by Ray Kuhn
As the season winds down, we are beginning to see the last of some players for 2018; especially pitchers. And even playing time for position players is beginning to get scarce in some situations, and roster depth is important if you are look to maximize games played. We have to evaluate some of these results differently based on the competition, but everything is important to take into account. Let’s take a look at some of the performances that stood our from a busy day and night around the league:
1) Devers Goes Nuts
While Rafael Devers did play in both ends of Wednesday’s double header, it is the first game that we will remember. Devers had a five effort, missing the cycle by a triple, while driving in six runs. Boston had a complete offensive explosion, posting 19 runs, so there were many contributors, but it was a good sign for the young third baseman who is hitting just .243 on the season. It’s important to remember that the third baseman is still just 21 years old, but it is clear we are seeing the early stages of what he has to offer. Through 440 at bats, Devers is at 21 home runs and 66 RBI as he looks to finish the season strong.
2) Hey, Remember Me
If it wasn’t for his early season injury in Triple-A, Victor Robles could very easily have been Juan Soto. Prior to this year, Robles was the Nationals’ outfield prospect who was on everyone’s radar, and he should not be forgotten about. Regardless of what happens this winter, Robles is likely headed for regular playing time in 2019 at the big league level. With a four hit day on Wednesday, Robles is beginning to set the stage for a strong 2019 season. He hit his third home run of the season, a three run shot, while also adding a double and two singles. With five RBI, Robles doubled his total for the season, and through 51 at bats, he is hitting .275. We might be looking at next season’s Rookie of the Year winner.
3) Fillymer Picks up the Victory
Yes, it did come against the Reds, but Kansas City has to feel good about Heath Fillymer’s performance on Wednesday. The right-hander made his 12th start of the season, and picked up his fourth victory, with 7.1 innings of one run ball. A Jose Peraza home run was the lone blemish against Fillymer who limited the Reds to four hits and two walks while striking out nine batters. With a 4.26 ERA, 4.75 FIP, I wouldn’t put all that much weight behind this start, but it is something to keep in the back of your mind for next season.
4) Cy Jake
Honestly, what else is even left to say. At least for Jacob deGrom’s sake, the Mets scored three runs for him on Wednesday and he was able to pick up his 10th victory of the season. That gives the right-hander a 10-9 record for the season as he concluded his dominance of the National League. He limited Atlanta to just two hits over eight innings of work while striking out 10 batters and bringing his ERA down to 1.70 on the season. deGrom finishes the season with a 1.98 FIP and 11.16 strikeouts per nine innings while allowing just 1.91 walks per nine innings and 0.41 home runs per nine innings. If that isn’t dominance, I’m not sure what is.
5) Chacin Picks up the Victory
When you make the playoffs, there are going to be performances that come out of nowhere to surprise you, and it’s safe to say that Jhoulys Chacin qualifies as such. The right-hander picked up his 15th victory of the season on Wednesday as the Brewers clinched their first postseason birth since 2011. Chacin threw five innings of one run ball while limiting St. Louis to just one hit and three walks. While lowering his ERA to 3.56 on the season, Chacin struck out three and has 7.36 strikeouts per nine innings. Despite his success, Chacin does have a 3.98 FIP and 4.43 xFIP, which are more indicative of what you can expect from him moving forward. Pay for that next season, and not the 3.56 ERA.
6) Another Pham Home Run
It’s clear that 2018 hasn’t gone according to plan for Tommy Pham. He did get a change of scenery out of St. Louis, and despite missing some time with an injury, the outfielder does appear to be fully acclimated to his new surroundings in Tampa Bay. Batting clean-up for the Rays, Pham hit his 21st home run of the season on Wednesday while also walking twice. It was the 21st home run of the season for Pham, who is now up to 61 RBI in 481 at bats. In fact, Pham’s batting average now sits at a very respectable .274, and he appears to be in a good position to build on his last season success in 2019. Entering last night, Pham hit .371 with seven home runs and 19 RBI in his last 30 games, and this the player we expected to see at the beginning of the season.
7) Encarnacion Isn’t Slowing Down
While Edwin Encarnacion is no longer a prolific power hitter, he still gets it done from a fantasy perspective. The DH went deep for the 32nd time this season on Wednesday as part of a three hit night before exiting for a pinch hitter. Yes, Encarnacion is hitting just .245 on the season, but with his home run and RBI production (105 on the season after four last night), he once again has proved to be a valuable contributor. At some point, Encarnacion has to slow down, but I still wouldn’t write him off for 2019 either. However, I also wouldn’t pay for 100% of his 2018 production, and you do have to account for the lack of batting average.
8) Marquez Starts of Strong
Well, that could be considered an understatement, as German Marquez began last night’s game by striking out the first eight batters he faced. It was a sign of things to come, as the right-hander dominated Philadelphia over seven shutout innings to pick up his 14th victory of the season. Ultimately, Marquez struck out just three more batters for the rest of the game, 11 in total, as he scattered just three hits and a walk while lowering his ERA to a very respectable 3.76. That is good for a young pitcher in any park, let alone one who pitches half of their games in Coors Field. As the season has progressed, Marquez has gotten even better, as his ERA in his last 15 games is 2.51, and that jumps to 1.85 in his last seven. His ERA at home (where last night’s start came from) has gotten better, 4.74, but it is his 2.91 mark on the road that has truly carried him.
9) Olson Makes His Hit Count
If you are going to just get one hit on the night, it should be a big one, and in the case of Matt Olson, it was a grand slam. Olson connected on his 29th home run of the season last night in the fifth inning to help put the game out of reach for the A’s. At this point, you know exactly what you are going to get with Olson; all or nothing. He is now up to a solid 84 RBI on the season, but you have to be able to work around his .248 batting average. Through 159 games, Olson has struck out 159 times this season, and at this point, what you see is what you get with the first baseman.
10) Greinke Finishes the Season Out Strong
For all of the talk about Zack Greinke’s velocity being down to start the season, it was, the right-hander still came through with a solid 2018 campaign. Greinke picked up his 15th victory of the season on Wednesday with six innings of two run ball against the Dodgers. He scattered eight hits and two walks while striking out six, and Greinke ends the season with a 3.21 ERA and 1.08 WHIP. With 199 strikeouts in 207.2 innings, it truly was a vintage season from Greinke, and while he may not get the hype of some of the other young starting pitchers, it’s hard to argue with the results.