Inhabitants of the west coast of the U.S. have long been enjoying the tastings of In-N-Out Burger. Pretty much any highway or boulevard you drive down, you will at some point see the classic In-N-Out Burger logo to lure you in for arguably the best fast food burger that your lips will ever touch. Being a left coaster myself, I enjoyed a cheeseburger with grilled and raw onions and chopped chilis just last week (if you like your food with a little kick, then you have to get it with the chopped chilis off their “secret menu”).
A while back, my brother went to In-N-Out Burger and did something that I wouldn’t have thought possible out of a 145 lb. man with hardly an ounce of body fat on him. He ordered a cheeseburger, a double double, a 3×3, and a 4×4 — and he ate it all in one sitting. That is some ridiculous eating talent right there and we like to say that he “ate for the cycle.”
On Monday, Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre did something that is probably a bit more impressive than my brother “eating for the cycle,” as he hit for the cycle (single, double, triple, and home run all in one game) for the third time in his career. Beltre became just the 4th player to hit for the cycle three times. He joined John Reilly (no, not the dude from the movie Step Brothers), Babe Herman (not to be confused with George Herman “Babe” Ruth), and Bob Meusel (I have no actual parenthetical blurb to say about him). Hitting for the cycle just once in a career is pretty nice, but to do it three times is quite the accomplishment, especially when you’re like Beltre and don’t have the wheels to leg out a lot of triples. Beltre’s tripled just 34 times in his 18-year career, so he hits for the cycle 9% of the time that he gets a triple. That’s a pretty high rate if you think about it.
With In-N-Out Burgers popping up all over Texas now, and there’s even one in the city of Arlington where the Rangers play their home games, I now issue a public challenge to Mr. Beltre to eat for the cycle. And in the same vein, I also issue a public challenge to my brother, Kameron, to eat for the cycle two more times to bring his total up to three to match Beltre’s number of cycles. What do you say, gentlemen?
Now let’s take a look at the rest of Monday’s action.
Josh Donaldson – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 K. Donaldson now leads the AL in RBI with 77, which is pretty crazy considering he has spent most of his time in the 2-hole this season and even a little bit leading off. That just shows how crazy of a lineup the Blue Jays have.
David Price – 8 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 11 K with the W. Price was sure to get some extra run support now that he’s with the Blue Jays, but he hardly needed it on Monday in his domination of the Twins. But with the Jays now, I said maybe he would rattle off 12 straight wins. 11 to go.
Ryan Zimmerman – 1 for 3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K. Zimmerman returned from the DL about a week ago and he’s gone yard a couple times since. He’ll look to finish the season strong, but you just never know with him as he appears to be a walking nagging injury.
David Peralta – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, 2 K. With a HR on Monday, Peralta now owns a triple slash of .284/.353/.503 with 10 HR and 5 SB. Certainly not the most glamorous of numbers, but extremely solid and appreciated in deeper fantasy circles. Not bad for a guy who was signed as a pitcher in 2006 before converting to the outfield. You know the drill — use him against righties, softer tossing righties in particular.
Welington Castillo – 1 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R. Castillo is on a bit of a home run binge for the D-Backs as he now has homered in 5 of his last 6 games to bring his season total to 12, and he has raised his AVG from .238 to .259 in the process. If you’re scrounging for some power then he can be someone to turn to. There really isn’t much difference between Castillo and Wilson Ramos in standard roto leagues, though Castillo has to share catcher duties with Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Nick Ahmed – 4 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R. The slick fielding D-Backs shortstop had a perfect day at the plate and is now hitting .232 with 7 HR. Oddly enough though, this performance that he’s shown this season to date has to be considered a bit of a shocker. He’s definitely a defense first type of guy.
Zack Godley – 6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K with the W. Godley now has tossed 2 scorless outings in his first 3 Major League starts. Godley pitched just 3 starts at AA before receiving this big league promotion and he had struggled there, but he has done pretty well in the lower levels of the Minors. Maybe he can prove to be a middle of the rotation starter, but I remain skeptical given his lack of experience and lack of good results in the upper levels of the Minors. Keep an eye on him though.
Christian Yelich – 3 for 4, 1 RBI, 1 SB. It took him a while, but Yelich is finally coming around, but it’s a shame that he’s doing it at a time where Giancarlo Stanton is on the DL. If Stanton were hitting behind him like originally intended at the beginning of the season, then Yelich would be scoring lots of runs and getting even better pitches to hit. He has a .270 AVG with 6 HR, 26 RBI, 35 R, and 11 SB in 86 games. He should keep trending upward.
Tom Koehler – 4.1 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 6 K with the L. I’ve been saying for a while that Koehler was due for regression because it just made no sense that he had one of the highest hard hit rates in the league yet one of the lowest BABIP’s in the league. He should experience some more outings like this before season’s end, but he does have a favorable matchup against the Braves in his next start. Generally speaking though, Koehler is not a guy I would trust.
