Miguel Cabrera to the DL for First Time (and other notes from 7/5/15)

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For the first time ever in his 13-year career, on the 4th of July, Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera has landed on the DL with a calf strain that he suffered as a base runner taking off from first to second base.  The injury is expected to sideline Cabrera for 6 weeks.  It’s nothing short of amazing how Cabrera has gone so long without ever incurring an injury that he was unable to play through, but he is now 32 years old and with this calf injury and the ankle injury that he played through for a good portion of the 2014 season, there appear to be some chinks in his armor at a time where we should be expecting him to exit his offensive prime anyway.

With his ankle injury last year, he still was able to hit .313 with 25 HR, 109 RBI, and 101 R, but remarkably, that was his lowest batting average since 2009 and his lowest HR total since 2006.  This season he is batting what would be a career best of .350, but with just 15 HR before the injury, he was once again on pace for one of his lowest HR totals and with the injury, it’s all but guaranteed that it will be one of his worst HR outputs of his career.

Cabrera is still obviously a great hitter and he will have several more years left in the league where he will produce much better than the average player.  But here is what I said about him in the pre-season rankings:

“You know how we saw the beginning of the decline of Albert Pujols in his age 31 season in 2011 when he “only” hit .299/.366/.541 with 37 HR, 99 RBI, and 105 R?  Well, we saw something similar from M-Cab last year in his age 31 season.  Perhaps it can be contributed to the bum foot that he was playing on, which has since been surgically repaired.  Even so, there is a decent chance that he continues to experience an assortment of injuries as he is now on the wrong side of 30.   So I’m pretty sure his best days are behind him, but of course he still is a better hitter than most of the league.”

So let’s go ahead and categorize this into the “assortment of injuries” column.

The Tigers will surely miss his bat, and it will be interesting to see how the offense responds to Cabrera’s absence.  With J.D. Martinez so hot right now, it’s possible that he can shoulder the load to carry the team.  But at some point, the Tigers offense should experience some rough times without Cabrera.

For fantasy squads, it’s nothing short of heartbreaking to lose a 1st round pick to the DL for a significant amount of time. First it was Giancarlo Stanton a couple weeks ago and now it’s Cabrera.  Their production simply can’t be replicated, so you just have to make due with what you can.

Let’s check out Sunday’s action now.

Erasmo Ramirez – 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 3 K with the W.  Ramirez turned in yet another very solid outing in what has been a tremendous turnaround.  I’ve noted it several times how Ramirez has changed his pitch arsenal this season to lead to some vast improvements overall.  Since stepping into the starting rotation for the Rays, Ramirez has posted a 2.17 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and 45 K/18 BB in 54 IP.  I’ve cautiously been recommending him, but now I would give a green light recommendation.  He’s going to have some regression coming up in the second half of the season because his .259 BABIP is not sustainable with the his batted ball profile, but he definitely is appearing to be a transformed pitcher that is capable of helping fantasy squads.

Alex Rodriguez – 1 for 3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB.  Another A-Rod homer.  He’s slowing down a little bit, but anybody who took a gamble on him in drafts cannot be complaining about a .284 AVG, 16 HR, 47 RBI, 45 R, and 1 SB through 82 Yankees games.  Expect him to keep it rolling in the second half barring any injury that can slow down his aging body.

J.D. Martinez – 1 for 3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K.  This run is getting pretty ridiculous for J.D. “Just Dongs” Martinez.  He now has 10 HR in the last 12 games and has tied his career high of 23 HR in 123 games set last year during his breakout. It’s safe to say that he is having yet another breakout of sorts.  Refer back to “J.D. (Just Dongs) Martinez Goes Yard Thrice” for more information on the Tigers outfielder.

Anthony Gose – 1 for 3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R.  Gose was finally removed from the leadoff spot and bumped to the bottom of the order for the Tigers after hitting .169 in June.  I had mentioned several times that Gose’s extremely high BABIP was bound to come down to bring his AVG well below .300, and that is what has happened here.  His BABIP is at a much more believable .364 now (yet still probably a bit too high for him), so his AVG is down to .274.  He did hit his 2nd HR of the season on Sunday though and still has the speed to provide at least some value in fantasy leagues.

Justin Verlander – 5 IP, 7 H, 7 ER, 2 BB, 5 K with the L.  Verlander’s average fastball velocity this season is sitting around 93 MPH, which is in the same neighborhood as last season.  Any hope for a Verlander resurgence is just a dream as I’ve been saying all along, and with his paltry 4.76 K/9 through 4 starts this season, he can’t even provide moderately in that department.  There’s little reason that he should be on any fantasy rosters.

Jose Bautista – 1 for 3, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, 2 BB.  Bautista missed out on being named an AL All-Star starter, unable to overtake Alex Gordon in the voting, but he should find his way on as a reserve and he further made a case for himself by swatting his 17th HR of the year on Sunday.  He’s still a premiere slugger.

Roberto Osuna – 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K with the SV.  Osuna picked up a 4-out save on Sunday by closing out the Tigers.  Manager John Gibbons hasn’t come out and said anything officially, but it’s pretty clear that Osuna is the Jays closer right now.  He has picked up 3 saves in 3 opportunities in the last couple of weeks while allowing one earned run in 6 innings and striking out 8.  He’s got the stuff to succeed as a closer, but the Jays are in the market for some relief help.  If they happen to trade for a proven closer then that could spell the end of Osuna’s save opportunities this season, but I anticipate that if he keeps pitching well over the next couple of weeks then the Jays may hold off on acquiring someone to take over the 9th inning.

Gerardo Parra – 2 for 5, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R.  I sure have hit the nail on the head with Parra.  He now has 5 multi-hit games in a row to bring his AVG up to .308 while also homering for the 7th time this season.  He’s hot and needs to be picked up almost everywhere, though it is possible he finds himself in a new uniform at some point this month since he is eligible for free agency at the end of the season and plays for a last place team.  So depending on where he lands, he may lose some fantasy value.

Adam Lind – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K.  Like Parra, Lind is a prime trade candidate as an upcoming free agent and playing for the last place Brewers.  He continues to kill right-handed pitching by hitting his 14th HR of the season on Sunday, and he is an auto-play in fantasy against weak right-handed pitching.

Taylor Jungmann – 8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K with the W.  The rookie Jungmann is having a nice run for the Brewers since being called up.  With a superb start on Sunday he is now 3-1 with a 2.43 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 27 K/10 BB in 37 IP.  He was far from this good in 11 AAA appearances before his promotion, so there is some skepticism to be had here.  Mostly, his main improvement that he’s shown in the Majors has come in his walk rate at just 2.43 BB/9, compared to his Minor League career rate of 4.29 BB/9.  If he can keep the walks under control he will have a chance to be a decent back end of the rotation guy.  He’s got a strong ground ball rate and has a little more strikeout upside than what he’s shown thus far.  I wouldn’t give him a solid recommendation for fantasy, but an eye should be kept on him.

Joey Votto – 0 for 4, 1 K.  Votto looked great this season up until about 2 weeks ago where he began to take a bit of a nosedive.  In the last 11 games, he is just 5 for 42 as he’s seen his AVG dip from .300 to .273 to jeopardize his chances of making the All-Star team as part of the host team.  He’s posting his lowest line drive rate since 2010, so that can be seen as the main culprit for his un-Votto like batting average.  He should get hot again at some point though.

Starling Marte – 0 for 1, 1 K.  Marte was forced from the game on Sunday after injuring his side on a swing.  The worry is that he could have strained his oblique, which would surely put him on the DL and could shelf him for a month or longer. We’ll have to wait and see, but at the very least he should be out a couple days.

Gerrit Cole – 8 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K with the W.  Cole improved to 12-3 with a 2.28 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 113 K/26 BB in 110.1 IP.  His ERA will likely regress closer to 3.00 over the second half of the season, but the Pirates righty has been dominant this season and will remain one of the better options.

Danny Salazar – 4.2 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 7 K with the L.  Salazar has been wildly inconsistent from start to start this season, which could be attributed to his poor defense, but he also is probably having just typical growing pains of a young pitcher. His stuff is clearly dominant as evidenced by his 108 K/25 BB in 90 IP, but he just seems to serve up too many HR at 1.30 HR/9.  It’s tough to keep an ERA under 4.00 with that type of home runs allowed rate.  He’s still a recommended option due to his high strikeouts and relatively low walks, and better numbers should be expected of him in the second half.  He is 7-4 with a 4.10 ERA and 1.19 WHIP.

Carlos Correa – 3 for 4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 SB, 1 BB.  It hasn’t even been a month yet, but Correa has 7 HR and 5 SB to go with his .315 AVG.  The kid is unreal right now.

Evan Gattis – 1 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 K.  Gattis homered for the first time in a couple of weeks for his 14th of the season.  He’s pretty much performing exactly as expected.

Hanley Ramirez – 1 for 3, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB.  That’s now 3 HR in 5 July games for Hanley.  He’s hot for now, until he incurs his next ailment.

Eduardo Rodriguez – 5 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K.  A nice looking start from Rodriguez from a strikeout standpoint, though he didn’t go deep into the game.  The left-handed rookie is 4-2 with a 3.69 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and 44 K/15 BB in 46.1 IP. Very acceptable results from one of the better pitching prospects in the game in his first season.  He’s definitely recommended and should see similar results the remainder of the season.

Shelby Miller – 6.1 IP, 7 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 K.  Miller has been racking up the strikeouts in the last two starts now and it’s also interesting to note that his velocity has been the highest it’s been this season in his last 6 starts or so, so there may be some correlation there with the strikeouts.  Everyone has been waiting for him to hit the big regression period, and while he has regressed some over the last month, an increase in his strikeout rate like he’s shown in the last two starts will help to offset some of that regression.  Miller is 5-4 with a 2.07 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and 88 K/34 BB in 108.2 IP.

Cesar Hernandez – 3 for 4, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 SB, 1 K.  I’m not sure that there has been a hotter hitter for AVG in the last couple of weeks.  Hernandez has now hit in 10 straight and in the last 13 games he has gone 25 for 54 to raise his AVG from .232 to .299, while also swiping 8 bases.  I’ve been mentioning him a lot lately because he could be establishing himself as the Phillies starting second baseman to put an end to the Chase Utley era.  He should be added as a solid speedy middle infield option.

Cole Hamels – 7 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K.  Hamels making another great audition start for some contending teams.  He now has a 3.02 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and 119 K/35 BB in 113.1 IP.  Quality stuff.

Carlos Rodon – 5 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 7 K with the L.  Rodon got bit by his control yet again.  His 5.22 BB/9 is way too high for my stomach to handle, so I would continue to leave him alone in redraft leagues.

Alex Gordon – 1 for 2, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB.  Hours before being named an All-Star starter, Gordon hit his 10th HR of the season.  Gordon is not deserving of the All-Star nod and he is likely to end up having his worst fantasy season since 2010. Count on him for some decent power without, but that’s about it because his once sneaky speed appears to have vanished.

Ervin Santana – 8 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 8 K.  Santana made his first start of the season, and first start in a Twins uniform, in return from his banned substance suspension.  It went over very well, but back in the American League this season, he’s not going to have the same good strikeout rate as last season.  He’ll certainly be usable for fantasy though.  He gets a tougher test against the Tigers in his next start.

Tommy Pham – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R.  Pham has been called up by the Cardinals to play some outfield for them as Matt Holliday is still on the DL.  He has hit leadoff for the Cardinals since his call up and he jacked his first career HR on Sunday.  He’s a decent toolsy prospect with some pop and speed, but probably isn’t a quality fantasy option with the impending return of Holliday.  However, he’s going to be a good cheap DFS option, especially if he’s leading off when he plays.

Lance Lynn – 7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 8 K with the W.  Lynn turned in his third strong start in a row since returning from the DL.  It appears he has put the forearm issue behind him and going to rock and roll for the remainder of the season.

Mat Latos – 7 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K with the L.  Tough for Latos to come away with a loss in a game where he gave up just 1 run and 1 hit.  I didn’t like Latos coming into the season because of his velocity dip last season, and then he carried it over to this season.  However, over his last 5 starts since returning from the DL, his velocity has improved and better overall results have coincided with a 3.31 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 35 K/8 BB in 32.2 IP.  So despite the season long 4.90 ERA and 1.31 WHIP, Latos actually makes for a good trade target for fantasy and for real life since he is set to become a free agent.

Kris Bryant – 1 for 3, 1 SB, 1 BB, 1 K.  I didn’t get to mention it because of the holiday, but Bryant went nuts on the 4th of July with 2 HR and 6 RBI, and he stole a base on Sunday.  The rookie is now hitting .279 with 12 HR, 49 RBI, 44 R, and 8 SB.  He has struck out 93 times in 71 games, but this is a fantasy stud in the making.

Kyle Hendricks – 7.1 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K with the W.  Last time Hendricks pitched, I said to fire him up for some nice matchups coming up against the Marlins and White Sox.  Well, that’s one down as he handled the Marlins with ease on Sunday.  He has a 3.82 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and 75 K/17 BB in 92 IP.  He is a quality, underrated option and really should be owned in more leagues than he is.

Jason Motte – 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K with the SV.  In the span of a month, Motte has peculiarly recorded 4 wins and 4 saves to make for one of the most valuable relievers in that time, and it would appear that he is becoming manager Joe Maddon’s preferred option to close out games.  I speculated a while ago on The Backwards K that Motte might be the guy Maddon would turn to the most since his proven time as a closer in St. Louis, so this isn’t too much of a surprise.  Rafael Soriano will be ready for the Cubs after the All-Star break though, so things could get dicey once again.  For now though, Motte can be safely grabbed if you’re looking for saves.

Mike Montgomery – 5.2 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K with the W.  Montgomery was not able to extend his CGSO streak to 3, but he did escape with another win in a decent game against the A’s.  Read more on Montgomery in “Montgomery’s Monumental Mound Montage.”

