Fantasy Forward: Astros depth paying off

Injuries continue to wreak havoc for fantasy owners this year, but depth can defray the damage. As a franchise, the Astros moved up players to bridge the injury gap which can be used as a blueprint for fantasy owners.

Houston placed Lance McCullers Jr. on the disabled list to manage his innings. They used one of their top prospects, Francis Martes in his stead last night, and he delivered with five innings and seven strikeouts allowing one earned run for his first major league win. Talented outfielder, Derek Fisher made his debut homering for his first hit to the opposite field, and then hitting a single later in the same inning. It remains to be seen if Fisher will stick with the team, but his blend of speed and power will entice fantasy owners. Fisher’s 16 home runs and 13 stolen bases through his first 60 games at Triple-A hint at his upside.

On the injury front, Chris Davis landed on the disabled list due to an oblique injury. Fortunately, replacing power this season does not prove to be a problem. Both Matt Harvey and Neil Walker could be next to hit the disabled list for the Mets. Harvey worked with marked velocity drops during his start and will seek the advice of doctors as to why. Walker pulled up lame with a hamstring injury. C.C. Sabathia will miss time with a grade two strain of his hamstring. Soft tissues injuries everywhere, and add Matt Kemp to that list with, you guessed it, a hamstring injury. For now he’s day-to-day. Matt Shoemaker left his start early last night with tightness in his forearm. Monitor closely. Kolten Wong experienced tightness in his throwing arm, yet again.

On the comeback trail, it seems like Tom Murphy of the Rockies may be returning soon to the team. Think of him as a National League version of Mike Zunino with a slight bump in average due to the Coors BABIP effect. Another Rockie fared well in rehab with Jon Gray hitting 97 MPH on the radar gun and striking out five in four innings of work on 55 pitches yesterday. Those hoping for Amed Rosario to be called up by the Mets will have to wait; they will be promoting Gavin Cecchini to replace Walker. Dynasty league players take note: Matt Chapman will be debuting for the A’s as the team starts to play for the future. Lots of power in Chapman’s game, but also tons of swing and miss tendencies (31 percent strikeout rate at Triple-A). Off to the recaps.

Starting Pitcher Observations

Both Amir Garrett and Jhoulys Chacin pitched well in Petco with Chacin emerging victorious. Garrett did strikeout eight Padres in six innings giving up two earned runs for a much-needed quality start. Chacin won his sixth game allowing five hits over seven innings with two earned runs and four strikeouts. He’s a home stream option for fantasy purposes.

Jason Hammel tweaked his delivery, and the Royals continue to get good use out of him. He worked 6.2 innings in San Francisco giving up eight hits and one earned run for his third win of the year but second in three starts with a 2.21 ERA in June.

Once again, Julio Teheran proved to be better on the road than at home, holding the Nationals to six hits, two earned runs and a walk against three strikeouts. Opposing him, Tanner Roark gave up seven earned runs and has allowed 13 earned in his last 18.2 innings pitched.

German Marquez won his fifth in Pittsburgh lasting five innings, giving up four hits and one earned. Francisco Liriano worked seven innings at home against the Rays allowing five hits, three runs (two earned) and two walks with nine strikeouts on 13 swinging strikes. Encouraging.

Speaking of encouraging, Taijuan Walker returned from the disabled list and won in Detroit. Walker’s five innings yielded six hits, one earned run and only one walk with six strikeouts. Jordan Zimmermann also pitched well lasting eight innings allowing six hits, two earned runs and striking out six. Each pitcher generated 11 swinging strikes.

Corey Kluber struck out 10 producing the night’s top swinging strike total with 20, nine on his curve alone. But, he ended up with a no-decision despite giving up two earned runs in seven strong innings.

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Bullpen Musings

Both Brandon Maurer (12) and Roberto Osuna (17) worked a clean inning with a strikeout for the save. Corey Knebel worked 1.1 innings for his 10th save giving up a hit with a strikeout. Fernando Rodney struck out the side for his 18th save – this is not a typo. Sell him now.

David Hernandez recorded the save for the Angels giving up a hit. Bud Norris had pitched the two previous games, but the door could be open when Cam Bedrosian or Huston Street return. Kelvin Herrera allowed an unearned run on two hits and a strikeout in a non-save appearance.

Hitter Highlights

Ryon Healy tallied three hits including a double and his 15th home run for Oakland, with Jed Lowrie scoring three runs, driving in a run, and walking three times as well. Giancarlo Stanton went 2-for-4 with an RBI, Dee Gordon also finished two for four with two runs and two RBI. Marcell Ozuna hit his 17th home run with three more RBI. He’s on a 43 home run pace, but still flies below the radar. Ozuna’s recorded four multiple hit games over his last five played.

