J.D. Martinez spent parts of three seasons on the Major League squad for the Astros and he never was able to compile a full season of success. The Astros then released him before the start of the 2014 season and the Tigers picked him up and he ended up breaking out for a real surprise season with a .315 AVG, 23 HR, 76 RBI, 57 R, and 6 SB in 123 games. Martinez was able to complete this transformation and breakout by completely retooling the mechanics of his whole swing, and it’s always nice to know that there are actual tangible reasons as to why a player finally has a breakout season. The high batting average of .300 wasn’t necessarily going to be there this season given that his .315 AVG from last year was driven by a likely unsustainable .389 BABIP, but it was reasonable to expect that this season he would be able to put up similar power production with the maintaining of his new swing mechanics.
After a month of the 2015 season, Martinez was hitting just .216 on May 8 but the 6 HR that he had at that point were respectable. The culprit of the low batting average was the fact that his BABIP was much lower than last season (which was expected) and he was also striking out at a much higher rate. However, over the last couple weeks, Martinez has really trimmed down his strikeout rate to a nearly identical mark that he was at last season. With the decrease in strikeouts, Martinez’ batting average has gone up a lot and now sits at .275 after his big day on Sunday, and his .325 BABIP is a much more realistic mark to suggest that this could be the area in AVG that he finishes the season with.
His game on Sunday consisted of a 3 HR and 6 RBI performance to give him 16 HR and 41 RBI for the season so far to put him on pace to do even better than last year in those areas. Also, his ISO is now up to .240, which is right in line with his last year’s mark of .238 to further prove that his power is legitimate and for real. The triple dong outburst from Sunday has me believing that the J.D. stands for Just Dongs. Expect to see him continue his power stroke as the season goes on, and he makes for a good play as a part of a Tigers offense that can do very dangerous things.
Now let’s check out what else happened on Sunday!
Brian McCann – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 K. McCann hit his 10th HR of the season on Sunday and also has his AVG up to .275. McCann hasn’t completed a full season with an AVG that high since 2009 largely in part to the fact that he has not been able to beat the defensive shift. The shift still is giving him some issues this season, but what is helping his AVG be healthy right now is the fact that he has hit only one infield fly ball all season long for a 1.5% rate. Compare that to last season when he had an 11.1% infield fly ball rate and we can see that he’s just been much more fortunate in that regard up to this point. It’s hard to say whether or not this will be a continued trend for McCann, but it sure would go a long ways toward a nice season.
Stephen Drew – 2 for 3, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB. Drew went deep twice on Sunday for this third multi-HR game in June. How bizarre. The 11 HR that he has on the season is a big surprise and he appears to be enjoying playing his first full season as a Yankee to take advantage of the friendly right-field dimensions of Yankee Stadium with 8 of his 11 HR coming at home. Also aiding him in this HR binge is his complete change in batted ball profile, as he evidently is swinging for the fences each time that he is up by hitting fly balls half the time he puts the ball in play. The swing for the fences approach though hurts his AVG very much, so it’s hard to expect him to do any better than a .230 AVG and he currently is at just .188.
Masahiro Tanaka – 5 IP, 10 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 6 K with the L. I said after Tanaka’s last start that he would be facing the Tigers but that this Tigers team has been hitting a lot better as of late, suggesting that he may not do as well as he did in his first start versus the Tigers this season. Well, that’s exactly what happened on Sunday as he was pummeled by a hungry Tigers offense that knocked three HR off the Japanese import. Tanaka’s numbers still look nice overall with a 3.17 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and 51 K/9 BB in 48.1 IP. He’ll try to do better next time out when he visits the Astros, which should present a great opportunity for him to rack up the strikeouts.
Victor Martinez – 3 for 6, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R. V-Mart was activated from the DL a few days ago and he made an impact on Sunday with a big game. His power has unsurprisingly taken a huge dive this season, but now that he appears to be fully healthy and recovered from his knee injury, he could go on to finish the season pretty strongly, which would be a huge boost to the Tigers offense.
Manny Machado – 3 for 5, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB. Machado remains hot and has his AVG above .300 for the first time all season long.
