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Fantasy Forward: Kluber remains dominant

Reading a box score, one can infer a strong performance and Corey Kluber turned in another dominating one last night. In Kluber’s complete game against the Yankees he allowed three hits, one earned run, one walk, and struck out 11 with 18 swinging strikes generated. Going deeper into the numbers reveals a run of greatness only four other pitchers can match. Kluber has struck out at least eight over his last 12 starts, a feat Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and Nolan Ryan can lay claim to.

Over his last 12 games, Kluber’s whiffed 131 batters in 86.1 innings of work against only 15 walks with a 1.77 ERA and 0.78 WHIP. He is the only Indians pitcher to record at least 10 strikeouts in five straight games during this run, and he has struck out at least 10 in nine of his last 10 outings. For the season, Kluber has made 11 starts with at least 10 strikeouts, and last night’s complete game’s his third. Suffice it to say, Kluber’s in the zone.

  • Double-L’s Still Hot

Prior to fantasy baseball drafts, many pundits opined about not overpaying for Willson Contreras. Early on, it seemed relevant he could not maintain the power displayed after his promotion last year citing the small sample size effect. However, since the first of July, Contreras stumbled upon a new level of production. Against the Diamondbacks on Thursday, Contreras went 3-for-5 with two runs, a two RBI single, and hit two home runs (17,18) en route to five RBI in the game.

Since July 1st he has played 25 games with 16 runs, nine home runs and 27 RBI, slashing a robust .340.415/.681. Currently pacing towards a 27 home run and 98 RBI season, not only could Contreras finish atop the catcher leader board this year, he may be the number one catcher in fantasy next year in drafts ending Buster Posey’s reign.



  • Red Sox rookie making the record books

Saying third base for Boston has been a black hole this year may underscore the dearth of production at the position. Promoting Rafael Devers not only breathed life into the Red Sox fan base, it’s been a boon for fantasy owners who took a flier on the rookie. Devers became the first player since 1900 to record 13 hits and three home runs in his first eight games before turning 21. He’s also the first Red Sox since Mo Vaughn to homer three times in his first eight games since 1991 and the fourth ever.

With only eight games under his belt, Devers has four multi-hit games, scored seven runs with three doubles, three home runs and six RBI with a .406/.486/.750 slash line. He has walked five times with seven strikeouts, and will surely slow down, but been impressive nonetheless.

  • Chris Taylor, ladies and gentlemen…

When Chris Taylor showed signs of breaking out earlier this season, many hesitated to add him due to his track record as a light hitting middle infielder with the Mariners. It’s August and he’s still raking. In fact, he has been even better to start the second half. Last night, Taylor finished 3-for-5 with three runs, his 13th home run, and two RBI. Since the All-Star break, he is hitting .405/.429/.716 with 14 runs, three home runs, 13 RBI and two stolen bases.

Taylor is pacing towards a 20 home run and stolen base season if he plays in 135 games with 13 of each over his first 90 this year. It’s difficult to explain this explosion, but fantasy owners who added him may attest to him being an MVP pickup this year.

  • Alex Wood’s velocity

On the surface, Alex Wood’s 13th win will not create many ripples of effect for his owners. Wood pitched six innings in Atlanta giving up seven hits, one earned run and two walks with two strikeouts. However, since Wood struck out 10 Diamondbacks on July fifth, he has only recorded 15 strikeouts over his last 23.2 innings. Reports from his manager noted Wood’s velocities were down last night, and looking at a chart from BrooksBaseball.net, they concur:

He has worked with lower velocities during his career, but the strikeout upside he provided earlier this season could dissipate moving forward. It’s not a red flag, but one to consider with many leagues trade deadline approaching.

  • Lorenzo ran last night

Lorenzo Cain is putting up a strong fantasy season without much fanfare, and stole two bases last night for the first time since June 17th. He suffered a hamstring injury earlier in the week and only stole two bases in the previous 25 games. Despite this, Cain is on pace for a career high 29 steals this year with 19 on the season. He also leads the majors in stolen base percentage without being caught going 19-for-20 in attempts this year.

Cain is pacing towards 156 games with 95 runs, 18 home runs, 51 RBI and 29 steals. Did you know this? It would represent career highs in home runs as well as the aforementioned stolen base category.

  • Beckham likes his new home?

When the Rays traded Tim Beckham, it seemed innocuous. But, in three games with the Orioles, Beckham is 7-for-12 with four runs, three doubles, a triple, a homer, and three RBI. Moving to a much better hitting environment could impact his bat the rest of the season. While Beckham’s defense leaves much to be desired, fantasy owners will only look to reap value if his offense comes to life with his second chance in the same division. Monitor his progress with the bat in Baltimore.

Statistical Credits: MLB.com, ESPN.go.com, Fangraphs.com, BrooksBaseball.net

 

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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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