by Ray Kuhn
September truly is an interesting time of year, as it is filled with various goals, thought processes, and focuses across major league baseball. That is mirrored in fantasy circles, as for some teams there is nothing left to play for, and for others, each and every pitch matters. It makes for an interesting month of action, so let’s not waste any time as we jump right into some of the performances that stood out.
1) Green Picks Up Another Win
I’m not trying to be hurtful, but it has to be frustrating for Jacob deGrom to see middle relievers with the same amount of wins as him. That is the case as Chad Green “was victorious” for the eighth time this season on Tuesday. While there is certainly a lot to be said for deGrom’s performance so far this season, there is varying levels of risk associated with starting pitchers. The chase for wins is a major reason why we put up with that, but with Green picking up another victory last night with a perfect inning of work, is it really worth it? Doesn’t it make more sense to go with Green and his 2.42 ERA than trying to figure out which starting pitcher won’t blow up at the back of your rotation. I know this isn’t a revolutionary thought, but instead, it is a chance to give Green some credit. And for the record, he has 84 strikeouts in 70.2 innings while sporting a 1.05 WHIP.
2) Taillon is Missing a Victory
It’s difficult, and maybe unreasonable, to expect a starting pitcher to throw much better than Jameson Taillon did on Tuesday. The right-hander limited the Royals to just four hits and a walk through seven scoreless innings of work while striking out 11 batters. However, the Pirates waited until Taillon was out of the game to score a run, so he was left with a no-decision as his ERA fell to 3.24 on the season. With 178 innings so far this season, Taillon has reached a clear career high after logging 133.2 innings last season, in what his clearly his best performance at age 26. The right-hander is 13-9 with 167 strikeouts on the season to go along with a 1.18 WHIP, but as the season progressed, Taillon has gotten even better. In his last seven starts, Taillon’s ERA is just 2.05 with a 1.05 WHIP and 49 strikeouts in 44 innings. That is what we want Taillon to carry forward into 2019.
3) Alfaro Goes Deep
Jorge Alfaro is known for his power, and yesterday he went deep for the 10th time this season. While Philadelphia acquired Wilson Ramos at the trading deadline to solidify the catching position, the position is still Alfaro’s to lose going forward. While he hasn’t really found his way out of the 8th spot in the batting order much this season, statistically it has been a solid season for the young backstop. In addition to the home run (a three run shot), Alfaro also added a single on Tuesday as he brought his average up to .259 on the season along with 36 RBI. Entering the season, there were concerns about his batting average, but through 336 at bats, it could be worse.
4) Another Victory for Kluber
Corey Kluber worked around the long ball on Tuesday as he allowed two solo home runs among his three total runs, but he still picked up his 19th victory of the season. It wasn’t a particularly dominate outing from the right-hander as he scattered eight hits and two walks through eight innings of work, but it clearly was enough for the victory. Kluber now has two potential chances at reaching the 20 win milestone for the season, and with a 2.93 ERA, a 0.95 WHIP, and 205 strikeouts (after 11 last night) in 203 innings, he once again is one of the most dependable starting pitchers in the league.
5) Austin Drives in Three More
After failing to really get a chance with the Yankees, Tyler Austin has been making the most of his opportunity in Minnesota. Batting in the middle of the order, he has emerged as a run producing threat, and that continued on Tuesday. Austin picked up two hits, a single and a double, and drove in three more runs to give him 38 RBI on the season in 210 at bats. The power has also been on display, as Austin has 16 home runs so far this season, but with a .229 batting average, he hasn’t been consistently reaching base. That has been ongoing theme throughout his brief major league career, and strikeouts (84) have also been an issue. But if you are in need of power, Austin is worth a look.
6) Strasburg Gets Through Six
I wouldn’t say that Stephen Strasburg dominated the Marlins as he picked up his ninth victory of the season, but he did deserve the victory. In six innings of work, the right-hander scattered five hits and two walks as he struck out 11 batters and lowered his ERA to 3.83. Strasburg has the talent to be considered a top starting pitcher, but due to his health concerns, it’s hard to draft him as such. However one season, it very well might be 2019, Strasburg is going to outperform his draft slot and make fantasy owners very happy. With a 3.46 FIP and 3.19 xFIP, the case is there for next season, but can we count on him to be healthy and consistent?
7) DeJong Drives in Three
Alright, so Paul DeJong didn’t completely live up to his hype this draft season, but it also hasn’t been a lost season for the infielder. Last night, he was 2 for 5 with his 19th home run of the season (a two run shot) while driving in three runs. The .237 batting average certainly is a problem, and will hinder his value going forward, but 19 home runs and 62 RBI in 396 at bats isn’t terrible production. It just proves though, that his ADP last season was too aggressive.
8) Snell Reaches 20
This is more about a season achievement for Blake Snell than what he did last night, as Tampa Bay lifted their star southpaw after five innings of work. That was no fault of Snell’s as he shut the Rangers out last night for his 20th victory of the season. While Snell limited Texas to just one hit and two walks while striking out five, he wasn’t exactly efficient. Alright, so maybe Snell’s early departure was partly his fault, as he needed 92 pitches to get through his five innings. If you want to find some sort of criticism for Snell, that is it, as with a 1.97 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and 200 strikeouts in 169 innings, there really isn’t much else to be found.
9) Baez Hits Another Home Run
We are up to 33 home runs so far this season for Javy Baez, as he continues his breakout. The shortstop wasted no time in getting things going as he hit a two run homer in the first inning at the start of a 2 for 4 day. Those two RBI extended his total to 107 for the season to go along with his .295 batting average, as Baez has emerged as a true MVP contender. With a .305 batting average and eight home runs in his last 30 games, while Baez has had some valleys across the season, he hasn’t exactly slowed down either.
10) Simmons Gets Close to .300
Long known for his glove, Andrelton Simmons has emerged as a pretty good fantasy player as well thanks to his offense. With a three hit effort last night, including his 25th double of the season, Simmons is now hitting .298 for the season. His two RBI on Tuesday brought his total up to a solid 73. With 65 runs scored, 11 home runs, and nine stolen bases, Simmons doesn’t provide stand out production, but he does just enough (coupled with his batting average) to be a valuable fantasy shortstop if you miss out on a top tier option.