Fantasy Forward: George Springer fuels the red hot Astros

After scoring 10 more runs last night, Houston is averaging 10.25 per game in July. All the small sample size alert people can take a breath as it’s July sixth. However, the Astros became the first team to move 31 games over .500 prior to the All-Star break since the Mariners 2001.  

Houston also became the first team to record three straight games with seven doubles, joining the Indians from 1999. And they’re producing in a manner which Prince would be proud. Last, the Astros raised their record away from Minute Maid Park to 31 – 9 this season, outscoring their opponents by 107 runs on the road.

Starting in the All Star game next week, George Springer still goes a bit under appreciated in fantasy. Many feel disappointed his stolen base totals did not translate to the majors, but upon reading the quotes after his two steals last night, this falls on A.J. Hinch. The Astros manager said the training wheels can come off of Springer regarding more stolen bases since his two yesterday, represent his first in 106 games dating back to the end of last August. Without the steals, Springer has been red-hot with 16 home runs, 31 RBI and a .377/.444/.775 slash line over his last 32 games. Houston heads to Toronto to wrap up the first half, looking to add to the history books prior to the break.

Wednesday did not provide too many injury updates, but Rougned Odor did leave his game early after being hit on the hand by a pitch. He is day-to-day for now. Madison Bumgarner and Collin McHugh made rehab starts last night with mixed results. McHugh went 3.2 inning giving up three hits and two earned runs with five strikeouts. Bumgarner allowed two home runs in one inning to a Dodgers prospect, finishing with nine runs allowed on nine hits with one walk and five strikeouts over four innings. Not desired outcomes, but both pitchers seem to be making headway towards returns. Off to the recaps.

Starting Pitcher Observations

Trade bait Sonny Gray worked six innings for his fourth win allowing three hits, two earned runs, and two walks with five strikeouts. He will be a popular target for contending teams in the days leading up to the trade deadline.

Gerrit Cole evened his record with his seventh win. Cole lasted six innings giving up seven hits, two earned runs, and a walk with eight strikeouts on 14 swinging strikes. Matt Garza also leveled his record with his fourth win working 6.1 innings at home versus Baltimore. Garza yielded five hits and two walks over his shutout innings with four strikeouts. This reflects more on the Orioles lineup than Garza’s effectiveness.

Ervin Santana took the loss, but hurled another complete game, his fourth, which represents more than any other major league team. Santana only allowed two earned runs on seven hits with two walks and five strikeouts. Parker Bridwell garnered the win pitching six shutout inning, giving up four hits and three walks with five strikeouts.

It’s a weird night when Andrew Cashner holds a no-hitter into the sixth inning. He settled for his fourth win working seven innings and yielding two unearned runs on three hits and three walks with four strikeouts.

Both Jon Gray and Zach Godley fell one out short of a quality start with Gray getting his second win of the season. Gray also launched a 467 foot home run in support of himself after allowing three runs (two earned) on eight hits with a walk. Godley lost in spite of ceding only one run on three hits and one walk with six strikeouts. He lost to Alex Wood who struck out 10 Diamondbacks over seven shutout innings limiting them to three hits and two walks. Wood moved to 10-0 on the season.

Bullpen Musings

In the midst of their recent struggles, the Yankees bullpen seems to be showing some chinks in the armor. Aroldis Chapman does not pass the eye test not generating swinging strikes, and Dellin Betances tied his career worst with four walks yesterday, his most since his debut in 2011. No team needs the break more than New York. In this same game, Roberto Osuna notched his 21st save giving up a hit, but recovering to strikeout Aaron Judge to end the game.

Sean Doolittle did appear in the ninth, but the A’s led by four. He also allowed a two-run home run to Matt Davidson while striking out the side.

Felipe Rivero locked down his fifth save, on his birthday, giving up a hit with three strikeouts to lower his ERA to 0.78 on the year.

Sam Dyson (3) and Bud Norris (12) worked clean innings. Each underscores why paying too much for saves makes little sense each year. Hopefully the Norris save provides some clarity in the Angels bullpen with Huston Street returning to his second home, the disabled list.

During the late games, Kelvin Herrera saved his 19th giving up a hit with a strikeout, while Kenley Jansen notched his 20th save ceding a hit with two strikeouts.

Hitter Highlights

Jose Bautista went 1-for-3 with a run and two walks. Since moving to lead-off, he is hitting .327/.431/.455 over his last 55 at-bats with 10 walks and 12 strikeouts. Russell Martin scored two runs, hit his eighth homer, and drove in two. Justin Smoak continues to rake with two hits and his 23rd home run, driving in two. Kendrys Morales (16) and Kevin Pillar (10) also homered. Aaron Judge is still launching home runs with his 29th yesterday to drive in two. Not sure why teams pitch to him right now? Didi Gregorius drove in two with a double, and Ji-Man Choi hit his first home run as a Yankee. The carousel at first base continues.

Mallex Smith finished 4-for-4 with three runs and his 10th stolen base after a slump – good to see. Corey Dickerson doubled in a run, and Evan Longoria drove in two. Anthony Rizzo and Ian Happ both tallied two hits, two RBI, and scored a run. Jon Jay hit a three-run pinch hit home run off of Erasmo Ramirez.

Todd Frazier scored twice and hit his 16th homer with two RBI. Matt Davidson kept his team lead, hitting home run number 18 and driving in two as well. Jed Lowrie keeps hitting with three in four at-bats and two RBI. Bruce Maxwell walked twice, doubled, and drove in two for the A’s. Jaycob Brugman hit his second home run, and Rajai Davis recorded two hits with four stolen bases raising his total to 14 this season.

Pittsburgh’s Josh Bell made his only hit count with a triple and an RBI. Daniel Nava countered with three hits, a run, and a double for the Phillies. Maikel Franco launched his 12th home run driving in two.

Travis Shaw doubled and scored a run as did Ryan Braun in Milwaukee’s win. Keon Broxton added his 14th home run with two RBI.

Leading off for the Giants, Gorkys Hernandez went 3-for-5 with a run and stole his seventh base. Hunter Pence drove in three runs and tripled as he continues to show signs of life. Ian Kinsler tallied two hits with an RBI. Victor Martinez finished with two RBI on two hits including a double.

In the shadow of Springer, Jose Altuve also went 3-for-5 in Atlanta with two runs, an RBI, and stole his 17th base. Josh Reddick is still raking with two more hits, both doubles, scored once and drove in three. Marwin Gonzalez also plated three runs with two hits. Ender Inciarte hit his seventh home run, and Josh Camargo doubled twice with a run scored for the Braves.

Kole Calhoun’s hot of late, hitting his 12th home run among his two hits along with stealing his fifth base. Cameron Maybin walked twice and swiped his 25th bag. Brian Dozier accounted for the only Twins run with an RBI single returning to the lineup. Byron Buxton stole his 16th base, and Joe Mauer may miss a game or two with a sore back.

Prepping for the Home Run Derby, Giancarlo Stanton went yard in the first and second inning in St. Louis, driving in four runs and moving his season total to 23 dingers. Marcell Ozuna added his 23rd homer as well with two RBI. Justin Bour launched his 19th off of Seung-Hwan Oh in the ninth to pad the lead. Tommy Pham is still the only fantasy relevant Cardinal of late with two more hits, both doubles, and three RBI.

Joey Votto racked up two more hits with a triple, two runs scored, and two walks. Scooter Gennett hit fourth, finished 2-for-5 with a run and an RBI. With Trevor Story struggling, those in deeper leagues should keep tabs on Pat Valaika. He went 3-for-4 last night with his sixth home run and three RBI. Local fans hope the rookie plays more shortstop going forward.

Trying to add to his vote in resume, Xander Bogaerts hit his sixth home run driving in both Red Sox runs. Carlos Gomez hit his 12th home run with two RBI. Rougned Odor stayed hot hitting his 16th homer and scored three runs, but keep tabs on his hand as he may miss a game or two. Jurickson Profar hit two doubles and drove in two filling in for Elvis Andrus who went on the paternity leave list.

Lorenzo Cain hit his 11th home run to drive in two for the Royals. Eric Hosmer doubled in two runs and walked. Salvador Perez launched his 17th homer driving in two, and Mike Moustakas homered for the third game in a row (25) among his three hits with two RBI. Jean Segura countered with two hits and his sixth home run with two RBI. Mike Zunino hit his 12th homer, and Nelson Cruz his 15th with two RBI for the Mariners.

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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