Yoenis Cespedes – 3 for 5, 4 RBI, 2 R. Cespedes made his presence for the Mets known on Monday with his first good game since joining the team at the trade deadline. He does receive a slight downgrade now that he’s with the Mets, but he could excel as the focal point of this offense. Keep on using as him normal.
Michael Conforto – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 3 R, 1 BB, 2 K. The trade for Cespedes was supposed to hurt Conforto’s fantasy value the most, but ironically, the first time that they appeared together on the same starting lineup card, Conforto slugged his first career home run. Cespedes patrolled center field on Monday and the previous day as well. So if that becomes some sort of a regular thing then that spells good things for Conforto’s projected playing time. As is though, I still would expect Conforto to act as more of a 4th outfielder unless he catches fire.
Freddie Freeman – 0 for 2. Freeman left Monday’s game with a strained oblique. Strained obliques usually land players on the DL, so I would assume that’s where Freeman is headed back to after just coming off of it recently. This means to fire up starting pitchers opposing the Braves once again.
A.J. Pierzynski – 4 for 6, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R. Pierzynski is in the midst of a 9-game hitting streak to raise his AVG from .277 to .302. At 38 years old, he still has the knack for getting hits. And with Freeman injured again, Pierzynski could step into more of a run producing role to increase his value a bit. He’s not providing a great deal in any other category besides AVG, but there surely are worse options at catcher.
Jace Peterson – 3 for 5, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB. With the Braves trading away second base prospect Jose Peraza, Peterson’s starting job would seem to be secure for now and the foreseeable future in Atlanta. He’s not doing anything special this season, but he now has back to back 3-hit games. He has much more stolen base upside than the 9 SB he has this season (out of 18 attempts), so he’s going to have to improve there if he’s going to carve out any significant fantasy value.
Buster Posey – 2 for 6, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R. Posey is now batting .327 with 16 HR, 73 RBI, 55 R, and 2 SB. He’s been very hot lately and appears to be on his way to his 2nd ever 100 RBI season.
Brandon Belt – 3 for 5, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K. Belt’s road trip has gone pretty well so far with 3 HR in 4 games and 11 of his 13 HR this season have come on the road. For a line drive hitter like Belt is (highest line drive rate in the league), his HR output is really suppressed at AT&T Park in San Francisco. Definitely start him in hitters parks on the road and against righties.
Brandon Crawford – 2 for 5, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R. I postured a while back that Crawford’s power that he was showing early on would be sustainable and that we could see a 20 HR season out of him. This was based off the fact that his average distance on his HR + flyballs was ranked very high. The same still holds true as he checks in within the top 10 in the category after smashing 2 more bombs on Monday to bring his season total to 18. It’s been a breakthrough season for the Giants shortstop and he leads all shortstops in home runs (for fantasy purposes, Hanley Ramirez has more). Start him with confidence.
Joe Panik – Panik landed on the DL on Monday with back issues. Panik is another Giants player in the midst of a breakout season, and this injury is a tough break for the Giants who finally just got to full strength with their starting lineup for the first time all season.
Santiago Casilla – 0.2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 K with the BS. Casilla blew his 5th save of the season and his ERA is now 3.32 and his WHIP is 1.47. Casilla’s strikeout rate this season actually has gotten a boost and resembles a closer’s strikeout rate, but his overall performance has suffered. The Giants may soon have to turn to somebody else to close out games if this continues, and Sergio Romo would seem to be next in line, but Hunter Strickland has been the team’s best bullpen arm and does profile as a future closer.
Carlos Correa – 1 for 5, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R. Correa stayed hot on Monday with his 5th HR in the last 7 games. To think that Correa would have 13 HR in his first 48 Major League games as a 20-year old — that could not have been predicted. That’s a 44 HR pace over 162 games. And lately, he’s been walking more and striking out less. This guy is already a fantasy stud and is probably working his way into 2nd round discussion for next year’s fantasy drafts.
Luis Valbuena – 2 for 3, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB. Valbuena hit a home run on Monday to reach the 20 HR mark in a single season for the first time in his professional career (Minors included). His playing time may begin to suffer a bit with Jed Lowrie returning from the DL recently, but he’s still got the dong potential against right-handed pitchers.
Jason Castro – 2 for 4, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 R, 1 K. Hank Conger had a 2 HR day on Saturday and now Castro hits a grand slam on Monday. Castro also had a HR and 3 RBI in two separate games last week. It’s been quite a few nice days for the Astros catching tandem who have combined for 18 HR this season.
