by Ray Kuhn
In case you starting to become selective with how you followed baseball over the last few weeks of the season, we were reminded that anything can happen at any time. While there weren’t any fantasy implications, the Angels took a combined no-hitter into the eighth inning last night. And in case your were pining for nostalgia, once again, the Mets failed to score for Jacob de Grom. This time the right-hander allowed two earned runs in seven innings while striking out nine and seeing his ERA rise, yes rise, to 1.71.
We also saw the Red Sox become the first team to clinch a playoff birth last night as Chris Sale returned and logged one inning of work (26 pitches). Let’s now take a look at some of the fantasy performances that stood out from a busy Tuesday around the league:
1) Soto Makes History
After a ho-hum first game on Tuesday, two singles in four at bats, Juan Soto showed us what he is capable of in the night-cap. For the third time this season, Soto had a multi-home run game, and his two homers brought his total for the season up to 18 in just 350 at bats. For good measure, Soto also added his 22nd double of the season along with four RBI (60 total) while raising his average for the season to .306. At this point, we are simply running out of superlatives for the young outfielder, and it’s possible that this is just the beginning for Soto.
2) A Good Sign For Altuve
This summer saw Jose Altuve spend his first stint on the disabled list as he has concerned fantasy owners while dealing with a knee injury. In his last 30 games, Altuve is hitting .258, and in his last 15 games as he works to shake off some of the rust and deal with that injury, the second baseman is hitting just .226. Last night, Altuve wasted no time getting going as he took the first pitch of the game deep. Later in the game, Altuve added a single, and despite his recent struggles, he is still hitting .318 on the season with 12 home runs and 54 RBI. With the knee likely being more of an issue that realized, it is considered a “down’ season for the second baseman, and especially so since he has just 15 stolen bases. After being one of the top two or three picks for this season, that could mean there might be a little value to be found in Altuve for 2019.
3) Castillo Turns in a Strong Outing
Luis Castillo has too much talent to turn away from despite his uneven performance so far this season. Last night, we got a good look at what the right-hander is capable of as he picked up his ninth victory of the year against the Dodgers. Castillo allowed just a solo home run, four hits and one walk in total, over 6.1 innings of work while striking out nine batters. That lowered his ERA to 4.66 on the season, and on average, things have been better as of late. Over Castillo’s last 15 starts, he is sporting a 3.64 ERA with just 15 walks in 81.2 innings (84 strikeouts). We just have to hope that, he should, carries this success into 2019.
4) Another Quality Start From Fiers
Mike Fiers isn’t going to generate much excitement in fantasy circles, but it’s hard to find fault with the results. Last night, Fiers took advantage of his opponent, the Orioles, while picking up his 12th victory of the season. Fiers limited Baltimore to just one run on four hits and a walk in six innings of work while striking out seven and lowering his ERA to 3.29. The big thing for me with Fiers, is that after walking 3.64 batters per nine innings last season, that has been cut almost in half for 2018 (1.87). While Fiers’ 4.56 FIP (4.41 xFIP) isn’t ideal, he has been consistent so far this year and that makes him a good streaming option.
5) Bieber Fever
Alright, sorry, I just couldn’t help myself there. Despite his 10 victories, yes two more than deGrom, Shane Bieber hasn’t had a smooth adjustment to the majors in his 17 starts so far this season. But as a young pitcher, it really shouldn’t be that surprising, and last night we got a good look at what he is capable of. Bieber was victorious with 6.2 innings of shutout baseball against Tampa Bay as he limited them to three hits and three walks while striking out 11. His 4.32 ERA shows the inconsistency we have seen from the right-hander, but it’s hard not to like the 104 strikeouts in 98 innings. And in his last seven starts, Bieber’s ERA drops to 3.73 with just eight walks in 41 innings. And the success Bieber has had, has come in spite of his .362 BABIP. In time, we can expect some positive regression from the right-hander considering his 3.01 FIP.
6) Quintana Cruises
With his 13th victory of the season, Jose Quintana brought his ERA down below four; 3.97. The southpaw had 6.2 innings of shutout baseball against the Brewers in a crucial divisional game as he limited them to just three hits and two walks while striking out seven. As the season has progressed, Quintana has gotten increasingly better, and in his last seven starts, the left-hander’s ERA is 3.54 with a 1.13 WHIP. With 135 strikeouts in 154.1 innings, Quintana isn’t going to overpower you, but he does get the job done.
7) Mauer Has a Grand Night
It’s really hard to find a place for Joe Mauer at this point. The former All-Star is not a true lead-off hitter, he’s not fast nor does he have exceptional on base skills, nor is he what you would expect from a first baseman. Thanks to a .272 batting average and 51 runs scored, and the fact that he plays just about everyday, it’s possible that Mauer shows up atop your waiver wire, but there really is just no upside. Last night, he hit a grand slam, but it was just his sixth home run of the season and brought his RBI total up to only 43. Unfortunately, there really just is no fantasy value to be found.
8) Mikolas is Not Slowing Down
The only problem for fantasy owners, is that after setting their rotation up for facing the Brewers, Miles Mikolas is now only making one start this week. You can’t blame the Cardinals for that bit of strategy, but fantasy owners also have right be frustrated as Mikolas has proven to be a legit fantasy asset. Last night, the right-hander picked up his 15th victory of the season as he cruised through seven innings of one run ball against the Pirates. Mikolas limited Pittsburgh to just five hits and one walk while striking out seven. After last night, Mikolas’ ERA is now 2.99. Despite striking out just 6.28 batters per nine innings, Mikolas has found success thanks in part to just 1.39 walks per nine innings and a 50.7% ground ball rate.
9) Marte Drives in Four
While he hasn’t exactly taken a “next step” this season, Ketel Marte has hit enough to both receive regular playing time and also to have some fantasy value in deeper leagues. Last night, Marte took advantage of Coors Field as he drove in four runs’ thanks mostly to his 11th triple of the season. Overall, the middle infielder is hitting .253 with 51 RBI on the season to go along with a .326 on base percentage.
10) Folty Completes Things
It’s always nice to see a complete game, and that is especially true when you are talking about a young pitcher who is having his “coming out party” this season. Mike Foltynewicz allowed one run on six hits and a walks against the Giants while striking out seven and lowering his ERA to just 2.66 on the season. While it has been a strong season overall for the right-hander, he truly is finishing strong. Over his last seven starts, Foltynewicz has an ERA of just 1.70 to go along with a WHIP of 0.90. While his FIP does jump to 3.27, it appears that the former first round pick has finally met his expectations.