) The Second Half Success of Francisco Lindor Continues
It’s been a strong second half for Francisco Lindor, and it’s still going. Lindor was 3 – 6 last night with 3 R, with a solo HR and finished just a double short of the cycle. This gives him 13 HR’s since the all-star break ended. Lindor at times gets overshadowed by some of the other young SS studs such as Corey Seager and Carlos Correa, but at 23 his power isn’t done developing yet and the future is extremely bright here. With three more weeks to go in the season he easily could surpass 30 HR’s still for this season.
7) Should Corey Kluber Be More In The Discussion For Best Pitcher in Fantasy Baseball?
Many thought Corey Kluber should have won the Cy Young last year, and he’s going to be in a neck and neck race yet again with a Boston Red Sox pitcher this season. Kluber is just an absolute machine on the pitching mound and had the White Sox guessing all night. Kluber struck out 13 in seven innings, allowing only two runs. Since missing a month of acting and returning on June 1st, Kluber has a 1.87 ERA with a 12.6 K/9 rate. He also has double digit K’s in 13 of his last 19 starts. Kluber has to be talked about in the discussion for best fantasy starter in baseball and he is in the same tier with Clayton Kershaw, Chris Sale and Max Scherzer.
8) Should Ian Happ be Owned in More Leagues?
You have to love seeing Ian Happ in that leadoff spot for the Cubs if you are an owner in fantasy. Hitting in front of Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo is an envious spot for anyone, and Happ made the most of it last night. Happ went 3 – 5 with 2 R and may have earned himself the opportunity to hit leadoff more often. Happ is really picking up the pace lately, going 11 for his last 28. He strikes out more than you’d want from a traditional leadoff guy (30% K rate), but he also walks a fair amount (9.3% BB rate) which helps offset that some. Currently Happ is owned in just 33% of ESPN leagues, but with his power, and the potential to lead off from time to time for the Cubs, that number should be much higher.
9) Jorge Polanco Keeps Up His Hot Streak
Another solid game from Jorge Polanco on the Twins last night, going 2 – 3 at the plate with a pair of RBI. Polanco is now 9 – 25 in the month of September, and since the start of August he is batting .370. This isn’t a small sample size or a simple hot streak, he’s been doing this for over a month now. Polanco has also catapulted himself into the middle of the Twins lineup, allowing for more opportunities to score runs and knock runs in. Again, going back to the beginning of August, Polanco has 30 RBI. At this point I think Polanco should be owned in all leagues, and with his being just 24 you have to wonder if we aren’t paying enough attention to his long term upside as well.
10) Wil Myers Ends His Power Drought
Going into last night’s game it had been since August 12th that Wil Myers had last homered. The drought ended last night though as he put his 26th HR of the year over the fence. Myers made the statement even better with a stolen base mixed in too as he inches closer to his second consecutive 20/20 season. Even though Myers has fizzled a bit over the second half of the season, it still seems like he has to be considered on the verge of the top 10 at first base looking back at the last two seasons.
Make sure to check out our Mid-Season Top 50 Prospects by clicking here!