NOTE: Fantasy Baseball Now will be taking a break from the regular format during the four-day All-Star Break, so no 30-team coverage next Tuesday (7/17) through Friday (7/20), but we will have a post each day on a trend, theme, or player to help you with your second half.
- RP Brad Boxberger struck out three batters in the ninth inning yesterday (also allowing a hit) for his 26th save of the year. He’s allowed just three hits and a run in his last 10 appearances dating back to June 22, and with his velocity looking steady and his performance elite amongst a shaky league-wide closer set, Boxberger looks like one of the 10 most valuable relievers in fantasy for the second half.
- It was less than two weeks for RP Arodys Vizcaino being healthy, after he was placed back on the disabled list yesterday with shoulder inflammation issues. With the team in contention and the existing bullpen having two very strong closing options in RPs A.J. Minter and Dan Winkler, it is hard to pick a smart long-term option to add in shallower mixed leagues. Both Minter and Wheeler should be owned in all 15-team mixed and larger leagues. If we had to guess, we think the Braves trade for a reliever before July 31 who assumes the closing duties.
- SP Yefry Ramirez posted his best start yesterday since being called up on June 13, limiting the Rangers to two hits and three walks over five shutout innings, striking out seven.
Boston Red Sox
- SP Eduardo Rodriguez left yesterday’s game after colliding with Toronto SS Lourdes Gurriel Jr. in the sixth inning. He was diagnosed with a right ankle sprain, and more tests will be done in the next two days to determine if he’ll miss any starts coming out of the All-Star Break. Prior to that, Rodriguez looked on track for potentially his longest outing of the season, needing only 67 pitches to get through 5 1/3 innings. He allowed only four singles and struck out five.
- SP Kyle Hendricks did not walk a batter yesterday, the first time he’s done that in a start this year. After some command struggles in June, where he walked multiple batters in all five of his starts in the month, Hendricks has now had three starts in July where he’s walked one or no batters, which is probably the most important factor in his long-term success. In yesterday’s win, he went five innings and allowed five hits and two runs, striking out three.
Chicago White Sox
- SP Reynaldo Lopez struck out seven batters over 7 2/3 innings yesterday, his third highest total of the season and most since May 20. More impressively, after allowing three or more walks in five of his last six starts, he didn’t walk a batter in this outing. Lopez’s fly ball tilt makes him a matchups play in most mixed leagues, but he’s showing some sporadic improvement in key spots that give us hope for his long-term viability.
- SS Jose Peraza went 5-for-6 with five singles, a run scored, and two RBI. Over the last 30 days, Peraza is hitting .343 with a 15-to-12 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 114 plate appearances. He’s also got 18 runs scored, 16 RBI, and eight stolen bases. Peraza is a must-start guy in all formats.
- Something to watch for with SP Mike Clevinger, who lost for the third time in four starts yesterday: he’s now at 122 innings on the season, more than he threw in the majors last year and only 33 2/3 less than he threw in total last year. Realistically, he has a dozen or so regular season starts left based on the schedule. With the Indians all but locked in as the AL Central winner, they may look to slow down Clevinger’s innings pace in each start, or even shift him to the bullpen for a week or so at least once or twice. He’s gone about a month now without a dominant start – yesterday he gave up five runs (four earned) on seven hits and a walk over six innings, striking out eight.
- SP Jon Gray was called back up from Triple-A in advance of yesterday’s start, and he was as good as he’s been all season, allowing one run on five hits and a walk over 7 1/3 innings, striking out six. He showed very good command and worked ahead in the count often, throwing first-pitch strikes to 18 of the 27 batters he faced.
- SP Michael Fulmer’s inconsistencies to close the first half continued yesterday, as he allowed seven runs on 10 hits and two walks over 4 2/3 innings, only striking out two. He’s got a 5.46 ERA over his last five starts and has lost six of his last seven decisions since May 29.
- OF Josh Reddick went 2-for-4 with a home run, a double, and two RBI yesterday.
- After a stretch of 24 games between June and July without recording multiple hits in a game, OF George Springer now has three multi-hit games this week after going 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI yesterday.
Kansas City Royals
- OF Jorge Bonifacio hit his first home run of the season, a two-run shot, and also added an RBI triple. Bonifacio has hits in seven consecutive games, including four doubles and seven RBI.
Los Angeles Angels
- OF Kole Calhoun was bumped down to the seven spot in the order against a lefty starter yesterday, but he still did some impressive damage in the game, hitting a game-winning home run off Dodgers’ stud RP Kenley Jansen in the 10th inning. He added a double, a walk, and two runs scored in the game. This has been a great week for Calhoun, who is 8-for-his-last-20 with four homers, seven runs scored, and six RBI.
Los Angeles Dodgers
- SP Rich Hill worked out of the bullpen yesterday with SP Alex Wood starting. Additionally, SP Walker Buehler was optioned to Triple-A yesterday, so the Dodgers are clearly not sure what direction they are going to go with their rotation after the All-Star Break, whether it is a six-man with Hill and Buehler both in it, or a five-man with one guy shifting to the bullpen. Wood had a decent start, allowing three runs on seven hits and two walks in six innings, striking out six.
