Fantasy Forward: Something brewing in the National League Central

Milwaukee has been a terrific story this year, leading the division most of the way. However, things in the rear view mirror may be closer than they appear with the Cubs and the Pirates on five-game win streaks. Chicago has pulled to within one game and host the Cardinals this weekend. Milwaukee will take their five-game losing streak to Philadelphia looking to rebound, while the Pirates head out to Coors with their bats rekindled of late. Hopefully Milwaukee trusts the process and does not sacrifice much from their stocked farm system chasing the playoffs via trade. Chicago pushed their chips in adding Jose Quintana and could look to add Zach Britton to bolster the bullpen. Pittsburgh stands on tenuous ground with their assets on whether to add, sell, or hold. Past years indicate they remain in a holding patter. Stay tuned.

Speaking of the trade front, the Marlins dealt David Phelps to the Mariners for four minor league players to start rebuilding their system. Key piece of the trade for Miami will be Brayan Hernandez down the road. Atlanta is rumored to be dealing Jaime Garcia soon. He is linked to the Twins, and it could happen prior to his start tonight, so keep tabs. If Garcia does get traded, Aaron Blair will take his spot on the mound in Los Angeles. J.D. Martinez did sit out on Thursday after being hit on the hand by a pitch Wednesday night. It’s reported as a left hand contusion. Cole Hamels reached 24 innings without a run, then imploded in Baltimore giving up seven earned over 5.1 innings.

Due to the trade deadline looming, be sure to keep track of your roster and the pending moves in case a player switches teams. If interested in how some scouts will use the Statcast data, check out Anthony Castrovince’s piece on it, here. Hunter Renfroe returned from the disabled list and Manuel Margot went on the paternity list for San Diego. Off to the recaps.

Starting Pitcher Observations

In starting pitcher doppelgänger results, Lance Lynn and Seth Lugo turned in almost identical stat lines opposing each other. Both allowed one earned run, one walk and struck out five with nine swinging strikes. Lynn held the Mets to three hits while Lugo yielded four, but nitpicking here. And each received a no-decision in a game decided by the bullpens.

Patrick Corbin stepped in for Taijuan Walker who went on the paternity list. Corbin pitched 7.1 innings giving up seven hits, one earned runs and a walk with six strikeouts on 15 swinging strikes. Luis Castillo took the loss, but struck out seven allowing four hits and four earned runs over six innings with 15 swinging strikes as well. Castillo’s faced some tough match-ups and keeping his head above water if an owner gets impatient in your league and drops him.

Jameson Taillon also generated 15 swinging strikes against the Brewers. Taillon worked 5.1 innings giving up six hits, two earned runs, and two walks with eight strikeouts for his sixth win.

Danny Duffy fought off the 101 degree temperatures lasting five innings to record his sixth win yielding nine hits, four earned runs and striking out four.

Not only did Mike Foltynewicz win his eighth game, he ended the Dodgers 11-game win streak in the process. Foltynewicz worked 6.1 innings allowing six hits, three earned runs, and two walks with five strikeouts.

Luis Severino and Felix Hernandez locked horns in a pitchers duel with Severino emerging victorious. Severino’s seven shutout inning performance included six strikeouts, eight hits allowed, and a walk with 14 swinging strikes induced. Hernandez pitched strong as well with nine strikeouts, giving up three hits, one earned run and two walks with 13 swinging strikes generated.

Jhoulys Chacin turned in another solid outing winning his ninth game of the year. Chacin held the Giants to four hits over six innings allowing two earned runs and one walk with four strikeouts.

Bullpen Musings

In the revolving door known as the Cardinals bullpen, Brett Cecil pitched in the eighth inning blowing his sixth save of the year allowing a home run to Wilmer Flores. Trevor Rosenthal entered a tied game giving up two hits, one earned run and a walk taking the loss. Addison Reed garnered the win in relief pitching a clean top of the ninth.