Fernando Rodney – 1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K with the SV.  Rodney earned the save on Sunday as it is now apparent that manager Lloyd McClendon prefers him in the role over the rookie Carson Smith, despite Smith being the better pitcher. Because of Rodney’s unpredictability this season, Smith should be retained if you own Rodney as well, but Smith could be dropped in shallower leagues.  Just keep a close eye on what Rodney does.

Troy Tulowitzki – 2 for 5, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R.  Believe it or not, Tulowitzki is on an 18-game hitting streak.  He has really caught on fire after having just a .266 AVG on May 27.

Carlos Gonzalez – 3 for 4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R.  It’s been a bit of a rough season for CarGo, but he still finds a way to have some big games like he did on Sunday.  He is now hitting .244 with 11 HR, 30 RBI, 34 R, and 2 SB, but because of his struggles versus left-handed pitching and disappearance of his speed, he’s kind of in Shin-Soo Choo territory.  Though I would prefer CarGo over Choo.

Yasmany Tomas – 2 for 3, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R.  Tomas hit his 5th HR of the season and while his AVG should fall below .300 because his high BABIP won’t be sustainable, I think that his power will develop better over the second half of the season and could more than double his first half HR output of 4.

Rubby De La Rosa – 5 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 1 BB, 3 K with the L.  De La Rosa has the stuff to be a quality Major League pitcher, but it’s not quite translating to good stats in his first year in Arizona.  He’ll have some really good starts, but then have starts like he had on Sunday against the Rockies — a team in which he dominated at Coors Field last time.  I would still use him against weaker offenses, but there definitely is blowup potential in any game.

Mike Bolsinger – 5 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K with the L.  In what should’ve been an easy matchup, Bolsinger got knocked around and is proving to be unreliable like I alluded to in “Is Bolsinger a Bullsh**ter?”  Teams are just adjusting to him and his two pitch arsenal as the league sees more of him.  Trade him if you can, or simply just drop him.

Wilmer Flores – 4 for 5, 3 RBI, 1 R.  With the 4 hit day, Flores is now hitting .258 with 10 HR, 38 RBI, 31 R, and 0 SB. Those aren’t the most impressive of numbers, but for a shortstop that was either a late round pick or a waiver wire pickup, that’s not bad.  He’s got the pop and he also has more batting average upside than this because of his ability to put the ball in play with just a 12.8% strikeout rate.  He hit over .300 at each of his last 3 stops in the Minors, so if he can trim his infield fly ball rate, then he could do some big things.

Steven Matz – 6 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 K with the W.  Matz’ second Major League start was a masterpiece on the road in Los Angeles.  He’s going to be the real deal and should be picked up everywhere.  Read more about him in “Metz to Promote Matz.”

Kole Calhoun – 2 for 5, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R.  Calhoun wrapped up the 3 game series in Texas going 6 for 14 with 2 HR, 10 RBI, and 5 R.  He’s a quality player and he is getting hot at a good time for the Angels.

Albert Pujols – 2 for 5, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R.  Pujols hit another HR for his AL leading 25th and he is likely to start at first base for the AL All-Star team with Miguel Cabrera on the DL.

Rougned Odor – 1 for 4, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R.  All Odor has done since his recall is hit with a .365 AVG, 3 HR, 13 RBI, 4 R, and 4 SB in 18 games.  The runs total seems rather low, especially given he’s been spending a lot of time near the top of the order.  But the overall production has been nearly unmatched at the second base position during that time.  I’ve mentioned him as a guy to pick up several times, so he should be long gone by now.

Prince Fielder – 2 for 5, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R.  Prince hit his 13th HR and logged his 50th RBI of the season on Sunday.  He keeps on rolling.

Colby Lewis – 4 IP, 12 H, 10 ER, 2 BB, 1 K with the L.  Remember when Lewis had a 2.40 ERA and 0.98 WHIP through May 11?  And remember when I said all along that he would blow up as the year went on?  On Sunday, at the hands of the Angels, Lewis had his second start this season where he allowed 10 runs and he now has a 4.83 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP. He’ll come through with a good game every now and then, but these blowups make it difficult to use him in fantasy.

Jordan Zimmermann – 7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 K with the W.  Zimmermann turned in his third really strong start in a row. He’s regaining a bit of the velocity that he had lost in the early portion of the season, but he’s still not up to his 2014 levels yet.  So I still have to give some caution to him, but he’s still quality and should continue to see his strikeout rate rise steadily over the rest of the season if his velocity stats at the level it’s at right now.  However, I don’t imagine his strikeout rate getting much higher than 7.0 K/9.

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