- SP Trevor Richards has been one of the more intriguing Marlins starters this season – his six scoreless innings yesterday make it three quality starts for him out of seven turns since being recalled on June 7. Richards heavily on his changeup, but he’s shown enough with an average curveball to believe there are some signs of long-term viability here. If he holds his rotation spot after the All-Star Break, he’s someone to keep an eye on as a matchups play in mixed leagues.
- 1B/OF Eric Thames went on the disabled list yesterday with a right hamstring strain that he suffered Friday. The injury is considered minor and he should be back at or shortly past the minimum 10-day stay. This re-opens regular playing time opportunities for OF Keon Broxton, who went 1-for-2 with a walk and a caught stealing in game one of yesterday’s doubleheader loss to Pittsburgh.
- OF Max Kepler seems to be finding remnants of his power stroke over the last few weeks – he hit a solo home run yesterday, and since bottoming out to a .382 slugging percentage on July 4, Kepler has five extra-base hits and 11 hits overall in 37 at-bats and his pushed his slugging percentage on the season back to .409.
New York Mets
- RP Jeurys Familia earned his 17th save of the season yesterday with a perfect ninth inning. Since being booed off the mound of July 27 when he allowed four earned runs without recording an out, Familia has posted seven consecutive scoreless outings, with six of them being perfect. It seems likely the Mets look to trade him to a contender, and there are enough closer-needy teams out there that could acquire Familia and let him retain a closer role.
New York Yankees
- C Gary Sanchez will start his minor-league rehab assignment at Triple-A today, a bit of an accelerated timeline as he works his way back from a Grade 1 groin strain. Sanchez should be able to get some games in during the All-Star Break and could be activated next weekend or early the following week.
- OF Stephen Piscotty’s hot run continued yesterday with a 2-for-4 day that included two doubles, a walk, and a run scored. He’s got hits in eight straight games.
- 2B/SS/OF Scott Kingery went 2-for-4 yesterday, but he continues to lack any sort of power or speed that would give him the value expected after his spring training and strong early start. Since May 8, Kingery only has 10 doubles, three home runs, and four steals in 209 at-bats. Until he starts showing something beyond an ability to hit some singles, Kingery shouldn’t be started in any mixed-league format.
- SP Zach Eflin was scratched from today’s start due to a recurrence of a blister issue, so SP Enyel De Los Santos will start in his place.
- RP Felipe Vazquez accomplished the very-rare feat of saving both ends of a doubleheader yesterday, going 1 1/3 innings total and allowing only a hit while striking out two. Vazquez hasn’t allowed a run in his last 15 appearances, and it’ll be interesting to see how the Pirates handle him moving in to the trade deadline, as he’s overcame some worrisome injury issues earlier in the year to become one of the league’s more reliable closers.
San Diego Padres
- 1B Eric Hosmer went 1-for-4 yesterday with a two-run home run, his first homer since June 12.
San Francisco Giants
- SP Jeff Samardzija looks done as a fantasy asset this season, admitting that he took a step back with the health of his shoulder after only lasting 55 pitches and four innings in a no-decision. With SP Derek Holland in the bullpen, the Giants have an immediate option to replace Samardzija is this is indeed a setback. Based on the fact that his fastball only averaged 90 mph and topped out at 92.5 mph, we think it is a setback, and Samardzija can be safely dropped in all mixed leagues.
- Facing the Rockies for the second consecutive start, SP Wade LeBlanc had one of his worst outings of the year, allowing six hits, two walks, and four earned runs in 4 1/3 innings. He’s allowed home runs in four straight starts, and 10 home runs in his last nine starts, and that combined with his lack of strikeouts make him tough to use in mixed leagues beyond the occasional two-start week.
St. Louis Cardinals
- RP Jordan Hicks has had some controversy swirling him recently regarding his relationship with closer RP Bud Norris, so yesterday probably wasn’t the best timing for a blow-up outing where he allowed four singles and a walk, which led to four earned runs in 1/3 of an inning. Manager Mike Matheny was fired yesterday, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Cardinals do some things differently after the All-Star Break; for Hicks, that could mean getting more high-leverage chances with an eye toward becoming the closer soon, or it could mean a trip to Triple-A.
Tampa Bay Rays
- Lost in yesterday’s 19-run barrage against the Twins was the loss of C Wilson Ramos to a left hamstring strain. Ramos is almost certainly going to head to the disabled list, as the Rays need to make sure he is healthy before July 31 in order to maximize their trade return for him. We wouldn’t expect to see Ramos again until a few days before the trade deadline.
- 1B/OF Jake Bauers looks like a potentially special hitter – after a 2-for-5 day yesterday that included a two-run home run, a double, a walk, four RBI and four runs scored, Bauers now has a .903 OPS and a very impressive 32-to-23 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 35 games since being called up. He should be owned in all leagues.
- SS Elvis Andrus stole his second base in three games yesterday, a positive sign considering he had previously gone 33 games without a stolen base to start his season.
Toronto Blue Jays
- OF Kevin Pillar was injured making a diving defensive play yesterday, and initial reports were that the injury was in the collarbone and that it required a trip to the hospital, so Pillar could miss some time.
- RP Tyler Clippard blew his fifth save of the season yesterday, allowing two hits and a run in an inning, striking out a batter.
- SS/OF Trea Turner was dropped to seventh in the order yesterday and went 1-for-4. He’s 2-for-25 in his last six starts, and he hasn’t stolen a base since June 29.