Fantasy Baseball Final: April 17th, 2016
The National League divisional races are already starting to shake out as anticipated as we wrap up the second week of the MLB season. The Cardinals and Pirates were able to get wins this Sunday to stay within shouting distance of the Cubs, the Mets took the rubber match in Cleveland to take advantage of a rare Washigton loss, and the Giants and Dodgers sit atop the NL West as they are set to meet tonight for Sunday Night Baseball.
IF YOU ONLY READ ONE THING…
It took extra innings to decide three of today’s contests, so we got a healthy dose of bonus baseball on this mostly sunny day in April. After the Nationals grabbed a one-run lead from a homer off the bat of Bryce Harper in the top half of the 10th, the Phillies were able to exact revenge on their former closer, Jonathan Papelbon. Shortstop Freddy Galvis proved to be the hero for Philadelphia as he laced an opposite field single off the base of the wall in left to drive in the winning run. Oswaldo Arcia was another walk-off hero today for the Minnesota Twins, which helped the team sweep the Angels at home for their third win of the season. Arcia had not been playing much and was hitless heading into the weekend, but went 5-for-14 in the series taking over for the struggling Byron Buxton. The Atlanta Braves also completed an unlikely sweep in extra inning today by defeating the Miami Marlins by a score of 6-5. The club jumped out to an early lead with four first inning runs, but almost blew the game by letting the Marlins tie the score after trailing 5-0 in the sixth. Prospect Mallex Smith’s go-ahead single in the 10th was the deciding blow for Atlanta, and dropped Miami’s record to just 3-7 on the year.
JUST AS WE EXPECTED…
Juan Nicasio’s re-emergence got back on track today against the Milwaukee Brewers as the 29 year-old got the win with six quality innings. After giving up four earned runs in just three innings of work against Detroit this past week, Nicasio was able to limit his walks, and also strikeout six batters along the way in the club’s 9-3 win. After issuing five free passes in his lone-loss on the season, Nicasio walked just two batters in today’s outing, which seems to be one of the major keys to his success in 2016. Pitching coach Rey Sirige has gotten the reputation for turning talented, yet aging pitchers back into frontline starters such as AJ Burnett and Francisco Liriano in recent years, and Nicasio just seems to be Sirige’s latest reclamation project. Nicasio also has the luxury of working with two phenomenal pitch framers in Russell Martin and Francisco Cervelli on a daily basis, and the righthander appears to be a viable option going forward for both fantasy owners and the Pirates alike. Pittsburgh jumped out to an early and commanding lead in today’s game thanks in part to Andrew McCutchen’s second home run of the season. Though Cutch has now homered in back to back games, he only had three hits in the series and went 1-for-6 with a walk in today’s game. The former MVP’s sizzling spring has not carried over into regular-season play as of yet, but these two longballs this weekend may be the first signs of him catching fire.
WHAT WE DIDN’T EXPECT…
The marquee pitching matchup of the day came in Cleveland as Corey Kluber took the mound for the hometown Indians against Steven Matz and the New York Mets. Although Kluber collected eight strikeouts in his six innings of work, the Mets offense got the best of him by tagging the Cleveland ace for six earned runs. The New York bats seemed to wake up this weekend, exploding for 17 extra-base hits in the series after having just 10 going in. Michael Conforto has produced quite well since being moved up into the three-hole, going 5-for-12 with three doubles, a homerun, and three RBIs this series. Asdrubal Cabrera has also impressed as of late, raising his slashline to .333/.385/.389 by going 2-for-5 today with an RBI. Cabrera has also been the consummate professional since joining the squad by playing solid defense at shortstop and showing the ability to lay down a bunt when needed. No doubt Mets fans are happy to see the offense come alive again, but the real story of today’s game was Steven Matz’s performance. The 24 year-old lefty gave last week’s rough season debut his back, and tossed seven innings of three-hit ball with a career-high nine strikeouts.
Luke Gregerson (4)
Alex Colome (3)
Jake McGee (3)
Trevor Rosenthal (3)
Andrew Miller (3)
Matt Wisler (1)
Rangers fans will be happy to see some positive reports in the news regarding their long-lost ace, Yu Darvish. The 29 year-old righty missed all of last season recovering from Tommy John Surgery, but has been taking large steps forward in recent weeks. Darvish threw live batting practice on Sunday, and is scheduled to do the same again this coming Thursday. If all goes according to plan he will be able to begin his rehab assignment with the Double-A club in about a week.