by Ray Kuhn
Our Wednesday got off to an early start with a few afternoon games, but things really kicked into gear at night. Things could have been better in the afternoon though, as Alex Reyes’ debut didn’t exactly meet expectations. Reyes was lifted after four innings, and he struck out just two batters while also exhibiting diminished velocity after the first inning. After some chatter that Reyes was removed due to injury, that was discredited after the game, as he simply chalked it up to fatigue. Let’s take a look at some of the performances of note from yesterday’s action on the diamond:
1) Bradley Picks Up Two Hits
A two hit effort shouldn’t exactly be breaking news, but when you are Jackie Bradley Jr and hitting just .196 on the season, it is. Batting ninth, Bradley drove in his 12th run of the season on Wednesday to along with his eighth double. While the outfielder has had his share of struggles so far this season, Bradley is hitting .333 over his last seven games, and he does have somewhat of a track record as a solid contributor; .267/26/87 in 2016 and .245/17/63 last season. The strikeouts, 26.9%, are a problem, but Bradley’s soft contact rate is only 12.4% and his .264 BABIP is due for some positive regression. Due to his early season struggles, it is possible that Bradley is available in your league, and he could be legitimate solution to the back-end of your outfield.
2) An Easy Afternoon in Cleveland
You couldn’t have drawn things up any better for Corey Kluber than they were yesterday. It was an easy six innings of work for the right-hander against a weak Chicago White Sox team as Kluber limited them to just three hits while not walking a batter or allowing a run. Kluber earned his eighth victory of the season for his efforts as he struck out 10 and lowered his ERA to 2.02 on the season. While Kluber has benefited from a .239 BABIP, he is also striking out more than a batter an inning (9.35) with just 1.06 walks per nine innings. A 90.1% strand rate as also worked to Kluber’s benefit, but it’s hard to argue with both his track record and the overall results, and he also has a 47.9% ground ball rate. While there might be some minor regression, and I’d be comfortable moving Kluber if you need some offense, there is no reason to move him or to sell at a discount.
3) Another Three Hits For Suarez
Adam Duvall hit the grand slam so he is going to get the attention on Wednesday, but Eugenio Suarez had another solid day as he continues to build an All-Star resume. Suarez went 3 for 4 with a walk and two runs scored as he brought his average up to .306 on the season. Perhaps more noteworthy though, is the fact that he drove in his 43rd run of the season. That puts Suarez right at the top of the NL leader board, but it is even more impressive considering he had a stint on the disabled list earlier in the season. The third baseman is walking 11% of the time so far this year, with a strikeout rate of just 16.9%, and that is playing a big factor in his success so far this season.
4) Severino Shuts Down Houston
Even with George Springer getting the night off, the Astros still trotted out an impressive lineup. And Luis Severino’s stuff on an otherwise normal Wednesday evening was good enough to potentially make history. Initially, Severino retired the first 11 batters he faced, and the right-hander ultimately struck out 11 batters in seven innings of work. Severino allowed just a Max Stassi two-run homer as he picked up his eighth victory of the season. Ultimately, the Astros managed just four hits and a walk against Severino as he lowered his ERA to 2.31 on the season. Despite the home run last night, Severino is still allowing home runs on just 6.3% of his fly balls. Overall, with a 47.1% ground ball and just 2.42 walks per nine innings, Severino is emerging as a true ace.
5) Another Win for Musgrove
So far so good for Joe Musgrove in his new home with the Pirates. After starting the season off injured, the right-hander is victorious in both of his starts with his new team. This time, Musgrove’s win came against the Cubs via seven innings of one run ball. Overall, it wasn’t the strongest of outings for Musgrove as he allowed seven hits and four walks, but he was able to limit the damage, so that is a good sign. Musgrove also struck out five batters as he lowered his ERA to 0.64. With his delayed start to the season, it is likely Musgrove is available, but your chances of acquiring him are going to diminish with each successful start. At the very least, he should be strong streaming candidate moving forward.
6) Scherzer Keeps on Rolling
While it is getting redundant at this point, we can’t ignore Max Scherzer’s start on Wednesday. The right-hander took care of business against the Orioles, and it’s really hard to ask for much more from your ace. Scherzer kept Baltimore off the scoreboard for eight innings as he limited the Orioles to just two hits and one walk while striking out 12. It was the ninth victory of the season for the right-hander who lowered his ERA to 1.92 on the season. So far in 2018, Scherzer is striking out 13.56 batters per nine innings, and it’s really hard to be more dominant. Enjoy it if Scherzer is on your team.
7) A-Gone Drives in Two
Adrian Gonzalez certainly isn’t the player he once was, but at the same time, he also isn’t the player Los Angeles cast aside last year either. While there may not be much value, there is some, and Gonzalez has also found regular playing time with the Mets. And for the most part, the first baseman also bats in the middle of their order. Last night, Gonzalez had two hits, and each of those hits (a single and a double) drove in a run. That gave the first baseman a solid 24 RBI on the season to go along with a .262 average. It certainly isn’t All-Star worthy, but it is solid production with a batting average that isn’t a liability.
8) Soler is Emgerging
Funny things happen on bad teams. Players, such as Jorge Soler, are given a chance at an everyday role (regardless of how bad they were in 2017), and they end up finding success. Entering last season, I touted Soler, and based on his first two months of 2018, I was simply a year too soon. Last night, the outfielder went 4 for 5 with his eighth home run of the season and drove in two runs. That gave Soler 25 RBI on the season to go along with a .278 batting average. I wouldn’t call that a breakout, but it’s still solid production from a player who didn’t receive much attention on draft day.
9) A Starting Pitcher Sighting for Tampa Bay
After starting the season off injured, Nathan Eovaldi made his season debut last night. To begin with, the fact that Tampa Bay had a conventional starting pitcher take the mound for them in the first inning was almost news to begin with. But the right-hander certainly didn’t disappoint. Eovaldi shut the A’s out over six innings of work while just allowing one walk to go along with four strikeouts. Yes, you read that correct; Eovaldi had a no-hitter going when he was removed after six innings and 70 pitches. That is what happens when you haven’t pitched since 2016 due to Tommy John surgery and then subsequent elbow surgery this March and are on a pitch count. Wilmer Font did allow one run to eliminate any chance at history, but regardless, Eovaldi is certainly worth a look on your waiver wire and it was hard to argue both with the results and the 97 mile per hour average pitch speed (per Statcast).
10) Stripling Continues to Roll
Talk about opportunity, there is plenty of it in the Dodgers’ rotation. And last night, we saw another strong start from Ross Stripling who picked up his third victory of the season. This time, it came against the Phillies as Stripling limited the damage to a Nick Williams solo homer in the sixth inning. Philadelphia also managed three other hits and two walks off the right-hander as he struck out nine to lower his ERA to 1.68 on the season. So far this season, Stripling has appeared in 17 games, starting six of them, and is striking out an impressive 10.59 batters per nine innings against just 2.05 walks. I don’t expect him to continue all season with a sub-2.00 ERA (obviously), but I’m not sure you would find many fantasy owners complaining about his 2.73 xFIP.
Missed our Top 100 prospect rankings? Make sure to check it out by clicking here.