by Ray Kuhn
While the baseball season certainly is a marathon, it also feels like the 2018 campaign has flown by. We are now in August, and that means there are just two months left in the regular season. If you are at the top of your standings, I’m sure the wish is that the season ended tomorrow. But for those looking to make up ground, the season might not be long enough. With that being said, let’s take a look at some performances from Wednesday’s games that might help you in the standings:
1) Turner Sets the Table
The Nationals appear to be on a roll, perhaps not trading Bryce Harper has helped them refocus, and they need to keep Trea Turner at the top of the batting. Oh, and continue to let him do what he does best; run. With Adam Eaton back in the lineup on Wednesday, Turner was right there behind him batting second, and the shortstop scored three of Washington’s five runs. Turner only had one hit, he is hitting .270 on the season, but he still managed to find himself on base three times thanks to both his speed and the Mets’ defense. Turner stole two bases, giving him 28 on the season to go along with his 66 runs scored.
In his last seven games, Turner has stolen six bases and scored 10 runs while batting .353. Granted, the last two games have had a lot to do with that, but Turner could be the biggest beneficiary if Washington’s lineup keeps up the positive momentum. And if that happens, he can easily move you up in the standings for both runs and stolen bases.
2) A Victory for Cobb
Yes, Alex Cobb has been healthy and in Baltimore’s rotation all season, and yes, he picked up just his third victory of the season on Wednesday. That is along with 14 losses for the right-hander who has been absolutely terrible in his first season with Baltimore. The excuse that Cobb signed with a new team halfway through spring training is no longer applicable, but should you read anything into his most recent start. Cobb went into Yankee Stadium and limited New York to just one run on seven hits while striking out six. That brought Cobb’s ERA down to 5.83 on the season. Cobb has been better over his last seven starts, a 4.54 ERA and 1.39 WHIP, but that still carries way too much risk for my taste. The fact that Cobb only walks 2.38 batters per nine innings is a good thing, but with just 6.16 strikeouts per nine innings, you aren’t getting any value there. While Cobb’s 4.83 FIP and 4.54 xFIP do generate some optimism, I would still keep my distance. But, if you want to stream Cobb against weaker opponents, there are worse things you can do. Just be aware of the potential damage to your ratios and the fact that the strikeouts probably won’t be there, and neither will a win.
3) Iglesias, the Double Machine
When you think of Jose Iglesias, you often don’t think of offense, but the shortstop has been relatively serviceable so far this season. And by that, what I really mean, is as a middle infielder in deeper (15 team) or AL-only leagues depending on your roster situation. However, you can count on Iglesias for regular at bats, and after two hits yesterday, including his 26th double, he is hitting a solid .268 on the season. The shortstop drove in three runs as part of Detroit’s victory which gave him 44 RBI on the season. It’s nothing that will bring you a championship, but there is replacement level value here.
4) Carrasco Cruises to Victory
It is always a good day when you get an ace quality start from your ace. And that is what happened for Carlos Carrasco on Wednesday as he took care of business against the Twins. The right-hander departed after 7.1 innings of shutout baseball with a runner on base, but Brad Hand secured the victory without incident. It was Carrasco’s 13th win of the season, and he scattered just four hits while striking out 10 batters to lower his ERA to 3.66 on the season. Carrasco was also efficient, as he threw 72 strikes out of his 101 pitches in what was his third straight quality start. Over that stretch, he has allowed just three runs in 20.1 innings with 26 strikeouts. With 10.10 strikeouts per nine innings, against just 1.90 walks, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t see Carrasco inch closer to his 3.26 FIP and 3.20 xFIP.
