10 Important Stories From 09/11/17 Box Scores: Brault Shines, Haniger’s Big Day & More

by Ray Kuhn

If anyone was wondering, the Indians won again last night. That is now 19 straight victories for Cleveland as they have to be hoping they still have some wins left for October. Thanks to Hurricane Irma, obviously not a true thanks as there is nothing good anyone can say about her, we saw the DH in use at Citi Field last night with the Yankees and Rays series having been re-located. Let’s jump right into some of the performances that stood out from a shortened slate of baseball:

1) Toronto Isn’t Wasting Anytime…

He didn’t have an impact night, and he hasn’t done anything to garner all that much attention since his promotion, but the Blue Jays aren’t wasting any time with Richard Urena. Once September hit, they promoted the shortstop prospect from Double-A, and he promptly was inserted atop the order. Last night, the 21 year old went 1 for 4 with an RBI double while striking out twice. It was both the second double and the second RBI in Urena’s brief eight game career, and he is hitting .276. The fact that Urena is receiving regular playing time is something to take note of, but this more a note to file away for next season than anything else. Sure, if you have a middle infielder who is shut down for the rest of the way Urena can have some value, but with football receiving some attention now, you don’t want to miss late season news. After hitting .295 last season, Urena hit just .247 in Double-A this season, and at this point, despite being a decently ranked prospect, he has yet to show much power or speed. This is a situation to monitor more than over react to.

2) Carrasco Dominates….

Carlos Carrasco plays for the Indians, so should we really be surprised by this? The right-hander threw six shutout innings last night for his 15th victory of the season. Carrasco scattered seven hits and a walk while striking out nine and lowering his ERA to 3.41 on the season. At 179.1 innings, the right-hander is approaching his career high of 183.2 innings from 2015, but he is also showing no signs of slowing down. I would watch him just in case as we get to the last week of the season to see if Cleveland shortens any of his outings to get ready for the playoffs, but with a 1.08 WHIP and 201 strikeouts in 179.1 innings, Carrasco has given the Indians two aces this season.

3) Lindor Gets Things Going…

When good things happen for an offense, it generally starts at the top and has a nice trickle down effect. That is how things work for Cleveland with Francisco Lindor batting lead-off, and last night was no different. The shortstop was 2 for 4 on Monday, including his fourth triple of the season, as he drove in four runs and scored twice. Batting lead-off has not limited Lindor’s RBI potential, as after last night, he is up to 77 on the season while batting .275. The problem with Cleveland’s current winning streak (from a fantasy perspective) is that now that they are in first place by 13.5 games (although home field advantage is still up for grabs), they might begin to rest players like Lindor a little more than normal. Regardless of that though, Lindor is an ascending stock in fantasy circles.

4) Frazier Makes it Count…

The Yankees were quite economical on Monday, as they made their four hits count. A big reason why, is that Todd Frazier was responsible for three of their five runs on one swing. It was the 24th home run of the season for Frazier, along with 67 RBI, who despite his struggles at the plate, is still a solid source for power. Just because power has become more plentiful across baseball, it doesn’t lessen the need for it, and accumulating the most home runs and RBI possible does still require some effort. Despite a crowded situation at the corner infield spots, the Yankees still appear committed to giving Frazier close to regular playing time. In 25 at bats so far in September, Frazier has three home runs and seven RBI, but we do need to ignore his .200 batting average for the month and .210 average on the season.

5) Brault Gets the Victory…

Now, more than ever, the streaming of starting pitchers comes into play. And that, is a stressful proposition. With more and more pitchers being shut down over the last few weeks of the season and rosters being expanded, we see an increasing amount of unfamiliar names taking the mound. One of those pitchers, although we should at least be aware of who is, is Steven Brault. He was around prior to September, and on Monday, he picked up his first victory of the season. I wouldn’t consider Brault a top prospect, although he did have a 1.94 ERA in 21 games (20 starts) at Triple-A this season, so he is worth a closer look. On Monday, the southpaw limited the Brewers to just one hit and one walk in six innings as he struck out six batters. Overall, Brault has a 2.56 ERA in his minor league career along with a 1.10 WHIP, so if the match-up is right, I would feel comfortable inserting him into my starting lineup.

6) Double Digits for Hamels…

That is in victories, as despite missing a large chunk of the season with an oblique injury, Cole Hamels picked up his 10th victory of the season on Monday. While he certainly has been a solid option (at best), Hamels is no longer the dominating pitcher he once was. However, that doesn’t mean we should be overlooking him from a fantasy perspective. Hamels allowed three runs in six innings of work on six hits and a walk while striking out seven. On the season, his ERA is a very average 4.05, but his FIP paints a little less of an attractive picture (4.62 with a 4.83 xFIP). Perhaps what is most troubling, is that Hamels is only striking out 5.97 batters per nine innings this season. Given the state of starting pitching, you might not find much better options that Hamels on your bench or the waiver wire, but I would exercise some caution as he is not the same pitcher of a few years ago. And I wouldn’t give him much, if t at all, DFS consideration.

7) Haniger is Triple Shy of the Cycle…

After starting off strong by hitting .342 in April, things went downhill quickly for Mitch Haniger. The outfielder missed about two months due to injury, and then proceeded to hit .231 in June, .176 in July, and .211 in August. That hasn’t seemed to spook the Mariners, as they are still giving Haniger regular playing time, and so far this month he hasn’t disappointed. After last night’s three hit effort, Haniger is hitting .463 in September with three home runs and eight RBI. He has struck out nine times already in the month, but I would keep an eye on him during this hot streak. However, there isn’t a need to invest too heavily at this point.

8) All He Needed Was a Triple…

Hitting for the cycle appears to be a theme for Jose Abreu this week, as all he needed was a home run last night to do it twice in three days. The night still worked out just fine for the first baseman, as after his four hit effort, he is now hitting .306 on the season. Surprisingly enough, it was Abreu’s sixth triple of the year, he is also up to 38 doubles, as he drove in two runs on the night. At 92 RBI on the season, Abreu should reach the century mark without an issue as he continues to produce at a high level for both the White Sox and his fantasy owners.

9) Arenado Goes Deep…

You have to like first round picks that live up to expectations, and this season one of players is Nolan Arenado. The third baseball went deep for the 33rd time this season last night, a three run shot, and he later added another RBI to bring his total for the year to 123. Arenado is now hitting .311 on the season after his latest two hit effort, which included his 42nd double of the season, as he continues to anchor both your fantasy team and the middle of Colorado’s order.

10) Pence Comes Through Batting Lead-off…

I guess you can say this is the “odd year” season we have come to expect for the Giants, but even by their standards, things have been pretty ugly this year. We now have Hunter Pence batting lead-off, and through six games, it is working. Last night, Pence went 3 for 5 with an RBI and two runs scored. On the season, he is hitting just .252, but in six games at his new spot in the order, Pence is hitting .348. Long term, I’m not sure this is a viable solution for either Pence or the Giants, but it is something to at least take note of. And at the very least, Pence could be a helpful option down the stretch of this season; although some of his RBI potential is stunted by batting lead-off.

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