by Ray Kuhn
This isn’t something I’m going to say often, or perhaps ever again this season, but it was nice to start the week off with a short slate of games. In fact, we had one afternoon game, one 7 pm (eastern) start, and then three late games out on the west coast. And that was it. While it was challenging to set your weekly lineups, it also afforded the opportunity to enjoy the first round of the MLB Draft. However, there will be plenty of time later on to spend analyzing a whole new crop of prospects and their fantasy impact. For now, let’s take a look at what stood out from yesterday’s action:
1) Domination in Detroit
At this point, we are now just expecting a gem from Luis Severino each time he takes the mound. In the first game of Monday’s twin bill, the right-hander really made things look easy against the Tigers. Severino picked up his 10th victory of the season while cruising through eight innings of work. He did allow two runs, one earned, but they came on just four hits and Severino didn’t walk a batter while striking out 10. That left his ERA at 2.20 for the season, and he has no eclipsed the century mark for strikeouts; 102 in 86 innings. Once again, Severino is keeping the walks to a minimum (2.20 per nine innings), and he is looking like one of the best starters in the American League.
2) Miggy is Back
Actually, yesterday was the fourth game that Miguel Cabrera has appeared in since returning from the DL, and it was a good sign that he played in both ends of the doubleheader. In fact, after being the DH for the first game of the day, Cabrera appeared at first base in the nightcap. The results weren’t great in either game, 1 for 4 with a double in each, with one run scored and one RBI, but it was something. It was the first extra base hits for Cabrera since his return, and also his first RBI. While he obviously isn’t the same player he was in his prime, he is still a solid hitter who is sporting a .315 batting average on the season.
3) Stanton Defeats His Nemisis
With his solo home run in the nightcap on Monday, Giancarlo Stanton brought his batting average for the season up to .248. It’s not exactly the start to the season Stanton, or his fantasy owners were looking for. After going 1 for 5 in the first game of the day, Stanton followed that up with a 1 for 3 effort with a hit by pitch to close out the day. And that is why this performance is something to note. A few seasons ago, Stanton was hit in the face by a fastball from Mike Fiers, and we certainly have seen that impact his approach at the plate since then as there has been some apprehension. At this point, it does appear though that Stanton has moved past that, but fireworks did ensue with Fiers missed inside with a pitch last night and hit Stanton. While he was never in any danger, and it was accidental, Stanton was frustrated nonetheless. With that being said, it was a good sign to see him go deep later in the game. Despite the batting average not really being there, Stanton does have 13 home runs and 32 RBI so far this season, so it’s not a total dud.
4) Fiers Guts Out a Win
We discussed the drama relating to Mike Fiers above, but we shouldn’t overlook the solid outing we got from the right-hander. While he is never going to be a pitcher we feel comfortable about from a fantasy perspective, in the right circumstances and situations, he can be a solid option. On Monday, he allowed two runs in 5.2 innings of work to pick up his fifth victory of the season. It wasn’t a completely seamless effort as he did allow six hits and two walks, but he was able to limit the damage. With a 4.33 ERA and 1.34 WHIP, what you see from Fiers is what you get. What limits his value for me, is the fact that he only has 42 strikeouts in 60.1 innings, so that limits the reward.
5) Jay Continues to Get On Base
John Jay isn’t an exciting player. In fact, the most at bats he has ever had in a season were 548, and that came in 2013. However, on a team like the Royals with not that many options, Jay is receiving regular playing time. And so far this season, he is producing. Jay picked up another three hits last night, all singles, while scoring a run and driving in his 18th run of the year. What I do like though, and why there is some value here, is that Jay’s batting average is sitting at .311 for the season. As of late, he has been in a groove, and in his last seven games, Jay is hitting .433, and in his last 15 games, he is sporting a .359 batting average. At the very least, ride this streak, but with a .290 career batting average, Jay has a track record of being a solid hitter.
6) Upton Goes Deep
Things have been rough as of late for Justin Upton. In his last 15 games, the outfielder is hitting just .189 with 22 strikeouts in 53 at bats, but we know better than to give up on him. And last night, he showed why. Upton went 3 for 4 for the Angels while hitting his 13th home run of the season, a solo shot. Overall, Upton is hitting .244 with 38 RBI, but his recent struggles have put a dent in his batting average. In fact, yesterday was the second straight day that Upton went deep, so perhaps we are seeing him break out of his slump.
7) The Panda is Loose
With Brandon Belt sidelined for the next month, Pablo Sandoval figures to receive a good amount of playing time at first base. And yes, in some leagues, Sandoval will likely do enough to become fantasy relevant once again. He got off to a good start in that department on Monday with a three hit effort. Included in that, was Sandoval’s third home run of the season and two RBI to bring his season total to 17. With a .277 batting average in 94 at bats, Sandoval has given the Giants solid production so far this season when he has been in the lineup, and it will be interesting to see how he responds to more regular playing time.
8) Time to be Concerned About Godley
After watching Zack Godley give up seven runs on five hits and two walks, including two home runs, in 3.1 innings last night, I think the answer is yes. In picking up his fifth loss of the season, Godley saw his ERA climb to 5.12 on the season. While he did allow two home runs that didn’t help things, the right-hander never got going last night, and unfortunately it was nothing new for him this season. The only good thing we can say about Godley, is that he has 62 strikeouts in 65 innings, but that is it. And even then, at 8.58 strikeouts per nine innings, Godley is down a strikeout per inning from last season while his walks are up from 3.08 to 4.57 per nine innings. We have also seen Godley’s ground ball rate drop form 55.3% to 51.8%, and he is allowing 1.38 home runs per nine innings. While his xFIP of 4.20 does make things look a little better, this is not the Godley we expected to see this season. What might be most troubling though, is that per Fangraphs, Godley’s average fastball velocity is down from 91.9 miles per hour last season to 90 miles per hour this season.
9) Hosmer Continues to Hit
While he may have gotten off to a slow start with the Padres, that is now a distant memory for Eric Hosmer. We don’t think of the first baseman as a true power hitter, which is fine as long as we adjust expectations properly, but there is still plenty of production there. Hosmer got things going for the Padres last night with his seventh home run of the season in the first inning, and he later followed that up with his 18th double of the season. After his two hit effort last night, Hosmer is hitting .293 on the season, and his three RBI brought his total for the year up to 28 on the year. It’s hard to argue with the batting average and the 18 doubles Hosmer has so far this season, but the lack of run production does hurt him.
10) Markakis Isn’t Slowing Down
If you want to talk about lack of run production, and really no power at all, then Nick Markakis is your man. He certainly doesn’t fit the bill for a normal clean-up hitter, but so far this season it’s working for Atlanta. And with a .331 batting average after two hits last night, it’s not like Markakis doesn’t have any fantasy value either. He scored two runs last night, giving him 38 on the season, and with seven home runs and 39 RBI, he has shown some power and run production as well. For his career, Markakis is a .289 hitter and he has shown the ability to drive some runs in previously, so I wouldn’t write this off as a fluke. It also helps that this is the best Atlanta’s lineup has looked in the three-plus years that Markakis has been a Brave.
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