Fantasy Baseball Final: June 18, 2015
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Action got underway Thursday afternoon with a matchup between the Baltimore Orioles and the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The O’s jumped out to an early lead thanks to a lead off home run from the red-hot Manny Machado. Though they lost the game 2-1, the Orioles’ third baseman has done his best to pick up some of the slack with Adam Jones out of the lineup, and he has slid comfortably into the top spot of the order.
Six of Manny’s 14 home runs in 2015 have come in June with still 11 games to be played in the month. His .328 average in these last 16 games brought Manny’s slash line to .285/.344/.498 entering today, which are all career high numbers for him. Machado led the league with 51 doubles just two years ago, but his stock fell slightly in terms of fantasy value after an injury riddled and drama tinged 2014 campaign; however, even with all of the problems last season, the then 21 year-old improved his approach at the plate and saw a direct increase in his OBP and home run rate.
Now 22, Machado looks to be taking yet another step forward in advancing his game as he looks to put his name back in the conversation with the likes of Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and Kris Bryant as one of the elite young players in the game.
IF YOU ONLY READ ONE THING…
In the 2012 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft, the Houston Astros took a 17-year old shortstop out of Puerto Rico by the name of Carlos Correa with the first overall pick. Correa was widely regarded as one of the top prospects in baseball and was ranked 4th and 3rd respectively on Baseball America and MLB.com’s Prospect Ratings. Though it seemed like a long wait in Houston, Correa made his Major League debut this year at the tender age of 20, and he is already turning heads with a dynamic skill set.
Correa entered the day hitting .359 with a .641 slugging percentage in his first nine big league games and made a nice impact in today’s 8-4 win over the Colorado Rockies. Correa went 1-4 with a double, a walk, and two runs scored, not to mention, Correa’s three steals today made him the second youngest player in 100 years to have three stolen bases in one game. Correa clearly has the speed to play shortstop, and despite a 6’4” frame, he is projected to stay at short for the long haul. With a .491 slugging percentage in the minor leagues and a lot of room for him to mature, we could be looking at the next Troy Tulowitzki or Alex Rodriguez.
JUST AS WE EXPECTED…
The Minnesota Twins have cooled off quite a bit after leapfrogging the Royals and Tigers momentarily to take control of the tough American League Central. However, Minnesota earned a hard fought 2-1 win today over the best team in baseball, the St. Louis Cardinals.
A pitching duel between the Twins’ Mike Pelfrey and the Cards’ Jaime Garcia ensued, and both pitchers were dealing for the first six innings of the contest. Garcia was lifted for relief before the seventh, but Pelfrey stayed out there and sent his team to the plate in the bottom half of the eighth trailing just 1-0. A solo homer from Joe Mauer in the eighth tied the game, and the final blow in the ninth was delivered by first baseman Kennys Vargas in the form of his first career walk off home run.
The Twins surprisingly still remain in the thick of the battle for the AL Central crown, but Pelfrey was the story today. Pelfrey had a couple decent seasons with the Mets, averaging 196 innings and 13 wins from 2008 to 2010; but has struggled mightily in his time with the Twins. This year, however, Pelfrey has an impressive 2.97 ERA and has shown the ability to pitch deep into games.
Now, he may not have the stuff he did when he was 25 or 26, but maybe he’s starting to become more of a pitcher and less of a thrower. Pelfrey struck out just three batters over the course of his eight innings today, but the big righty’s only blemish against a very potent offense was a solo home run in the seventh off the bat of Jason Heyward. Pelfrey is owned in just 35% of ESPN fantasy leagues so he may not be a bad option if you need a spot starter or want to see what he can do over the course of a long season.
WHAT WE DIDN’T EXPECT…
It may not have been the marquee pitching matchup of the day, but we did get a pretty interesting matchup between two 40-somethings in Toronto today. 42-year old Bartolo Colon toed the rubber for the Mets’ against Blue Jays’ 40-year old starter R.A. Dickey. Both men have a Cy Young Award to their credit, both men throw mostly one pitch, and both have prominent roles in their respective team’s starting rotations; however, Dickey got the best of Colon today. Dickey struck out seven and gave up just three hits in 7 ⅓ innings, with only one earned run against him due to a Lucas Duda solo shot right before giving way to the bullpen in the eighth. Colon on the other hand lasted just 4 ⅓ and gave up six earned on nine hits. The teams split their four-game series, but it seems like both pitchers and both clubs are trending in two different directions.
–Jonathan Papelbon (13)
–Craig Kimbrel (17)
Wil Myers was scheduled to have surgery today to remove a bone spur in his left wrist. Myers played just 87 games last year with the Tampa Bay Rays due to injury and was having a rejuvenated season with the San Diego Padres prior to hurting his wrist. Myers posted a solid slash line .277/.327/.459 with five home runs in 159 plate appearances this year and was performing up to the level that won him AL Rookie of the Year honors back in 2013. The acquisition of Myers this past offseason was part of a total lineup reconstruction in San Diego that has yet to pay off the way ownership intended. The Padres have lost four straight games without Myers, and seven of their last 10. He will be sidelined at least eight weeks leaving center field duties to Melvin Upton Jr. and Will Venable.
RUMORS & TRANSACTIONS
There have been a couple minor moves in the past few days, but none as intriguing as the internal discussion that has been going on in the Miami Marlins’ camp. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors reported earlier today that the Marlins have been talking within the organization about whether or not to re-sign veteran outfielder and future Hall of Famer, Ichiro Suzuki.
After dominating baseball in Japan, Ichiro came over to Major League Baseball in 2001 at the age of 27 and made an immediate splash in the game. Ichiro took home the American League Rookie of the Year and MVP awards by hitting .350 with 56 stolen bases and helped the Seattle Mariners to a record breaking 116-win season. In his first 10 years with the club, Ichiro made 10 straight All Star teams, won 10 straight Gold Gloves, broke the single season hit record with 262, and never had a batting average lower than .303.
Though his talents have declined rather dramatically in recent years, he still finds himself as a reliable fourth outfielder and left-handed bat off the bench for Miami. Baserunning and defense have been a bit of an issue for Ichiro since leaving Seattle, but he’s still hitting .284 with an impressive .342 OBP on the season, which is above league average. Ichiro is currently 41-years old, but just 115 hits away from the illustrious 3000 hit club,and I think the majority of baseball fans are hoping he gets another year to make a run at it.