10 Important Stories From 09/21/17 Box Scores: Fowler Heating Up, Schwarber Goes Deep & More

by Ray Kuhn

We really are getting close now to the end of the season. This weekend, you will go through the waivers process and set your lineup for the last time this season, and then just hope for the best. Before you begin that process, let’s take a look at some of the performances that stood out from a relatively busy Thursday around baseball:

1) Williams Attempts to Close 2017 on the Right Foot…

The Phillies are setting out to build around young players, and one of their potential building blocks is Nick Williams. After doing everything he could in them minor leagues, Philadelphia promoted Williams earlier this summer and planted him right in the middle of their lineup. There certainly have been some streaks, but overall Williams has shown that he is someone to be counted on moving forward. On Thursday, Williams hit his 11th home run of the season, which was a two run shot. In 281 at bats this season, Williams has driven in 50 runs while batting a pretty solid .285. Yes, he has done it courtesy of a .375 BABIP, so I wouldn’t invest too much in Williams for next season, but it is also clear that he is a talented player.

2) Lindor Continues With the Power…

We know that as Francisco Lindor grew and matured, we might see a little more power from him, but this is something else. After hitting a three run homer on Thursday that led Cleveland to let another victory, Lindor is up to 32 home runs on the season. That is already more than double the 16 long balls the shortstop hit last season. When looking at Lindor’s ISO, it is clear that his more has jumped up as it went from .134 last season to .230 in 2017. More than anything, it has been a change of approach for Lindor as his fly ball rate has rose to 41.9% from 28.4% in 2016. At the same time, his batting average of .285 hasn’t suffered, and he still has 14 stolen bases. With 86 RBI, Lindor has developed into a complete player who really could be a force next season.

3) Ynoa Looks Strong for the Win…

Are we really going to believe in Gabriel Ynoa? The Orioles promoted the right-hander essentially because they were out of other options after Ynoa put up a 5.25 ERA in Triple-A this season. However, Ynoa is still just 24 years old, and we know it often takes pitchers a little longer to find their groove, and he did have a 3.97 ERA last season in Triple-A that came in the hitter friendly PCL. For his career, Ynoa does have a 3.58 minor league ERA, so it is possible this chance in Baltimore’s rotation could be just what he needs. Ynoa went eight innings for the victory yesterday, while holding Tampa Bay to just one run on five and two walks while striking out three. In 31.2 innings so far this season, Ynoa has a 3.41 ERA with a FIP 3.69. However, he strikes out just under seven batters per nine innings, and is sporting an xFIP of 5.22.

4) Vargas Gets Another Win…

Yes, I know, the win is overrated, but it is still one of the five pitching categories in most leagues. But who would have thought Jason Vargas would currently have 17 wins? On Thursday, he threw 6.1 innings of shutout baseball against Toronto while allowing just two hits and three walks while striking seven. Overall this season, Vargas has shown to be nothing more than a solid, mid-rotation option as he has a 4.03 ERA along with a 1.31 WHIP. The southpaw has just 127 strikeouts in 169.2 innings, so you really are just chasing the victory here.

5) Three Hits for Mauer…

Joe Mauer is going to get lost in the shuffle. It is just that simple. Power is all around us now, and that has also been true at first base. For Mauer though, power has also been out of the question. But after a 3 for 4 effort yesterday, he is hitting .311, so if you need to counteract some low average, high power hitters, Mauer could have some value. After driving in two runs yesterday, he is up to 68 RBI on the season despite batting in the middle of what has been a strong, if not streaky at times, lineup. Don’t flock to Mauer based on the player you remember from five years ago, but if your batting average needs some help, he could provide it.

6) Fowler Picks up Three More Hits…

This season has been all over the place for the Cardinals. They have been forced to deal with ineffectiveness and injuries, and it has reflected in their on field performance. The acquisition of Dexter Fowler over the winter was thought to solidify their lead-off spot and center field, but Fowler has had to spend some time on the Disabled List, and since his return, he has batted out of the third spot in the order. Yesterday, it seemed to agree with Fowler as he went 3 for 5 with two RBI and two runs scored to raise his batting average to .270. In 15 games batting third this season, Fowler is hitting .310, and his problems came in the 51 games he spent batting lead-off (.205). Ultimately, Fowler will be fine wherever they chose to bat him next season, but it has been a bit different seeing him in the middle of the order.

7) Dickey Turns in a Strong Start…

Trusting R.A Dickey is hard. But as we look up at the end of the season, there he has been, consistently in the rotation all year. Dickey picked up his 10th victory of the season by shutting down the Nationals. Washington managed just two runs off Dickey in eight innings on four hits as the knuckleballer didn’t walk a batter. He only picked up four strikeouts, but he is another pitcher, who you really throw out there just hoping for some innings and a chance at a victory. Dickey consistently keeps his team in the game, but with a 4.32 ERA and 1.39 WHIP, it often is a bit ugly.

8) Schwarber Goes Deep Again…

This isn’t how we drew it up for Kyle Schwarber, but after his 29th home run of the season, it is very likely he will end up passing the 30 home run threshold. When it comes with a .208 batting average, I’m not sure how much it matters, but there is still enough there not to give up on Schwarber completely. Other than hit home runs, Schwarber hasn’t done much else (54 RBI), but his .239 BABIP hasn’t helped. I would look for some sort of rebound next season, but at least we know that the power is already there.

9) Richard Shuts Down San Francisco…

They way the Giants have been performing on offense so far this season, it’s not that much of an accomplishment, but 7.1 innings of shutout baseball can’t be ignored. Overall, Clayton Richard has a 4.63 ERA this season after picking up his eighth victory of the season with 7.1 innings of scoreless baseball, and he is nothing more than a streaming option to be used with extreme caution. While striking out eight, Richard scattered seven hits while walking one batter as he saw his WHIP drop, yes I said drop, to 1.50. However, Richard has been the victim of a .348 BABIP this season that is reflected in his 3.76 xFIP.

10) Beltre Goes Deep…

Owners of Adrian Beltre are certainly thankful the Rangers play in the American League where the designated hitter spot is an option. Beltre had two hits on Thursday, which included his 17th home run of the season. The solo shot gave Beltre 70 RBI in 314 at bats, as he clearly has something left; as long as he remains healthy enough to step into the batter’s box. With a .314 average, it’s hard to complain with the production we are getting out of Beltre, and the hope is that he returns for the 2018 season to continue to build on his Hall of Fame resume.

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