Jimmy Paredes – 3 for 6, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R, 3 K. I’ve liked Paredes ever since he started off hot, but I knew that the luster would wear off eventually, which it has for the most part. But I still felt that he could be a productive player and he is still showing decent production as he hit his 8th homer of the season on Sunday. His high .380 BABIP and 55 K/8 BB ratio are red flags, but as long as you expect him to be more of a .270 hitter than a .300 hitter with a decent power/speed blend then you won’t be too disappointed.
Jose Bautista – 2 for 3, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 R, 2 BB. Bautista blasted a HR on Sunday and looks to be on his way to another 30 HR/100 RBI/100 R season with more walks than strikeouts. At age 34, he’s not slowing down just yet.
Kevin Pillar – 2 for 3, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB. Pillar was hitting as low as .217 a few weeks ago and I said that his luck could swing in a good direction soon in that department. He is now hitting .403 in June to bring his AVG up to a much more respectable .269 and he has been a solid find for the Blue Jays this season. He’s definitely worth a look in fantasy leagues with the upside of 15 HR/30 SB.
Brett Cecil – 0.2 IP, 2 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 1 K. Cecil had another ugly outing on Sunday and now has a 5.96 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. It wasn’t a save opportunity, but it did lose the game for the Jays. I said last week that he could be in danger of losing grip of the closer’s role in Toronto and suggested to trade him in fantasy leagues. I would venture to say that he will not get the next save opportunity and the 20-year old Roberto Osuna could be the guy the Jays turn to for the time being since he has probably been the team’s best reliever. Steve Delabar and Aaron Loup are also options, but my money will be on Osuna. But whoever it may be, it could be just a short term deal because the Jays are known to be in the market for a relief pitcher.
Todd Frazier – 1 for 4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R. This was Frazier’s 23rd HR of the season. It’s bombs away for Frazier this season.
Justin Bour – 2 for 3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R. Bour has really struggled in the month of June as he entered Sunday with a .106 AVG and 0 HR in June. I know that I did hype him up a bit a few weeks ago, but I also said that he was not going to hit over .300 and that he could be comparable to a guy like Adam Lind. That comparison still is valid and hopefully the colossal HR that he hit on Sunday will help to get him going. Remember though, he will sit against a lot of tough left-handed starting pitchers.
Alex Colome – 7 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K. Colome has good life on his fastball and complements it with a slider, changeup, and curveball. He has the capability of being a league average pitcher, but he has shown some great inconsistency from start to start. For all intents and purposes though, he has given the Rays some decent innings in a time where they have really needed some guys to step up in the wake of all these injuries to their starting pitchers. Colome isn’t really fantasy material except in the deepest of leagues, but he silenced the Indians for 7 innings allowing only 1 hit on Sunday and now has a 4.50 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 38 K/19 BB in 56 IP.
Cody Anderson – 7.2 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K. I mentioned in Saturday’s notes how mediocre prospect pitchers making their MLB debuts tend to exceed expectations and be able to suppress the opposition. It happened yet again on Sunday with Anderson debuting for the Indians and he actually will have a chance to stick in the rotation with the Indians demoting veteran Shaun Marcum to AAA. Despite not profiling much more than a back of the rotation starter, Anderson has actually done pretty well in the Minors this season between AA and AAA. Between the two levels, he has a 1.89 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 54 K/14 BB in 71.1 IP. So you can see that he’s been showing good control with moderate strikeout potential. Deep leaguers can definitely give him a chance as he could have even more success in his first tour of the league.
Charlie Morton – 0.2 IP, 8 H, 9 ER, 1 BB, 1 K with the L. I have been saying that Morton is a decent fantasy option because of his ability to post decent ERA and WHIP numbers with strong ground ball tendencies. However, his matchup on Sunday with the Nationals was a very poor spot for him as it was a daytime affair and he entered the game with a 5-24 record, 5.51 ERA, and 1.57 WHIP in daytime games in his career. It is a very pronounced split in his stats, but some guys just aren’t cut out for daytime baseball. His next scheduled start is against the Braves in another day game, so exercise caution with him in that one.
Yunel Escobar – 2 for 5, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R, 1 K. Escobar has been a great find for the Nationals this season and hitting in front of Bryce Harper is doing great things for him it would seem. He is now batting .331 with 4 HR, 26 RBI, 35 R, and 1 SB on the season and while his batting average should drop as his .372 BABIP comes down to a more normal level, he still is capable of hitting .300 due to his good ability to avoid striking out.
Bryce Harper – 1 for 4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, 2 K. Harper went deep once more to tie Giancarlo Stanton for the Major League lead in HR with 24. Harper had been struggling versus ground ball pitchers this season with just a .136 AVG and 1 HR in 22 AB, but he was able to take the ground ball heavy Morton deep.
Gio Gonzalez – 7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K with the W. It wasn’t an overly dominant game from Nat-Gio since he didn’t record many strikeouts, but he was able to piggy back on teammate Max Scherzer‘s no-hitter to keep the Pirates bats pretty quiet. Gonzalez was sorely in need of a game like this and should give him some momentum heading into his next start at Philly. He is now 5-4 with a 4.49 ERA and 1.41 WHIP.
Adam Morgan – 5.2 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K with the W. This feels like deja vu. Yet another mediocre prospect making his MLB debut in good fashion. Morgan is a soft-tossing lefty for the Phillies who had a 4.74 ERA and 1.58 WHIP in 13 starts at AAA this season. So naturally he dominates a Cardinals offense that went berserk the previous two games. Totally makese sense, right? Baseball is a funky game, but this whole pitcher prospects making their MLB debut certainly is a trend to continue to keep an eye on.
Michael Wacha – 5 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 7 K with the L. For whatever reason, Wacha just isn’t doing well versus what is supposed to be a poor Phillies offense that is now responsible for Wacha’s two worst starts of the season. However, he continues to show the rebound in the strikeout department after a paltry 4.42 K/9 in his first 6 starts. Since then he has 9.06 K/9 in 8 starts and that’s what we need to focus on here. Overall, Wacha is 9-3 with a 2.85 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and 69 K/20 BB in 88.1 IP.
Chris Young – 4.2 IP, 7 H, 7 ER, 3 BB, 2 K with the L. The weather gods were against Young on Sunday as it was just horrible conditions for a pitcher of his type. I’ve been saying that he’s bound to see an uptick in his HR allowed rate given his extreme fly ball tendencies, so it should come as no surprise that he gave up 3 HR to the Red Sox here. Keep expecting his stats to get worse as the summer weather with high temperatures and humid air rolls in.
Mookie Betts – 3 for 5, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3 R, 1 BB. I said in the previous day’s notes that Betts is finally heating up and will be on his way to a .300 season, and he continued that hot hitting by falling a single short of the cycle. Start the Mookie Monster with confidence.
Hanley Ramirez – 1 for 3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K. Hanley has had a much more productive June than May and he homered on Sunday for his 15th of the season and 2nd in the last 3 games.
Chris Tillman – 1.1 IP, 6 H, 6 ER, 0 BB, 1 K. For how long have I been saying that Tillman just isn’t that good? He now is the sad owner of a 6.22 ERA and 1.60 WHIP.
Anthony Rizzo – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB. A to the Rizzo going yard one more time in Minnesota. For not owning him this year or ever at all, I love Rizzo very much.
Jake Arrieta – 9 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K with the W. Arrieta rebounded from his ugly 6-walk performance versus the Indians to throw a complete game shutout at Minnesota on Sunday. Back to business as usual for the Cubs ace who is now 7-5 with a 3.07 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and 96 K/21 BB in 91 IP.
Melky Cabrera – 5 for 5, 1 R. It’s been an utterly awful season for the Melkman. Perhaps the PED’s that he got busted for in 2012 are finally wearing off. He was able to turn in a perfect day on Sunday to bring his AVG up to .250. If he can build on this and get things going at the plate then the White Sox lineup will benefit as a whole and should see an overall uptick in production.
Yovani Gallardo – 5 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K. I’ve been saying for the last couple weeks now that Gallardo is outperforming my expectations of him in his first season in the American League, and he did it once again on Sunday by shutting out the White Sox for 5 innings to bring his ERA under 3.00 for the first time all season. I still have to expect that eventually Gallardo will endure some shellackings and see his ERA creep close to 4.00 or beyond. Perhaps this will happen as the Texas weather gets really hot as we delve into summer.
