I have talked about Nationals pitcher prospect Joe Ross in each of his last two starts since he got the call up to the Majors a couple weeks ago. He is the younger brother of Padres pitcher Tyson Ross and I described him as a very intriguing prospect that had good control, great strikeout potential, and heavy ground ball tendencies. This all sounds like a formula for success! Ross debuted against the Cubs and likely had the debut jitters in that one as he gave up 3 runs in 5 innings. But his next start was against the Brewers and he appeared to be much more comfortable, giving up just 2 runs in 8 innings while striking out 8. And in each game he got a lot of ground ball outs.
In his third start of the season on Friday, Ross was truly brilliant as he tossed 7.1 innings allowing 1 run on 7 base runners while whiffing 11 Pirates (and he came highly recommended in the DFS strategy post for Friday). The excellent game improved his record to 2-1 with a 2.66 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and 23 K/2 BB in 20.2 IP, and he has the very pretty ground ball rate of 56.6%.
Tanner Roark and Ross have been in the rotation for the Nationals due to the injuries to Doug Fister and Stephen Strasburg. However, Fister is set to return so that is going to send Roark to the bullpen with the Nationals opting to keep Ross in the rotation for the time being. But once Strasburg is ready to come back, Ross will either be sent back to the Minors or perhaps be kept on as a reliever. Either way, it’s not great for his fantasy outlook for this season, but we may want to hold on to him to see just how well Strasburg fares in his return from the DL. In keeper and dynasty leagues though, Ross is a must grab as he is definitely looking like he might be the biggest Ross that we’ve seen thus far, better than his older brother.
Let’s check out the rest of Friday’s action.
Justin Verlander – 6.2 IP, 10 H, 6 ER, 1 BB, 2 K with the L. Verlander got beat up by the Yankees on Friday and still has the same low velocity as last season. I would keep away from him in most formats unless he shows better velocity.
Brett Gardner – 4 for 5, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R. Gardner still proving to be a great fantasy asset while filling in at leadoff for his buddy Jacoby Ellsbury. Of course whenever Ellsbury returns, Gardner still will be in a great spot batting 2nd for the Yankees. He is batting .277 with 7 HR, 33 RBI, 47 R, and 15 SB.
Alex Rodriguez – 1 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R. A-Rod’s 3000th hit of his career was a HR off Verlander. Good for him, I don’t care.
A.J. Burnett – 6.2 IP, 14 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 7 K with the L. It’s pretty amazing that Burnett allowed 14 hits but only 3 runs. His BABIP jumped from .297 to .322 after this game. He still makes for a fine fantasy option.
Mike Wright – 1.1 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 1 K with the L. The wheels have fully come off for Wright who dazzled in his first couple starts. I said he probably wasn’t that good, so here we are. Ditch him.
Marco Estrada – 7 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 6 K with the W. Estrada had a no-hitter through 6 innings somehow. It was very unexpected to say the least. He’s very hard to trust in fantasy because he is so prone to the long ball that he can blow up in any given game, but he is fairly decent with the strikeout now at 7.41 K/9.
Brett Cecil – 1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K with the SV. Cecil came on for the save opportunity and he converted it, but it did not come without issue as he allowed 2 runs to score. The Jays are knowingly in the market for a relief pitcher, so Cecil’s days as the closer could be numbered. Try to trade him away if you can.
Marlon Byrd – 1 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 K. Byrd returned from the DL and hit his 11th HR of the season. He’s got the power, but that’s about it. In DFS, take note that Byrd is back and check him out whenever he’s up against a lefty or a soft-tosser.
Mike Leake – 7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 7 K with the W. Here’s another one of Leake’s weirdly placed dominant starts. He can be started against mediocre and bad offenses, but even that is a risky proposition. He improved to 4-4 with a 4.01 ERA and 1.22 WHIP.
Joey Butler – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 K. Butler keeps on hitting, but the BABIP is still super high at .432. He’ll be coming down soon, but he still can be a decent player.
Steven Souza – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R, 1 K. Another dong for Souza for his 14th of the year. He’s on pace for a 30 HR/20 SB season, and despite the 33.1% strikeout rate, there’s not many players that have 30/20 potential.
Brad Boxberger – 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K with the SV. Boxberger has now collected saves in the last two days, so if he is showing that he is healthy and effective then he’s going to be working the 9th a lot. However, Jake McGee needs to be owned in fantasy leagues as well.
Carlos Carrasco – 6.2 IP, 10 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 5 K with the L. It appeared to be a nice matchup for Carrasco, but he once again failed to impress. I would still roll with him in fantasy leagues, because he’s bound to turn things around at some point and you don’t want to miss it when he does.
Matt Wisler – 8 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K with the W. Braves top pitching prospect Matt Wisler made his Major League debut on Friday and it was a good one. He has not been a big strikeout pitcher in 34 starts at AAA with 7.43 K/9, but his control is excellent and his strikeout ability figures to improve over time. He makes for a pretty decent pickup in fantasy leagues, but he’s no fantasy savior for this season.
Jacob deGrom – 7.1 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K with the L. DeGrom was solid but not dominant in his start on Friday, which resulted in his 4-game winning streak being snapped. It wasn’t all his fault though as his shortstop should have thrown out a hitter going to 1st base in the 8th inning. The result of it was it being scored a hit and then deGrom being pulled from the game and then his bullpen allowed 2 inherited runners to score.
Anthony Rizzo – 2 for 4, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R. A to the Rizzo went double dong on Friday for his 13th and 14th HR of the season in what is going to amount to a true breakout season.
Phil Hughes – 8 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K with the W. In what I thought would be a spot for him to get lit up, Hughes produced 8 strong innings. He has been dealing with a loss in velocity this season and the result has been a big jump in his home run allowed rate from 0.69 HR/9 last year to 1.59 HR/9 so far this year. With the drop in velocity, he is not a recommended option of mine.
Joey Gallo – 0 for 4, 4 K. Gallo got off to a hot start upon his promotion, but I outlined him in “Is the Pico de Gallo in Texas Hot or Mild?” as a guy that will hit some homers but strikeout a ton with a low batting average. Now two and a half weeks removed from his promotion, he is proving to be exactly what I thought with a .224 AVG, 5 HR, and 27 K in 16 games played after he wore the golden sombrero on Friday.
Chris Sale – 8 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 14 K. Sale was brilliant once again and I thought he would be left in for the 9th to attempt to complete the shutout even though he had thrown 111 pitches. Considering that he had averaged 115 pitches during this hot streak of his, I thought for sure he would have been given a chance to finish. But David Robertson was brought in to try for the save and he blew it and lost the game. Tough luck for Sale.
Ryan Braun – 1 for 4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 SB, 1 K. Braun came into the game 10 for 14 with 3 HR lifetime versus Jorge De La Rosa. So naturally he homered in his first AB of the day to break a 1 for 22 skid. He has a troublesome thumb that may prevent him from producing like he was earlier in the season, so that is something to keep an eye on.
Albert Pujols – 1 for 4, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R. Pujols hit the go-ahead grand slam for his 20th HR. Still en fuego.
Matt Shoemaker – 4 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 1 BB, 2 K. I said in the DFS strategy post for Friday that this was a bad spot for Shoemaker. His velocity just isn’t there and he may get the boot from the rotation soon if things don’t improve. Steer clear.
James Shields – 6 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 5 K with the L. In Friday’s DFS strategy post, I labeled Shields as a “Not So Fave” play of the day and he proved me right as he was saddled for his first loss of the season. He remains a very solid play most of the times he takes the mound though.
Rubby De La Rosa – 7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K with the W. One of my “sleeper for cheaper” options in the DFS strategy post on Friday, De La Rosa has turned in two very nice outings in a row after giving up 16 ER in his previous two starts. He’s got the stuff to succeed and it’s indicative in the fact that his SIERA and xFIP are way below his actual ERA.
Lance McCullers – 4.1 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 6 K with the L. Some of the hits that he gave up were very weak hits, so it wasn’t as bad as it looked, but this was another example of McCullers being inefficient with his pitches and control. He still figures to be bothered by lack of control from time to time, but he still remains a great young rising pitcher.
Mike Bolsinger – 5.1 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 6 K with the L. Bolsinger the Bullsh**ter. It’s coming to fruition. It will soon be time to cut him loose.