by Ray Kuhn
Just because it is the All-Star break, it doesn’t mean you should ignore your fantasy baseball teams over the next four days. Use the time in which you are not setting your lineups and following the action on the field to set yourself up for the second half of the season. Having these few days with no games, is the perfect time to reflect and plan for the stretch run. But as we begin that process, let’s first take a look at some of the performances that stood out from a busy Sunday around the diamond:
1) Machado’s Day Ends Early
Seeing Manny Machado lifted after two at bats on Sunday, brought a plethora of emotions to different people. You have Orioles fans, that while are prepared for the inevitable, thought they had to confront the idea of Machado being traded at that moment; he wasn’t. Then, there are fantasy owners who will be relying on the shortstop for the next two and a half months who were afraid of injury. And then there are fans of Machado’s potential new team. Instead, while trade talks appear to be nearing completion, Machado was lifted out of concern for his health based on the rainy and wet conditions. If this was Machado’s last game in Baltimore though, he went out of with a bang as went deep for the 24th time this season in the first inning and followed that up with a walk. Machado scored a both times he was on base, and the shortstop goes into the All-Star break batting .315 with 65 RBI.
2) Holt Drives in Two
Unless Boston makes a trade, they likely will, we will be seeing more of Brock Holt in the second half of the season. Nothing the utility man does will jump off the page at you, but being a part of Boston’s lineup is enough to get my attention. On Sunday, Holt reached base three times, two singles and a walk, and he drove in two runs. In 189 at bats so far this season, Holt is batting .289 with 25 RBI and 20 runs scored. That is going to jump off the page at you, but in a deeper league if you need infield help, Holt is eligible essentially all over depending on the league, he can be a solid stop gap.
3) Anderson Finishes Strong
You can generally find a few bright spots on a rebuilding team, and Brian Anderson is one of those for the Marlins. The rookie went into the All-Star break feeling good after a three hit effort yesterday against the Phillies. The one area where Anderson is currently lacking is power, but he did hit his eighth home run of the season, a three run shot on Sunday. Run production hasn’t been as big of an issue for Anderson, 49 RBI, and nor has batting average as the rookie is hitting a solid .288. Over his last 30 games, it appears Anderson has slowed down as he is batting .244, but with 17 RBI he didn’t loose all value, and things might be picking up for the rookie as he goes into the break hitting .333 in his last seven games.
4) Julio Picks up the Win
As far as home starts go for Julio Teheran, this one was pretty smooth. But after really struggling last season while wearing the home whites, Teheran has been better this season in Atlanta, and after yesterday, his ERA there is 4.13; compared with 3.86 on the road. In picking up his seventh victory of the season against Arizona, the right-hander threw 6.1 shutout innings in which he scattered four hits and three walks while striking out six. Despite the general success though, his ERA sits at 4.00, we should be a little concerned about Teheran entering the second half. For his career, Teheran’s BABIP is .272, but so far this season, it is sitting at .221. Additionally, he is walking almost a batter more per nine innings (4.34), than he did last season, and neither agree with Teheran’s 5.06 FIP and 4.64 xFIP.
5) Marte Steals Another One
On the surface, it seems like another boring game for Starling Marte. After his 80 game suspension last season, it feels like Marte has taken a step back in both name recognition and buzz. Yesterday, the outfielder went 1 for 5, drove in his 44th run of the season, and saw his average drop to .285. However, we should also note that Marte stole his 25th base of the season. With base stealing down across the league, Marte is one of the few players who regularly contribute in that category. And the fact that he does drive in runs, score runs (52), and hit for a solid average, means we are talking about someone pretty close to a four category contributor.
6) Moncada’s Knee is Fine
One day after Yoan Moncada was lifted mid-game, fantasy owners can rest easy. The second baseman closed out the first half of the season strong with a three hit effort on Sunday. As he finished a triple shy of the cycle, Moncada flashed his potential. He came through with his 12th home run of the season, a solo shot, picked up his 19th double, and also scored all three times he reached base. Moncada has a solid 41 RBI on the season thus far, but his batting average at .238 certainly hinders his value. With a .345 BABIP, luck certainly is not an issue for Moncada as, if anything, you can say that at .238 his batting average is a little too high. The issue is in the strikeouts. When you are striking out 33.9% of the time, finding sustained success will prove to be difficult. Yes, he also walks 9.4% of the time, so while that helps in on base leagues, it’s still not enough.
7) Rosario Drives in Two More
A look at the All-Star game rosters should bring you to Eddie Rosario, but instead the Minnesota outfielder is on the outside looking in. Rosario, who has been a major part of the middle of the Twins’ lineup so far this season, closed out the first half with three hits and two more RBI. With 60 RBI on the season, Rosario has proven to be a dependable run producer, and over his last seven games, he is hitting .419 with seven RBI. Overall, it’s hard to find fault with Rosario’s .311 batting average and 64 runs scored (he scored twice yesterday), and 19 home runs. There is no reason why his success shouldn’t continue for the remainder of the season.
8) A Solid Home Start for Anderson
Owning Colorado starting pitchers is hard. But so far this season, Tyler Anderson is trying to prove that they shouldn’t be ignored either. Despite picking up a no decision yesterday, the Rockies did ultimately win, Anderson racked up another solid start. In six innings of work he held Seattle to two runs on five hits and a walk while striking out six to lower his ERA to a solid 3.72. Over his last seven starts, things have really clicked for the southpaw as a 2.14 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP while striking out 50 batters in 46.1 innings. With a 3.94 ERA at home, 3.48 on the road, Anderson has also appeared to tame Coors Field. However, I would still play the match-up game with the left-hander at home.
9) Another Win for Manaea
All in all, it’s hard to really argue about Sean Manaea’s body of work from the first half of the season. He closed things out in San Francisco yesterday, and picked up his ninth victory of the season with six solid innings of work. Manaea allowed two runs on five hits and one walk to enter the All-Star break with a respectable 3.72 ERA. After encountering some previous struggles, Manaea’s ERA over his last seven starts is 3.12 with a WHIP of just 0.97 and only six walks in 43.1 innings of work. The issue though, is that Manaea has just 25 strikeouts in that stretch, and overall the left-hander has only struck out 83 batters in 123.2 innings so far this season which limits his upside.
10) A Perfect Night for Grandal
After starting the season off strong, Yasmani Grandal slumped a bit, but given the state of the catcher position, not enough for concern in deeper leagues. Plus, if you take a look at his overall body of work in the first half of the season, it’s hard to find too much fault. Yesterday, Grandal closed things out with a perfect day at the plate, 3 for 3 with a walk to raise his average to .251. One of those hits, was the 13th home run of the season for Grandal, who also has 47 RBI. Fantasy owners would gladly accept a continuation of that pace for the second half of the season.