by Ray Kuhn
It was another busy Sunday around league, and as you prepare to set your lineup for the upcoming week, we have you covered. Let’s take a look at some of the performances that stood out from yesterday:
1) It Was Like He Never Left
If there were any doubts about Chris Sale’s health following a short sting on the disabled list, he put them to rest on Sunday. The southpaw didn’t appear to miss a beat from his short absence as he picked up his 12th victory of the season. Granted, Sale did face the Orioles so he didn’t have much in the way of resistance, and Boston kept him on a pitch count, but fantasy owners certainly weren’t complaining. Well, that is as long as you weren’t looking for a quality start as Sale exited after five innings and 68 pitches (48 strikes). Baltimore managed just one hit against Sale to go along with 12 strikeouts as the left-hander lowered his ERA to 1.97.
2) Didi Goes Deep
It could be me, and it’s also the plethora of talent young players (and American League shortstops) in the game, but Didi Gregorius appears to be flying under the radar this season. After going deep 25 times last season, the shortstop appears poised to surpass that in 2018, as on Sunday, Gregorius hit his 21st home run of the season. The two-run shot gave him 68 RBI on the season, and following a two hit effort, Gregorius is hitting a solid .270 on the season in the middle of the Yankees’ lineup. Yes, he did get off to a blazing start with 10 home runs and a .330 batting average in April before hitting .149 with one home run in May, but it’s hard to complain about Gregorius’ overall production.
3) Goldy Shows off the Power
At this point, and it shouldn’t be surprising, Paul Goldschmidt’s .144 batting average in May is simply a temporary blip. After his two home runs yesterday, a two run shot and a solo homer, the first baseman is at 26 home runs and 64 RBI on the season. Yes, that isn’t what we have become accustomed to seeing from the first baseman over the past few seasons, but he has more than made up for his rocky start to the season in which he hit seven home runs while only driving in 19 runs through May. With a .282 batting average, and rising, Goldschmidt is poised to finish the season strong.
4) Another Victory for Boyd
No, I’m going to try and really convince you to get excited for a pitcher who just won his seventh game on Sunday, but wins aren’t easy to come by from most starting pitchers. After all, the Tigers have just 49 wins on the season, so Boyd personally has one-seventh of that total. What you see from the southpaw is what you get, and that is a quality start and a pitcher who will keep you in the game and minimize the damage. In six innings of work against the Twins, Boyd limited them to one run on two hits and a walk while striking out three and lowering his ERA to 4.20 on the season. Overall, Boyd strikes out just about eight batters per nine innings, and his advanced metrics tell divergent stories; a 3.91 FIP and 4.67 xFIP. At this point, don’t try to over analyze him, or expect too much, just play the match-ups.
5) Conforto Shows Some Power
At this point, you have to chalk 2018 up as being a lost season for Michael Conforto. The best possible explanation, and one most helpful for his future value, is that the outfielder simply came back too soon from his shoulder injury and needed more time to get his swing in order. But, after 362 at bats, something is still missing for the outfielder. Yesterday, Conforto only managed one hit, but that one hit was a big one. It was the first home run since July 25th, and 15th overall, and it is a reminder not to give up on him. For the season, he is hitting just .235, but in his last seven games, Conforto is hitting .308 and showing some signs of life. Despite his struggles, if you extrapolate Conforto’s last 30 games to a 150 game season, you are looking at 25 home runs and 75 RBI with a .263 batting average. Not bad for what is a “down” season for a 25-year old outfielder with potential.
6) Markakis Continues to Produce
Based on his 2018 season, someone (both as a free agent and in fantasy circles) is going to overpay for Nick Markakis next year. Not like that Markakis isn’t, or hasn’t been, a good and dependable player throughout his career, but this season has been something different for the Atlanta clean-up hitter. Markakis drove in two more runs on Sunday which gave him 76 RBI on the season. While he isn’t a power hitter, the outfielder picked up his 36th double of the season yesterday while raising his batting average to .327 and remaining a fixture in the middle of the order for the Braves.
7) Diaz is Back
Yandy Diaz can hit, there is no question about that, Finding a position for him in the field, especially in a packed Cleveland infield is a different story. And that, is why Diaz only has 19 at bats with the Indians so far this season. You can’t count on Diaz for power, just three home runs and 40 RBI, but he is hitting .293 on the season in Triple-A, and he is a .311 career hitter in the minor leagues. Now that Edwin Encarnacion is sidelined, Diaz was promoted to take his place in the lineup; both in the clean-up spot and at designated hitter. He is wasting no time jumping right into things, and on Sunday, Diaz went 3 for 5 with two RBI to raise his average to .526 in his brief major league sample size this season. Don’t go too crazy looking to add Diaz, especially since it appears Encarnacion’s absence shouldn’t be long term, but he is worth a look.
8) Should We Pay Attention to Tyson Ross
We know that the Cardinals are in need of starting pitching, hence the acquisition of Ross. However, he is one of those pitchers who is better in real life than in fantasy. While Ross did pick up his seventh victory of the season on Sunday, it came against the Royals, so there is only so much emphasis we can put on it. In six innings of work, the right-hander allowed two runs on four hits and two walks while striking out four and lowering his ERA for the season to 4.38. With a 4.46 FIP and 3.76 walks per nine innings, what you see from Ross is what you get, and his value is very match-up dependent at best.
9) Lucchesi Throws a Gem
San Diego was careful with Joey Lucchesi on Sunday as they lifted the rookie after six innings of work and 94 pitches. He picked up his sixth victory of the season with six shutout innings while limiting the Phillies to two hits and three walks. The left-hander continued his solid debut season by striking out six and lower his ERA to 3.45 on the season. With 93 strikeouts in 88.2 innings and a 1.23 WHIP, the overall body of work is pretty good for Lucchesi who is doing a good job of keeping the ball on ground so far this season; 47.1% ground ball rate. There is no reason not to expect Lucchesi to finish the season out strong.
10) Will Lowrie Turn the Corner
After the was Jed Lowrie began the season, and cruised right into an All-Star game appearance, it seemed like the only thing that could derail him this year was his annual dance with the injury bug. Instead, and hopefully this doesn’t jinx him, Lowrie has remained healthy all season, but over the past month his performance has suffered. Including yesterday’s two hit performance, the second baseman is hitting just .187 with four home runs in his last 30 games. Sunday, Lowrie went deep for the 18th time this season, while also picking up his 28th double and raising his RBI total to 70. Overall, Lowrie is still hitting .267, but it’s very possible we have seen his best for the 2018 season.
Make sure to check out all of our Midseason Prospect Rankings: