by Ray Kuhn
As should be expected this time of year, we had another busy day on the diamond. Have no fear though, as we are here to take you through some of the key performances that stood out. Let’s take a look:
1) No, This is Not a Repeat
I promise, we haven’t gotten lazy on you here. This is not just a copy and paste job from the past few days, but Ronald Acuna has now led off his third straight game with a home run. That also gives him five straight games in which he has left the park. For good measure, Acuna also added another home run later in the game as he continues to live up to his billing as a future superstar. Not like it really matters, Acuna singled as part of his three hit night as he raised his average to .288 on the season. It is his recent power tear that really catches your eye though, as Acuna is now at 19 home runs on the season to go along with 43 RBI in 264 at bats. With 12 home runs and 24 RBI in total over his last 30 games, it did take a little bit for Acuna’s power to really show itself; remember he also missed significant time with a knee injury. The bottom line, simply, is that Acuna is a very talented 20-year old, and this is just the beginning of what we will see from him.
2) Chacin, the Win Machine
Alright, so I had to rhyme. I mean, there really is only so much you can do to make Jhouyls Chacin sound exciting, but his performance is doing a pretty good job of that so far this season. The right-hander picked up his 12th victory of 2018 on Tuesday with seven shutout innings, on the road, against the Cubs. Chacin limited Chicago to just three hits and two walks as he struck out 10 while lowering his ERA to a solid 3.72. For the most part, Chacin and his 1.19 WHIP have been consistent throughout the season, and he has developed into a solid middle of the rotation option. What you see from Chacin is what you get, and he has benefited from a .255 BABIP this season (career mark of .281). For his career, Chacin has outperformed his xFIP but .30 runs, so I wouldn’t get too crazy about the 4.47 xFIP he has so far this season.
3) Will Porcello Reach 20?
After picking up his 15th victory of the season last night in Philadelphia, there certainly is an outside chance. Rick Porcello is enjoying pitching for the Red Sox this season and receiving all of the run support and bullpen support that comes with it. Yesterday, he made just two runs stand up though, as Porcello limited Philadelphia to one run (a solo homer) on two hits, while striking out 10 in seven innings of work. Sure, you would want his 4.04 ERA to be a little lower, but how can you argue with the 15 victories? Additionally, Porcello’s WHIP of 1.15 should be an asset and you also can’t complain about his 150 strikeouts in 151.2 innings. While it’s not a Cy Young season, it adds value to your fantasy team.
4) Should We Read Into a Solid Start
Andrew Cashner returned off the disabled list, and picked up his fourth victory of the season against the Mets. Yes, it came against a New York team that doesn’t offer up much in the way of offensive resistance, so you don’t want to overreact. Cashner got through seven innings of work last night allowing two runs on five hits and three walks while striking out three. The start brought his ERA down to 4.71 on the season, but his WHIP remains an unsightly 1.49. That is enough of a reason to stay far away from Cashner, and the fact that he strikes out just 91 batters in 128 innings also doesn’t help. Don’t try and bank on last night’s success continuing.
5) Pitching in New York is Easy
Slip right into New York, ride the subway if you like, and just keep on winning games. That’s all J.A. Happ has done since the trade from Toronto, and while the southpaw isn’t going to intimidate anyone on the mound, he gets the job done. And that, is why he was so appealing to the Yankees. Facing the Rays on Tuesday, Happ picked up his 13th victory of the season with seven shutout innings of work. All Tampa Bay managed against Happ, was one hit (although he did walk four batters) as he struck out four batters and lowered his ERA to 3.86 on the season. Overall, Happ has 145 strikeouts in 133 innings and a WHIP of 1.11. Roll him out there each week, and enjoy it.
6) Don’t Overreact, Please
It is completely understandable that you would want Lucas Giolito to be successful. I mean, the right-hander is a former top prospect and has plenty of raw talent, so he has to be good, right? And at this point, when most fantasy owners are out on the right-hander, wouldn’t it feel nice to maintain some faith and reap the benefits? Well, last night, Giolito did show what he is capable as he picked up his eight victory of the season. He did it though by allowing three runs in six innings of work on eight hits and one walk. Giolito’s quality start brought his ERA for the season down to 6.15, and we have to note, that it came against the Tigers who are one of the teams we look to target with our streaming options. The right-hander did strike out seven batters, but he as just 91 strikeouts in 131.2 innings so far this season. A closer look, does reveal that over his last seven starts, Giolito’s ERA is 4.50 with a WHIP of 1.26 (a lot better than his mark for the season of 1.50), so maybe there is something there? At this point, there really shouldn’t be a cost to invest, other than an open roster spot, so take a look if you must. Just be very careful about letting him near your starting lineup if you are looking to be competitive with your ratios over the next month and a half.
7) Another Three Hit Game for Ramirez
Just like with Acuna, no, I didn’t get lazy. Jose Ramirez is just that good. Fantasy owners had every right to be drafting Ramirez in the second round this season, and it made sense based on the projections, but something about it just felt slightly off to me. Little did I know, that the second round was just too low. Ramirez should be off the board by the time it gets to pick four if we are looking ahead to 2019 drafts. Last night, the third-baseman finished a triple shy of the cycle, as he went 3 for 5 to raise his average to .305 on the season. It was the 36th home run and 31st double of the year for Ramirez who, with his two RBI, is now up to 89 so far in 2018. Talk about an MVP performance as Ramirez has increased his ISO from .265 last season to .335 in 2018 while almost doubling his walk rate; 8.1% to 15.2%.
8) Stream Him on the Road
The splits really couldn’t be any clearer for German Marquez. In fact, there really is no point to look at his combined stats for the season considering his ERA at home is 6.42. On the road though, the right-hander shines, and he continued that last night in Houston. Marquez picked up his 10th victory of the season with seven innings of one run ball against a struggling Astros’ team allowing three hits and two walks while striking out seven. So far this season, in 74 innings of work, Marquez has a 2.92 ERA on the road with 78 strikeouts, and opponents are hitting just .199 against him. Sign me up for that, and let someone else underestimate him based on the combined ERA of 4.51.
9) Welcome to the Big Leagues
Taylor Ward is going to get a lot of attention upon his promotion to the big leagues based on his minor league production so far this season, .349 with 14 home runs, 60 RBI, and 18 stolen bases, and the fact that he is eligible at catcher. The Angels wasted no time getting Ward into their lineup last night, and they did so at third base (where they also happen to have a hole). And the rookie jumped right into things with a 2 for 3 performance including a double and RBI. For obvious reasons, Ward will garner a lot of attention on the waiver wire this week, and you might have to overpay to get him. But with just a month and a half left in the season, you can’t take the FAAB with you.
10) Cano is Back
Thanks to some trades made while he was serving his 80 game suspension, the Mariners might have to get creative to insert Robinson Cano back into their lineup. We got a glimpse of that last night, as Cano was in the lineup at first base. As long as he is batting somewhere, fantasy owners have nothing to complain about, and the fact that Cano was hitting second (with Dee Gordon batting ninth as a double lead-off) was ideal. It was a quiet night the plate for Cano though as all he managed was a single, but you should be able to re-insert him into your lineup without issue.
Make sure to check out all of our Midseason Prospect Rankings: