Hamels’ Potential Parting Gift to Philly (and other notes from 7/25/15)

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Philadelphia Phillies ace Cole Hamels had been in the midst of a mostly bad run over his last 7 starts before Saturday, as he had 6.10 ERA and 1.57 WHIP since June 8. There were rumblings that the trade rumors surrounding him were adversely affecting his performance, but in what could be his final start as a member of the Phillies team that drafted him back in 2002, the lanky lefty put that notion to rest by firing a no-hitter with 13 strikeouts against the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Saturday.

With the no-hitter, Hamels improved to 6-7 with a 3.64 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and 137 K/39 BB in 128.2 IP. While the ERA and WHIP are a bit on the high side in comparison to the rest of his career, his strikeout rate of 9.58 K/9 ranks as the best since his rookie season in 2006, and his current 3.14 xFIP would be the second best mark of his career (3.02 xFIP in 2011). Also, Hamels average fastball velocity is as high as it has ever been. So the 31-year old Hamels is surely showing that he’s still got the stuff to be considered an ace in this league and he should be treated like one for fantasy purposes as well.

Hamels is still under contract through the 2018 season, scheduled to make $22.5 million in each remaining season with a $19 million vesting option for 2019. So if the Phillies do end up dealing him, this is not just a 2-3 month rental like David Price or Johnny Cueto would be. So any team that does trade for him is likely going to have to still give up a nice haul of prospects to the Phillies as they enter a rebuild mode. And any destination that he goes to, he is likely to get a boost in value because he will finally get away from the poor run support of the Phillies offense, and he also will be leaving the hitter friendly confines of Citizens Bank Park.

If I had to speculate on Hamels’ destination, I would look for the Los Angeles Dodgers to become heavily involved as the deadline approaches. With a starting rotation that has been marred by season-ending injuries to Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-Jin Ryu, a current injury that Brett Anderson is dealing with, and getting very little production from a combination of Carlos Frias and Brandon Beachy in the 5th spot in their rotation, the Dodgers are surely in the market for a starting pitcher in a season where they have an excellent chance to go all the way. Also, acquiring Hamels, who is under team control through 2018, will give the team some insurance in the likely event that Zack Greinke exercises his opt out clause at the end of the year.

The Dodgers and Phillies are familiar trade partners as they completed a deal in the off-season that sent long-time Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins to Los Angeles. And the Dodgers surely have a strong enough farm system to put together a package that the Phillies would accept, but the question is if the Andrew Friedman led regime would be willing to part with their top prospects such as shortstop Kyle Seager or pitching phenom Julio Urias. The Phillies would likely want any deal to start with Urias as a future replacement to Hamels for their rotation. But the Dodgers could also try to attract the Phillies with a Major League talent like third baseman/outfielder Alex Guerrero who has a bat that’s great enough to be a Major League regular. Of course, more players would have to added on along with Guerrero to get a deal done, but something definitely could be worked out.

Now let’s take a look at Saturday’s slate.

Nick Castellanos – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R. Castellanos now has a home run in 3 of his last 5 games, but he did have two 0 for 4 games mixed in there. But perhaps this recent power surge is a breakthrough for the Tigers third baseman.

Dustin Pedroia – Pedroia hadn’t played in a few days, so the Red Sox put him on the DL with a strained hamstring. The Red Sox are in the midst of a stretch where they have scored just 16 runs in 9 games since the All-Star break, so losing their spark plug surely hurts. Pedroia’s injury will put Brock Holt at second base and open up more playing time for Alejandro De Aza and Shane Victorino, though neither is considered a strong fantasy option.

Madison Bumgarner – 7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K with the W. Bumgarner helped his own cause on Saturday by belting his 3rd HR of the year. Bumgarner is quite the athlete and he is showing zero ill effect of logging over 270 innings last season.

Marcus Semien – 0 for 5, 3 K. Semien has been hitting at the bottom of the order for the most part this season, but he got a chance to leadoff on Saturday. Unfortunately, he did absolutely nothing with the opportunity and his batting average is now down to .251. He surely has an intriguing blend of power and speed (8 HR and 9 SB) out of a shallow shortstop position, but inevitably his poor on-base skills should keep him at the bottom of the lineup and his horrendous defense might hurt his playing time down the road.

Ryan Howard – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB. Howard may be hitting only .223 with a 27.7% strikeout rate, but he does have 17 HR and 51 RBI in 89 games and could help out an American League team in need of a power left-handed bat. With the trade deadline approaching, the Phillies should be shipping off some of their high-priced veterans. Although, I wouldn’t put it passed GM Ruben Amaro Jr. to do nothing at all before the deadline.

Robinson Cano – 1 for 4, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K. Cano remained hot on Saturday and is beginning to make his stat line look a lot more respectable at .262 AVG with 10 HR, 41 RBI, 48 R, and 2 SB. I was sour on him early on in the season, but he’s showing that he still does have something left in the tank.

Drew Hutchison – 4 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 4 K. Hutchison’s road struggles appeared once again on Saturday to push his road ERA back up to 9.00. But amazingly, yet again, his offense scored a bunch of runs in his start so he escaped with a no-decision. It is extremely weird to see a pitcher with a 5.42 ERA have a 9-2 record.

Chris Davis – 1 for 4, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 R, 1 K. Davis hit a grand slam on Saturday and he could find himself donning a new uniform soon as an impending free agent on an Orioles team that may not think they are in the playoff hunt. He sure could help out a lot of teams with his booming power and ability to play outfield, first base, and possibly some third base.

Manny Machado – 0 for 4. Machado has been moved down from the leadoff spot to the 3-hole in the Orioles lineup over the last couple of games and it would be a move that would definitely improve his fantasy value if he sticks there. He will gain a lot more RBI opportunities without really losing much in the run scoring department. He’s been one of the best performers in the league this season and it was only a matter of time before he was given a shot in a prime time run producing spot.

Miguel Gonzalez – 7.2 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K with the W. Gonzalez turned in a solid start for the Orioles, but it did come against a Rays team that is struggling to score some runs and who doesn’t do as well against righties. However, Gonzalez is still a decent, yet unspectacular, fantasy option.

Erasmo Ramirez – 7.1 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 0 BB, 3 K with the L. Ramirez really only made one mistake by serving up a grand slam. Other than that, he was once again very good and should continue to be given looks in fantasy leagues.

A.J. Burnett – 5.2 IP, 11 H, 5 ER, 0 BB, 8 K with the L. Burnett keeps on getting hit by the BABIP monster and now sits with a .332 BABIP. But also, at 38 years of age, Burnett could be wearing down as we get further into the second half of what should be his final MLB season. I would expect his ERA to continue to climb, but his WHIP is something that can remain stable.

Michael Taylor – 4 for 5, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R, 1 K. Taylor hitting out of the leadoff spot again had another nice game. He’s got the power and speed blend and should be given consideration in deep leagues if you can stomach the low AVG and high strikeouts.

Ian Desmond – 2 for 3, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K. Don’t look now but Desmond is riding a 6-game hitting streak with a home run in 3 straight. Maybe he’s finally ready to start contributing something positive.

Gio Gonzalez – 5 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K with the W. Gio didn’t go very deep into his start on Saturday, but he pitched effectively enough to get the job done and has pitched much better as of late. Anthony Rendon returned from the DL on Saturday, so as the Nationals begin to get more healthy to get their better defenders in, the Nationals pitchers may begin to benefit more.

Melky Cabrera – 3 for 5, 2 RBI, 2 R, 2 K. The Melk Man stays hot. He was a sneaky buy low candidate if you needed help with batting average, but he might be getting too hot now.

Carlos Carrasco – 4 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 5 K with the L. It’s been such an up and down year for Carrasco, much in part due to a lousy defense behind him. He still ranks very well in K-BB%, xFIP, and SIERA, so he’s definitely doing some things right.

Scott Feldman – 7.2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K. Feldman is very mediocre, if not below mediocre, but he came away relatively untouched in his start against the Royals. With the recent acquistion of Scott Kazmir, Feldman is a candidate to be booted from the rotation. But this solid start should earn him a stay for now. He’s unimportant for fantasy purposes though.

Joc Pederson – 3 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 K. Incredibly, Pederson’s home run on Saturday was just his 1st of July. Perhaps pitchers are getting a better grasp on how to pitch him, or maybe his participation in the Home Run Derby hurt his swing. But maybe the solid game on Saturday will get his bat going again.

Zach Lee – 4.2 IP, 11 H, 7 ER, 1 BB, 3 K with the L. A horrific debut for the Dodgers rookie and he is probably no longer in consideration to earn more starts for the near future.

Kelly Johnson – 2 for 6, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R, 2 K. Johnson was traded to the Mets on Friday and Saturday marked his debut with his new club. He made a great first impression by slugging a home run and being a part of a 15 run explosion. He’s not the greatest of hitters, but he definitely can provide a boost to an anemic Mets offense.

Lucas Duda – 2 for 6, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, 1 K. Duda is alive! Perhaps the addition of Johnson to the offense is going to have some sort of residual effect on the rest of the lineup. But it’s great to see Duda doing something. Whether he can keep it up or not, we’ll have to wait and see.

Michael Conforto – 4 for 4, 1 RBI, 4 R, 1 BB. Conforto was the Mets 1st round pick from a year ago and he has made a quick ascension to the bigs with the Mets in dire need of some offense. He’s got some decent pop and can hit for a decent average as well, and he had a huge day on Saturday going 4 for 4. Dynasty leagues need to check him out for sure, and he can be worth a look at in deeper redraft leagues as well.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis – 4 for 4, 4 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB. Nieuwenhuis had a triple dong game a few weeks ago, so this 4 for 4 with 4 RBI performance kind of pales in comparison to that. He’s still not worthy of fantasy consideration, but he can be a DFS hero from time to time.

Matt Harvey – 7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K with the W. Harvey pitched well enough to win, but he did get hurt by the long ball again, allowing 2 solo shots. And for the 6th time in the last 7 starts, Harvey failed to strikeout as many batters as innings pitched. Something definitely seems a little fishy with the lack in strikeouts and it’s a disturbing trend that he needs to reverse in a hurry.

Alex Rodriguez – 3 for 4, 3 HR, 4 RBI, 3 R. Like with Mark Teixeira, I’ve been saying that A-Rod should be able to keep up the pace that he’s been on and a barrage of 3 home runs on Saturday sure is one way to do it.

Carlos Martinez – 8 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K with the W. It was easy street for C-Mart on Saturday against a punchless Braves team that just traded away a couple of their better hitters. But beware that Martinez may start to wear down at some point as he is in uncharted innings pitched total territory.

Joey Votto – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R. That’s now 7 multi-hit games in the last 8 for the Reds first baseman. The man is displaying his Votto-matic ways.

Todd Frazier – 1 for 4, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R, 1 K. The Todd-Father is now just 2 home runs shy of his total from last season and he is also now tied for the National League lead with 27.

Johnny Cueto – 8 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K with the W. Impressive performance for Cueto at Coors Field, showcasing his skills for all his potential suitors. He now has a 2.62 ERA and 0.93 WHIP, and if he gets traded to a different National League team, then his fantasy value should only increase because there really isn’t much of a worse ballpark other than Great American Ballpark, besides Coors Field, that he could call home.

Rubby De La Rosa – 8 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K with the W. Add De La Rosa to the list with Jimmy Nelson and Anibal Sanchez as the most unpredictable pitchers in the league this season. He’s definitely got the skills, but you just never know which Rubby will show up.

Derek Dietrich – 1 for 3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K. Dietrich hit his 5th HR of the season on Saturday as he continues to drill the ball when he puts it in play. The Marlins really ought to consider giving up more playing time somehow to see what they have in Dietrich. Keep on using him in DFS against mediocre righties and he might eventually work his way into mixed league consideration.

Rougned Odor – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R, 1 K. Odor just may be my new favorite player. He should’ve been picked up when I recommended him over a month ago. He’s developing into a very fine Major League second baseman and it’s great to see him get it done against a lefty on Saturday.

Yovani Gallardo – 4 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 3 K. Yet another poor start from Gallardo. I’ve been saying for a while now that bad days would fall upon him and they just keep on coming. He’s not that great of a fantasy option and I’m not sure that any MLB team would be wise to trade for him as the deadline approaches.

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