Fantasy baseball Final: June 5th, 2016
A majority of the teams playing in the east today held their breath for flurries of rain, and although a pair of games saw delays in the latter innings, there was still a healthy dose of great baseball on this first Sunday in June. Six of this afternoon’s games were decided by one run, three of which required the visitors to fend off a bottom of the ninth inning surge from the home team.
The Nationals, Blue Jays, and Angels all took leads into the final inning of play in their respective games, and all three clubs had their closers make things dicey to say the least. Boston finally knocked out Jays starter Marco Estrada in the ninth after an impressive eight innings of two-run ball with five strikeouts. The heart of the Sox order was able to put up a three-spot on the Toronto closer, Roberto Osuna, and got the tying and winning runs in scoring position for pinch hitter, Marco Hernandez. Unfortunately for Boston, the youngster couldn’t come through with the walk-off knock, and struck out after working the count full. The Jays pulled this one out with only four total hits in the game, all of which left the yard over the Green Monster at Fenway Park. Edwin Encarnacion, Darwin Barney, and Jose Bautista all had solo homers in this game, and Russell Martin hit a two-run missile in the sixth which proved to be the insurance runs they’d need in the ninth for the 5-4 win.
Jonathan Papelbon and the Nationals were also faced with the the meat of a batting order, as the bottom of the ninth in Cincinnati started with the top of the Reds’ lineup. Cincinnati cut the lead to one in the first three batters of the inning, and Papelbon was left to wiggle out of a bases loaded jam with no outs after intentionally walking Jay Bruce. Papelbon escaped by the skin of his teeth thanks to a pop up, strikeout, and a fly out to preserve the 10-9 win and avoid the three-game sweep. Daniel Murphy had another big day at the plate for the Nats by going 3-for-5 and launching his tenth homer of the season, bringing his average up to an MLB leading .384.
IF YOU ONLY READ ONE THING…
After finally losing a Jake Arrieta start earlier this week after 23 straight wins with their ace on the bump, the Chicago Cubs looked to start a brand new streak in today’s contest against the Diamondbacks. Arizona sent lefty Patrick Corbin to the hill, and the 26 year-old was able to hand Arrieta his first loss of the season by tossing seven inning with just two earned runs, five strikeouts, and no walks. Corbin carved up a Cubbies lineup devoid of both Jason Heyward and Anthony Rizzo, and handed the ball over to the bullpen as Tyler Clippard earned the hold and Brad Ziegler notched down the save with a hitless eighth and ninth inning. Despite losing his first game since July of last season, Arrieta had a pretty decent line by the end of the day. In just five innings of work the reigning NL Cy Young winner was able to scatter nine hits by striking out 12 D-Backs. The 12 Ks are the most Arrieta has amast in a single outing this season and also ties a career high for the righty. The Cubs will head to Philadelphia next to take on the Phillies in the start a nine game road trip around the National League East.
JUST AS WE EXPECTED…
The marquee pitching match-up of the day between the Mets’ Matt Harvey and Marlins’ Jose Fernandez lived up to all it was billed to be. Both hard-throwing right handers took scoreless frames into the fifth inning before Miami was finally able to break through thanks to an RBI single from catcher, T.J. Realmuto. Harvey only had three strikeouts in the game today, but was very efficient by surrendering just four hits and walking none for his second straight start of seven innings. Although Harvey was superb, Fernandez was better; dominating a banged up and depleted Mets lineup for seven innings as well. Fernandez also gave up just four hits and no walks, but was able to fan a total of 14 Mets with 73 strikes out of 100 pitches. The Marlins’ ace now leads the MLB with 110 strikeouts on the 2016 season and appears to be all the way back from his Tommy John Surgery. The New York offense looked anemic against Fernandez and the Miami bullpen with both Yoenis Cespedes and Juan Lagares out of the lineup to go along with a DL-club that includes David Wright, Lucas Duda and Travis d’Arnaud. The back-to-back strong pitching performances from Harvey have to be encouraging for the Mets, but the the team will need to find a way to manufacture some more offense if they hope to keep pace with the rest of the division.
WHAT WE DIDN’T EXPECT…
The Tampa Bay Rays have been one of the most consistent organizations in all of baseball the past seven years or so, but it’s hard to decipher what exactly the team is this year. Several experts and analysts this past offseason had picked the Rays to win what seemed to be a crowded and competitive American League East; however, Tampa Bay finds themselves five games under .500 and towards the bottom of the AL just over two months into the season. The Rays have been perennial division contenders for nearly a decade thanks in large part to their ability to produce stellar starting pitching, and the young staff they assembled for the 2016 season includes astounding K-potential with Chris Archer, Drew Smyly, Jake Odorizzi, and Matt Moore all in the mix. The odd part is that the pitching has been the problem this season as opposed to the offense that ranks second in the AL in homers. The Rays are hitting more this year than they have in seasons past, but the starting pitching that was supposed to be their strength is ranked 20th in the MLB. Today’s 7-5 win over the Twins was a true testiment to how 2016 has played out for Tampa, as it was the bats that got the job done and not the arms. Third baseman Evan Longoria went 3-for-5 in the win with two home runs and three RBIs. Longo has now homered in four straight games, bringing his season total up to 14 (it took him until the last day of August to reach that mark in 2015). Longoria is quietly having a return to form this season by being a lot more aggressive at the plate and really driving the ball when he gets a mistake. His walk-percentage may be down to a career-low 6.4%, but he’s slugging over .500 for the first time since 2012. Contrary to the typical Evan Longoria moon-shots to left field, today’s long balls were gap shots to left and right center field, and they both cleared the fence on a screaming line drive. Long had been one of the premier players in the game at a time when the third base position was at it’s weakest, and if the 29 year-old can stay healthy, he is well on his way to his first 30-homer season since 2013.
Francisco Rodriguez (17)
A.J. Ramos (18)
Jonathan Papelbon (15)
Huston Street (6)
Zach Britton (17)
Will Harris (1)
Alex Colome (15)
Brad Ziegler (11)
Sam Dyson (7)
RUMORS & TRANSACTIONS
The Los Angeles Dodgers designated 34 year-old outfielder Carl Crawford for assignment this Sunday after an injury riddled three-plus years with the team. Crawford, once a superstar in Tampa Bay, had fallen off significantly since signing a monster deal with the Red Sox in 2010 worth $142MM over seven years. The speedy outfielder had been slowed by numerous injuries since leaving the Rays and only averaged about 90 games a season since being acquired by the Dodgers in 2013 in the same deal that brought Adrian Gonzalez to LA. The ballclub will likely have to eat the remaining $35MM of Crawford’s salary, but simply could not keep him on the roster with their abundance of outfielders. The Dodgers currently have five guys on their active roster who can fill play in the outfield, as well as Yasiel Puig and Andre Ethier on the DL. Should no team claim Crawford from the Dodgers, he will be release this coming week and become a free agent.