5) Barreto Has a Big Day
We have gone through stages with Franklin Barreto. The infielder was a top prospect, then the A’s promoted him to the majors, and over the past two seasons he has had sporadic playing time. Still just 22 years old, Barreto has yet to consistently show what he can at the big league level, and that trend might continue despite Wednesday’s success. Oakland has increased Barreto’s versatility by getting him time in the outfield, but until he gets a regular spot in the lineup, he doesn’t hold any value. However, we did get a solid look into his skill set on Wednesday as he finished up a triple shy of the cycle after hitting an impressive homer in the eighth inning. It was the fourth home run of the season for Barreto who is batting .246 on the season with 13 RBI in 61 at bats.
6) Keuchel Evens Out His Record
We aren’t seeing the 2015 Cy Young version of Dallas Keuchel, but the southpaw also isn’t struggling like he did in 2016 either. Last year actually went pretty well for the southpaw, a 2.90 ERA and 14 wins in 23 starts while dealing with some health issues, and this year he has been a solid fantasy starter. On Wednesday, he picked up his ninth victory of the season, against nine losses with seven innings of three run ball. In the second inning, it looked like things could potentially get out of hand, but Keuchel was able to limit the damage to two runs. Keuchel only struck out two batters, and for the season he is striking out just 6.65 batters per innings after a 7.72 mark last season. The lack of strikeouts does limit Keuchel’s value, but he has shown so far this year to be a solid starting option.
7) Will Glasnow Reach His Potential in Tampa Bay?
Inconsistency. Raw talent. Those are both accurate statements about Tyler Glasnow, and that is why he has been both a top prospect, and a failed prospect in the sense that he has yet to return any value at the major league level. Prior to being dealt to Tampa Bay as part of the Chris Archer trade, Glasnow appeared in 34 games out of the bullpen for the Pirates. And the results shouldn’t really be that surprising as Glasnow has 11.57 strikeouts per nine innings while walking 5.46 batters per nine innings. That played a large part in the right-hander’s 4.34 ERA as well as his 3.63 FIP and 3.46 xFIP. The Rays appear committed to easing Glasnow back into the rotation, and he appeared in three innings last night for his first start of the season. Glasnow pitched three innings and allowed one run on two hits and a walk while striking out five to give fantasy owners a glimpse at what he is capable of.
8) Hamels Has a Victorious Debut
While I think Cole Hamels benefits with the move to the Cubs from a fantasy perspective, I’m not sure that his outlook changes drastically. He is the still the same 34 year old pitcher that he was with Texas, now Hamels just joins a winning ball club competing for the division title. On Wednesday, the southpaw picked up his sixth victory of the season with five innings of one run (zero earned) against the Pirates. However, it wasn’t a exactly a smooth and stress free start for Hamels as he needed 95 pitches to get through those five innings while scattering three hits and two walks. Hamels did look impressive though as he struck out nine batters while lowering his ERA to 4.53 on the season.
9) He Will be Playing Everyday
Yes, manager Dave Roberts said that Brian Dozier won’t be in the lineup everyday due to the Dodgers’ abundance of assets, but I can’t see that actually playing out. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Dozier have a boost to his performance with the trade to Los Angeles, and the talented All-Star should do enough to get in the lineup everyday. He certainly got off to a good start on Wednesday, as the second baseman picked up three hits in his debut. Dozier’s night included his 17th home run of the season as well as his 22nd double. Yes, it is a down year for him, he is hitting .229, but he does have 53 RBI, and he still has a shot at a 30 home run season.
10) Gordon Flashes Power
If you have forgotten about Alex Gordon, you are not alone. Despite the large contract the Royals have given him, he really has no fantasy value; unless you count defense. While he had a two hit effort yesterday, bats second for the Royals, and is hitting .320 over his last seven games, you still best served looking elsewhere. Obviously in some deep, or AL-only leagues, you don’t have a choice, and then in that case, Gordon’s two hit day could move the needle for you. Gordon’s night included his seventh home run and 14th double of the season as he drove in four runs. You can deal with .243 if the rest of the production is there, but now this is where things get crazy. Despite playing all season, in a major league lineup, Gordon has just 24 RBI for the year. And that includes the four he picked up on Wednesday.
Make sure to check out all of our Midseason Prospect Rankings: