As a 20-year old phenom, Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez took the baseball world by storm by earning the 2013 NL Rookie of the Year Award with a 12-6 record, 2.19 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and 187 K/58 BB in 172.2 IP. Big things were expected of him in 2014 and he showed much of the same in 8 starts to begin the season with a 4-2 record, 2.44 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and 70 K/13 BB in 51.2 IP. But after that 8th start, it was learned that he would have to undergo Tommy John surgery, breaking the hearts of fantasy owners around the nation and Marlins fans…errr, nowhere.
A few weeks ago, the Marlins tabbed July 2 as the date that the now 22-year old Fernandez would take the mound in a Major League game for the first time in nearly 14 months. And for the most part, his rehab went pretty well so it was expected that Fernandez would step right in and make an immediate impact for the Fish.
So the day finally came on Thursday in front of the home crowd and it didn’t get off to such a hot start as Fernandez gave up 3 hits and a sacrifice fly in the 1st inning to fall behind 2-0. However, he settled down after that to allow a total of 3 runs on 7 hits and 0 walks in 6 innings while striking out 6. He also helped his own cause by smashing his 2nd career HR off Matt Cain, and he admired it for a few seconds before beginning to round the bases, giving Cain a good glare as he rounded first base. Fernandez hit the upper 90’s on the radar gun multiple times, getting as high as 99 MPH, and his average fastball velocity was right in line with what it was before the Tommy John surgery, which is obviously a great indication that he’s feeling great.
What we need to watch for though is how his command and control are in the next few starts. Pitchers in their first year back from Tommy John surgery tend to struggle in that area, especially when it’s just around 12-14 months after their last Major League game (as opposed to the 19-20 months that Matt Harvey had). However, Fernandez had good control to begin with, so any possible struggle wouldn’t take away too much from his game.
For the rest of the season, I’ll give Fernandez a line of 6 W-3 L, 3.04 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and 88 K/25 BB in 80 IP.
Now let’s look at the rest of Thursday’s action!
Jason Kipnis – 2 for 5, 1 RBI, 2 R. He is a hits machine now with 108 hits with a .347 AVG in 77 games. He still remains Kipnis, the man on fire, and I have little to no qualms with his high .392 BABIP because of his high line drive rate, low soft hit rate, and low infield fly ball rate.
Mike Aviles – 1 for 3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K. Aviles has been a fine role player throughout his career as a utility infielder and he’ll occasionally come up with a big game. He knocked the game-winning HR for the Indians on Thursday, but has little use in season long fantasy leagues unless he steps into the starting lineup on a regular basis due to an injury. But for DFS he is always a cheap option that can be plugged in.
Corey Kluber – 8 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 14 K. It was a tough 4-game series for the Rays against the Indians. First Cody Anderson shut them down going perfect for 6 innings before settling on 8 innings of 1 run baseball on 2 hits. Then Danny Salazar in game 2 had allowed only 1 hit through 7 innings before yielding 2 runs on a total of 2 hits in 7.2 innings. Then Carlos Carrasco of course was one strike away from a no-hitter before giving up 1 run on 1 hit in 8.2 innings with 13 strikeouts in the third game of the series. So game four was Kluber’s turn, and although he couldn’t limit the hits and runs as well as his teammates did, he struck out 14 Rays batters and he is currently posting better strikeout and walk rates than his 2014 AL Cy Young season. But as mentioned in “Sometimes A Pitcher Is Only As Good As His Defense,” his defense is letting him down to let a lot of hits and runs come through. His BABIP rose from .336 to .341 on Thursday and he now owns a 3.64 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and 141 K/24 BB in 118.2 IP. His ERA and WHIP should improve, but not likely down to his 2014 levels with the poor defense behind him.
Matt Moore – 4.2 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K. Moore returned from the DL on Thursday to make his first start since his Tommy John surgery. The Rays rotation has been riddled with injuries this season, so any production out of Moore will help them out immensely. However, I would not buy into Moore this season because he was a pitcher that already struggled with his control a lot before the surgery with a walk rate of 4.28 BB/9. As previously stated, after pitchers have Tommy John surgery, they typically tend to struggle to find consistent control and command of their pitches in their first season back. Moore has large strikeout potential, but I think that he will be a WHIP and ERA killer the remainder of the season. Let someone else take the gamble on him.
Christian Yelich – 1 for 2, 2 R, 1 SB, 2 BB, 1 K. On Wednesday, Yelich finally got his batting average over .250 for the first time since April 16 and he continued his slowly improving performance on Thursday with a hit, a couple walks, and a stolen base. Yelich has a pitiful 12.4% line drive rate that would rank as the lowest in the Majors if he qualified with enough plate appearances. That is surely not the type of line drive rate that you would expect out of at hitter like Yelich, so success will start coming more often if he can begin to hit more line drives. He is hitting .253 with 4 HR, 15 RBI, 27 R, and 7 SB.
Justin Bour – 1 for 3, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB. I said after Wednesday’s game that the Marlins and Bour are lined up for a slew of games against right-handed starting pitching and that it would be a heat check for Bour who had home runs in consecutive games. Well, he was back at it on Thursday to make it three straight games with a long ball. For DFS right now, he is a super cheap option at first base and should be given lineup consideration until he cools down again.
Carter Capps – 1.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K. Capps has been having an extraordinary season as a setup man for the Marlins. He gave up his first run since June 7 on Thursday, but all 4 outs that he recorded were of the strikeout variety. He has not logged a strikeout in 14 straight appearances and has an insane 42 K in 22 IP (17.18 K/9) to go with a 1.23 ERA and 0.68 WHIP. He’s got future closer written all over him and if anything were ever to happen to A.J. Ramos, who is having a dominant season himself, then Capps should be able to fill in nicely.
Gregor Blanco – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R, 1 K. Blanco is earning more playing time with Nori Aoki on the DL for the Giants and he is now riding a 9-game hitting streak where he his 16 for 33 to improve his season AVG from .274 to .318. He hit a HR on Thursday, but he typically won’t provide much power. However, he can be a threat on the base paths for stolen bases and while he is hot and starting he is worth a pick up in deep leagues.
Buster Posey – 1 for 3, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R. Buster being Buster hitting another HR. He’s now on pace for his first ever 25 HR season and his second ever 100 RBI season.
Matt Cain – 5 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 2 K with the L. Cain returned from the DL with flexor strain to make his first start of the season. Cain was already someone that I wasn’t buying into as a rebound candidate even before he came down with the injury. So with the injury, he’s going to have to attempt to shake off rust on top of his diminishing skills. I’m not a fan and would definitely let someone else take the risk on him. In a corresponding move, Tim Lincecum was placed on the DL.
Francisco Cervelli – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R, 1 K. Cervelli keeps on hitting for the Pirates and perhaps he will squeak his way onto the NL All-Star team with this performance. With just 4 HR and 28 RBI, he isn’t wow-ing anyone with his power production, but his .304 AVG looks great for now even though it is likely to dip to .280 or lower eventually.
Neil Walker – 4 for 5, 3 RBI. I said after Walker’s big game on Wednesday that he struggles against lefties, but he kept his hot bat alive with a few hits against left-handed pitching on Thursday. He has raised his AVG from .257 to .278 in three days.
Francisco Liriano – 7 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 5 K with the W. Liriano entered Thursday’s start as the league leader in soft hit rate at 30.5%, the 3rd lowest hard hit rate at 22.0%, and the 5th best strikeout rate at 28.7%. Getting a lot of soft hit balls, few hard hit balls, and striking out a ton of batters — that sure sounds like a recipe for success to me. There’s no other pitcher in baseball that can say they rank in the top 5 in each of those categories. With another great game on Thursday against a tough Tigers offense, Liriano improved to 5-6 with a 2.99 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and 113 K/34 BB in 102.1 IP.
J.D. Martinez – 1 for 4, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R, 2 K. This is getting a bit repetitive, isn’t it? J.D. “Just Dongs” Martinez did it again with his 21st HR of the season and his 8th HR in the last 9 games.
Jacob deGrom – 5.1 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K with the L. DeGrom usually dominates at home, but this Cubs team might have his number. He didn’t have as difficult of a time that he did against them last time at Wrigley Field, but he surely wasn’t the dominant force that he has been over the last couple of months. He’ll get one more start before the All-Star break against the Giants.
Miguel Montero – 2 for 5, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 K. Montero his his 10th HR of the season on Thursday to make it five straight seasons of double digit home runs. He has been producing just fine in his first year with the Cubs and there’s no reason to think that will stop.
Jake Arrieta – 8 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K with the W. Arrieta continued his ace-like ways on Thursday by quieting an already fairly quiet Mets offense. He should continue to be one of the better pitchers in the league and he is now 8-5 with a 2.80 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and 110 K/23 BB in 106 IP.
Cesar Hernandez – 3 for 5, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K. Hernandez didn’t record a stolen base on Thursday, but he did tack on another 3 hits. I mentioned him after Wednesday’s game as a no power but speedy middle infielder who is super hot and could stick as the Phillies starting second baseman even when Chase Utley returns. Give him a go while he’s hot.
Gerardo Parra – 2 for 5, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K. Parra turns in another good game and is now hitting .300 for the year. Just saying. I’ve been mentioning him a lot as a deep league pickup ever since he was inserted into the starting lineup.
Yovani Gallardo – 6 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 2 K. Gallardo keeps defying logic here to put together his third scoreless outing in a row. He’s doing so with such limited strikeouts though that I still have to believe that a big blow up is coming. As a pitcher that is inducing ground balls more than half the time, he can’t live off a .256 BABIP forever. He now has a 2.56 ERA and 1.14 WHIP.
Kevin Gausman – 6.1 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K. Gausman held the Rangers scoreless for 19 outs on Thursday in what was likely just a spot start for the Orioles. Gausman was a top prospect just a year ago, so he does have the skills and pedigree to eventually be a successful Major League pitcher and those skills were on full display Thursday. If for some reason he remains with the Orioles, he should be given a chance in a large portion of fantasy leagues. If he is sent back to AAA, he will be with the Orioles again at some point this summer.
Matt Boyd – 0 IP, 6 H, 7 ER, 1 BB, 0 K with the L. Boyd had done decently in his MLB debut last week against the Rangers and he was doing well in the Minors before his call up with a 1.26 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, and 82 K/18 BB in 85.2 IP between AA and AAA. But he was surely overmatched on Thursday against the Red Sox as he failed to record an out before giving up 7 runs on 6 hits. Yikes. The Blue Jays sure could use some pitching help.
Mookie Betts – 3 for 6, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 SB, 1 K. Betts stays hot. I love the Mookie Monster. .277 AVG, 9 HR, 37 RBI, 42 R, and 13 SB.
Xander Bogaerts – 4 for 6, 2 RBI, 1 R. With Dustin Pedroia on the DL, Bogaerts has been seeing a lot of time in the 3-spot in the Red Sox lineup to give him a boost in value. Bogaerts is not showing much power or speed with just 3 HR and 4 RBI, but the batting average at .297 is strong as he has been learning to spray the ball to the opposite field. Last year in his official rookie season, he pulled the ball 46.9% of the time and went the opposite way just 19.3%. However, this year he is pulling the ball 32.5% of the time and is going the opposite way more often than pulling it at 32.9%. This is a great adjustment for a 22-year old hitter to be making at the Major League level. I don’t think that Bogaerts is as talented as Manny Machado, but if he keeps progressing like this then next season he might breakout in the same way that Machado is this year.
David Ortiz – 1 for 5, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB. Same story, different day. Ortiz slugs another HR, but still isn’t really bringing that AVG up.
Hanley Ramirez – 1 for 5, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 2 K. Hanley is 11 for 26 during a 7-game hit streak to improve his season AVG from .269 to .281. Also during that span, which includes a HR on Thursday, he has 3 HR to bring his season total to 16. His shortstop eligibility this season means that his stats this year are very valuable and he should keep on producing. But next year when he loses that eligibility for fantasy leagues, there’s going to be a lot more valuable outfielders than him.
Alejandro De Aza – 3 for 5, 4 RBI, 2 R, 1 K. De Aza fell a HR short of the cycle on Thursday and he has been pretty hot since joining the Red Sox toward the beginning of June. With Dustin Pedroia on the DL, De Aza has been starting every day with Brock Holt manning Pedroia’s second base position. He is hitting .338 with 3 HR, 16 RBI, 10 R, and 1 SB with the Red Sox and will continue to have value while Pedroia is shelved.
Tyson Ross – 6 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 5 BB, 6 K. Another classic Tyson Ross outing. Refer back to “Are Tyson’s Punch Outs Enough?” for further information on what I think about Ross. He did his his first career HR though.
Max Scherzer – 8.1 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 9 K with the L. In a surprising event, Scherzer lost to a punchless Braves offense but he recorded the rare 8.1 inning complete game as the Braves walked off on him. No big deal, he’s still awesome.
Manny Banuelos – 5.2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K. Banuelos was forced from his MLB debut early due to dehydration. That is a shame because he was dealing against the Nationals. Banuelos was doing well in AAA with a 2.29 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and 69 K/38 BB in 82.2 IP. He’s a hard throwing lefty with good strikeout potential, but he has shown some control issues throughout his Minor League career. He’s always been a pretty good prospect though, so if he gets an extended look in the Braves rotation then he’ll be worth a flier. Dynasty leaguers will want to pick him up immediately. If he stays in the rotation, he will face the Brewers next.
Miguel Sano – 1 for 4, 2 K. With the Twins already having promoted top prospect Byron Buxton (though then losing him to the DL shortly after), they promoted another one of their top prospects, Miguel Sano, who will serve as the team’s primary DH for the foreseeable future. Sano is a big time power prospect who has hit as many as 35 HR in a single professional season. He missed all of the 2014 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, but he has come back in 2015 to show the same type of great pop again at AA. In 66 games at AA, Sano was hitting .274/.344/.544 with 15 HR, 48 RBI, 55 R, and 5 SB in 66 games. I expect him to struggle to make contact as a 22-year old rookie who skipped AAA, so expectations need to be held in check. He’s not quite as bad as Joey Gallo when it comes to the strikeouts, but it wouldn’t surprise me if his strikeout rate hovered around 30%, which would likely keep his batting average somewhere below .250. He is a third baseman by trade, but in Yahoo fantasy leagues he is also eligible at shortstop, which gives him some extra added value. Those in redraft leagues can pick him up for his power upside and nice position eligibility.
Kyle Gibson – 8 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 7 K with the W. Gibson is quietly having a little bit of a breakout season in his 3rd year in the Majors, and he has especially turned it on in the strikeout department over his last 8 starts to suggest that maybe something has begun to click. In those 8 starts, he has 47 K in 52.1 IP for a strikeout rate of 8.08 K/9, which is a vast improvement over his 136 K over his first career 278.1 IP for a strikeout rate of 5.01 K/9. He was a pretty good prospect coming up through the Twins organization, so keep an eye on Gibson and he might be worth a shot if he’s available in your fantasy league.
Scott Kazmir – 8 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K with the W. A brilliantly pitched game from Kazmir who may have earned himself a spot on the AL All-Star team with the strong outing. He is now 5-5 with a 2.56 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and 92 K/33 BB in 98.1 IP. He’ll go through some small regression at some point, but there’s little reason why he can’t remain one of the stronger pitchers in the AL.
A.J. Pollock – 2 for 5, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R, 1 K. Pollock became the 9th player this season to reach double digits in both HR and SB with his 10th HR of the year on Thursday. There appears to very little that will slow down Pollock in his age 27 season. He is the real deal. Refer back to “Pollock Painting a New Picture in Arizona” for more on the Diamondbacks outfielder.