by Ray Kuhn
We had a busy Sunday of baseball across the league, so if some of your attention was focused on that other fall sport, fear not as we have you covered. With that being said, let’s take a look at some of the performances that stood out:
1) McGuire Picks up His First RBI
There is a dichotomy of goals at the end of the season, as you look towards next season while also keeping an eye on players who could help you over the last two weeks. As Toronto is clearly focused on 2019, they are giving two young backstops a chance to make a good impression for next season, and Reese McGuire appears to be taking advantage of the playing time. The rookie had two hits on Sunday, a double and a single, while both driving in and scoring a run. While McGuire hit just .233 in 96 games at Triple-A this season, which should temper your expectations for him, the former first round pick is hitting .308 in 13 at bats. For his career, McGuire is a .263 minor league hitter who doesn’t show much in the power department, but you should at least pay attention.
2) Four Hits for Mullins
We can’t emphasis enough how bad Baltimore has been so far this season, but at least they are giving their young players a chance to show what they can do. Chief among them, is Cedric Mullins who got the start in the lead-off spot on Sunday and came through with a four hit effort. For his efforts, Mullins scored just once while driving in one run (eight overall) and stealing his first base of the season. As part of his four hits, Mullins doubled for the ninth time this season in 116 at bats. Prior to his promotion, Mullins hit .289 between Double-A and Triple-A, and so far with the Orioles, the outfielder sports a .276 batting average as he looks like a keeper for 2019.
3) An Unlikely Lead-off Hitter
While it hasn’t really impacted his overall stats, it has been surprising to see Detroit use Jeimer Candelario in the lead-off spot. In fact, it is more of a reflection on the Tigers, but we do know that Candelario is going to receive a regular diet of at bats. If batting average is an issue for you, then I would look in a different direction as the third baseman is hitting just .231 in 503 at bats. The problem though, at least one of them, is the strikeouts for Candelario; 151 and counting. Yesterday, he picked up three hits (all singles) while scoring twice. He has shown some power though, and Candelario’s 19 home runs do have some value.
4) Adames Shows Some Power
It feels like we waited quite a while for Tampa Bay to promote Willy Adames, but he has proven to be a productive fantasy middle infielder now that he is here. On Sunday, Adames went deep for the ninth time this season (a solo shot) that gave him 26 RBI on the year in 243 at bats. With a .267 batting average, after a two hit effort, Adames also has six stolen bases on the season and there is 15/15 potential here for next season as it appears he has earned regular playing time.
5) Urena Grabs Another Win
It’s crazy what a little run support can do for a pitcher, but Jose Urena has been racking up the victories as of late. The right-hander also taken advantage of some reeling opponents, and Urena picked up his seventh victory of the season on Sunday in Philadelphia. With a solo home run as the only blemish against Urena, he limited the Phillies to just three hits and a walk while striking out four and lowering his ERA to 4.21 on the season. It hasn’t just been run support for Urena though, as in his last 15 starts, his ERA is 3.84, and when we look at his last seven outings, that drops to 2.79 with a WHIP of just 0.96. The right-hander isn’t going to rack up the strikeouts, 126 in 162.1 innings, but his other results have been there. With a FIP and xFIP of 4.18, Urena has proven he can be a solid option.
6) Rendon Goes Deep
This season has proven that there is a new sheriff in town for the Nationals, but Washington has good pieces other than Juan Soto. And one of them, who will be a factor, is Anthony Rendon. Batting cleanup for the Nationals wasn’t as valuable as it could have been this season, but it’s still nothing to take likely. On Sunday, Rendon hit his 20th home run of the season, a two run shot, to give him 75 RBI while bringing his batting average up to .300 on the season.
7) Verlander Strikes Again
It was one of those starts where you wouldn’t have been surprised if Justin Verlander made history. The right-hander mixed in all of his pitches while striking out the first five batters of the game, and 11 overall, Verlander appears to be getting stronger as the season goes on, and he picked up his 16th victory of the season. He limited Arizona to just one run on three hits and walk in seven innings of work to lower his ERA for the season to 2.67. With 269 strikeouts in 202 innings so far this season, Verlander just keeps on dominating.
8) Polanco Shows Some Power
Entering the season, Jorge Polanco was a popular sleeper option. Well at least until his 80 game suspension. As we look towards the 2019 season, Polanco’s season stats will be lacking, but since his return, he has shown the same skill set that previously made him a fantasy option. On Sunday, Polanco hit his fifth home run of the season as part of a four hit day while raising his batting average to .285. Polanco’s two RBI gave him 35 on the season in 249 at bats along with 30 runs scored. Batting at the top of Minnesota’s lineup should prove to be more valuable next season as the Twins’ offense really only has one way to go; up.
9) One Big Swing for Mejia
Following the trade to San Diego, Francisco Mejia has been getting a chance to show what he can do at the plate. The Padres don’t have any qualms about using Mejia behind the plate, and it is interesting to see him batting lead-off. Yesterday, Mejia came through in the bottom of the ninth inning with a walk-off grand slam. It was the third home run of the season for Mejia, bringing his RBI total to eight, to go along with his .241 batting average. The sample size is small, 29 at bats, but we can’t dispute Mejia’s hitting ability; at least from the minor leagues.
10) Castillo Picks up Another Win
We still can’t erase the early season struggles of Luis Castillo, but the right-hander shouldn’t be dismissed either. Castillo picked up his 10th victory of the season on Sunday with 6.2 innings of one run ball. He worked around some trouble, four hits and four walks, while only striking out two batters. His latest effort dropped Castillo’s ERA to 4.52 on the season, and that includes a 3.35 mark in his last 15 starts. Perhaps more importantly, Castillo’s WHIP in that stretch is just 1.07 while striking out 84 batters in 83.1 innings.