by Ray Kuhn
Talk about a busy trading deadline. This season, we saw one of the more active trading periods, and there was a flurry of action yesterday involving fantasy relevant players. There will be time to digest that over the next few days, but for now, let’s take a look at some of the performances that stood out on the field in a busy Tuesday:
1) Rodriguez Keeps on Cruising
Even though he didn’t get a win for his efforts, fantasy owners aren’t going to find fault with the performance Dereck Rodriguez gave them on Tuesday. The right-hander continued his success with seven innings of one run ball to bring his ERA down to 2.59. He never really was in trouble all afternoon, as the Padres managed just three hits and three walks against Rodriguez as they struck out seven times. Rodriguez has now made 10 starts so far this season, 12 games overall, and he is consistently outperforming his 3.36 FIP and 4.16 xFIP. A home run to fly ball rate of 6.3% certainly is helping with that, but it’s unclear whether or not that will continue. While I wouldn’t heavily invest in Rodriguez, there’s also no reason not to continue to ride his success.
2) Tanaka Picks Up An Easy Victory
Granted, at this point, the Orioles really have Adam Jones and nobody else in their lineup, but it’s hard to find fault with Masahiro Tanaka’s performance last night. The right-hander picked up his ninth victory of the year without incident as he breezed through six shutout innings. Maybe breeze isn’t exactly the right word as Tanaka did need 105 pitches, 66 strikes, to get through the night, but Baltimore never really was in the position to do damage. Tanaka limited the Orioles to three hits and two walks as he struck out eight batters while lowering his ERA to 3.84. In his last seven games, we have certainly seen the “good” Tanaka, as he is 4-0 with a 2.36 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP to go along with 50 strikeouts in 42 innings.
3) Murphy Leads the Way
We could probably fill this whole article just with Washington hitters after last night’s 25 run outburst, but with six RBI, Daniel Murphy lead the way. It has been a slow go of it for the second baseman since he returned from knee surgery, but he has been finding his stride at the plate. And if there were any doubt of that, Murphy erased it on Tuesday as it appeared he turned the clock back to the 2015 NLCS. Murphy hit two and three run homers in consecutive innings last night to bring his total for the season up to four, and included with his RBI single, the second baseman increased his RBI total to 23. Through 122 at bats, Murphy is hitting a solid .287, and in his last 15 games, that total jumps to .413. At this point, you missed your opportunity to buy Murphy for a discount.
4) Here We Go Again
One of the more divisive pitchers this season is Matt Boyd. Now, it’s not that Boyd is all that good, it’s that he has been having some success, and there are fantasy owners who are having a hard time taking him seriously and buying into the success. But given the state of pitching around the league, he has to be on your radar. I still maintain he really is nothing more than a streaming option, and on Tuesday, he certainly fit that bill. Yes, the Reds do have a better lineup than you might expect, but starting Boyd against Cincinnati is something I would feel comfortable with. And the southpaw certainly delivered with eight innings of shutout baseball to pick up his sixth victory of the season. That brought Boyd’s ERA down to 4.22 on the season as he limited the Reds to four hits and one walk while striking out seven. Boyd’s 3.84 FIP plays into his hype, while his 4.60 xFIP works to dispel it. With 8.21 strikeouts per nine innings and a solid 1.16 WHIP, let’s just take Boyd for what he is, and use him in most match-ups without expecting too much.
5) Duffy Gets Back Over .300
I really should like Matt Duffy more than I do. Perhaps if Duffy was a middle infielder instead of a third baseman that would be the case, but after his three hits last night, his average is back up to .304. However, all three of Duffy’s hits were singles and he only scored one run to go along with just one RBI. Despite batting towards the top of the order, Duffy only has 30 RBI so far this season in 345 at bats with 35 runs scored. It’s never a bad thing to have a .300 hitter on your fantasy team, but the fact that Duffy really doesn’t do anything else could be an issue.
6) Welcome to the Majors
The Braves dipped into their stacked minor league pitching rotation on Tuesday and brought up 20 year old Kolby Allard to make his debut. After putting up a 3.18 ERA in Double-A last season, Allard has made the jump to Triple-A in 2018, and at the time of his promotion, he had a 2.80 ERA in 18 starts. While the future is certainly bright for the former first round pick (2015), I wouldn’t rush out expecting him to be an instant fantasy contributor this season. While Allard did pick up the victory in his debut, he had to work for it. He allowed five runs, four earned, to the Marlins as they reached base 11 times; nine hits and two walks. Allard only struck out one batter in what will be a learning experience for the southpaw.
7) It’s a Race to 100 in Cleveland
We know that the Indians will have at least two hitters with 100 RBI this season, but who will get there first. Right now, Jose Ramirez is in the lead, as after his two last night, he is at 78 on the season. At this point, it sounds like a broken record, but even though Ramirez was coming off the boards with an ADP of 20 during draft season, the third baseman has shot right past that. He picked up three more hits yesterday, including his 28th double of the season, to bring his average up to .298 overall. And did we mention that Ramirez also stole his 25th base of the season. But he has company atop the RBI leader board, as Edwin Encarnacion picked up three more last night to bring his total to 76. Even at 35 years old, the DH continues to be one of the best run producers in the game. Yes, his .235 batting average could be a liability, but it’s also hard to argue with 24 home runs and 76 RBI.
8) Another Strong Start for Gray
Buy now if you can on Jon Gray. Yesterday’s strong start saw his ERA dip below five, 4.99 to be exact, and you want his owners to look at that number and move on. We don’t have to discuss the fact that, in his last seven starts, Gray’s ERA is 3.42, or that his FIP is 3.09 or his xFIP is 2.96. Granted, some of that is a buy product of pitching in Coors Field, but Gray is a better pitcher than he has showed so far this season. In fact, his 4.58 ERA at home is almost a run better than his 5.43 mark on the road. Last night, threw 7.1 strong innings to pick up his ninth victory of the season. Gray allowed three runs, two earned, on four hits and two walks while striking out five.
9) Godley Shuts Down the Rangers
It has been a rough start to the season for Godley, but on Tuesday, the right-hander showed what he can do. The Rangers never had a chance against Godley as he limited them to just two hits and one walk in seven innings of shutout baseball. Godley, who struck out 10 batters, picked up his 12th victory of the season despite his 4.46 ERA. A WHIP of 1.47 is also making things rough for Godley so far this season, as he is struggling with his control; 4.32 walks per nine innings compared to 3.08 last season. At 51.3%, he is still doing a solid job at generating ground balls while striking out 9.51 batters per nine innings. Both Godley’s FIP and xFIP check in 3.93, and he might be an interesting buy low candidate for the second half of the season.
10) Reddick Steps Up
With Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve sidelined, someone has to, and Josh Reddick hasn’t done much to stand out from the pack so far this season. Last night, he picked up three RBI, and that brought his total for the season to just 34. The outfielder, who last season was a consistent source of RBI production, is also only batting .253 on the season with 11 home runs (he had a two run shot last night). It is possible that last night’s performance gets Reddick going, and he is worth the look on the waiver wire as long as the investment is minimal. Also, once Correa and then Altuve come back, it’s possible the lineup starts to roll, and Reddick could reap some of the benefits.
Make sure to check out all of our Midseason Prospect Rankings: