Fantasy Forward: Dusty cannot find relief

After watching Stephen Strasburg labor through five innings allowing six earned runs on three home runs, Dusty Baker and the Nationals still had a chance to win their game thanks to the offense. Justin Turner provided a bridge to the eighth, but ran into trouble to start the inning forcing Enny Romero into the game. Both were credited with holds, and with a two run lead, Baker brought in Matt Albers who did not allow an earned run over the last two weeks. Albers started strong recording the last out of the eighth, and then the ninth inning happened.

Calling out Albers may not be fair, he hit 96 MPH on the gun and his pitches moved well, but he walked two batters with one out in the ninth bringing up Tyler Flowers. Then he spotted Flowers a 2 – 0 count prior to serving up the game winning home run. Trying to sort out the rubble amidst Baker’s repeated pleas to bolster the bullpen, the Nationals still lead the East by eight and a half games. But losing games like this needs to stop.

Will he turn to Shawn Kelley who recorded the last two outs in the ninth despite dropping a ball at first base when covering? Could Albers still get the next save chance? Will they look at Trevor Gott who struck out 28 at Triple-A during 30 innings of work? Time will tell, but staying away for fantasy purposes may be advised.

Yoenis Cespedes left his game early last night due to a heel injury? He expects to be ready for Tuesday, but those in weekly leagues should be nervous. Owners of Lance McCullers must be frustrated, but the Astros were going to need to limit his innings this year anyway, and his short stint on the disabled list could be just that – managing innings. Doing it after roster locks… well, that’s tough, but baseball does not worry about the fantasy side of things. Off to the recaps.

Starting Pitcher Observations

Just when we though trusting Jacob deGrom could be tough to do, he fires a complete game five hitter giving up one earned run with six strikeouts. He did walk four which remains a concern, but this outing hopefully kick starts the talented deGrom.

We’re not worthy – not only did Jameson Taillon return from a battle with testicular cancer, he won his first game back on five shutout innings. Taillon limited the Rockies to five hits and two walks with five strikeouts.

Despite giving up six earned runs, Strasburg did leave the game in line for a win. Over his last five starts he has struck out 51 in 32.2 innings of work against seven walks with a 3.03 ERA, absorbing last night’s blip. Do not panic.

Yovani Gallardo won his third game in Minnesota lasting six innings, allowing seven hits, three earned runs and a walk with five strikeouts. Luis Perdomo tallied his first win of 2017 against the Reds giving up seven hits, three earned runs and two walks with four strikeouts.

In a much-needed bounce back game, Masahiro Tanaka pitched 6.2 innings allowing four hits, three runs (one earned) and two walks with eight strikeouts on 14 swinging strikes. Strasburg generated 21 swinging strikes in his outing and deGrom 15 to finish with higher totals last night.

Bullpen Musings

After the Nationals meltdown, Jim Johnson locked down his 13th save in spite of allowing an earned run on two hits. He did strike out two. Dellin Betances notched his sixth save strikeout out four in 1.1 innings of work. Aroldis Chapman targeted the 15th to return, but his progress has been very quiet of late.

Hitter Highlights

Welcome back to relevance Asdrubal Cabrera, who homered twice against the Cubs. Cabrera has been quiet of late, but should be due for some positive regression. Jay Bruce stayed hot going 3-for-3 with a walk, double, his 17th home run, and two RBI. Addison Russell homered in back-to-back games accounting for the Cubs only run.

Nolan Arenado finished with three hits and stole his second base in the Rockies loss to Pittsburgh. Josh Harrison continues to rake left-handed pitching with his eighth home run, and David Freese added two hits with an RBI.

Trea Turner went 3-for-6 with two runs, his sixth home run, and two RBI in a loss. Bryce Harper homered for the 16th time, and Adam Lind filled in affably again for Ryan Zimmerman with three hits. Michael Taylor also registered three hits with two runs, two doubles, and an RBI. Brian Goodwin doubled and homered (3) en route to a 3-for-4 day. For the Braves, Nick Markakis (2), Matt Kemp (11) and Tyler Flowers (4) all hit home runs with Matt Adams (9) leaving the yard twice.

Pesky Philadelphia benefited from Daniel Nava’s three hits; he’s hitting .329 this year with a .945 OPS. Howie Kendrick also finished with three hits and stole three bases to raise his total to seven this year. Mookie Betts went 4-for-5 with three doubles in Boston’s win. Andrew Benintendi tallied three hits including his ninth home run. Hanley Ramirez added his ninth dinger as well.

Seth Smith doubled in two at-bats and walked three times stealing his second base for Baltimore. Manny Machado returned to the lineup with two hits and his fourth stolen base of the year. Trey Mancini launched his 10th home run and drove in three. Avisail Garcia continues to hit with a double and three RBI. Matt Davidson broke a power slump with his 11th home run and two RBI for the White Sox.

Minnesota’s Brian Dozier may be heating up. He went 3-for-4 with two doubles, owns a seven-game hit streak, and upped his slash line in June to .273/.373/.455. Mitch Haniger made an immediate impact returning to his spot hitting second for the Mariners with four hits, four runs scored, a double and two RBI in his second game back from the disabled list. Nelson Cruz drove in four with two hits and a double. Danny Valencia went 2-for-5 with his sixth homer and three RBI. Last, Mike Zunino recorded his second three-hit game this year, homered for the fifth time driving in two.

Moving atop the Rangers lineup, Delino DeShields may be finding his way to relevance. He went 1-for-3 with a walk, stole his 14th base, and improved his average in June to .400 with six steals this month. Nomar Mazara hit his eighth home run and drove in three.

Remember when dropping Kole Calhoun seemed like the right thing to do? He has recorded seven multi-hit games in June with five home runs, his 1oth of the season last night, and he’s slashing .421/.511/.816 this month. Aaron Judge tallied two more hits, launched his 22nd home run, and drove in two for the Yankees. Wash, rinse, repeat right now. Didi Gregorius finished 4-for-4 as well.

Joey Votto went 2-for-4 and has hit four home runs in June while recording a .395/.458/.721 slash line. Scott Schebler drove in two of the three Reds runs. Jose Pirela stayed hot atop the Padres lineup with two more hits, scored two runs, and doubled. Franchy Cordero doubled, hit his first major league home run, and drove in two. Yangervis Solarte hit his sixth home run, and Austin Hedges drove in three with three hits including a double.

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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