Baltimore Orioles at Toronto Blue Jays: It’s a Zach Britton start for the O’s against a not-so-formidable Blue Jays team. Britton only has eight starts this year, kind of shocking, especially when I think of the amount I’ve added and dropped him. Sheesh. Anyway, Britton was a bit wild in the first, having a hard time consistently finding the zone, even though he was throwing fastballs primarily. Then he got into the soft underbelly of the line-up (Jeff Mathis, Moises Sierra, etc.) and started to buckle down.
Carlos Villanueva was on the hill for the Jays and he looked solid early. Hitters are batting .220 against Villanueva. Only Kris Medlen, Jered Weaver, R.A. Dickey, Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw and Gio Gonzalez have pitched at least 90 innings and have a better average against. Rick Porcello has the worst average against among qualified pitchers. That said, Villanueva has never had a full season as a starter and, while he showed solid glimpses of talent in nine starts in 2008, he never rekindled that glory.
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He does have a .268 BABIP but his xFIP and SIERA are pretty solid. He should be a decent option down the stretch (although with limited chances at wins) and could be a sneaky cheap option next season if he finds himself in the Jays rotation. That said, things came apart in the fifth (he had thrown just 42 pitches through four) as Adam Jones doubled, Chris Davis walked and Mark Reynolds just got enough of one to hit it out. 3-0 Orioles. Once the O’s got into the pen, they kept adding runs and put this one away easily.
Milwaukee Brewers at Miami Marlins: I continue to be befuddled about Norichika Aoki’s ownership levels. He puts up a good average, steals a base here and there and gets on base in front of Ryan Braun, so you know he’s scoring runs. He is a four category guy. Oh by the way, he hit a two-run homer and doubled in a run last night. The Marlins are horrible. Wade LeBlanc has no business in a starting rotation. Of course, Shaun Marcum managed to give up a two-run blast to Gorkys Hernandez of all people, pissing away a winnable game. The Marlins, not ones to enjoy good fortune, allowed Chad Gaudin to pitch and he promptly gave the game away on a three-run HR to Jeff Bianchi. The horrid Brewers bullpen was pretty good in this, throwing 3.1 innings and not allowing a run.
Cleveland Indians at Detroit Tigers: The Tigers, out of fairness, decided to play with a handicap today, as they willingly started Rick Porcello and Don Kelly at first base. Kelly is a lefty, so it kind of made some sense against Justin Masterson, but he still didn’t need to bat sixth. Porcello gave up a bunch of base runners and handful of runs. Michael Brantley did most of the damage and is batting a nice .284/.335/.408. However the speed hasn’t been there (just 12 steals) and he has been caught nine times. He is now 39/59 in SB attempts for his career. It doesn’t look like Brantley will be much of a speed option going forward. While Masterson cruised through five, he got into trouble in the sixth. Any Dirks reached via a fielder’s choice and Miguel Cabrera homered to make it a 3-2 game. That was it for the Tigers though. It’s a joy to watch Vinnie Pestano pitch. He bookended a Dirks pop-out with K’s of Austin Jackson and Cabrera. In the ninth, Chris Perez continually lit up the stadium gun and recorded an incredibly easy save, carving up the Tigers 4-5-6 hitters.
The only team better than the Indians in one-run games? The Orioles, go figure. You certainly can’t predict bullpens.
New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays: The over/under on runs in this one could have been set at 15 and I would have had a hard time taking the under. Neither Freddy Garcia nor Alex Cobb had much early, as Robinson Cano hit a two run HR in the top of the first. A healthy(?) Evan Longoria hit a two-run shot for the Rays in the third as the seesaw offensive battle continued. Desmond Jennings and B.J. Upton then went back-to-back in the fifth to push the lead to 5-2. Upton is well on his way to a 20-30 season. I thought the average would be better, but I’ll take the .250 with that power/speed. As one of the earliest Cobb believers, I sure sold him short in this one. He was down in the zone all night, throwing 68 of 97 pitches for strikes. He continued an awesome seven start stretch (3.45 ERA and 33:6 K:BB rate). Joel Peralta and Fernando Rodney continued the excellence in shutting down the Yanks.
Philadelphia Phillies at Cincinnati Reds: Kyle Kendrick was good in this one, limiting the Reds to just seven base runners in six innings. Unfortunately, one of those hits was a homer by Jay Bruce with a runner on. Kendrick looks 12-team worthy right now. As good as Kendrick was, though, Mat Latos was better, allowing just one run and recording six K’s. The Reds bullpen took over and shut down a Phillies line-up that featured one player with an OBP above .344.
Colorado Rockies at Atlanta Braves: Tommy Hanson was darn good, but got no help from his teammates, as Drew Pomeranz, Carlos Torrez, Rex Brothers and Matt Belisle held them scoreless. Carlos Gonzalez and Jordan Pacheco (who is totally worth an add) hit homers in the rare win for the Rockies.
