by Ray Kuhn
Baseball is really a crazy game. You just don’t what is going to happen until it actually does, and that is one of the many things that keeps us hooked. Evan Gattis set a record last night, as with a solo home run after the game was well in hand, he became the first Astros’ player every with five RBI in consecutive games.
We know the Mets have been struggling to score runs as of late, but this will put it in perspective even further. Beginning on June 2nd, New York has scored a total of 10 runs. The Astros did that in the first two innings of their game in Oakland last night. With that being said, after Jacob deGrom threw another gem yesterday, allowing one run in seven innings and taking the loss, his ERA now sits at 1.55 on the season. And thanks to his lack of run support, his record is 4-2.
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the performances that stood out from a busy day in baseball:
1) Soroka Didn’t Miss a Beat
The Braves, rightfully so, were careful with Mike Soroka as they parked him on the DL with a shoulder injury, and he showed no signs of rust yesterday. In his first start back since being activated, Soroka flirted with a no-hitter, and he was promptly removed after 74 pitches once Michael Conforto picked up a single. The right-hander certainly was efficient as he made it through 6.1 innings before lifted, and he walked just one batter while striking out four to pick up his second victory of the season. The 20-year old had success in the minor leagues, and with a 2.57 ERA through four starts, he appears to be continuing that in Atlanta, but I would hesitate about how much I rely on a young starting pitcher.
2) Cain Does It All
We had a pitcher’s duel in Milwaukee yesterday, but Lorenzo Cain made sure there was a winner. The lead-off hitter’s solo homer in the third inning was the only offense needed as he continues to embark on an All-Star season in his new home. It was the eighth home run of the season for Cain who has driven in 22 runs and scored 40 times while hitting .288. Perhaps of even more importance, Cain who walked and singled as well, also stole his 13th base of the season. That puts him well on his way to reaching the 26 stolen bases he stole last season.
3) I Exit When I Want to
Good thing for fantasy owners, Chris Sale waited until after the sixth inning to get ejected. That meant the southpaw stuck around long enough to pick up his sixth victory of the season with six innings of one run ball in Baltimore. It wasn’t an especially strong outing for Sale as he walked four batters, but that has been a slight issue all season for him. To this point, through 15 starts, Sale has walked 26 batters which puts him on a pace slightly higher than the 43 walks he has averaged over the last three seasons. Sale did strike out nine batters while allowing just one run on two hits, and with a 2.75 ERA and 0.97 WHIP so far this season, it’s hard to find much to complain about here.
4) Mercer Shows Some Pop
Jordy Mercer is usually one of those players who hangs around the fringes of your waiver wire. Every so often when you do a search, especially for top performers in the last seven or 14 days, Mercer is there. He isn’t really a valuable fantasy option, but he plays everyday and does just enough to perhaps keep you on the hook in some deeper leagues. That was the case yesterday as he went 2 for 4 with three RBI and a run scored in Pittsburgh’s victory. On the season, Mercer is hitting a respectable .264, and he hit his fourth home run of the season yesterday while bringing his RBI total up to 22. This is the true definition of a replacement level player.
5) Don’t Doubt Me
That is what Mitch Haniger must be repeating all season thus far. In fact, if I was Haniger, based on how fantasy drafts went this winter, I might be screaming it from the mountain tops. The outfielder picked up another two hits yesterday, and that included his 16th home run of the season, a two run shot, that came in the bottom of the ninth inning to send Seattle home happy. Haniger is now hitting a solid .270 on the season, but he is already up to 52 RBI as he is making claim to an All-Star game invitation. The only issue here, is that you have to hope he remains healthy all season, but there is no questioning his performance as he has teased this previously.
6) Anderson Cruises to Victory
Tyler Anderson is what he is, a solid starting pitcher, who is better on the road than at home. Considering Anderson pitches at Coors Field, this shouldn’t be all that surprising, but it does turn the southpaw into a streaming option. Including last night, Anderson has a 4.08 ERA on the road in 46.1 innings, while at home, his ERA is 5.14 in 28 innings. Last night, Anderson moved his way through Philadelphia’s lineup with relative ease as he allowed just one run in seven innings of work to pick up his fourth victory of the season. Anderson limited the Phillies to six hits while striking out six and not walking a batter, with the lone run coming on a Jorge Alfaro homer. After he had a 43.7% ground ball rate last season, I’m not a fan of the decrease to 34.9% so far this year, but when it comes to Anderson, we should keep our expectations in check.
7) Soto is Legit
If you didn’t believe in the first home run Juan Soto hit last night, a three run opposite field fly ball that kept on carrying, he made sure you didn’t leave skeptical. That is because the rookie followed that up with a no-doubt blast in the seventh inning. The two home runs he hit last night gave him five on the season to go along with 12 RBI and a .344 batting average. We know that the sample size is small, and Soto is young, but all he has done at each level of professional baseball is hit. Soto is proving, yes it’s just 64 at bats and he is still 19 years old, that baseball simply comes easy to him. However, we know that baseball is not an easy game, and their will be some periods of struggle, but Soto is also a legitimate talent. Anytime a player, especially a 19 year old, had more walks than strikeouts, that is a good day.
8) A Solid Start from Mahle
The Kansas City Royals can really make most starting pitchers look good, but you have to give Tyler Mahle some credit last night. Mahle picked up his fifth victory of the season with seven shutout innings as he continues to have a pretty solid campaign, albeit slightly under the radar. That is fair though, because a 3.96 ERA isn’t really going to generate too much buzz, but in today’s game, that isn’t all that bad and there is some value there. Against the Royals, Mahle limited them to three hits and two walks in 6.1 innings, but the issue, is that he struck out just one batter. For the season though, Mahle is striking out 8.16 batters per nine innings against 3.36 walks, but perhaps he is a better pitcher in real life than fantasy. It is also a little impressive that he does have five wins so far this season on a Reds team that isn’t exactly a juggernaut.
9) Don’t Sleep On Yuli
Based on what we expect from middle of the order hitters, and first baseman for that matter, Yuli Gurriel doesn’t fit the bill. Yes, Gurriel isn’t a home run hitter, but he does just fine putting the bat on the ball, and when the Astros’ offense is rolling, he reaps the benefits. Last night was another three hit effort for the first baseman as he pushed his average up to .304 on the season. All three hits were singles, but Gurriel also drove in three runs which gave him 27 RBI on the season in 53 games. Over his last 15 games, Gurriel really has been on a tear as he is hitting .354 with 13 RBI. As long as you can make up the home runs elsewhere, don’t sleep on him.
10) Turner Goes Deep
Wrist injuries are tough. It’s also scary when some soreness forces a player out of the lineup not too long after they return. Justin Turner returned to action after a brief break on Tuesday, and promptly doubled to show that there didn’t appear to be any lingering issues. If there were still doubts, Turner went deep last night. It was just the second home run of the season for the third baseman in 79 at bats, but I would continue to give him a little time to find his groove. The home run though, was a nice start.