Fantasy Baseball Final: August 13, 2015
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Hot teams stayed that way Thursday afternoon as both the New York Mets and Toronto Blue Jays completed series-sweeps to open their respective homestands. The Mets scored 12 runs in their rout of the Rockies this afternoon, getting home runs from Curtis Granderson, Kelly Johnson, and Juan Lagares. The club’s offensive woes from the first half of the season seem like a distant memory now-a-days as the Mets have gone 12-4 with 24 long balls in their last 16 games. The accompaniment of this new found offense to New York’s already stellar pitching staff makes this team extremely scary come playoff time if they can hold off the dangerous Washington Nationals. Rookie phenom Noah Syndergaard delivered another quality start for the club, giving up three earned runs in his seven innings of work while striking out five along the way. The young man they call Thor may not have had his best stuff today, but was able to settle in and bring the hammer down after giving up two solo homers in the first.
The Blue Jays took their contest 4-2 on the back of another strong pitching performance from Mark Buehrle; consequently proving that they can indeed win even if Troy Tulowitzki is not in the lineup. The Blue Jays have yet to lose a game when Tulo plays, and even though their star shortstop got a day off today, Toronto was able to pick up their 11th straight win. Buehrle has been superb lately, going 5-1 in his previous eight starts with an ERA of 2.43. The veteran lefthander was great again today, giving up just two runs over the course of his seven innings today. Toronto can swing it with the best of them, so solid pitching from Buehrle could be huge for the team down the stretch as they look to put some distance between themselves and the New York Yankees. He may not have the wipeout type of stuff that David Price provides at the top of the Blue Jay rotation, but Mark Buehrle is a gamer. Buehrle is constantly putting his team in position to win, as evidence from his remarkable consistency over the years. He has recorded double-digit wins in every season since sophomore year of 2001, and is currently 13-5 with a 3.31 ERA and leading the league with four complete games.
IF YOU ONLY READ ONE THING…
The Cubs were another team on a roll Thursday that were able to stay hot. Chicago took a six-game winning into the finale of their series against Milwaukee this afternoon and tagged Brewer pitching for nine runs on 11 hits. The Cubs’ big offensive day was highlighted by a three-homer fifth inning that completely took the air out of the Brewer dugout as the Brew-Crew were only able to muster two runs despite collecting nine hits. Dexter Fowler, Kyle Schwarber, and Anthony Rizzo all homered in that four-run fifth, Schwarber hit a second in the seventh, and Chris Denorfia added another long ball in the eight. Schwarber continues to mash in his impressive rookie season, going 3-4 today with four RBI to go along with his two bombs. He’s hitting .330 in his 31 games since making his debut, and is showing an incredible ability to drive in runs. Schwarber is hitting .391 with men on base, driving in a total of 25 in the process. Schwarber has shown he is an advanced young hitter, and his bat makes this Chicago Cubs lineup that much deeper and dangerous down the stretch. They currently hold the position of the second Wild Card spot, and remain just a game and a half back of the Pittsburgh Pirates for the top spot.
JUST AS WE EXPECTED…
The first place Cardinals were eyeing a sweep of the second place Pirates Thursday night in St. Louis to take what could have been a commanding eight game lead in the National League Central. Fortunately for Pittsburgh, the club was able to salvage the last game of the series 10-5 to stay a game and a half up on Chicago, and six back of St. Louis. The Cardinals are far and away the best team in baseball, but Pittsburgh and Chicago sit two and three respectively behind them in the NL. The Pirates were determined not to get swept by their fierce division rivals, and jumped all over Lance Lynn by scoring seven first inning runs and knocking him out of the game after just two outs in the first inning. Seven straight batters reached base in that first inning for the Pirates, and though their bats were virtually silent until the ninth inning, the big first inning rally was more than enough support for Francisco Liriano who gave up three earned runs in six innings with five strikeouts. The Pirates were without Starling Marte in the lineup tonight, but it still would have been surprising to see the club meekly swept while fighting for a playoff spot in mid-August. There is a lot of talent in the National League Central, and with the Cubs surging, this will be a very interesting division to watch play out as calendar approaches September.
WHAT WE DIDN’T EXPECT…
The Rangers and Twins matched up in Minnesota this afternoon for a back-and-forth contest that ended 6-5 in favor of Texas. The Rangers were at a four run deficit after two innings of play, but were able to score in their half of the fourth, fifth, and eighth innings; scoring six runs on eleven hits in the game. Most of the damage dealt out today came from the heart of the Texas batting order. Mitch Moreland went 4-4 with his 17th home run of the season to go along with his four RBI on the day. Adrian Beltre added three hits and runs of his own, and Prince Fielder also drove in a run by going 1-3 and lifting his average to .327 on the year; however, Moreland was the story today. The 29 year-old first baseman is in the midst of the best season of his career, posting an OPS over .800 for the first time since his 46-game rookie season in 2010. The home run today was Moreland’s first since the All-Star break, but his big day at the plate lifted him to a new career high in RBI with 61. He has been hitting .306 this month so if this afternoon’s performance is any indication of how the rest of his 2015 season will go, he is well on his way to a career year.
– Shawn Tolleson (21)
– Roberto Osuna (12)
RUMORS & TRANSACTIONS
Despite being surprisingly hot since the All-Star break, the Philadelphia Phillies still have a tight grasp on the worst record in all of baseball. Their window to win with the core of players that brought a World Series title to Philly back in 2008 is well closed, and the club has started to take action in moving on from those players this year. The Phillies parted ways with long-time shortstop Jimmy Rollins in the offseason, and traded the ace of their pitching staff Cole Hamels at the deadline. The team may be stuck with Ryan Howard’s contract for the time being, but the Phillies have put themselves in a good position to move veteran second baseman Chase Utley. After returning from the disabled list last weekend, Utley was placed on recoverable waivers and was cleared earlier this week (likely due to his contract and the money still owed to him). The Phillies will probably have to eat some money in order to move Utley, but they have shown a willingness to do this in the past, and could get a decent piece in return from several different teams. The Yankees, Giants, and Cubs are all clubs that could use the services of Chase Utley, and all three clubs are within reach of their respective division titles. Offense at second base is hard to come by in the MLB, and for the majority of his career, Utley was the very best at that position. The six-time All-Star and four-time Silver Slugger averaged 27 home runs, 95 RBI, and an OPS of .911 from 2005 to 2010 with the Phillies before injuries started to hinder his productivity. Utley has shown that he can still hit when healthy; and although it is a small sample size, he’s gotten at least one hit in each game since he’s returned, posting a slash line of .422/.389/.588. For me, it seems the most logical spot for Utley to land would be New York. Stephen Drew is hitting just .190 on the year, and the Yankees are notorious for taking chances on aging former All-Stars. That short porch in right field may just be what Utley needs to rejuvenate his career a little bit. It has worked for the Yanks in the past.