Fantasy Forward: Yu knew a win was coming

Tracking the trade deadline with the beat writers, it seemed ominous Evan Grant, the Rangers beat writer, tweeted the team did not issue a statement saying trades were finished. Then the last trade bomb dropped with the Dodgers acquiring Yu Darvish for three prospects not named Alex Verdugo. Darvish turned in one of his worst outings as a Ranger giving up 10 runs prior to the trade, but Texas put up the white flag on the season and moved him with free agency pending.

Darvish made his first start in New York facing Jacob deGrom and shined in his Dodger debut. He threw seven shutout innings yielding only three hits and a walk with 10 strikeouts on 16 swinging strikes. His win punctuated a hot stretch for Los Angeles in which they’ve won 42 of their last 49 games – a feat not accomplished since 1912 by the New York Giants.

When trying to gauge Darvish’s value for the rest of the season, take into account his splits. After last night, their even with 72 innings at Globe Life Park in Arlington and 72 innings on the road. In his former home park, Darvish’s 5.38 ERA and 13 home runs allowed resulted in a 4.4 FIP, 1.28 WHIP with 80 strikeouts against 24 walks. On the road, his ERA drops to 2.25, seven home runs, 3.24 FIP, 1.01 WHIP and a 78:22 K:BB rate.

Pitching in the National League and a better home park should move Darvish back into the top-25 for starters the rest of the way. A boon for his owners moving forward. By the way, his teammate (Chris Taylor), who headlined the column yesterday went 2-for-3 with three runs, hit 14th home run and an RBI.

  • Interesting months ahead for Justin Upton

After last season, it seemed like a foregone conclusion Justin Upton would not opt out of his contract at the end of the season due to his lackluster performance in Detroit. He has more than bounced back this year and is in the midst of a hot streak for the team. Upton launched his third grand slam of the season, which leads the American League, for his 20th home run. Over his last six games, Upton is 10-for-29 (.345) with seven runs, three doubles, four home runs and 14 RBI.

On the season, Upton’s played 102 games with 66 runs, 20 homers, 75 RBI and 10 steals with a .282/.368/.528 slash line. He’s pacing towards 99 runs, 30 home runs, 113 RBI and 15 stolen bases. With Detroit facing a rebuild, Upton could decide to hit the market this off-season and capitalize on a new contract for a contending team. Time will tell, but those who drafted him at his ADP in the preseason stand to profit.

  • Rodon dealing in Fenway

Returning from an injury plagued first half, Carlos Rodon may be rounding into form. Rodon whiffed 11 Red Sox hitters last night in Boston over 7.2 innings giving up six hits and two earned runs in a no-decision. On the surface, his season statistics do not jump out, but the most important stat from Friday night for Rodon, the fourth start of his career without a walk. Free passes harpoon his value in fantasy, but with only two over his last two outings against 20 strikeouts and three earned runs, suddenly Rodon could be a sneaky addition if he’s on the waiver wire.

Of course, pitching for the White Sox will not provide a great chance at a win, so Rodon makes much more sense in leagues which reward strikeouts and quality starts. Rodon has recorded double-digit strikeouts in three of his seven starts this year. There’s room for growth in his profile, but if Rodon can reduce the walks and keep the whiff rates he has displayed since returning from the disabled list, he could turn in a solid last two months.

  • Verlander cleared waivers, now what? 

There’s no secret the Tigers will be shifting their focus from contending to rebuilding. Placing Justin Verlander on waivers tested the water, and his contract cleared without a team claiming him. This means he could be traded this month to a team needing one last starter to make a push for the playoffs.

Verlander’s doing his part to enhance his trade value with seven strong innings in Baltimore on Friday night, allowing six hits, two earned runs, and striking out 10 on 16 swinging strikes. Since the All-Star break he has thrown 32.1 innings with a 38:9 K:BB, 2.51 ERA, 3.64 FIP and 1.05 WHIP. Verlander’s slated to pitch against the Pirates next and should be able to build on his strong start to the second half. Will a team like Milwaukee or the Cubs eat his contract to win a title?

  • Kevin Gausman’s no longer a gas can? 

In a season which seems to mirror his team, Kevin Gausman disappointed early on with a slow start prompting him being dropped in many fantasy leagues. Gausman turned in his fourth straight quality start with eight strikeouts in each outing last night. He did not factor in the decision on Friday night, but Gausman’s won three straight decisions with a 0.65 ERA and 1.01 WHIP over his last four starts.

During the second half, Gausman has pitched 30.2 innings with a 37:10 K:BB, 2.93 ERA, 4.26 FIP and 1.17 WHIP. He’s far from perfect, but as a potential waiver wire addition with a projected start in Oakland next week, why not kick the tires to see what he can provide?

  • Astros break out for 16 runs versus Toronto

With Carlos Correa and George Springer on the disabled list, plus Jose Altuve sitting out on Friday night, Houston’s bats struggled, right? Not a chance. It should be noted the Blue Jays did start Cesar Valdez, but the Astros erupted for 16 runs on 18 hits. Alex Bregman launched his 13th home run and fifth of the second half. He’s hitting .343/.408/.687 with a .343 isolated power since the All-Star break.

Yulieski Gurriel went 3-for-3 with three runs, a double, his 14th home run and three RBI with two walks finishing off a perfect night at the plate reaching all five times. Marwin Gonzalez hit his 20th home run and drove in four. He’s in the midst of a Ben Zobrist peak season playing 33 games in the outfield, 20 at first base, 19 at shortstop, 17 at third base and 11 at second base. Tyler White launched two home runs, scored three times, and drove in five hitting eighth in the lineup. Depth pays kids.

  • Rookies win their first games

Two rookies won their first major league games on the road, Anthony Banda of Arizona along with Brandon Woodruff of Milwaukee. Banda faced the Giants in San Francisco giving up three hits, one earned run and four walks with seven strikeouts over six innings of work. He recorded 13 swinging strikes mixing in his fastball (93.5 MPH), change (82.4 MPH) and curve (77.4 MPH).

Woodruff wiggled in and out of trouble with 6.1 shutout innings in Tampa Bay. He allowed seven hits and two walks with six strikeouts on 12 swinging strikes. His average velocities seem a bit more clumped than Banda with his fastball (94.3 MPH), change (83.8 MPH), slider (84.9 MPH) and one curve (83 MPH). Identifying healthy arms at this point of the year could be worthy so take heed if either stays in the rotation for next week.

  • A few injury issues popped up last night.

Aaron Altherr left his game and could land on the disabled list with continuing hamstring issues. Miguel Sano’s X-rays returned negative after being hit near the hand with a pitch. He’s day-to-day for now, but could sit out on Saturday. Hanley Ramirez left his game with oblique soreness, monitor this closely. Last, Seattle scratched Nelson Cruz due to neck spasms, it should not require a stint on the disabled list, but could limit him this weekend in Kansas City.

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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