Fantasy Forward: The Nationals address their bullpen

Rumors will surface and be sure to check the tweets when trying to be the first to re-tweet (I’m guilty of one this year) but the smoke around the Nationals asking about Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle took little time to come to fruition. They will bolster a struggling bullpen but Washington still does not have a “closer”. Dusty Baker can play match-ups late with Doolittle taking the ninth if left-handed hitters will pose a threat with Madson working versus the right-handed hitters. It will take time to sort out, plus the team could still add a veteran closer as well so do not overbid for either pitcher’s services at this time.

Just when it felt safe to write off the Rockies, they drop seven runs versus Steven Matz on the road and will head home to face the Padres. Milwaukee’s been linked to Sonny Gray but not sure they will pay the prospect package necessary to acquire him. Of most interest, the talk about Miguel Cabrera going to the Red Sox would be a blockbuster. It could also get Hanley Ramirez back on track. Stay tuned. As for relievers, teams will shift their focus on Justin Wilson of the Tigers, Brad Hand of the Padres and Jerry Blevins of the Mets. Add Zach Britton to this list with the Orioles preparing for a fire sale.

Houston seems to working the trade market but with pending returns of Collin McHugh and Dallas Keuchel, will they make a splash? Jeff Samardzija‘s not the answer. They may focus more on a bullpen addition than a starter but time will tell. Danny Salazar fired six innings scoreless innings with six strikeouts at Triple-A, which will force the Indians into a decision regarding their staff soon. Off to the recaps.

Starting Pitcher Observations

In Game 1 of the Yankees doubleheader, C.C. Sabathia did exactly what the team needed throwing six shutout innings of two-hit baseball in spite of walking five with three strikeouts. He won his eighth game of the year. Rick Porcello once again failed to receive run support and absorbed his 12th loss. Porcello pitched six innings allowing nine hits, three runs (one earned) and striking out six.

Game 2 featured another pitcher’s duel with Masahiro Tanaka facing David Price. Tanaka pitched 7.2 innings giving up eight hits, three earned runs and struck out nine with 16 swinging strikes generated. Price turned in his best outing of the season firing eight shutout innings on seven hits and striking out eight on 10 swinging strikes for his fifth win.

Rich Hill did not take a run at history in Miami, but did strikeout nine in five innings giving up five hits and one earned run en route to his sixth win.

Tanner Roark won his seventh scattering four hits, three runs (zero earned) and three walks with five strikeouts on an impressive 15 swinging strikes.

Two southpaws surged on Sunday. Jose Quintana not only received run support, but he struck out 12 in his Cubs debut in seven shutout innings allowing three hits and generating 20 swinging strikes. Jaime Garcia won his third also pitching seven innings giving up four hits, one earned run and three walks with seven strikeouts on 10 swinging strikes.

Mike Fiers recorded double-digit strikeouts for the first time since 2015 with 11 on Sunday. He limited the Twins to four hits and two earned runs during his sixth win.

Carlos Martinez received a no-decision after his bullpen let him down, again. Martinez held the Pirates to five hits, two earned runs and a walk with fives strikeouts on Sunday.

Jeremy Hellickson helped his trade stock winning his sixth game but only lasted five innings in Miller Park. He ceded four hits, two earned runs and a walk with six strikeouts.

Yu Darvish and Ian Kennedy finished with quality starts but neither factored in the decision. Both pitched 6.2 innings allowing two earned runs and a walk with six strikeouts. Darvish yielded eight hits while Kennedy gave up fie with Kennedy generating 11 swinging strikes to Darvish’s seven.

Different venue, same type of result with Chris Archer nor Parker Bridwell getting a decision in quality outings. Archer worked six innings giving up five hits, two earned runs and five walks with nine strikeouts. Bridwell proved more efficient allowing six hits, two earned runs and a walk with eight strikeouts in 6.1 innings of work. Archer netted 14 swinging strikes while Bridwell finished with 18.

Sean Manaea won his eighth game pitching seven innings giving up five hits, two earned runs and three walks with eight strikeouts. Trevor Cahill also whiffed eight on the way to his fourth win allowing eight hits, one earned run and a walk over 6.2 innings.

Bullpen Musings

During Game 1, Aroldis Chapman not only recorded the save, his ninth, but he struck out somebody. Kenley Jansen went extra getting four outs giving up two hits with three strikeouts for his 23rd save. Craig Kimbrel bounced back for his 24th save allowing a double and a walk but striking out two. It also marks the first time the Yankees were shutout this year.

Trevor Rosenthal worked the eighth inning striking out one and then Brett Cecil entered for the save? He floundered giving up three hits, two earned runs and a walk for his fifth blown save during his first ninth inning chance. Avoid this bullpen and track when Zach Duke returns. Mercy.

Ken Giles notched his 20th save but allowed a lead-off walk, a hit and an earned run in the process. Same goes for Bud Norris who yielded three hits and a walk, one earned run. A game ending double play by Andrelton Simmons kept this from being a different result. It’s Norris’ 14th save of the year.

Hector Neris received a save chance and converted his eighth of the year giving up two hits with a strikeout. Edwin Diaz worked for the third day in a row and saved as many for his 16th while striking out the side.

Just when the Rangers bullpen seemed safe with Alex Claudio saving two in a row, he pitched in the eighth inning, a clean appearance. Then, Jason Grilli, not Jose LeClerc, entered the bottom of the ninth of a tied game giving up the winning run on two hits and a walk. Kelvin Herrera benefited for his second win after working a clean top of the ninth striking out one.

