by Ray Kuhn
For those of you that enjoy afternoon baseball, you were in luck on Wednesday. We had a slate chock full of action, a few more trades to digest, and plenty of fantasy implications. Let’s take a look at some of those performances:
1) Oswalt Makes History
Alright, so maybe history isn’t the right word for it, but Corey Oswalt picked up his first career victory on Wednesday. For a team, such as the Mets, who do not have any playoff aspirations at this point, those are the things that will get you through the final two months of the season. While Oswalt’s time in the rotation might be brief, with Jason Vargas and Noah Syndergaard currently on the disabled list, he is worth a look as a streamer. After posting a 2.28 ERA in 134.1 innings at Double-A last season, the right-hander emerged on the Mets’ radar, and he likely will some sort of role with the team over the rest of the season. Oswalt picked up the victory with five innings of two run ball in which he allowed three hits and two walks while striking out four. While his ERA is still 5.27, it is over a small sample size (22.1 innings), and Oswalt’s xFIP is 4.29.
2) Is There Life in Santana?
Carlos Santana has always been more valuable in leagues that count on base percentage instead of batting average, but this year, things have been even worse. After two hits on Wednesday, a single and a triple, Santana is hitting just .215 on the season. To say that this has been a disappointment would be an understatement, but in reality, he is only a few hits off his pace from last season when he hit .259. Over his last seven games, Santana’s .259 batting average is more in line with what we have expected from him in the past, and based on his .214, we should expect it to stay closer to that level for the remainder of the season. The good news though, is that Philadelphia has kept him in the middle of their lineup all season, and he has continued to be a run producer. After driving in three runs on Wednesday, Santana is at 60 RBI on the season.
3) The Park Can’t Hold Him
Eugenio Suarez only had one hit on Wednesday, don’t worry he is still hitting .305, but he made it count. Suarez’s two run shot was his 22nd of the season, as looking at his stat line, it is hard to remember that he also spent time on the disabled list with a broken thumb earlier this season. The third baseman is now up to 76 RBI as he is one of the best stories of the season for those who invested in Suarez at minimal cost on draft day. Last season, we saw Suarez’s ISO jump from .163 to .200, but that was just an appetizer as it jumped again, and so far this season, it is at .271. Compared to last season, Suarez’s fly ball rate is jump just under two percent, but he has seen his home run to fly ball rate rise from 17.9% to 22.1%. The number that stands out to me though, is that per Fangraphs, Suarez’s hard contact rate so far this season is at 52.2%; after it was 33.8% in 2017.
4) Domination in Cleveland
Things have been going pretty for the Pirates as of late, but that came to a screeching halt on Wednesday. That is what happens when you get to face Trevor Bauer. The right-hander kept Pittsburgh off the scoreboard through seven innings of work in which he allowed just two hits and two walks while striking out 10. In other words, it was just a typical 2018 outing for Bauer as he picked up his ninth victory of the season and brought his ERA down to 2.32. After not getting an out in the fifth inning in his last start and allowing four runs and 14 baserunners (nine hits and five walks), it was a nice bounce back for Bauer. However, no one was worried about the right-hander who is striking out 11.73 batters per nine innings so far this season.
5) Roark Bounces Back
It hasn’t been the best of seasons for Tanner Roark, but if he is going to have a resurgence in the second half of the season, he got off to a good start yesterday. Roark shut Milwaukee out for eight innings as he allowed just three hits and one walk while striking out 11. Things haven’t been going well for Roark, and it was just his fourth victory of the season, against 12 losses with a 4.55 ERA. Other than the 15 home runs that Roark has allowed so far this season, it’s hard to point at anything specific for him this season that has led to his struggles. However, after posting a 4.67 ERA last season, this is truly the real Roark, and the issue has been that Washington just hasn’t gotten many wins for the right-hander. For the rest of the season, Roark should be used as a streaming option only, or if you can stomach the potential hit to your ratios.
6) Just Enough to Keep You on the Hook
In the never ending search for starting pitching, Matt Boyd has garnered some attention so far this season. On Wednesday, he picked up his fifth victory of the season, against nine losses, but I wouldn’t hold that against him considering he plays for the Tigers. Boyd took advantage of a weak Kansas City offense as he limited the Royals to two runs on seven hits as he struck out seven batters to lower his ERA to 4.53 on the season. It really doesn’t get more average as a starting pitcher than Boyd, but depending on the opponent there is some value in that. Boyd succeeds despite generating a 33.5% ground ball rate, as in reality, he is a league average pitcher who should be streamed. You do have to like though, the fact that Boyd strikes out 8.23 batters per nine innings.
7) Garver Takes Advantage of His Opportunity
The initial opportunity for Mitch Garver is Jason Castro being sidelined for the season, but more specifically, it is the fact that he got six at bats on Wednesday. Sometimes, games like that don’t work out too well for a player, but in Garver’s case, it did. The catcher picked up four hits on Wednesday as he saw his batting average go from .257 to .270 in one game. Garver went deep for the fifth time this season, and his five RBI gave him 20 on the season; in 185 at bats. As far as catchers go, Garver is really just a replacement level option in deeper leagues, but he is hitting .325 over his last 30 games.
8) Gray Gets Nothing for His Efforts
Jon Gray is either really good, or really bad. That is at least how things have been going for the right-hander so far this season. When Gray is on, he generally gets the victory, and he has an ERA of under two in those starts. But when Gray is bad, the inconsistency shows as he has an ERA of over nine when he is the losing pitcher. Watching Gray pitch on Wednesday, you would have never known that about those struggles or that he had to be sent down to the minors not that long ago to sort through his struggles. He appeared to be in control the whole night as his pitches danced through the strike zone allowing just one hit in seven innings of work. Houston did manage two runs off Gray, one of which was unearned, as he walked two batters and struck out six to bring his ERA down to 5.16. For those of who that truly want to buy into Gray, he is sporting a FIP of 3.05 and an xFIP of 2.84.
9) Another Late Inning Victory for Oakland
We could talk about Khris Davis and the fact that he hit two home runs again, but that has become pretty standard. By the same measure, Oakland coming back to win a game in which they were trailing has also become pretty customary. But a by product of that, is their relievers often end up emerging victorious. And once again, on Wednesday, that was Lou Trevino. The right-hander continued his success this season as he threw a perfect inning to pick up his eighth victory of the year. While he does have four saves, when Blake Treinen has been unavailable, I wouldn’t look at him as a potential saves source as the incumbent has been performing quite well. But there certainly is value to picking up those “cheap” wins from your relievers. The fact that Trevino has a 1.33 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and 55 strikeouts in 47.1 innings also helps.
10) History is Made in LA
No, we are not talking about the fact that Albert Pujols stole a base last night either. Instead, we should recognize Pujols for moving into 6th place all time in the career home run list as he passed Ken Griffey Jr. We know that Pujols is not close to the slugger he once was, but games like this do serve as a reminder that there is still something left in the tank. Pujols went 3 for 4 on Wednesday to bring his batting average up to .253 on the season. While it is not MVP caliber, it also could be worse, and coupled with his 17 home runs and 53 RBI, you still have a solid player.
Make sure to check out all of our Midseason Prospect Rankings: