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Fantasy Forward: Shiny new toys overshadow productive veterans

It’s easy to do, fall in love with the next big thing. Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger make for great stories in the first half with their displays of power, but does this make veterans fly below the radar? Did you know Joey Votto is on pace this year to finish 10 home runs higher than his career best 37? He launched his 25th home run last night, owns a 1.053 OPS with 60 walks, 42 strikeouts, and a .315 batting average. Love him or hate him, Yasiel Puig hit his 16th home run and is pacing towards 29 with 17 steals – albeit with a .253 average, but many pined for a season like this from him, and no one seems to notice or care.

On the injury front, plenty of news, surprise, surprise. Heading to the disabled list: Edinson Volquez (left knee tendonitis) and Joe Maurer (back). Coming off the disabled list: Gerardo Parra (returned with three hits), Aaron Sanchez (blown up by the Astros), Dexter Fowler (homered in his return) and Brad Miller (two hits with one RBI). Bartolo Colon decided to mix it up and signed with the Twins after gaining his independence from the Braves. Kansas City will need help in the rotation with Matt Strahm and Nate Karns potentially out for the rest of the season. Off to the recaps.

Starting Pitcher Observations

Not mentioned above, Charlie Morton returned to the Houston rotation working six innings giving up four hits, one earned runs, and two walks with three strikeouts en route to his sixth win. Trading strikeouts for innings could work for Morton in the second half. Take note.

Clayton Richard and Nick Pivetta each recorded quality starts but did not factor in the decision due to weather and bullpens. Richard pitched six innings of five hit baseball allowing one earned runs and one walk with two strikeouts. Pivetta struck out nine over seven innings, giving up five hits and three earned runs.

Drew Pomeranz did what Chris Sale could not on Friday night, beat the Rays. Of course, Pomeranz did receive a bit more run support. He worked six innings allowing six hits, two earned runs and five walks with six strikeouts. There’s always something holding Pomeranz back from working deeper into games – the five walks stand out yesterday.

Carlos Carrasco turned up the strikeouts with 11 against the Tigers in seven innings last night. He also ceded nine hits, two earned runs and one walk winning his 10th game of the season. Carrasco did generate 17 swinging strikes and could be in store for a nice second half.

Both R.A. Dickey and Max Scherzer took part in a pitching duel with a team’s bullpen imploding for a loss. But this time, it was the Braves. Dickey had the knuckle ball dancing, recording seven strikeouts in seven innings limiting the Nationals to three hits, one earned run and one walk. Max Scherzer registered 10 strikeouts for the 33rd time in his career and eighth time over his last nine starts. He did allow four earned runs, but did not absorb the loss due to a Jim Johnson meltdown.

Cole Hamels grew a questionable mustache and fired a three hitter over 7.2 shutout innings with a walk and six strikeouts. He has won four games this year.

The good news is Jacob deGrom won his ninth game. The bad news is he allowed four solo home runs. deGrom pitched seven innings giving up four earned runs with five strikeouts, but needs to limit gopher balls to finish strong in the second half.

German Marquez won his sixth game in Coors against a watered down White Sox lineup. He pitched seven innings allowing nine hits and three earned runs with five strikeouts.

Zach Greinke is still back. He pitched seven shutout innings at home against the Reds giving up only four hits and one walk with seven strikeouts on 18 swinging strikes. It marks his 11th win this season.

Kenta Maeda made his case to stay in the rotation after the break with his seventh win, allowing one earned run over five innings with five strikeouts.

Big Maple, James Paxton, won his seventh game as well, lasting seven innings against Oakland holding them to two hits, two earned runs, and two walks with nine strikeouts on 20 swinging strikes.

Miami’s Dan Straily did not record many strikeouts (3), but worked deep into the game (8.1 innings) giving up four hits and one earned run en route to his seventh win in San Francisco.



Bullpen Notes

Jim Johnson tied the major league high with his seventh blown save. He only recorded two outs allowing four hits, three earned runs, and a walk raising his ERA to 4.23. There’s no word about removing him from the role, especially with Arodys Vizcaino on the disabled list, but he’s on shaky ground.

Hector Neris allowed a run in the ninth to take his third loss of the year. He did register six scoreless outings prior to this so he is safe in the closer role and will look to bounce back. Brandon Maurer struck out the side for the Padres in the bottom of the inning for his 18th save.

Addison Reed notched his 15th save in a clean inning with a strikeout. Brandon Kintzler also saved his 24th giving up a hit. Fernando Rodney entered the game needing to get one out, and did so for his 22nd save. Kudos to Arizona for giving him a layup after his most recent meltdown. Kenley Jansen turned in another clean inning for his 24th save, lowering his ERA to 0.98 this season.

One appearance of note, Josh Hader did give up a home run to Aaron Judge, but he pitched three relief innings striking out seven with 13 swinging strikes. One more than deGrom in seven innings above. Take note.

Hitter Highlights

In the day game, Andrew McCutchen went 3-for-4 with a run and a double. He has recorded three, three-hit games in July. Kris Bryant raised the bar a little going 4-for-5 with three runs, two home runs (18) and four RBI. Anthony Rizzo added his 20th home run with two RBI. Ian Happ is still hitting cleanup and registered a hit while stealing his fourth base.

Jose Pirela hit his fourth home run, but dropped to third in the lineup. Wil Myers took a turn at lead-off going 3-for-4 and stealing his 10th base. Austin Hedges popped two home runs (13) and drove in three, including the game winning run. Tommy Joseph countered with a double and home run (15) with two walks for the Phillies.

Ender Inciarte scored two runs, doubled, and walked twice. Freddie Freeman homered for the first time off the disabled list, his 15th, and drove in three. Ryan Zimmerman went 2-for-5 with a run and two RBI.

George Springer continues his torrid stretch going 4-for-4, scoring four runs with a double, two home runs (27) and five RBI. He is one player not wanting to see the All-Star break looming. Jose Altuve went 3-for-5 with a run and will get Saturday off. Carlos Correa launched his 18th home run, encouraging after his thumb injury earlier in the week. Evan Gattis doubled and hit his seventh home run with two RBI. Ponder this, Troy Tulowitzki and Ezequiel Carrera each hit their sixth home run for Toronto.

Dustin Pedroia scored two runs, hit his third homer, and drove in two. Hanley Ramirez could be percolating, hitting his 13th home run among three hits in four at-bats. Jackie Bradley Jr. added his 12th homer as well. Steven Souza launched his 17th of the year. Wilson Ramos continues to round into form with a run, double, and RBI. Brad Miller returned to the lineup with two hits and two walks, reaching in all four plate appearances.

Ian Kinsler went 2-for-3 with a run, Alex Avila did the same in four at-bats. Miguel Cabrera and J.D. Martinez recorded an RBI each. Jason Kipnis finished 2-for-3 with three runs, two doubles and two walks. Francisco Lindor went 3-for-5 with two runs, a triple, three RBI, and stole his fourth base. Michael Brantley drove in four runs with two hits and a double. Jose Ramirez also recorded two hits. Lonnie Chisenhall hit his 12th home run. Bradley Zimmer had his first three hit game and hit his fifth home run.

Nomar Mazara went 2-for-3 with three runs and his 12 home run, driving in three while walking two times. Adrian Beltre hit his sixth home run, going on one knee to do so, driving in three runs. Rougned Odor hit his 17th home run with two runs and two RBI.

Jay Bruce racked up three hits along with his 22nd home run. Jose Reyes hit his eighth among two hits and scored twice. Dexter Fowler (14), Jedd Gyorko (13), Randal Grichuk (9) and Paul DeJong (7) all hit solo shots for St. Louis.

Seth Smith led off the game with a home run, his ninth. Manny Machado went 4-for-5 with two home runs (18) and four RBI. Trey Mancini tallied two hits and an RBI. Brian Dozier tripled, scored, and drove in one. Max Kepler registered two hits and an RBI. Kennys Vargas is back with the team and went 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI, as did Eddie Rosario.

Domingo Santana recorded another multi-hit game; he’s hitting .326 over his last 63 games with 12 home runs and 42 RBI. Ryan Braun doubled and scored two runs. Jesus Aguilar hit two home runs for the first time of his career in the majors (one being a grand slam), and drove in seven runs to tie a Brewers one game record – most for a rookie. Manny Pina added two hits and an RBI. Hernan Perez tallied three hits with a run and a double.

Aaron Sanchez set the Yankees rookie home run record, prior to the All-Star break hitting his 30th. He is also tied for second in franchise history for home runs before the break held by Roger Maris’ 33 in 1961. Clint Frazier hit his first major league triple and drove in one with a sacrifice fly. Ji-Man Choi hit his second home run in as many games.

Jose Abreu went 3-for-4 in Coors with a double. Todd Frazier also doubled and scored a run. Tim Anderson his hit eighth home run driving in two. Charlie Blackmon registered three hits, scored three runs, hit his 19th home run, and walked. D.J. LeMahieu hit his fourth home run and drove in two. Nolan Arenado went 3-for-5 with two runs, a double, his 16th home run, and five RBI.

Along with Votto’s home run, Scott Schebler added his 22nd among two hits in Arizona. David Peralta scored a run, drove in one, and stole his sixth base. Paul Goldschmidt launched his 20th home run. Brandon Drury went 2-for-2 with two runs, two doubles, and two walks. Deuces wild with Drury.

Chase Utley went 2-for-4 with a run, double and an RBI (his 1,000th of his career). For retrospect, Utley drove in Jim Thome for his first RBI.

Marcus Semien drove in both of Oakland’s runs with a double. Danny Valencia went 3-for-4 with two runs and a double. Nelson Cruz also reached a milestone with his 16th home run this year and 300th of his career. He drove in five for the Mariners.

Dee Gordon racked up four hits and scored two runs. Giancarlo Stanton doubled, homered (24) and drove in two. J.T. Realmuto went 3-for-4 with his eighth home run.

Statistical Credits: MLB.com, BaseballSavant.com, ESPN.go.com, Fangraphs.com

 

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Greg Jewett
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

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