Texas Rangers at Kansas City Royals: Matt Harrison and the Rangers defense weren’t so good in this one. Alex Gordon hit his 11th HR and is batting .298/.368/.453. Yep, he’ll be good for a real long time. Jeremy Guthrie continued to be the major acquisition at the trade deadline, stymying the Rangers (allowing just two runs over seven). Greg Holland got an easy three-run save opportunity and made it look effortless, throwing just six pitches in collecting three outs.
Chicago Cubs at Washington Nationals: Ian Desmond is out to prove that his 18.6% HR/FB rate is for real. He hit two dingers off Chris Rusin (who? Exactly.) and the pitiful cubs. That said, how Edwin Jackson ended up with the same sort of line as Marcum is beyond me. It didn’t really matter, but style points, come on! The Cubs used seven pitchers in this one and five of them allowed runs. The Nats were all over the scoreboard – Adam LaRoche and Jayson Werth both had four hits. Don’t look know, but Werth is sporting a .404 OBP, which is easily a top 10 mark in all of baseball.
New York Mets at St. Louis Cardinals: Jaime Garcia has been a huge boon to the Cards since returning. Sure it was the Mets, but he did shut them down. Matt Harvey wasn’t as effective, facing a tough veteran Cards line-up. The Cards actually got no extra base hits, just a lot of singles. Daniel Descalso, who should be getting a lot of playing time, went 2/3. If you’re desperate at middle infield, you could do worse. Matt Holliday left in the seventh with lower back tightness. No word on whether this was a big deal or he just needed time off in a 5-0 game.
Houston Astros at Pittsburgh Pirates: This one started after a long delay (but did we really need to watch it to know the outcome?). Wandy Rodriguez shutdown his former team, going seven strong, allowing just five base runners and K’ing seven. Andrew McCutchen was fantastic, collecting three RBIs. Meanwhile, Travis Snider continues to hit for the Pirates. Unfortunately he left the game in the second with that right hamstring issue. It’s something to monitor, but, if healthy, Snider could be a huge asset down the stretch. Brett Wallace got the 'Stros on the board in the eighth with an RBI double. While he has a pretty solid line, that .370 BABIP sticks out like a sore thumb. He has been a bright spot for Houston, but he has a 28.3% K rate and 15.1% swinging strike rate.
Minnesota Twins at Chicago White Sox: Scott Diamond not so good. White Sox hitters are: Paul Konerko, Alex Rios and Dayan Viciedo collected RBIs in the first in this one. Of Course, Jose Quintana is no Greg Maddux either, as the Twins strung together a bunch of singles and a few walks to plate seven in the second. In the fifth, the Twins made that explosion look miniscule, when they put up 10 runs. Chris Parmelee homered. With Denard Span out, he’ll get full time at bats and makes a nice play at the corner in deep leagues. The White Sox then unloaded the bench, gave their regulars a break and let this one die a slow death.
Arizona Diamondbacks at San Francisco Giants: Rookie Adam Eaton got the call by the Diamondbacks and led off. He went 2/6 with a run. He was destroying the ball at AAA and could be a nice speed pick-up down the stretch. Paul Goldschmidt doubled and stole a base. He’s having a good year, but you’d like to see him hit better off righties. He has a career .258/.330/.430 line and was worse this year. Until he can hold his own against righties, he’ll be a back-end 1B option. All of the damage was done against Ryan Vogelsong who has turned into a pumpkin since we hit August (six starts and a 6.32 ERA, but a 34:10 K:BB rate). This is merely a bit of correction in Vogelsong’s BABIP and strand rate, as both were fairly lucky for the balance of the season. He’ll be fine rest of the way, just not the ace he had been.
San Diego Padres at Los Angeles Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw was terrific but the offense and bullpen was not. The Dodgers managed just three runs against a smattering of average Padres pitchers. Luke Gregerson got the save and seems entrenched until Huston Street is back. Chris Denorfia hit a homer – it’d be nice to see what he could do in a full season. Cameron Maybin, quietly, has been solid since July 15 (148 plate appearances): .311/.365/.406 with two homers and nine SBs. File that away for next season.
Boston Red Sox at Seattle Mariners: Jon Lester pitched well, but gave up two homers – one to lefty killer Franklin Gutierrez. Still, the Sox were a tad better against Blake Beavan, as Cody Ross notched his 20th HR. Meanwhile, Scott Podsednik batted lead-off and stole a base. He’s a third outfielder now, crazy sauce.
Can you imagine a world where Keith Hernandez doesn’t have a mustache? That’ll clearly be like the alternate universe in Fringe, right?
Check out a good Fangraphs breakdown of Kyle Kendrick.
Written by Albert Lang exclusively for TheFantasyFix.com
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