Felipe Rivero notched his ninth save with a clean inning, he’s a stud. Roberto Osuna struck out two for his 24th save.

Brad Brach pitched the eighth inning striking out two with Zach Britton returning to the ninth. Britton allowed two hits, two earned runs and a walk. Still holding on to Brach hoping the Orioles deal Britton.

Those keeping Jose LeClerc around for saves can move on. He pitched the bottom of the eighth with his team down by five runs. Plus, Keone Kela returned from the disabled list. If the Rangers pulled off the comeback, Alex Claudio was warming up in the bullpen.

Aroldis Chapman worked in a non-save outing in Seattle, allowing a hit, an earned run and a walk with two strikeouts. His 4.91 ERA and 2.05 WHIP in July still pose some concern for his owners.

Jim Johnson saved his 22nd in normal fashion giving up a hit and a walk. Arodys Vizcaino returned to action recording his 16th hold with a clean inning and a strikeout. Brandon Maurer notched his 20th save giving up two hits and striking out one.

Hitter Highlights

How Tommy Pham still sits on waiver wires remains unknown, but he went 2-for-4 hitting his 13th home run and driving in two. He has hit safely in eight of his last nine contests, batting .367 in July with four home runs and 15 RBI. Michael Conforto went 2-for-2 with two walks to reach base four times. Lucas Duda hit his 17th, and Wilmer Flores added his eighth homer. Jose Reyes provided the walk-off hit and winning RBI.

Chris Iannetta recorded two doubles and scored a run. Jake Lamb launched two home runs (21,22) and drove in six runs. Ketel Marte added his second home run, and Gregor Blanco his third. Eugenio Suarez represented the Reds offense with two home runs (14,15) and both RBI.

Jonathan Villar doubled among his two, hits but did get caught stealing. Manny Pina went 2-for-4 with a run scored. Gregory Polanco hit his ninth home run, raised his average to .390 in July, and heads to Coors.

Justin Smoak continues to add his career best home run total with two more (25,26) in Boston yesterday. Smoak drove in three runs and he’s hitting .298 with a .960 OPS. Mookie Betts went 2-for-4 with two RBI. Dustin Pedroia smoked his fourth home run over his last 11 games upping his season total to six. He finished 3-for-5 with three RBI.

Shin-Soo Choo drove in two runs, walked three times, and stole his ninth base of the year. Adrian Beltre inched closer to 3,000 hits with two more last night and an RBI. Mike Napoli launched his 21st home run driving in three. Adam Jones went 2-for-5 with his 17th home run and drove in three. Jonathan Schoop hit his 19th with three RBI. Mark Trumo homered for the 16th time, and Chris Davis added his 17th. Welington Castillo and Ruben Tejada also recorded three hits each.

Mikie Mahtook went 2-for-4 with a double, but the Royals bats were too much for Detroit. Whit Merrifield hit his eighth home run and scored twice among two hits. Eric Hosmer went 2-for-3 with three runs, his 14th homer, and two RBI. Salvador Perez stole his first base, racked up two hits, and scored twice. Mike Moustakas tallied three hits and drove in three. Brandon Moss continues to rake of late with a double and four RBI.

Freddie Freeman went 2-for-4 with two RBI. Matt Adams doubled and drove in one. Kurt Suzuki hit his eighth home run and drove in two. Brandon Phillips did leave the game early due to a hamstring issue, consider him day-to-day. Yasmani Grandal finished 2-for-4 with a double and his 13th home run, driving in two.

Brett Gardner hit his 16th home run and first since June. Didi Gregorius and Chase Headley each recorded two hits with a run scored. Robinson Cano tallied three hits and drove in the only Mariners run.

Hunter Renfroe returned from the disabled list hitting his 17th home run. Cory Spangenberg also hit his eighth with two RBI. Denard Span stayed hot with two more hits including a double, scoring a run, and driving one in.

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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