Fantasy Baseball Final: August 6, 2015
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Action kicked off on Thursday with a handful of afternoon games; none stranger than the contest at Citizens Bank Park between the Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers. LA starter Zack Greinke entered the day leading all of baseball in ERA at a staggering 1.41 in 146.1 innings, and was given a three-run lead before even taking the mound in the bottom of the first. Greinke has been the runaway favorite to take home the NL Cy Young Award this year, leading the league in ERA, Winning percentage, WHIP, and H/9; however, the Phillies’ offense made Greinke look human today by jumping him for five first inning runs. Philadelphia went 3-for-3 with runners in scoring position in that first inning, including a two-RBI single from Ryan Howard, and a three-run homer from Domonic Brown. This afternoon’s outing marked just the second time all season that Greinke has given up more than three earned runs in a start (he gave up five at Colorado on June 2nd). Greinke may not have been his typical dominant-self this Thursday afternoon, but when you’re having one of those years, you’re having one of those years. Despite having his worst performance of the season, the Dodger offense was able to bail out their pitcher and put the team in a position to win. Adrian Gonzalez hit his 22nd home run of the year in the top of the second to put the Dodgers back out in front. Greinke also helped himself out by launching a homer of his own in the third, and LA never looked back from there. The Dodgers held off a late rally by the Phills and took the game by a final score of 10-8. The victory was Greinke’s 11th on the year, and was the 62nd for the ball club.
IF YOU ONLY READ ONE THING…
The Toronto Blue Jays have got to be the most exciting team to watch in baseball. In an emotionally charged series against the Royals, the Jays were able to take three of four at home from the top team in the American League, and rode that momentum into a big series against the Minnesota Twins. The Twins had a game lead in the wild card standings over Toronto prior to their series with the Blue Jays, but were subsequently swept, giving up a total of 26 runs. The Blue Jay offense is unbelievable; it’s fierce, the lineup is deep, and the club has a strong possibility of having their 1-4 hitters all eclipse the 20 home run mark. This recent hot streak from the Jays puts them into that second wild card spot, just a game behind the Los Angeles Angels, and also 4.5 games behind the New York Yankees for the AL East lead. Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista dealt out the most damage this series, but a brunt of the load tonight came from Edwin Encarnacion. Edwin drove in four tonight by going 3-4, and hitting a long two-run homer in the third inning. He is quietly slugging .461 on the year, and has been hot lately, hitting .353 in the month of August.
JUST AS WE EXPECTED…
Although Boston sits dead last in the AL East, and are tied for the least amount of wins in all of the American League, there’s still something romantic about a Yanks-Sox series. The Yankees beat up the Red Sox Tuesday night, scoring 13 runs, including a nine run seventh inning, but Boston was able to steal a win on Wednesday and spoil a strong MLB debut out of New York prospect Luis Severino. Much like last night, tonight’s game also ended 2-1, but this time in favor of the Yankees. New York took the rubber game of this series on the back of a great outing from veteran lefty C.C. Sabathia. C.C. recorded eight strikeouts in six innings tonight and gave up just one run on three hits. A big seventh inning home run from Jacoby Ellsbury was the difference in the game as the dynamic-bullpen-duo of Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller. The Yankees will look to start an important series at home against the charging Toronto Blue Jays tomorrow, which can make an enormous difference in the landscape of the AL playoff picture.
WHAT WE DIDN’T EXPECT…
Thursday afternoon in Detroit was a tale of two struggling pitchers. Tigers’ right-hander Anibal Sanchez took the mound against Yordano Ventura and the American League leading Kansas City Royals in the final game of a three-game set. Sanchez, amidst his worst season with the Tigers, had given up more runs than any other pitcher in the American league entering today, and had pitched to the tune of a 5.16 ERA in his last seven starts. He surrendered an additional four runs in his six innings of work today, bringing his ERA on the season up to 4.82 which is his highest mark since 2008. Luckily for Sanchez, the non-quality start did not result in a loss as his offense tagged the opposing Ventura for six runs, and knocked him out of the game after five innings. After an impressive rookie campaign, Ventura has run into a sophomore slump, averaging 9 H/9 with a 4.98 ERA. The Royals hoped a demotion to Triple-A in June would help Ventura get back on track after back-to-back three-inning starts, but the 24 year-old has given up 21 earned runs in his 5 starts since being recalled to the majors. Kansas City’s three-run seventh inning tied the game and got Ventura off the hook for the loss as well, but the bullpen ultimately could not hold on as the Tigers walked off in the bottom of the ninth thanks to a two-run, line drive home run from second baseman Ian Kinsler. Detroit also got a two-homer day out of first baseman Victor Martinez who hit a two-run shot in the third, and another one two innings later in the fifth. Surprisingly, the Tigers have had the defending AL Champs number this season, defeating the Royals six times in their 10 meetings.
– Kenley Jansen (21)
– Trevor Rosenthal (32)
– Andrew Miller (24)
2015 has been a tough year for the San Diego Padres. After a big offseason that included the additions of Justin Upton, Craig Kimbrel, Wil Myers, James Shields, and Matt Kemp; San Diego has failed to meet expectations, and found themselves four games under .500 entering play on Thursday. The Padres front office believed the team to still be in the hunt for at least a second wild card spot at the trade deadline, and lost out on the chance to clear salary and bring back some young talent as a result. The club received additional bad news Wednesday night as they will likely lose starting pitcher Brandon Morrow to season-ending shoulder surgery. Padres pitching has struggled this year, but Morrow was solid in his limited action. The 30 year-old had an ERA of 2.73, and was averaging 6.3 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in his 33 innings of work this season. Morrow was pulled from his second rehab start; and although the team will seek a second opinion on the status of his right shoulder, surgery seems to be imminent due to Morrow’s injury history and the team’s blatant struggles. With Josh Johnson already out for the season, and Wil Myers yet to begin baseball activities, it seems 2015 will be a lost year for the San Diego Padres. The club placed both Matt Kemp and James Shields on revocable waivers Thursday in hopes to make some sort of miraculous move to negate their inactivity at last month’s trade deadline.
RUMORS & TRANSACTIONS
In the wake of a surprisingly quiet trade deadline, the Boston Red Sox have placed seven notable players on recoverable waivers: Mike Napoli, Hanley Ramirez, Rusney Castillo, Justin Masterson, Brock Holt, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Craig Breslow. The Sox have generally been very active when it comes to the July 31st non-waiver deadline in past years so it was very uncharacteristic of them not to play the role of buyers or sellers this time around. Boston is well out of the 2015 playoff hunt, and the ball club does not seem to have a clear direction for their future. Though it is a lot more difficult to strike a deal before the August 31st deadline, the Red Sox have nothing to lose by placing some of these former All-Stars and touted MLB prospects on this list. If any of the aforementioned Sox players are claimed, Boston will have roughly 48 hours to work out a trade with claiming team, or they can simply remove that player from waivers to keep him. Boston has nothing to lose by making this move, and have the opportunity to maybe get a nice return from a team in need that is still fighting for a playoff spot. The players with larger contracts (Napoli, Ramirez, Castillo, and Masterson) will likely clear waivers, but Boston should at least get some offers for super-utility man, Brock Holt. Holt made his first All-Star team this season, and has shown incredible versatility to go along with a solid .351 OBP. Whether the Sox are willing to move Holt is another story; however, the 27 year-old would be a nice piece for a team that is chasing a pennant to add. He has played at least 18 innings at every position for Boston this year aside from pitcher and catcher.