Fantasy Baseball Daily Update: 7/2/15
Outstanding pitching performances have not been hard to come by this season, and another pitcher challenged history last night. The Indians have been impressive in Tampa Bay this week and another Cleveland SP chased a perfect game last night. The daily update for July 2, 2015 will begin with the Indians’ pursuit of perfection.
Carlos Carrasco flirts with a no-hitter for the Indians against the Rays
For the third consecutive start, an Indians’ pitcher had a perfect game through five innings. This time Carrasco nearly finished off a no-hitter. Carrasco was down to the last strike of the game without allowing a hit, finishing the game allowing one run on one hit and striking out 13 batters while allowing two walks and a HBP in 8 2/3 innings pitched. According to Elias, this is the first time in MLB history that a team had three consecutive starts with perfect games going into the fifth inning, as Cody Anderson and Danny Salazar matched Carrasco’s brillance. Carrasco had a 4.02 ERA in June, but has seen his ERA drop in each month of the season. He’s averaged 10.17 strikeouts per nine with a 5.24 K:BB ratio. Carrasco’s high K:BB ratio, good for 13th in the league, and 71% strand rate has his FIP at 2.76, even though his season ERA is still 3.88.
Joey Butler broke up the perfect game in the seventh with a walk and then the no-hitter in the ninth with an RBI single after a walk and a hit batter. Butler has an .841 OPS and 21 RBI since being recalled from Triple-A Durham.
Robinson Cano breaks out
Cano has struggled this season, barely a top-25 2B, but broke out on Wednesday with a 4-for-5 day with a double and a home run. Cano has five extra-base hits in his past 10 games, but only has a .650 OPS this season. The Mariners second baseman has seen his OPS fall from .666 to .615 to .583 over the three months of the season, but is tied for 10th in baseball with 20 doubles. Cano is a buy-low candidate as he has top-five 2B potential. His line drive percentage and hard hit ball percentages are each up this season, to 23.1% and 34% respectively, and his .285 batting average on balls in play is his worst since 2008. That season was the last where Cano had a batting average under .300, but Cano had a .302 batting average from July 1 on in that season. He has hit .309 or better in July, August, and September/October in his career.
Nelson Cruz had a home run for the Mariners yesterday as well, his 20th of the season, on his 35th birthday. Cruz has cooled off since he had 18 home runs through May, but he is still on pace for 40 homers and 100 RBI, posting a .927 OPS for the season. Cruz is the 11th-ranked OF this season and is a safe bet to be a top-20 OF for the remainder of the season.
Johnny Cueto masterful against Twins
Cueto pitched eight strong innings to even his record at 5-5, allowing one run on four hits while walking one batter and striking out eight. Cueto has a sparkingly 2.84 ERA and 0.92 WHIP that is third in baseball, as he has allowed five hits or fewer in five of his last six starts. The Reds right-handed pitcher has also struck out eight or more batters in three of his past four starts and is sixth in baseball in hits per nine at 6.53. The Reds ace has 10 quality starts in his 15 appearances and has pitched six or more innings in four of his past five starts.
Advanced statistics do not love Cueto, as he has stranded 77.1% of batters and has a .236 batting average on balls in play, leading to a 3.26 FIP. Two more statistics that are alarming for fantasy owners is that his hard hit ball percentage has jumped from 22.1% in 2014 to 28.7% in 2015 and that his ground ball percentage has dropped from 50.9% in 2013 to 42.4% in 2015. He has seen his walks per nine drop from 3.52 at the beginning of his career in 2008 to 1.72 this season, a good sign considering that his strikeouts per nine have stayed strong at 8.6.
Blue Jays’ bats erupt against Red Sox
Justin Smoak, Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion, and Jose Bautista all had home runs to lead the Blue Jays over the Red Sox 11-2. Smoak was the star, finishing 3-for-4 with two home runs, two runs scored, and three RBI. Smoak’s two home runs were each at least 430 feet and came from both sides of the plate, making him the first player since 2011, Lance Berkman, to hit home runs from each side of the plate that were 430 feet or further.
Donaldson was another offensive star for the Blue Jays, finishing 3-for-5 with two runs scored, two RBI, and a home run. Donaldson added a double and now has 39 extra-base hits this season, good for eighth in baseball. The Blue Jays third baseman has a .904 OPS and is the third-ranked 3B in fantasy baseball. Bautista added two extra-base hits for the Jays, a home run and a double, finishing 2-for-3 with three RBI and a run scored. Bautista now has 16 home runs and a team-high 53 RBI, good for eighth in baseball. Encarnacion’s 17th home run capped a 1-for-5 outing for the Blue Jays slugger, and his three RBI give him 50 for the season. Encarnacion only has a .798 OPS, but is coming off of a .935 OPS in June, making him the 12th-ranked 1B in fantasy baseball.
Astros bats help Houston sweep Kansas City
In a matchup of the two top teams in the American League, the Astros swept the Royals, relying on Jose Altuve, Evan Gattis, and Chris Carter to fuel the sweep of the reigning AL champs. Altuve was the offensive star for the AL West leaders, finishing 3-for-4 with two runs and a RBI. Altuve has a .440 batting average with five extra-base hits over the past seven games and is a top-three 2B so far this season. The diminutive Altuve has a .763 OPS, 22 extra-base hits, and 23 steals this season. He is currently sporting a 10-game hitting streak after missing seven of nine contests from June 13-June 21.
Carter clubbed his 15th home run of the season, finishing 1-for-4, and is on pace for 30 home runs and 52 extra-base hits this season. Carter is basically the perfect player to pair with Reds speedster Billy Hamilton, assuming you have others on your roster that hit for high average, since Carter provides nothing but his home run potential with his batting average at .198 for the season. The 28-year-old has a .725 OPS because of the home runs, but he also leads baseball with 106 strikeouts.
Gattis finished 1-for-4 with two RBI for the Astros and is a top-five catcher this season with 49 RBI and 29 extra-base hits. Gattis has hits in eight of his past 10 games and a .364 batting average and six RBI over his past seven. The Astros’ catcher only has 12 walks and a .239 batting average this season, but his power and run production, third most among catchers, makes him a big piece of a successful fantasy lineup.
What to watch for
The biggest storyline of tonight’s slate is returning pitchers, with three premier arms taking the mound for the first time this season. Matt Cain, Matt Moore, and Jose Fernandez will all return to the hill on Thursday after injuries that required surgery have kept them out for the beginning of the season. Cain was ineffective in the beginning of 2014, but all three have SP2 potential. Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, and Corey Kluber will also pitch today on what is lining up to be a star-studded day for SP.