WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 05: Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals pitches against the Miami Marlins at Nationals Park on August 5, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
Remember last week when wrote about the keeper league trade where I traded Bryce Harper for a boatload of players to help me in my attempt win the league this year? Well, when I wrote the piece, I was 12 points out of first place (after gaining 3 points the night of the deal). As of today, I have chopped 9.5 points off my deficit and am only 2.0 points out of first place. Things are looking good as I can still make up a few points in RBI and BA, while the the first place team's pitching staff is starting to unravel and could lose a few points in WHIP, BA and steals. I had a hard time dealing Harper, but could not turn down the offer I received. I just wish I could have included Chase Headley in my haul.
It took Dodgers starter Chris Capuano 33 starts to win 11 games in 2011, and he has now won his 11th game this season in just 23 starts. He shutout the Marlins for 8 innings yesterday, giving up just 2 hits, walking 3 and striking out 10, and is now 11-8 with a 3.11 ERA, 3.52 FIP, 3.86 xFIP, 1.20 WHIP and an excellent 135-45 strikeout to walk ratio in 150.1 innings pitched. He is having his best season as a big league starter, yet when you compare his peripheral stats to 2011, they are virtually the same, except for his HR/FB rate and his BABIP. HIs K rate is 8.08 vs 8.13 and his BB rate is 2.69 vs 2.56 in 2011.
Red Sox starter Jon Lester has underperformed his expectations this season. By a wide margin. But, on Sunday, he had one of his better outings of the season, as he limited the Indians to just one run on 3 hits, 2 walks and striking out 12. He won for just the 6th time this season, and now owns a 5.20 ERA, 1.37 WHIP and a 129-44 strikeout to walk ratio in 147 innings pitched. He owns the worst strand rate amongst qualified starting pitchers this season, and is giving up home runs like never before. He has already given up 18 home runs this season, two off the 20 he gave up last season.
Nationals beat writer Bill Ladson reported last night via Twitter that Stephen Strasburg will make just 5 more starts and will not pitch in the playoffs:
I am not sure why they didn't shut him down in July around the All Star break so he could pitch in the playoffs, but shutting him down and starting him up again may not be the best idea for an ace a year removed from Tommy John surgery.
Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez is doing his best to make fantasy owners forget about his awful first half of the season, as he went 2-3 with a double, HR, 2 runs and 4 RBI on Sunday. He raised his triple slash line to .309-.354-.478 with 13 HRs, 61 runs and 80 RBI, and now has multiple hits in 15 of his 28 games since the All Star break.
Those of you who had questions about whether Carl Crawford could bounce back from his terrible 2011 season, worry no more. Crawford went 3-4 with 3 doubles, 2 runs and 3 RBI yesterday, and is now hitting .280-.306-.505 with 3 HRs, 20 runs, 16 RBI and 3 stolen bases. He left Sunday's game with soreness in his left wrist. He is considered day to day at this point.
Blue Jays first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnacion is having a breakout year in 2012, currently third in the American League in home runs. Encarnacion went 3-4 with a double, home run, 2 runs and 2 RBI and is now hitting .293-.389-.571 with 30 HRs, 71 runs, 79 RBI and 13 stolen bases. He has already posted career highs in HRs, RBI and stolen bases with a month and a half left in the season. He has always limited his strikeouts and this season he is walking more than ever, increasing his BB rate from 8.1% in 2011 to 12.4% this season, and is hitting for more power as a result.
Orioles rookie third baseman Manny Machado continues to hit for power in his first 4 games of his major league career. Machado went 1-4 with his third home run in four games on Sunday, and is now hitting .375-.375-1.125 with 3 HRs and 7 RBI thus far. Five of his six major league hits have gone for extra bases. I think the Orioles rushed him a bit, but Machado is proving mighty quickly that he can handle big league pitching.
Mariners catcher Jesus Montero was known to start off slow at each new level, and he did just that in the big leagues this season, his first full season in the majors. Since the All Star break, Montero is hitting .344-.404-.452, raising his batting average from .242 to .272. On Sunday, he went 2-4 with 2 HRs, 2 runs and 3 RBI and is now hitting .272-.315-.412 with 12 HRs, 37 runs an 45 RBI. His home ball park in Seattle limits home runs at an extreme rate and he has hit just 4 of his 12 home runs at home. On the road, he is hitting .320-.354-.448, so he gives us a glimpse into what type of hitter he could be if the Mariners do in fact decide to move in their fences in 2013.
Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton is over his two month long slump, it appears. He went 2-3 with a HR and 3 RBI yesterday, and has now homered in 3 of his last 4 games. He raised his slash line to .291-.357-.587 with 32 HRs, 70 runs and 99 RBI. Does he re-sign with the Rangers, or does the team allow him to walk?
The Rangers need pitching help, and I could see them dealing for a starter in the offseason. One of the Phillies beat writers wrote yesterday that the Phillies could look to deal Cliff Lee to the Rangers in return for a third baseman. And he's not a prospect. The beat writer suggested the Rangers could deal Adrian Beltre to the Phillies for Lee, and make Mike Olt their opening day third baseman. Interesting.
Neil Walker had himself a great day at the plate on Sunday. Walker went 5-5 with a HR, double, 2 runs and 2 RBI and is now hitting .294-.358-.460 with 14 HRs, 60 runs and 67 RBI, and is on pace for a 20 HR - 95 RBI season. He ranks second amongst qualified fantasy second baseman in RBI and is 6th in batting average.