by Will Overton
After a full slate of day games on Memorial Day we got a full slate of night games last night. You may not have been able to stay up and watch or follow box scores after the dreaded Tuesday at work that feels like a Monday. We took care of you though and we have the biggest stories of the night broken down right here:
1) The Extended Heater Continues for Michael Brantley
What a month of May it has been for Michael Brantley and he is looking to end it with a bang too. Brantley teed off on White Sox pitching last night going 3 – 4 with 2 R, 1 HR and 2 RBI. This now extends Brantley’s hitting streak to 18 games, which now includes eight multi-hit games. For the month of May total he is hitting .343 with 23 R, 7 HR and 26 RBI. Brantley has been hampered by injuries for much of the last two seasons, but now he is clearly healthy and looking like the guy who was a top 20 outfielder 2014 – 2015.
2) The Hits Keep on Piling Up for Austin Meadows
This has been a pretty unbelievable first two weeks as a big leaguer for Austin Meadows. The Pirates rookie played in his 11th game last night and hit his 4th Home Run already. Meadows went 3 – 5 last night scoring a pair of runs, while hitting the HR and getting the one RBI. Meadows is now 18 – 41 in these 11 games with 9 R, 4 HR, 7 RBI and 3 SB. That is a fantastic 11 game stretch for anyone in the big leagues, but to be his first 11 games is just completely mind blowing. Meadows has worked his way up to number two in the batting order now and just keeps on hitting. Obviously this won’t last forever and he can’t keep hitting .400, but he’s also obviously proving he can hit at the highest level and he should be owned in every single league.
3) Despite the No Decision, Kyle Gibson Throws a Gem
Addison Reed gave up a run in the eighth inning to spoil Kyle Gibson getting the win, but nonetheless, it was a tremendous start. Gibson pitched seven scoreless innings against the Royals, scattering five hits and a walk, and striking out eight batters. This is now Gibson’s fourth quality start in his last five outings and this brings his ERA down to 3.57. Gibson flashed a fair amount of promise in 2015, but has struggled to be even close to relevant the last two years. This season he’s come out with strikeout numbers we’ve not seen before, a 9.4 K/9 rate, and stuff that looks a lot more like 2015 again. I don’t think he’s an every league guy just yet, but I think he has a place in 12 team leagues and if nothing else he should be on your radar.
4) Is It Weird to be Excited About a Three Hit Night for Bryce Harper?
Last night’s game should have just been another line from Bryce Harper that you gloss over, but it sticks out a good bit based on the struggles he’s been having. Harper was 3 – 5 last night with 1 R, 1 HR and 1 RBI. This game brought Harper’s batting average up 10 points to .238, a still staggeringly low number for the slugger. Those playing in OBP leagues aren’t too worried I am sure since he’s still at .384 OBP. As well, Harper owners are still enjoying the power display as last night was HR number 17 for Harper. It was starting to feel like Harper was pressing a bit as he had struck out 12 times in his last five games before this. So to see him get the three hits and not strike out at all is a positive. Harper is going to be fine and the average will bounce back, so if you want to buy low the window might be closing.
5) Jake Arrieta Continues His Stellar Bounce Back Campaign
It had been looking like Jake Arrieta had lost a few steps the last season and a half, but the Philadelphia Phillies took a shot on him and it’s paying dividends. Arrieta picked up his fifth win of the season last night, holding the Dodgers scoreless for seven innings, allowing sic hits and two walks while striking out five. This is the second start in a row for Arrieta not allowing a run, and the third time in four starts. He’s changed some things up, not getting as many strikeouts, but he’s keeping the ball on the ground, limiting walks and just getting outs. Arrieta’s ERA is now down to 2.16 and the Phillies taking advantage of what all the other teams missed out on when they passed on him in free agency.
6) Things are Finally Starting to Click for Matt Carpenter
If you were patient with Matt Carpenter’s early season struggles, your patience is finally being rewarded now. If someone else in your league wasn’t so patient, he’s available in about a third of ESPN leagues, take advantage of that and grab him now. Carpenter was 1 – 3 last night with a two run HR. This is now the third HR in four games, and fourth in eight games, after he hit just two in all of April. Carpenter is also 21 for his last 52 at the plate to bring his average from .140 to .223, a number that should keep rising. This hot run has come off the heels of being benched twice in three games and it apparently lit a fire under him that isn’t going out. I expect we’ll see more of the Matt Carpenter we’re used to the remainder of the season and not so much of the guy we saw for the first six weeks.
7) The Bats of Ian Kinsler and Luis Valbuena Bring Life to the Bottom of the Angels Lineup
The bottom half of the Angels lineup has been a wasteland for much of the season, but it had a spark last night. Luis Valbuena was 3 – 5 with 3 R, 2 HR and 3 RBI, while Ian Kinsler followed him with a 3 – 3 night, adding 3 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 BB as well. Valbuena’s poor play has lost him a regular job on the team, and while this was a good start, he’s got more work to do to get that job back. Meanwhile, Kinsler’s poor play (.179 BA before this game), has cost him his job as a leadoff hitter. Kinsler has been putrid for all of May and at 35 years old it’s entirely possible he just doesn’t have it anymore, so I’m not rushing out to grab him. That said, I would watch him because if he does heat up he can reclaim the leadoff spot pretty quick and there would be value in that.
8) Charlie Morton Puts Together Another Great Start, Despite the Efforts of Brett Gardner
A pair of HR’s from Brett Gardner, including a two run shot to send the game into extra innings, most likely won the night in the Astros/Yankees game, you have to love how Charlie Morton just keeps on pitching awesome. Morton allowed three runs last night on eight hits over six innings, but he also struck out 10. While Morton didn’t get the win to bring his record to 8 – 0, he did log his fourth double digit strikeout game of the season which is just mind blowing. Everything about his numbers compared to his career numbers tell me to sell high, and you should give it a shot, but if you wanted to just hold on and enjoy the ride I can’t blame you, it’s certainly an unexpectedly fun one.
9) The Breakout Year Continues: Blake Snell Shuts Down the A’s
The guy who is now tied with Charlie Morton for wins in the AL is none other than Blake Snell who picked up his seventh win of the season last night. Snell allowed just one unearned run over 5.2 IP allowing two hits and two walks and striking out seven. Snell continues to show vastly improved control this year, without losing any of his strikeout upside, and it’s reflected in his 2.56 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. Snell is emerging as a force in fantasy baseball, and while his young arm may show signs of regression in the second half, the stats right now are pointing towards sustained success.
10) Asdrubal Cabrera Racks Up Two More Home Runs
It’s been a fantastic season so far for Asdrubal Cabrera, and while the Mets as a team have come back to earth a bit, Cabrera just keeps on hitting. Last night Cabrera went 2 – 5 with 2 R, 2 HR and 3 RBI. Cabrera now has 10 HR’s for the season and ranks in the top in the NL in BA, HR, RBI, SLG% and OPS. Last year Cabrera hit 14 HR’s and he’s quickly approaching that number already, but he has had 20 – 25 HR seasons before so the power isn’t completely out of nowhere. Cabrera’s name may not bring the oooh’s and aaah’s of some of the young gun shortstops in the league, but he is a top 10 SS right now and you can’t argue that.
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