by Ray Kuhn
Some would say that a perfect day is one filled with baseball, and that was certainly the case on Sunday. However, we also came close to seeing some history in Citi Field as Nathan Eovaldi took a perfect game into the seventh inning. You know we are going to cover that in more detail here, but let’s also take a look at some of other performances of note from a busy day in baseball.
1) Eovaldi Cruises to Victory
When you don’t allow a base runner until there are two outs in seventh inning, cruising is an understatement. Brandon Nimmo picked up a clean, two out single against Eovaldi, and the right-hander limited the damage at that. Since he is still in the process of working his way back from Tommy John surgery, the Rays removed Eovaldi after seventh inning, and that was more than sufficient for fantasy owners. Eovaldi picked up his third victory of the season, in his eighth start, as he saw his ERA improve to 3.35 on the season. The right-hander struck out nine, and so far in 2018 he is striking out 8.19 batters per nine innings while walking just 1.12. While Eovaldi is clearly benefiting from his .198 BABIP, his 3.36 xFIP (he does have a 4.16 FIP) shows there is still a lot to like moving forward from the right-hander. Don’t expect too much as the Rays will be careful with him, but Eovaldi has shown to be a solid option. It doesn’t hurt that, per FanGraphs, his velocity has returned as he is hitting 97 miles per hour with his fastball.
2) Dozier Leads Minnesota to Victory
It was a good day offensively for the Twins as they put up a 10 spot on the Orioles. So far, 2018 hasn’t been the ideal season for Brian Dozier, but while he has been a disappointment, he also hasn’t left fantasy owners completely hanging. Dozier picked up two hits on Sunday, and that included the big blow in an eight run sixth inning for Minnesota. The three run homer was the 13th of the season for Dozier who also added his 18th double to raise his average to .222. With just 38 RBI, Dozier does need to pick up his performance, and in his last 30 games entering Sunday, the second baseman is hitting just .159. At this point, moving on from Dozier if you have another option makes perfect sense, but each game like yesterday’s is a hopeful sign for a turnaround.
3) Keuchel Picks up the Victory
I wouldn’t say it was a completely dominant or stress free start for Dallas Keuchel on Sunday, but it’s also pretty difficult to find much fault in it. Keuchel kept the White Sox off the scoreboard until the top of the seventh, when he allowed a lone run, but the Astros bounced back with a run in the bottom of the inning which allowed the southpaw to pick up his sixth victory of the season. Keuchel scattered six hits and three walks, but he only struck out two batters. With a 3.95 ERA, Keuchel is not having a Cy Young caliber season, he is striking out just 6.89 batters per nine innings, but he is still a reliable starting pitcher with a ground ball rate of 55.3%. Just hold your expectations in check.
4) Realmuto Has Himself a Day
At this point, we can conclude that being the last man standing in Miami hasn’t had a negative impact on J.T. Realmuto. While the Marlins have been better than expected at times, a lot of their efforts on the offensive end have been led by Realmuto. On Sunday, he had five of Miami’s 22 hits, and brought his average for the season up to .317. All five of Realmuto’s hits were singles, and he drove in three runs, and scored twice, to bring his 2018 RBI total up to 44. Despite a quick stint on the disabled list earlier in the season, Realmuto is truly establishing himself as a run producer so far this season, and he is making a run at being the most productive fantasy catcher.
5) Porcello Keeps on Winning
The job of a starting pitcher is to win games, and quite simply, that is what Rick Porcello is doing. After struggling last season, posting a 4.65 ERA and winning 11 games (against 17 losses), Porcello matched his 2017 win total on Sunday. There are a few differences between seasons for Porcello, and one of them is that he has lost just three games so far in 2018. Additionally, his ERA which sits at 3.58 after allowing three runs in seven innings of work yesterday, looks a lot better than year. With a 3.47 FIP, we can believe in Porcello’s performance as he striking out close to a batter an inning with just 2.06 walks per nine innings. Compared to last season, Porcello’s hard contact (per Fangraphs) is down about eight percent, and that has played a large part in his success. Additionally, Porcello has increased his ground ball rate to 45.4% after seeing it dip last season, with a corresponding decrease to his fly ball rate.
6) An RBI Machine in Chicago
Javy Baez had the chance for more on Sunday, he left four runners on base, but he still managed to pick up two more RBI. That brings Baez’s total for the season up to 65, and his two hit effort (a single and a double) brought his batting average up to .295 on the year. It’s a true coming out performance this season for Baez, as entering play on Sunday, he was hitting .424 over his last 15 games. While Baez is always going to strike out, 24.8% of the time, he is showing that he still can make things work, and the strikeouts aren’t going to be an issue. While Baez does have a .345 BABIP, that appears to be in line with his career mark of .335 and last year’s .344 BABIP.
7) Panda’s Big Day
You really have to give Pablo Sandoval credit. It truly appeared that his career was over, but he has taken advantage of the regular playing time he has been receiving with San Francisco. Now that’s not to say he is going to be a true difference maker, but he is doing enough to generate some fantasy value. Yesterday, we got a good idea of what Sandoval is capable of as he drove in five runs as part of San Francisco’s victory. Sandoval singled twice and hit a three run homer, his eighth on the season, as he brought his RBI total up to 34 so far in 2018. In 210 plate appearances, Sandoval is hitting .257, but he has been slumping as of late; entering play Sunday he was hitting .184 in his last 15 games.
8) Healy Has a Big Day
Ryon Healy made his two hits count on Sunday as he drove in five of Seattle’s six runs. While his .245 batting average does leave something to be desired, it’s hard to argue with Healy’s power production. He hit his 18th home of the season, a three run shot, in the sixth inning, after driving in two with his ninth double of the season in the second inning. Through 282 at bats, Healy has 46 RBI, but in his last 15 games (entering Sunday) he has been struggling to the tune of a .194 batting average. Healy does have 12 RBI in that span, but it is a problem that he also has 17 strikeouts and just one walk in that span.
9) Anderson Picks up the Victory
Don’t make your decisions strictly based on the box score. Yes, Brian Anderson did go into Cleveland on Sunday and pick up the victory with five shutout innings, but that also doesn’t mean he should be going anywhere near your fantasy team. By the same token, no, it wasn’t the wrong decision for you to stack Cleveland hitters against Anderson. Even though it failed, the decision making process was correct. The left-hander did limit the Indians to just three hits and two walks, but he only struck out three batters, and after five starts, his ERA still sits at 5.75. In that span, Anderson has allowed 28 hits and eight walks in 20.1 innings while striking out just 11 batters. Move on, there is nothing to see here.
10) Two Hits and a Stolen Base for Marte
At this point, the days of taking Starling Marte with an early round pick are beginning to become outdated. Now that doesn’t mean I would completely give up on the outfielder, but it appears that he has stopped developing. What you see from Marte currently, is what you can likely expect moving forward from the 29 year old. He picked up two hits on Sunday, both singles, as he brought his average up to a solid .278, but Marte’s 10 home runs and 38 RBI aren’t going to jump off the page at you. And that batting average is also propped up by his .391 average over his last seven games. What I do like about Marte though, is the stolen bases, as on Sunday, he picked up his 22nd steal of the season. While I wouldn’t classify Marte strictly as a “speed only” option, I would also keep my expectations in check for him.