by Ray Kuhn
We had a busy day on the field to start the week, so let’s not waste any time in looking at some of the performances that stood out from a fantasy perspective:
1) A Nice Way to Make a Debut
Over the past year or so, Bryse Wilson has risen in the pecking order of Atlanta pitching prospects, and considering how many they have, it’s not exactly an easy task. After posting a 2.50 ERA and 1.04 in Single-A last season, Wilson began the 2018 season in High-A, but that wasn’t for long (five starts. He soon made stops in Double-A (15 starts and a 3.97 ERA) and Triple-A (4.50 ERA in three starts) before getting the call to the major leagues last night. The 20 year old certainly wasted no time in making his presence felt as he threw five shutout innings to pick up the victory. Wilson limited Pittsburgh to three hits and three walks while striking out five, and he is a prospect who should be on your radar.
2) Morales Shows off the Power
It becomes a challenge in team construction to have a player who isn’t exactly elite clogging up your utility spot. But if you need power, sometimes you just don’t have a choice and you have to make it work. And games like last night, where Kendrys Morales went deep twice, is why. It was the 15th and 16th home runs of the season for Morales in 330 at bats. They came in consecutive innings off Andrew Cashner, a pitcher worth targeting, and the four RBI (via a solo shot and a three run homer) gave Morales 45 RBI on the season to go along with his .252 batting average. We aren’t talking about elite numbers, but there is some value there.
3) Brantley is Finding His Groove Again
After cooling off a bit previously, Michael Brantley is showing that was just a blip on the radar. The outfielder went deep for the 14th time this season last night, a two run shot, while also adding a single. For the season, Brantley’s batting average is now back up to .302 to go along with 67 RBI. Over his last 15 games, Brantley is hitting .352, so any concerns about a slump after his .250 average in June and .265 average in July can be dismissed.
4) Another Win for Yardbrough
Just because he didn’t start the game, we can’t dismiss the efforts of Ryan Yardbrough. Well, if your league gives you credit for quality starts and not wins, then unfortunately you have to dismiss that statement. Regardless though, the southpaw is certainly proving to be valuable “out of the bullpen” as Tampa Bay’s second pitcher. Last night, Yardbrough picked up his 12th victory of the season with 5.1 shutout innings against Kansas City. He limited the Royals to just two hits and a walk while striking out six and lowering his ERA to 3.84. While it isn’t exactly conventional, it also is appearing to work, and that is all you can ask for.
5) Wheeler Gets Nothing for His Efforts
Once again, Zack Wheeler continues to show why he previously was a first round pick. After struggling and dealing with injuries early in his career, it has been an uphill climb for respect for Wheeler, but so far this season, he is doing everything he can to earn it. The Mets let Wheeler pitch deep into the game last night, seven innings, and they even left him in when he got into trouble in his last inning of work. Ultimately, he did relinquish the lead, but it was a soft pop fly that happened to drop in that gave him the no decision. In his seven innings of work, Wheeler limited the Giants to five hits and one walk while striking out 10 and lowering his ERA to 3.63 on the season. If we drop down to his last seven games, that is even better, as Wheeler has just a 1.93 ERA in that stretch with a WHIP of 0.92.
6) Another Win for Giolito
I feel like this is almost counter productive. Due to his top-prospect billing, people don’t want to forget about Lucas Giolito. I mean, it does make sense that the right-hander would one day develop into the pitcher we expected him to be a few years ago and produce fantasy value. The problem though, is that we have seen it in very small doses and there is risk present. Last night, was another example of how Giolito keeps you on the hook as he picked up his ninth victory of the season against the Twins. I do like the fact that the re-building White Sox are giving him every opportunity to find his groove, but you don’t want him to do that at the expense of your fantasy team. Giolito also picked up the quality start as he allowed three runs in six innings of work on five hits to lower his ERA to 6.08. The best takeaway here though, is the fact that Giolito only walked two batters while striking out six. Over his last seven starts, things have been better, a 4.87 ERA, but tread carefully here.
7) Anderson Turns in a Solid Start
Two pitches. Those were the only problems for Chase Anderson on Monday as he picked up his eighth victory of the season against the Reds. Aside from the two solo home runs that Anderson allowed, Cincinnati didn’t have a base runner in the first six innings of the game as he struck out six. With a 3.92 ERA in 24 starts, Anderson has developed into a dependable starting pitching option. However, you also need to exercise caution. So far this season, Anderson has benefited from a .235 BABIP, which is in fact a theme among other Milwaukee starting pitchers. That in turn leads to a 5.27 FIP and 4.87 xFIP, and those ratios are enough for me to be careful when streaming Anderson.
8) Laureano Shows Off Some Power
After promoting Ramon Laureano, the A’s appear committed to giving the speedy outfielder playing time on a relatively consistent basis. Last night, we saw some power from Laureano as he went deep twice for Oakland. They were the first two home runs of his career, of the two and three run varieties, and his five RBI brought his career total up to eight. In 32 at bats, Laureano is hitting .281 following his promotion after hitting .297 in 64 games at Triple-A with 14 home runs and 11 stolen bases. With 43 and 24 stolen bases in 2015 and 2016 respectively, he brings some legit speed to the table, and that mixed with some power, makes him worth a look in just about all formats.
9) Don’t Worry About Cano
While we can debate the morality of Robinson Cano’s steroid use and subsequent suspension, it is clear that the second baseman hasn’t missed a step since his return. Last night, Cano had a three hit effort against the Astros which included two doubles. However, the big strike, was a three run homer in the eighth inning that put Seattle up for good. It was just the fifth home run of the season for Cano, and his first since returning, but with a .346 batting average in six games, it is clear that we don’t need to adjust our expectations for him. Additionally, Cano got the start, once again, at first base, and appears that playing won’t be an issue for him; plus the extra positional eligibility doesn’t hurt.
10) Carpenter is Not Slowing Down
It wasn’t exactly a triumphant return for Kenley Jansen yesterday, but Matt Carpenter hasn’t been slowed down by many pitchers these days. This time, it was a solo home run for Carpenter, his 34th on the season as he finished a triple shy of the cycle with his 34th double. Overall, Carpenter is hitting .273 with 69 RBI, and while his pace has to slow at some point, his success is also not a fluke.