Hitter Highlights

On the heels of a 16 inning marathon, bats fell quiet in Game 1 of the Yankees and Red Sox doubleheader. Didi Gregorius did hit his 11th home run among two hits. Clint Frazier added two hits with a run and Ji-Man Choi recorded two hits with an RBI.

Game 2 featured Mookie Betts snapping the Red Sox 24 inning scoreless streak with his 17th home run, among three hits with two RBI. Dustin Pedroia added two hits and drove in Boston’s other run.

Charlie Blackmon hit a strange two-run home run for his 21st of the year. D.J. LeMahieu went 4-for-6 with three runs, two doubles and stole his fifth base. Nolan Arenado hit a more traditional home run, his 18th, doubled and drove in three. Mark Reynolds joined the hit parade with four hits of his own, scored three runs and doubled with an RBI. Ian Desmond returned to the lineup going 2-for-6 with a run, double and two RBI. Gerardo Parra stayed hot with two hits, his seventh home run and two RBI. Trevor Story also chipped in with two hits and two RBI. Asdrubal Cabrera (9) and Lucas Duda (15) homered for the Mets.

Justin Turner continues to break out the power with his 11th home run and two RBI. He’s hitting .374 with a 1.053 OPS. Chris Taylor tripled and scored a run. Austin Barnes drove him in with one of his two hits. Christian Yelich went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI.

Jose Bautista launched his 16th home run. Justin Smoak keeps on hitting going 2-for-5 with his 24th home run and two RBI. Kendrys Morales added his 17th homer. Ian Kinsler scored a run, singled and stole his seventh base. Miguel Cabrera drove in two with a single. J.D. Martinez continues to rake hitting his 16th home run, drove in two, walked twice and stole his second base.

Wilmer Difo went 3-for-5 scoring three runs, driving in one, walked and stole his third base. Bryce Harper doubled, scored twice and walked twice. Daniel Murphy cracked two home runs (16) with five RBI. Anthony Rendon hit his 19th home run with two RBI. Adam Lind made the most of his start going 3-for-5 with a double, his seventh home run and three RBI. Chris Heisey also added three hits, scored two runs, doubled and drove in one. Jose Lobaton hit his third home run, a two-run shot. Billy Hamilton went 2-for-5 with two runs and Scooter Gennett drove in three runs on two hits.

Paul Goldschmidt represented the Arizona offense with two hits and driving in their only run. Ender Inciarte went 2-for-4 with two runs, he’s hitting .310 on the season. Brandon Phillips hit three doubles driving in two for his second straight three-hit game. Matt Kemp homered for the first time since June 21st and his fourth extra-base hit over his last 78 at-bats. Matt Adams hit his 15th home run of the season.

Both Kris Bryant (19) and Anthony Rizzo (22) homered in the same game making the Cubs four and zero when they do. Willson Contreras racked up four more hits batting clean-up with a double and a run scored. Ian Happ and Jason Heyward each finished with two hits. Happ doubled and drove in two. Heyward scored a run, drove in one and stole his second base.

Matt Carpenter went 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI. Yadier Molina added his 10th home run. Magneuris Sierra set a Cardinals record with a hit in his ninth consecutive game to start his career. Sierra finished 4-for-4 with his second stolen base for those needing a boost in steals. Adam Frazier tallied two hits, scored a run, drove in one and stole his seventh base. Max Moroff hit his first home run.

Kennys Vargas (8) and Ehire Adrianza (1) hit home runs for the Twins. Jose Altuve doubled, scored a run and stole his 19th base on two hits. Nori Aoki doubled and drove in two. Jake Marisnick scored, drove in one and stole his sixth base.

Odubel Herrera led off and responded with two hits, both doubles, and an RBI. Nick Williams launched his second home run, a grand slam, to drive in four. Jonathan Villar stole his 18th base as he tries to salvage his season. Ryan Braun looked spry swiping his fifth base and first since his return from the disabled list. Brett Phillips hit his first home run, a two-run shot, as a pinch hitter.

Danny Valencia moved up to second in the order and rewarded his manager going 2-for-5 with a run, double, his 10th home run and three RBI. Nelson Cruz hit his 19th home run in the 10th inning for the winning run and his fifth over his last eight games. Kyle Seager homered for the second straight game upping his total to 12 on the year. Jose Abreu went 2-for-5 with a run, double and RBI. Avisail Garcia hit two home runs (13) and drove in three. Omar Narvaez hit his first home run and drove in two.

Mike Napoli hit his 20th homer and Drew Robinson added his third. Whit Merrifield went 2-for-4 with a run, double and stole his 15th base. Mike Moustakas doubled and drove in one.

Evan Longoria finished 3-for-4 with two runs and a double. Logan Morrison launched his 26th home run driving in two. Steven Souza added two hits and an RBI. Andrelton Simmons tallied three hits, scored twice and doubled. C.J. Cron hit a pinch hit two-run home run (3) to propel the Angels to the win.

Francisco Lindor went 4-for-4 with three doubles and only scored, once. Michael Brantley drove in two runs and Abraham Almonte launched a 505 foot home run for his second of the year. Matt Joyce finished 3-for-5 with a run and two RBI. Marcus Semien doubled and scored a run. Jed Lowrie hit his 10th home run and Ryon Healy drove in two with a single.

Denard Span tallied three hits with a double. Buster Posey also doubled and scored a run for the Giants. Wil Myers went 2-for-4 with two runs. Hector Sanchez continues to torment his former employer hitting a three-run home run. Three of his five home runs have come against San Francisco this year. Cory Spangenberg tripled, homered (6), scored twice and drove in three for the Padres.

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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