by Ray Kuhn
It has been a few weeks since the weather truly came into play, but that was the case last night. In the case of the Mets, it was worth the wait to play, but I’m sure the Blue Jays would have begged to differ. With that being said, let’s take a look at some of the performances that stood out from what was still a busy day around the league:
1) Lyles Flirts With History
Let’s just take this moment to say that regardless of what you think of a pitcher, and their fantasy value, entering a start, it is possible for anyone to throw a perfect game. That is is one of the only ways to explain the fact that, in a start where just about no one would have him in their starting lineup to take the mound in Coors Field, Jordan Lyles threw seven innings without allowing a base runner. In fact, in most leagues, Lyles likely isn’t even owned. But that didn’t stop Lyles from picking up his first victory of the season and ultimately throwing 7.1 innings of shutout baseball while allowing just that one hit and one walk.
The right-hander struck out 10 batters and with his ERA now sitting at 2.53, we should take a closer look at Lyles. It was the second start of the season for Lyles, he previously made 13 relief appearances, and his 3.31 FIP and 3.83 xFIP show enough optimism for me to look at the former prospect as a streaming option. But, just keep a close eye on Lyles, and things could get ugly when his .215 BABIP regresses to the mean.
2) Bell Drives in Three
Josh Bell is one of those young players who, at times, you want to be better than he is. There isn’t much wrong with Bell, the problems are more so with your expectations of him. Power isn’t exactly an asset for Bell, and compared to his peers at first base, he always will be lagging behind in home runs. However, he has shown the ability to be a solid run producer in the middle of Pittsburgh’s lineup while he works on improving his batting average. Last night, Bell picked up two hits, both doubles, and drove in three runs. That gave Bell nine doubles and 24 RBI on the year to go with a .258 batting average. In his last seven games, Bell is hitting .360 with eight RBI, so perhaps he is beginning to find his groove.
3) A Little Power out of the Lead-off Spot for Detroit
Despite his home run to get things going for the Tigers in the bottom of the first inning, Jacoby Jones is still not much more than replacement level option. Jones is one of those players who might be more valuable to the Tigers than your fantasy team, and given the state of their roster, he is also playing more than he otherwise should be. It was the third home run of the season for Jones, who later added his ninth double of the season and drove in another run to give him 10 RBI on the season. Batting .254, Jones is one of those players who could get exposed with increased playing time, but you do have to like that he bats atop Detroit’s lineup.
4) A Big Home Run for Piscotty
While yes, in fantasy baseball it’s all about the stats, but sometimes there are home runs that mean a little more. That was the case last night for Stephen Piscotty has he went deep in his return after missing a few games following the death of his mother. Piscotty, rightfully so, was emotional in response to the home run. The third home run of the season for Piscotty was perhaps the most meaningful he has, and will ever, hit and it is remember that there are some things more important than just the game. From a fantasy perspective though, Piscotty is a talented outfielder, and after his struggles last season, it is possible that you can tie his success on the field to the burden he was carrying off the field. Not to diminish the meaning of this home run, but it is very possible it is the beginning of a run of success for Piscotty.
5) Do We Have a Rosario Sighting
Young players take time to get going, and Amed Rosario is no different. The Mets have done a good job so far this season of letting him play his way out of his struggles while also hiding him at the bottom of the order. Over the past week or so, Rosario has begun to look more comfortable at the plate, and last night it showed. The shortstop hit a few balls hard, and to the opposite field with one ball going off the top of the wall, as part of New York’s 12 run effort. Rosario finished the night by going 3 for 4 with two RBI (12 overall), which included his eighth double of the season, while raising his average to .261 for the season. Over his past seven games, Rosario is hitting .364, so it is possible things are starting to click for him.
6) Darvish Returns
Well at least for a limited engagement, Yu Darvish returned. There is no reason to be alarmed though as the Cubs were just being cautious with their right-hander as they lifted him after four innings last night. It clearly hasn’t been the best of starts to the season for Darvish, but last night he did take some steps to right the ship. In four innings, the right-hander limited what is now a tough Braves lineup to one run on three hits and two walks while striking out five and lowering his ERA to 5.56. While his FIP is 5.12, Darvish’s xFIP of 3.99 does promote some optimism, and it’s hard to complain with his 11.12 strikeouts per nine innings. What Darvish really needs to do, is work on limiting his 4.76 walks per nine innings. You likely have another start or two left to buy Darvish low before he truly finds his groove.
7) Another Home Run for Cron
Apparently regular playing time was all CJ Cron really needed to find consistent value. Well that, and staying healthy on a consistent basis. Last night, Cron hit is ninth home run of the season as the move to Tampa Bay has certainly agreed with him. The two run homer gave him 25 RBI on the season, and he later added a single to bring his average up to .284 on the season. The .219 ISO Cron is sporting so far this year isn’t all that far off from his .190 career mark, although his .321 BABIP does suggest his batting average might drop slightly. However, as long as he continues to hit home runs and produce RBI, fantasy owners would be perfectly alright with that. If we are going to worry about anything with Cron, it would be that is fly ball rate dropped this season from 44.7% to 38.1%. That hasn’t impacted Cron, as he has benefited from a 20% home run to fly ball rate as opposed to his career mark of 14.5%. Either way, Cron will continue to have value this season as long as he stays healthy.
8) Altuve Drives in Three
With George Springer back in the lineup, the Astros moved Altuve back down to number three spot in the lineup on Monday, and yesterday the second baseman came through in a big way. With the Astros on the verge of losing their second straight to division rival Los Angeles, Altuve struck in the eighth inning with a bases clearing double. It was the 10th double of the year for Altuve, who truly has not gotten going so far this season despite his 20 RBI and .311 batting average. We know what he is capable of, and if this is his floor, then you should be looking to buy on Altuve wherever possible as the Astros have yet to truly get going offensively this season.
9) Three More Hits for Haniger
On a day that saw the Mariners lose their number three hitter, Robinson Cano, for more than just a broken hand, their offense stepped up. Seattle put nine runs on the board, and two of those runs were driven in by Mitch Haniger who has been elevated to the third spot in the order. The outfielder continued the success he is having this season by going 3 for 5 with a walk to raise his batting average to .295. One of those hits was his second triple of the season as he brought his RBI total up to 32 on the season. Seattle will continue to lean on Haniger, and as long as he stays healthy, it appears he is up to the task.
10) Nothing to Show For a Perfect Day
It’s hard to complain when a player goes 4 for 4, but it would have been nice to see Brandon Crawford drive in a run last night. The shortstop singled twice and picked up his ninth double of the season, but he did score twice. After a slow start to the season, Crawford’s average is up to .290, and what you got from him last night, with exception of a few RBI, is that you can can expect from him going forward. In fact, things have been going quite well for Crawford as of late, as he is hitting .446 in his last 15 games and .520 in his last seven games. Just don’t go too crazy if you are looking to buy him.
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