Albert Pujols – 1 for 3, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB. At this point, I don’t even know if Pujols has been conscious over the past month because he is hitting out of his mind. He has 13 HR in the last 23 games and still leads the American League in that category with 21. Also during that span, he has a .329 AVG with 4 K/9 BB. This is vintage Pujols that we are seeing — something that I never thought I would be saying ever again.
George Springer – 3 for 5, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R, 1 K. Springer is now on a 14-game hitting streak to bring his AVG up all the way to .284. I didn’t peg Springer for much more than a .250 AVG this season, but the guy is scorching right now and doing his best to limit the strikeouts (26.5% this year compared to 33.0% last year).
Vincent Velasquez – 3.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 5 K. Velasquez once again showed inefficiency with his pitch count and control, so he wasn’t even able to make it out of the 4th inning in this one as his pitch count surpassed 90 pitches very early on. The high walk rate is a tad uncharacteristic of Velasquez in comparison to his Minor League numbers, but as a 23-year old pitcher who has never thrown a pitch at AAA, these types of issues are not all that surprising. Hopefully, the issue corrects itself though as Velasquez gains more Major League experience. However, if he doesn’t turn things around in that area soon, then it is possible that he will be ticketed back to the Minors. He’s not a must have in redraft leagues, but dynasty and keeper leaguers should be very interested.
Matt Garza – 5.1 IP, 13 H, 7 ER, 0 BB, 4 K with the L. Garza got bombed at Coors Field. No surprise here.
Charlie Blackmon – 2 for 4, 4 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K. What did I say the other day about Blackmon at home, especially against righties?
Nolan Arenado – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R. After 67 games played this season, Arenado is on the verge of breaking career highs in HR and RBI that he set last year in 111 games. He’s certainly developing into one of the best third basemen in the league.
Andrew Cashner – 4 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K with the L. With a 7.62 ERA and 1.85 WHIP in June, it’s been a month to forget for Cashner. His defense hasn’t done him a whole lot of favors, but that was to be expected when the team retooled its lineup in the off-season with little regard for the defensive ramifications that it would have. The BABIP over .330 may look a little on the high side, but with this Padres defense it might be the new norm. Also, Cashner incredibly has allowed 15 unearned runs already. Obviously those runs don’t hurt his ERA, but it does make him throw extra pitches and get into a lot more pressurized situations to pitch with runners on and in scoring position. Not exactly the greatest of situations for a pitcher to be in.
Freddie Freeman – Freeman missed the entire weekend series against the Mets with an ailing wrist that he is set to undergo an MRI on Monday. This clearly is a point of high concern because the wrist is so crucial to a hitter’s power. For Freeman, he can hit the DL and/or this could be a thing that lingers and suppresses his rest of season statistics. For the Braves, the offense looks very nonthreatening without the presence of their stud first baseman. Take note for using pitchers against the Braves if Freeman continues to miss more time.
Julio Teheran – 7 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K with the W. Teheran pitched 7 innings of 1-hit baseball on Sunday in what was his best outing of the season. He has been a colossal disappointment so far, but perhaps this is a sign of a turnaround. I wouldn’t bet on it just yet though. He gets another decent matchup at Pittsburgh next, but do keep in mind that he has been truly awful on the road this year with a 7.17 ERA.
Jered Weaver – Weaver landed on the DL with left hip irritation. The time off could actually do him some good since he has been a major disappointment this season with his average fastball sitting around just 84 MPH. However, I don’t expect his velocity to magically go up once he returns. I’ve been saying all along that he was going to be a bust this season and I don’t see any situation where that outlook gets changed.
Justin Turner – 2 for 3, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB. Turner now has homered in 3 consecutive games and is probably one of the most underrated hitters in the game. I’ve talked about him in much more depth earlier this season, and the bottom line is that he is an excellent hitter with great power.
Yasmani Grandal – 3 for 5, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 3 R. Grandal hit 2 HR on Sunday and now boasts a strong line of .276/.386/.494 with 10 HR and 26 RBI. I predicted him to have a breakout season and apparently the Dodgers knew what they were doing when they traded for him in the off-season.