Fantasy Forward: Et tu Kris Bryant?

Winning a World Series takes some luck, the right breaks, and health. Trying to repeats proves difficult, especially if health along with performance do not occur. With the Cubs struggling to gain traction in the National League Central race, Kris Bryant turned his ankle making a routine catch near the base. There’s no initial word regarding the injury, but he did need assistance leaving the field. Chicago nor Bryant’s fantasy owners can afford him to be out for an extended period. It could be nothing, or it could be something. So far, Bryant’s X-rays came back negative, but if it’s a high ankle sprain, fantasy football players understand the repercussions of this type of ligament injury. Monitor the news very closely.

St. Louis finds itself in a similar boat this year. Not much seems to be going right, and they demoted Aledmys Diaz to the minors calling up Alex Mejia. Milwaukee will place Chase Anderson on the disabled list with an oblique injury which could mean Wily Peralta rejoins the rotation – yikes! Matt Holliday hits the DL with what is being called a viral infection. It could also be allergies; further test are needed, but it sounds as if he will only miss the minimum 10 days. Ketel Marte joined the Diamondbacks, but it remains to be seen how the team will use him and how much.

On the rehab trail, Freddie Freeman will play on Saturday and hopes to return to the Braves by next Thursday. Madison Bumgarner will pitch in Triple-A on Friday, his second rehab appearance working his way back. Trevor Cahill worked three innings throwing 61 pitches in El Paso last night.

Heroes come in many forms, if you did not see this story about home plate umpire Stephen Nesbitt saving a person’s life yesterday, do yourself a favor and click here. Off to the recaps.

Starting Pitcher Observations

Felix Hernandez registered a quality start working six innings allowing five hits, three earned runs and three walks with five strikeouts, but the bullpen could not close it out for the win. Hernandez only recorded five swinging strikes.

Ty Blach bounced back with his fifth win after being pasted by the Mets, holding the Rockies to three runs (one earned) on seven hits and walking three with six strikeouts.

Stephen Strasburg silenced his critics after a rough outing to the Reds by striking out 13 Cubs on 24 swinging strikes. He’s a bit up and down, but Strasburg won his ninth game over seven innings limiting them to four hits and two earned runs with a walk.

Another pitcher needing a strong performance, Marcus Stroman dialed it back to his vintage WBC look, pausing during his delivery and confounding the Orioles. Stroman pitched 7.2 shutout innings giving up five hits and a walk with eight strikeouts for his eighth win.

Ivan Nova showed why the move to the National League helps. He did win his eighth game, but lasted five innings allowing seven hits, two earned runs and two walks with only one strikeout versus Tampa Bay at home.

Rookie Luis Castillo showed promise striking out nine Brewers at home over 5.1 innings of work. He also recorded the second highest swinging strike total of the night with 18. Castillo ceded five hits, two earned runs and three walks, and should be on the radar for those in deeper leagues in the right match-up.

Adalberto Mejia turned in his second straight solid outing on the road beating the Red Sox with 5.2 shutout innings. Mejia did give up five hits and a walk with only three strikeouts, but showing some adjustments during his third win.

Steven Matz worked seven shutout innings for his second win, giving up six hits and one walk with four strikeouts in Miami. Just take note of his FIP and xFIP before targeting him in trade talks.

Yu Darvish dropped his sixth decision pitching six innings in Cleveland allowing seven hits, three runs (two earned) and a walk with six strikeouts. Trevor Bauer won his seventh game, one more than Darvish this year, pitching 6.1 innings giving up four hits, one earned run and a walk with three strikeouts.

Masahiro Tanaka won his sixth on the road and may be turning the corner. He allowed six hits, two earned runs and two walks, but struck out five with 15 swinging strikes.

Adam Wainwright won his eighth game working 6.1 innings in Arizona giving up eight hits, two earned runs and a walk with eight strikeouts. Zach Godley registered a quality outing despite a rough third inning. Godley settled in to strikeout seven over seven innings allowing two hits and three walks with three earned runs.

Bullpen Musings

It does not show up when blaming the closer for a loss, but Edwin Diaz pitched four games in a row from June 18th through the 21st, then worked on Tuesday night in a game Seattle trailed by two prior to last night’s blown save. Residual effects of heavy usage show up on back-to-back performances for closers. Hold tight and hope Seattle deploys him more effectively moving forward.

Hunter Strickland recorded his first save of the season despite early reports by the Giants beat writers Mark Melacon would be replaced by Sam Dyson. Dyson was not available in this game, so the next save chance by this bullpen will tell the true story. Melancon landed on the disabled list after receiving an injection in his elbow. He hopes to rejoin the team after the All-Star break.

Felipe Rivero worked a clean inning in a non-save appearance with two strikeouts. Roberto Osuna preserved the Blue Jays shutout win by striking out the side with a four run lead.

Corey Knebel turned in a rough outing giving up three walks and a hit taking the loss in Cincinnati. Raisel Iglesias benefited from the Knebel meltdown to record his 14th save, but needed a caught stealing on a double steal attempt in the ninth to end the game.

Ken Giles notched his 18th save with two strikeouts. Brandon Maurer did the same for his 15th of the year.