Joey Votto launched his 18th home run, and he has hit five in his last eight games. Jose Peraza added his third of the year hitting lead-off for the Reds. Franchy Cordero recorded two more hits with an RBI, but Hunter Renfroe’s 14th home run turned the tide driving in three leading the Padres to the win.

Whit Merrifield went 3-for-6 with three runs, and Jorge Bonifacio hit his ninth home run. Lorenzo Cain homered for the fourth time over his last seven games finishing 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBI. Mike Moustakas hit his 18th home run and on pace for 46 this year with 101 RBI. Still underappreciated.

Representing the offense for Washington yesterday, Brian Goodwin hit his fourth home run of the season, and third in his last three starts. Ender Inciarte had three hits with two runs and two RBI, Brandon Phillips doubled twice in his four hits with three runs and three RBI. Nick Markakis went 3-for-4 with two runs along with Matt Adams with two hits, two runs and two RBI. Kurt Suzuki hit his fourth home run and drove in two as well.

Mookie Betts could be heating up. He went 4-for-5 last night with a double and two home runs (11) with three RBI. Aaron Altherr homered for the second straight game, his 11th of the year as well.

Adam Frazier finished 1-for-3 with a run, double and stole his fifth base for the Pirates. Ian Desmond homered for the fourth time. and Raimel Tapia went 4-for-4 with three runs for Colorado.

Another underrated player this year, Logan Morrison launched his 19th home run; he’s on a 45 home run pace. Steven Souza (3) and Colby Rasmus (1) each stole a base. Kendrys Morales hit his 13th home run driving in four in the Blue Jays win, and Russell Martin added his sixth home run.

Paul Goldschmidt went 1-for-3 with a run and he’s pacing towards 140 runs, 36 home runs, 128 RBI and 31 stolen bases. Remember, Jim Leyland benched him in the WBC for Eric Hosmer.

Anthony Rizzo led off with a home run for the second straight night for his 15th of the season. Ian Happ also homered, his seventh along with Kyle Schwarber hitting his 12th – albeit with a .178 average. Juan Lagares could play more with the multitude of injuries hitting the Mets, he went 2-for-4 with a triple and two RBI. Curtis Granderson went 2-for-3 with three runs scored and his seventh home run. Lucas Duda entered as a replacement for Neil Walker and hit his 12th dinger.

Andrew Miller will be happy to see the Dodgers leave town as Kike Hernandez homered off of him for his sixth of the year. Corey Seager went 2-for-5 with a run, and Chris Taylor finished 2-for-4 with a run, two RBI, and two stolen bases (7), including a steal of home. Bradley Zimmer replaced Jason Kipnis (late scratch due to neck soreness) atop the lineup and recorded a hit with his fifth stolen base of the year. Michael Brantley doubled twice in as many at-bats with two RBI and a walk. Jose Ramirez homered for the ninth time.

Matt Davidson homered for the third straight game, his 12th. Jose Abreu added two hits, and Avisail Garcia contributed three. Mark Trumbo went 2-for-5 with two runs, Trey Mancini 3-for-4 with three runs and an RBI, but Welington Castillo’s grand slam, his fifth homer of the season, turned the tide for the Orioles.

Miguel Sano homered for the 16th time. Eduardo Escobar stayed hot with two more hits and his sixth home run. He’s 10 for his last 15 (.667) with six runs, two home runs, and six RBI. Byron Buxton went 3-for-3, hit his fourth home run, and stole two bases. He is seven for his last 20 with three runs and two home runs. Ben Gamel recorded three more hits atop the Seattle lineup, and Mitch Haniger is showing no signs of rust hitting his fifth home run with two RBI. Mike Zunino launched his sixth home run and he is seven for his last 23 (.304) with two home runs and six RBI. Keep in mind, he has struck out five times in this stretch with no walks.

Joey Gallo launched his 18th homer and walked to get his average to, .201. George Springer recorded two hits with two RBI, Jose Altuve went 3-for-3 with two doubles and three runs. Jake Marisnick added his seventh home run.

Eric Sogard went 2-for-5 with two runs, a double, and two RBI. Eric Thames hit his 17th home run with three RBI. Matt Carpenter seems to be enjoying hitting lead-off with two hits in three at-bats including a double and an RBI. Aledmys Diaz homered for the seventh time with two RBI.

Gary Sanchez finished 3-for-4 with his 11th home run and three RBI. Andrelton Simmons went 1-for-3 with two runs, his seventh home run, two RBI, and a walk. He’s currently on pace for 16 home runs and 23 stolen bases. Cameron Maybin stole his 20th base, and Eric Young Jr. added his sixth steal.

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Greg Jewett

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I am a father, PE teacher & fantasy baseball writer. Using saber metrics & information to evaluate players & trends is exciting to me."Passion is the oxygen of the soul." Bill Butler