Fantasy Baseball Daily Update: 7/7/15
Two potential AL starters for the All-Star game were on the mound last night, each showing that they are good candidates to start the game in Cincinnati next week. There are other top candidates for the starting pitcher for the American League, but after yesterday’s starts, these two candidates distinguished themselves. There was another attempt at a no-hitter as well last night and that is where this daily update for July 7, 2015 will begin.
Jon Lester loses no hitter and game to Cardinals
Lester held a no-hitter into the seventh inning for the Cubs, but his defense and bullpen let him down in the Cardinals 6-0 win on Monday night. Lester allowed no earned runs over seven innings for the second straight start, and allowed only two hits and two walks against St. Louis, but his defense disappointed. Lester was saddled with the loss after two unearned runs were allowed in the seventh inning. The left-hander’s ERA has dropped from 4.03 to 3.48 over his past two starts, and he has pitched seven innings or more in six of his past 10 appearances. Advanced statistics like a .314 batting average on balls in play and 73.3% strand rate tell a lot of the story for the hard-luck season that Lester has had, but his hard hit ball percentage is 30.7% this season, up from 27% in 2014.
John Lackey matched Lester over seven innings and earned his seventh win of the season. Lackey pitched seven scoreless innings against the Cubs and has now pitched seven or more innings in eight of his past 10 starts and has allowed two runs or fewer in seven of those. His 6.59 strikeouts per nine are not as attractive to fantasy owners, but he has a 3.09 ERA for the team with the best record in baseball, showing that he is a good bet for 15 or more wins this season.
Kolten Wong played a big role in thwarting Lester’s outing, finishing 2-for-4 with a run, RBI, and steal. Wong has been a top-five 2B this season, with 43 runs scored, 29 extra-base hits, eight steals, and a .783 OPS.
Dallas Keuchel dominates Indians for 11th win
In the best pitching matchup coming into the night, Keuchel dominated the Indians, furthering his case to start the All-Star game. Keuchel allowed three runs on nine hits in six innings, striking out eight batters for his fourth straight start with seven strikeouts or more. He saw his ERA jump to 2.14 and WHIP rise to 0.99, but Keuchel walked only one batter, marking his ninth start in the past 10 where he walked two batters or fewer and raised his K:BB to 3.44. Keuchel has a .252 batting average on balls in play and 81.4% strand rate going into this weekend’s start against Tampa, but still has a stellar 63.7% ground ball rate and 19.8% hard hit ball percentage that support his outstanding start to the season.
Carlos Carrasco allowed 10 hits for the second time in four starts and allowed five runs in four innings coming off of his near no-hitter against the Rays on July 1. Carrasco did have five strikeouts, maintaining his ratio of more than a strikeout per inning, but needed 84 pitches to get through four innings and saw his ERA rise to 4.17.
Chris Sale fails to make history but beats Blue Jays
Sale was held under 10 strikeouts for the first time since May 18, but pitched a complete game, allowing only two runs on six hits to earn his seventh win of the season. Sale struck out six batters without a walk and his K:BB ratio rose to 6.68 as his ERA dropped to 2.80 for the season. A poor stretch of starts in May has Sale as the sixth-ranked SP according to ESPN, but he should be valued as a top-three SP for the remainder of the season. Advanced statistics tell the story for Sale, who has a 2.31 FIP, and show that Sale can be considerably better if he strands more runners, 75%, and if he limits batting average on balls in play, .288.
Although Sale earned his seventh win, Josh Donaldson did connect for his 20th home run of the season in his 2-for-3 outing. Donaldson has been one of the top players in fantasy baseball this season and his 40 extra-base hits are sixth in baseball.
Mark Buerhle pitched eight innings and allowed no earned runs, but four unearned runs for the hard-luck loss. Buerhle dropped to 9-5 this season but has a 3.38 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and is a very good option for the back end of a fantasy rotation with his season ERA dropping over each of his past 13 starts.
Tigers roar past Mariners in Hisashi Iwakuma’s return
Nick Castellanos has had a rough 2015 season, .655 OPS, but was 4-for-5 with two runs scored, a home run, and four RBI to fuel the Tigers’ 12-5 rout of the Mariners. This is the fourth multi-hit game in the last 10 for Castellanos, and he now has 20 extra-base hits this season. Castellanos has a .375 batting average and six RBI thus far in July, possibly signalling an upturn in his statistics after he posted a .602 OPS in June.
Victor Martinez, J.D. Martinez, and Yoenis Cespedes each also had home runs for the Tigers, who scored 10 runs or more for the sixth time this season. The home run for Victor Martinez was his third of the season in 50 games, a dramatic drop off from the 32 home runs that he hit in 2014. The Tigers DH was 4-for-5 on Monday, the second time in four games where he had more than three hits. J.D. Martinez had a home run in his third straight game for the Tigers and the All-Star now has 39 extra-base hits this season and four home runs and 10 RBI in July. Cespedes’ home run was the 11th of the season for the Cuban, who now has 38 extra-base hits.
Iwakuma made only his fourth start of 2015, and his first since April 20, allowing five runs on eight hits in five innings. Iwakuma did not walk a batter for the third time in four starts this season, but the 34-year-old has allowed 28 hits in 21 1/3 innings.
Dodgers break out against Phillies
After scoring four runs or fewer in each of the past five games, the Dodgers broke out in a 10-7 win over the Phillies. The middle infield tandem of Howie Kendrick and Jimmy Rollins starred for the Dodgers, each finishing with multi-hit games with RBI. Kendrick finished 4-for-5 with two runs, a double, a triple, and RBI to raise his batting average to .300 for the season. The Dodgers 2B has five multi-hit games in his past 10 and now has a .782 OPS with 25 extra-base hits this season. Rollins only has a .590 OPS this season, but finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBI against his former team on Monday. The 36-year-old Rollins has 18 extra-base hits and 35 runs scored this season and is not fantasy relevant, with a .222 batting average over the past seven days and only seven multi-hit games since the start of June.
Both Adrian Gonzalez and Yasmani Grandal had home runs to also help fuel the Dodgers. Gonzalez now has home runs in three of his past four games, boosting his value to a fringe top-five 1B. After a huge April, where he posted a 1.222 OPS, Gonzalez had a .796 OPS in May and .706 OPS in June, finishing with five home runs over May and June after posting eight home runs in April. Gonzalez has a 1.256 OPS to open July and looks to maintain his fantasy value. After being acquired by the Dodgers in the Matt Kemp trade, Grandal’s 22 extra-base hits and .892 OPS have made him a top-10 catcher. The 26-year-old switch-hitter has impressed with 13 home runs in 203 at-bats this season. He has had at least an .875 OPS in each month since May.
What to watch for
The top matchup of the evening sees All-Star pitchers Johnny Cueto and Max Scherzer facing off in Washington. Cueto has a 0.92 WHIP and .199 batting average against this season and has seven starts in his 15 appearances where he has allowed five base runners or fewer. Scherzer, the presumptive All-Star starter, has struck out more than five batters in each of his past 10 starts and has not walked more than two batters in any of those starts with a 10.00 K:BB ratio. Sonny Gray, Yovani Gallardo, and Jake Arrieta will also each pitch tonight.