by Ray Kuhn
When you are in a chase for first place, there is nothing like a full day and night of action. Some lineup decisions are rushed, but with others you have the whole day in front of you to see who is actually taking the field that day and make a choice. With teams becoming more liberal when it comes to resting their starts, things certainly are more difficult, but everyone is playing under the same circumstances. Let’s take a look at some of the performances that stood out from yesterday:
1) Toussaint Does Enough for the Win
Touki Toussaint was talented enough to be a first round pick in 2014, but he has dealt with some injuries and inconsistency. The Diamondbacks dealt the right-hander to Atlanta in a cost cutting move, and it now appears that Toussaint has made some adjustments and is close to finding his footing at the major league level. It will take a lot for him to establish himself among the plethora of young pitching Atlanta has, but he took a solid step in that direction yesterday. Toussaint didn’t exactly dominate the Cardinals, but he did hold them to just two runs on five hits and three walks while striking out eight. It was the second win of the year for Toussaint whose ERA now sits at 4.30 after five games, four starts. Its not a certainty that he opens next season in Atlanta’s rotation, but Toussaint should be on your radar.
2) He Didn’t Start it, But a Good Sign Regardless
Stephen Gonslaves had success in the minor leagues this season, so therefore, that set his expectation level for the majors. After dominating Double-A with a 1.77 ERA in four starts, the left-hander got the call to Triple-A where he continued to have success. In 19 games, 18 starts, Gonslaves put up a 2.96 ERA, 1.20 WHIP (yes, a little on the high side) and 95 strikeouts in 100.1 innings. However, in his brief appearances with the Twins prior to yesterday, things didn’t go as well. Entering the game in the second inning on Wednesday though, Gonslaves took a few steps in the right direction as he picked up his first career victory with six innings of shutout baseball where he allowed just one hit and one walk while striking out four. That dropped his ERA to 6.75 through 21.1 innings while his WHIP sits at 2.02. Talk about a rough debut as things can only get better from here, and there is some talent and track record to support it.
3) Hopefully Your League Doesn’t Count Quality Starts
This isn’t the time to get into a debate between wins or quality starts, but between those leagues, there is a vast difference in the value of Ryan Yardbrough. Tampa Bay has continuously used Yardbrough as their second pitcher in games this season to log the bulk of the innings. That means he doesn’t get a quality start, doesn’t count against your start maximum, and his innings are limited, but still he pitches enough to qualify for the victory. And that is what happened yesterday for the 15th time this season. With four innings, in which he allowed three runs, of work on five hits and two walks, the left-hander once again was victorious. Overall, Yardbrough has a 3.88 ERA and 1.28 WHIP in 139.1 innings and 36 games. Those aren’t All-Star caliber numbers, but they are good enough that they won’t hurt your ratios, while giving you legit chances at victory time he takes the mound. Additionally, his 123 strikeouts aren’t a liability either. As more teams look at this strategy, unconventional pitchers like Yardbrough will continue to have value.
4) Another Home Run for Hoskins
Can the season just continue. After getting off a to slow start this spring, Rhys Hoskins has found his groove, as he has truly emerged as a legit power hitter. Hoskins went deep for the 32nd time last night, and the solo shot brought his RBI total for the season up to 92. The power hitter also added his 35th double of the year, and with a .250 batting average, he really isn’t much of a liability. Despite hitting just .230 in his last 30 games, Hoskins does have seven home runs in that stretch, and let’s face it, that is what fantasy owners are after with him.
5) Is Severino Back on Track
It certainly looked that way on Wednesday night, as Luis Severino kept the Red Sox from clinching the division for at least one more day. The right-hander appeared to be in peak playoff form as he shut a tough Boston lineup down over seven innings of work. Severino picked up his 18th victory of the season as he allowed just one run on six hits and a walk while striking out six. While his 3.38 ERA reflects some his recent struggles as he recovers from an August that saw him finish the month with a 4.86 ERA.
6) Aguilar Goes Deep
A berth in the All-Star game and Home Run Derby were well deserved for Jesus Aguilar, and he doesn’t appear to be resting on his laurels. The first baseman went deep again yesterday for his 35th home run of the season. While it was just his fourth long ball in his last 30 games, Aguilar still has driven in 16 runs over that span while batting .257. No one was complaining about the home run pace he was on earlier this season, but you had to know that level of production wasn’t going to sustain itself over the course of the season. The good news though, is that first baseman has done enough to show that he can be counted on in the middle of Milwaukee’s lineup for next season. With his four total RBI he picked up last night, Aguilar is at 103 on the season with a solid .275 batting average.
7) A Three Hit Night for Cano
At this point, it is really safe to say that Robinson Cano wasn’t negatively impacted by his suspension. After picking up three hits last night, including two doubles, Cano is hitting .290 on the season, and .327 in his last 15 games. Considering he missed 80 games, it’s hard to truly evaluate Cano solely based on his counting stats, but with eight home runs and 42 RBI in 272 at bats, we have a solid idea at who he currently is. I wouldn’t bank on the long ball anymore, look more in the 15-18 range, but Cano is still a legit run producer who will hit for a good average.
8) Galvis Drives in Four
If you need to go to the waiver wire for a middle infielder, Freddy Galvis will likely be there. The San Diego shortstop receives regular playing time, and he does just enough to have some value. Last night, he hit his 12th home run of the season (a three run shot), while driving in four runs to bring his RBI total for the season up to 65. Those aren’t terrible numbers for a replacement level option, but his .240 batting average does hurt. Galvis isn’t someone who should be on your draft boards in standard leagues, but he almost always comes into play.
9) Six Shutout Innings for Ray
The good news, is that Robbie Ray threw six shutout innings against the Cubs while allowing just one hit. What is troubling though, is that the southpaw walked four batters. We know that control is always going to be an issue for Ray, 63 walks in 114.2 innings this season, and that is something to keep an eye on. Ray did strike out eight batters as he lowered his ERA to 3.92. After battling injuries and some inconsistencies this season, the left-hander could be a value pick next spring, but 2018 was quite possibly the peak of his ADP.
10) Piscotty Drives in Five
While he hasn’t down enough to really stand out this season, Stephen Piscotty has proven to be a reliable run producer. On Wednesday, the outfielder hit his 25th home run of the season, a three run shot, and drove in five runs overall. That gave Piscotty 81 RBI on the season to go along with a .267 batting average. None of these numbers are truly going to make the difference in your season, but they are solid building blocks to your outfield.