Lance McCullers – 0.1 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 1 BB, 1 K with the L. McCullers ran into a lot of trouble visiting the Rangers and he made an extremely early exit. Then to kick him while he was down, the Astros demoted him to the Minors after the game. After the Astros acquired Mike Fiers at the trade deadline, I did wonder if McCullers would be sent to the bullpen at some point later this season to keep his innings down since he was already in uncharted territory. So while I didn’t expect him to be demoted (so soon nonetheless), this isn’t quite too big of a surprise. McCullers has a 3.17 ERA and 1.21 WHIP and should be back with the Astros at some point to help in their post-season run, but he might return as a bullpen arm instead.
Mike Fiers – 5 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 6 K. After McCullers’ early exit, Fiers was one of the pitchers to come on in relief, though he got lit up as well. Fiers likely was caught off guard having to pitch in relief in this game, so I wouldn’t read too much into this. However, he should be expected to have some tough days now pitching in the American League.
Adrian Beltre – 4 for 5, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R.
Yangervis Solarte – 2 for 4, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K. Big game for Solarte who his now hitting .266 with 7 HR and 40 RBI, but the Padres infielder is really not that great of fantasy material and can safely be left on the wire except in super deep leagues.
Jose Abreu – 2 for 3, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB. Abreu is finally showing some consistent production and is very close to the .300 AVG mark at .299. He’s only been at the .300 mark after 4 games this season, so this will be big for him if he can get there and maintain it. Abreu is on a 14-game hitting streak where he is hitting .385 with 5 HR and 18 RBI. Last season, it was a huge 1st half for him, so maybe this time it’ll be a huge 2nd half.
Charlie Blackmon – 4 for 6, 1 RBI, 1 R. Blackmon just collecting more hits and he’s now hitting .298. He’s certainly proven to be more than just a one year wonder.
D.J. LeMahieu – 0 for 5, 5 K. LeMahieu has been having a great year, but he wore the platinum sombrero on Monday. Despite the horrific game, he’s still hitting .322. Not bad…
Kyle Seager – 3 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 3 R, 1 SB, 1 BB. Seager went yard and stole a base on Monday. He’s been quietly producing very similar numbers to the last couple of seasons and should be able to keep it up.
Nelson Cruz – 3 for 4, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB. Look out because Cruz is on another blistering hot streak, terrorizing opposing pitchers. He extended his hitting streak to 14 games and during that time he’s hit for a .429 AVG with 9 HR and 13 RBI.
Jesus Montero – 1 for 4, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 K. Montero was recalled from AAA this past weekend and he is going to spend time DH-ing and playing first base for the Mariners. He has been one of the best hitters in AAA this season, so he really has nothing left to prove down there. Dynasty and keeper leagues will want to pay attention to Montero because if he has a strong performance down the stretch then he could be in for a nice breakout in 2016.
Brad Miller – 3 for 4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R. It hasn’t been the greatest of seasons, but Miller is now one HR shy of a 10 HR/10 SB season. There aren’t any fantasy shortstops that can claim that fame yet this season.
Felix Hernandez – 6.2 IP, 11 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 9 K with the W. Well, it wasn’t a complete blow up, but Felix did get knocked around a bit in his first career start at Coors Field. He’ll likely have some better luck against the Rangers in his next start, but he’s still putting up very solid numbers.
Carson Smith – 1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K with the SV. Smith got the save on Monday, but he has not been looking sharp at all as of late. He’s doing his best Fernando Rodney impression and has been scored upon in 4 of his last 5 outings while being charged with 3 losses and 1 blown save in that time. I was all over Smith earlier this season when Rodney was struggling, and Smith for the most part has been fine since replacing Rodney as the closer. But he just appears to be overworked. It wouldn’t surprise me for Rodney to be the closer again at some point this season, but the Mariners really should be sticking with Smith since he is their future. They just need to space out his outings more to give him additional rest.
Chris Davis – 1 for 5, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R, 2 K. Davis went yard once more on Monday to run his total up to 27 and he’s also 2nd in the AL in RBI at 75.
Garrett Richards – 7.1 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 11 K with the W. Well, this strikeout output from Richards was very unexpected. He had rattled off 8 straight starts where he had less strikeouts than innings pitched, but he punched out 11 on Monday. We’ll have to see whether or not it was an increase in velocity, or perhaps the matchup was just an easier one with the Indians lineup looking pretty poor without Jason Kipnis and the trading away of Brandon Moss and David Murphy. I wouldn’t expect more strikeout games like this one from Richards, unless his velocity is back. He’ll get the Orioles next.
Jason Kipnis – Kipnis landed on the DL with a shoulder injury, but should only be out for the minimum amount of time. Kipnis has been enjoying a resurgent season but his production has been waning a bit recently. Nonetheless, he’s still hitting .326 with 6 HR, 39 RBI, 66 R, and 11 SB.