St. Louis turned to Trevor Rosenthal on Wednesday night for the save, his fourth over Seung-Hwan Oh. Rosenthal did give up a hit, two walks and an earned run in the process. Neither reliever’s pitching well right now. After seeing Cam Bedrosian deployed in the seventh inning on Tuesday, he did get the save chance last night, and blew it, giving up a run on two hits with a strikeout. He did get the win after the Dodgers bullpen allowed a walk-off in the bottom of the ninth.

Hitter Highlights

Tommy Joseph hit his 13th home run, Ty Kelly hit his first, and Andrew Knapp went 2-for-3 with a run, RBI and a walk for the Phillies. Jean Segura tallied three hits and stole his eighth base. Jarrod Dyson swiped his 19th bag. Robinson Cano (14), Kyle Seager (9) and Danny Valencia (8) all went yard for the Mariners.

Ian Desmond recorded two hits with two RBI and stole his ninth base. He’s on a modest four-game hit streak with three of them being multiple hit games. Nick Hundley hit his third home run, and Jae-Gyun Hwang launched his first during his debut.

Anthony Rizzo crushed his 18th home run, and Willson Contreras added his ninth for the Cubs. Trea Turner stole his 33rd base with two hits and scored two runs. Bryce Harper doubled twice with two RBI. Daniel Murphy (14), Anthony Rendon (15) and Matt Wieters (7) all homered.

Corey Dickerson went 2-for-5 with two runs for the Rays. Roberto Osuna countered with two doubles and two RBI for the Pirates. Josh Bell added his 15th home run and is pacing towards 31 this year.

Jose Bautista continues to surge at lead-off with his 14th home run, and Justin Smoak set a new career high for home runs hitting his 21st, it’s June 29th.

Salvador Perez drove in three with two hits and his 16th home run last night. Mike Moustakas reached 20 home runs prior to July among his two hits. Miguel Cabrera homered for the second straight game and has five over his last 13, but he’s hitting .220 over his last 50 at-bats.

Ryan Braun hit his eighth home run and Travis Shaw added his 17th, a career high as well. Shaw’s current OPS (.918) versus the cumulative Red Sox third baseman (.564) should make Boston fans cringe. Billy Hamilton stole two bases without a hit thanks to two walks. He’s up to 33 this year. Adam Duvall hit his 18th home run, and Scooter Gennett his 12th in a Reds win.

Max Kepler provided the insurance with a two run home run, his ninth, and drove in three of the Twins four runs.

Curtis Granderson is on a seven-game hit streak and homered for the third straight game. During the streak he’s hitting .400 (12-for-30) with 10 runs, two doubles, one triple, five home runs, eight RBI, and six walks. Asdrubal Cabrera also homered, his seventh, and is also streaking over his last six with seven runs, three home runs, and is hitting .480 (12-for-25). Jose Reyes added three hits to move over the Mendoza line (.202).

Elvis Andrus continues to surge, do fantasy fans notice? Andrus hit his 10th home run among his three hits, and he’s on pace for 21 homers with 37 stolen bases, 98 runs, and 96 RBI. He really is. Robinson Chirinos keeps hitting home runs with his 12th in 101 at-bats this year. That’s one every 8.4 at-bats. Francisco Lindor, Michael Brantly and Edwin Encarnacion all recorded two hits with at least one RBI – Encarnacion drove in two for the Indians. Jason Kipnis scored twice with his fifth stolen base.

Aaron Judge hit second, just like Giancarlo Stanton, and homered for the 27th time with two RBI along with two walks. Didi Gregorius hit his ninth home run with two RBI batting clean-up? Miguel Andujar made his Yankee debut with three hits, a double, and four RBI. Adam Engel hit ninth for the White Sox with two hits, a double and home run (2). Maybe he should move up?

In a wild game in Houston, plenty off offense for both teams. Staring with Oakland, Matt Olson homered, his third. Jed Lowrie went 2-for-4 with his ninth homer and two RBI. Khris Davis hit two dingers (21) with four RBI and a walk. Ryon Healy added his 19th home run. Yonder Alonso did leave the game after fouling a ball off his knee, but early indications suggest he’ll be fine with a little rest.

As for Houston: George Springer keeps mashing with his 24th home run, two doubles, two RBI, and scored three times. He’s homered in three straight and ranks second in the American League in runs (62), home runs (24), fourth in OPS (.952), and sixth in RBI (52). Josh Reddick added three hits, two runs, three RBI and stole two bases (6). Jose Altuve also swiped two bags (14) with two hits, a double and an RBI.

Jedd Gyorko doubled and drove in one while Yadier Molina also went 1-for-3 with an RBI for St. Louis. Chris Owings tallied two hits, both doubles with an RBI and stole his 11th base.

Yasmani Grandal hit his 10th home run, and Trayce Thompson returned for his first homer of the year. Andrelton Simmons hit his eighth for the Angels with two RBI.

Matt Kemp drove in two for the Braves. Manuel Margot is back with the Padres and went 2-for-4 with three runs along with two steals (7). Hunter Renfroe tripled in two runs and walked twice.

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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