Fantasy Forward: Mad Max and Masahiro surge on Friday Night

Will injuries ever slow down? Apparently not. A.J. Griffin left his start with a reported intercostal strain and has landed on the disabled list with Dillon Gee on his way to replace him in Texas. Both Jesse Hahn and Kendall Gravemen appear destined for the disabled list forcing the A’s to recall Jharel Cotton to start on Saturday. Bud Norris left last night’s game with the trainer due to right knee soreness. Norris maintains he will not miss any time, we’ll see. Phillies second baseman, Cesar Hernandez, sat out on Friday due to a groin injury. His team lost for the 21st time in their last 26 games, yikes.

On the comeback trail, Yoenis Cespedes went 0-for-2 with a walk and run scored at St. Lucie. He could return next week with no setbacks. Corey Kluber proved efficient during his rehab start in Akron finishing 5.2 innings on 47 pitches allowing one hit, no runs and striking out one. Mariners starter, James Paxton, worked four inning giving up five hits and two runs while striking out five.

Two fun tidbits of information. Masahiro Tanaka became the second Yankee to lose a game in which he struck out 13 with no walks allowed, joining Roger Clemens who accomplished the feat in 2000 facing Pedro Martinez. Speaking of the Yankees, they are one of three teams, joined by Minnesota and Washington, to not be shut out this year. Now for the recaps.

Starting Pitcher Observations

Not only did Max Scherzer strike out at least 10 Padres for the fifth straight time, he’s now tied with Clayton Kershaw for the most double-digit strikeouts games among active pitchers with 53 each. Scherzer worked 8.2 innings allowing three hits, one earned run and two walks with 13 strikeouts. He registered 23 swinging strikes in the process.

Masahiro Tanaka recorded more swinging strikeouts than Scherzer with 25, but still took the loss due to a scoring designation in the rule book. Tanaka found his mojo allowing the earned run in 7.1 innings giving up five hits with 13 strikeouts. His splitter accounted for 11 swinging strikes while his slider generated a whopping 14 of them. Opposing him, Sean Manaea won to even his record with eight strikeouts in seven shutout innings for Oakland.

In a bizarro start or to just underscore how bad the Phillies seem to be playing, Tim Adleman fired eight shutout innings against them allowing one hit, two walks and striking out four.

Eduardo Rodriguez continues to mature with his fourth win of the year pitching six shutout innings allowing five hits, three walks and striking out four. His ERA is down to 2.77 on the season.

Marlins starter Dan Straily pitched 5.2 innings for the win at home against the Angels with six strikeouts and 16 swinging strikes.

Fighting for his spot in the rotation, Joe Musgrove fired seven shutout innings with six strikeouts and 16 swinging strikes. Manager A.J. Hinch said if Brad Peacock starts against the Twins next week, he will be replacing someone in the rotation. Mike Fiers should be on watch to lose his spot.

Junior Guerra returned to the mound for Milwaukee with 5.2 innings of work giving up three hits, one earned run, three walks and striking out five. He induced 15 swinging strikes with six coming from his split-fingered fastball. Opposing him, Zack Godley deserved a better fate than a no-decision after throwing six shutout innings with six strikeouts.

Rays ace Chris Archer bounced back with 7.2 strong innings in Minnesota striking out 11 for his fourth win of the year. Archer registered 15 swinging strikes with 10 courtesy of his slider.

Another strong outing by Alex Wood of the Dodgers who pitched five shutout innings to extend his scoreless streak to 25.1 innings this year. He struck out eight with 12 swinging strikes during his sixth win.

Bullpen Musings

One out saves seemed trendy on Friday night with Koda Glover (4), Roberto Osuna (8) and A.J. Ramos (5) all recording one. Raisel Iglesias notched a two out save with a strikeout against the Phillies for his ninth of the season.

For those watching bullpens, Mike Minor could be making a leap like Brad Hand did to the bullpen. Minor struck out three in two innings of work to garner the win in relief on Friday night. Kelvin Herrera saved his 10th of the year giving up a hit with a strikeout.

Craig Kimbrel continues to dominate this year working a clean inning for his 13th save while Ken Giles locked down his 14th save for the Astros with a strikeout.

Both Fernando Rodney (13) and Jim Johnson (10) recorded saves in the later games. Rodney gave up a hit during his outing and Johnson worked a clean inning with two strikeouts.

Hitter Highlights

Devon Travis continues to rake in May with his fourth home run, a grand slam, and he’s now totaled 18 extra-base hits in May which represents the most by a Blue Jays second baseman in any month in their history. Kendrys Morales homered for the second straight game, his ninth, and Justin Smoak launched his 11th home run. Most importantly, both Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki returned to the lineup.

Rougned Odor almost turned the tide in this game with a three-run home run (his seventh) in the ninth inning. Elvis Andrus stole two bases to raise his total to nine on the year in the category.

Both Adam Duvall (11) and Scott Schebler (14) homered for the Reds who continue to find power from sources other teams gave up on. Billy Hamilton stole two more bases to push his total to 25 this season; his OPS still sits below .700 – less than ideal from a lead-off hitter.

Who says you cannot go home again? Neil Walker returned to his native Pittsburgh and proceeded to hit two home runs, going 3-for-5 with three runs and four RBI against his former team in his home town. Lucas Duda hit two doubles to raise his OPS to .926 this year. Gregory Polanco showed signs of life with his second home run.

Ryan Schimpf has 23 hits this year – 12 have now left the stadium. Trea Turner tries to turn his season around and went 2-for-4 with his fifth home run. Bryce Harper is back to playing at another level. He hit his 15th home run, his average is .340, and OPS 1.136 with June five days away. Michael Taylor added his third home run and merits attention in deeper formats.

Jed Lowrie’s consecutive hit streak ended at seven, but he finished 3-for-4 with his 15th double, an RBI, his average at .310, and a .876 OPS. Stephen Vogt hit his second home run of the year.

Kansas City battled on the road for a come from behind win. Mike Moustakas hit his 12th home run, Brandon Moss his ninth and Jorge Bonifacio went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI. Jose Ramirez homered (7) for the Indians.

Back in Miami, Giancarlo Stanton launched a 460 foot home run, went 3-for-5, and drove in two during their win over the Angels. Christian Yelich finished 3-for-3, Justin Bour continues his power breakout with his 13th home run and three RBI. J.T. Realmuto hit his fourth home run as well and he’s still hitting over .300 this year. For the Angels, Martin Maldanado went 2-for-4 with a double and his third homer of the season.

Houston scored twice with Carlos Beltran (5) and Jake Marisnick (6) homering. Did you know Marisnick was hitting .290 with a .959 OPS? Me either.

Logan Morrison took the team lead with his 13th home run on Friday night. Kevin Kiermaier added his fourth, and Steven Souza his eighth and third in his last three games.

Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon missed a cycle by a double, but tripled, homered (12) and drove in three during their win over the Cardinals. Mark Reynolds stayed productive with his 13th home run and also drove in three to push his RBI total to 42 on the year.

During an extra-inning affair with the Diamondbacks and the Brewers, three players homered: Jake (the Rake) Lamb (14), Chris Iannetta (5) and Jett Bandy (6).

Did the Dodgers feature old timers day on Friday night? Chase Utley turned back the clock with a home run for the second straight day and he stole his third base of the year. Adrian Gonzalez hit his first home run of the season as well with his 23rd RBI. He’s not a huge power source but a sneaky RBI play.

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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