by Ray Kuhn
As we turned the corner past the halfway point of the week, there was a full day of action on the field to keep us intrigued. Let’s take a look at some of the performances that made an impact from a fantasy perspective:
1) Pivetta Means Business
What transpired in the ninth inning is all on Gabe Kapler, but regardless of that, it worked and Nick Pivetta picked up his third victory of the season. The right-hander didn’t have many issues working through Baltimore’s lineup as he allowed just two hits, one of which was an Adam Jones solo home run in the first inning, and one walk in seven innings. Pivetta struck out 11 as he lowered his ERA to 3.72 overall and continues to be a viable fantasy option. Through nine starts, Pivetta is striking out 10,37 batters per nine inning, and perhaps more importantly, he is limiting the walks to just 2.15 batters per nine innings. In fact, Pivetta’s 3.10 FIP and 3.29 xFIP say that he can be even better. The right-hander is certainly worth a look.
2) Detroit Never Had a Chance
Based on the lineup they put out there, especially without Miguel Cabrera, this a theme we have repeated often this season, but the Tigers never got anything going on Wednesday. Part of the reason was that they faced Trevor Bauer, and the right-hander was in complete control all afternoon. Bauer allowed just four hits in his eight shutout innings of work as he struck out 10 Detroit batters. With an ERA of just 2.59 and three victories on the season (don’t get us started on wins, especially this year), Bauer is finally living up to his draft status out of college.
3) Happ Cruises to Victory
J.A. Happ is always one of those pitchers, at least for me, who tends to fly under the radar. It’s not like the southpaw is a bad pitcher, but he just doesn’t appear to do anything that stands out. Well, that is other than pick up victories. Happ was victorious for the fifth time this season yesterday against the Mets, and he did it with ease. New York managed just two hits against Happ in seven innings of work as he struck out 10 to lower his ERA to 4.15. While that is a solid ERA, we can expect to see it improve even more, as Happ’s FIP is 3.78 and his xFIP takes us all the way down to 3.01. The big change for Happ so far this season is that he is striking out 11.42 batters per nine inning after 8.79 strikeouts per nine innings last season. He also has improved his walk rate to 2.25 batters per nine innings after it was 2.85 last season. This improvement has also come despite Happ giving up 19.1 home runs per fly ball, which should improve in time.
4) Shaw Goes Deep
So far this season, we are seeing the same thing we saw last year from Travis Shaw. There is some power and run production, but the average does leave something to be desired. While it’s not a liability, it’s also not an asset and it helps to limit Shaw’s value. The third baseman hit his 10th home run of the season on Wednesday, along with his 12th double, as he drove in two runs to bring his RBI total for the season up to 26. However, with a .250 BABIP to go along with his .248 batting average, it’s very possible we see Shaw’s average climb closer to the .273 it was last season.
5) Seriously, Bart?
I guess we have to start with the 100 plus mile per hour line drive that Bartolo Colon took, without incident, to his gut on Wednesday. Honestly, is there really a more amusing and enjoyable pitcher to watch on the mound? But what does that mean from a fantasy perspective? Well, Colon just continues to be successful, and in fact he has been Texas’ best starting pitcher. Yesterday, he threw seven innings of shutout baseball in which he allowed just four hits while striking out three. It was the second victory of the season for Colon who lowered his ERA to 2.85 for the season. The lack of strikeouts are a problem from a fantasy perspective, just 5.65 per nine innings,but he has also limited the walks to 0.71 per nine innings. However, Colon’s FIP of 4.48 says that things will get a little dicier moving forward, but that shouldn’t stop the right-hander from being a solid streaming option.
6) Duvall Drives in Three
The good thing, is that despite his struggles, Adam Duvall’s playing time and spot in the middle of Cincinnati’s order is safe. What is even better, is that Duvall showed on Wednesday why he is the Reds’ cleanup hitter. The outfielder hit his eighth home run of the season while driving in three runs; which gave him 23 RBI so far this year. The problem though, is that you have had to weather a .191 batting average from Duvall. Things have gotten better, as in the past week, he is hitting .273 and his average should only continue to improve. To be honest, the only place for Duvall’s BABIP of .200 to go is up as this could represent a buying opportunity.
7) Another Home Run for Bour
Let’s stick a theme here and take a look at another clean-up hitter who is part of a lackluster lineup. That brings us to Justin Bour who went deep for the ninth time this season on Wednesday. While it was Bour’s only hit of the night, it is exactly what fantasy owners are after, and so far, it appears that the lack of talent around him isn’t have too much of a negative effect on his value. The two run homer gave Bour 23 RBI on the season as he continues to truck right along without missing a beat despite his previous DL stint. In an OBP league, Bour’s value has improved as he is walking 18.7% of the time, likely due more to the lineup than an improved approach, but as long as he stays on pace with the home runs and RBI, it doesn’t really matter.
8) No Adjustment to Boston Here
So far this season, J.D Martinez is laughing at those who say allow for an adjustment period to both a big contract and a new team; especially when that team is Boston. Martinez continues to be a valuable run producer in the middle of the Red Sox lineup, and on Wednesday he added two more RBI to his total which gave him 36 on the season. The RBI came on his 12th home run of the season which got Boston going in the first inning, and they never looked back. So far this season, Martinez is hitting .344 and he looks like a bargain.
9) Albies Can Do it All
Another day, and another multi-hit game for Ozzie Albies. The young second baseman just continues to produce, and while he didn’t go deep again last night, Albies did double (15th of the season) and triple (2nd of the season). It’s almost surprising to see that he didn’t drive in a run, but Albies did score two runs which gives him 40 runs so far this season. Yes, that is 40 runs and we aren’t even out of May yet. And did we mention that Albies now has Ronald Acuna batting behind him? Albies is now hitting .283 on the season and he has been a consistent performer all year. Just enjoy the ride at this point.
10) Verlander Continues to Dominate
Last night we saw history as Justin Verlander became the 33rd pitcher to reach 2,500 strikeouts. And the right-hander did it in style as he threw a complete game, shutout against a dominant Angels lineup. Verlander didn’t appear to have much trouble all night as he needed 118 pitches, 79 strikes, to pick up his fifth victory of the season. The Angels managed just five hits and one walk against Verlander as he lowered his ERA even more for the season, bringing it down to 1.05. While Verlander has clearly benefited from a .205 BABIP, his FIP is 2.20 with an xFIP of 3.51, he is also still an elite pitcher.
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