Fantasy baseball analyst Mark Lindquist takes a look back at Wednesday’s MLB slate and offers up his top observations.
The piano thrum of the JAWS theme might be starting to pick up tempo when it comes to Bobby Witt Jr., whose overall numbers — .224/.268/.403 in 35 games — are obscuring an increasingly dangerous bat. Against the White Sox on Wednesday, Witt put a charge into a Lucas Giolito offering for a solo home run, his fourth of the season. Three of those homers have come over his last six games. He has posted seven extra-base hits (three homers, three doubles, one triple) across his last nine games.
All of this is to say that fantasy managers who are interested in trading for Witt might want to start legitimately kicking the tires at this point — the more the numbers pick up, the more difficult it will be to pry him loose. Those playing in daily fantasy formats would, in a similar vein, be advised to plug Witt into lineups before his salary starts getting out of hand. Just beware that with young players like Witt, there are so often hot and cold streaks. Still, it seems that he’s starting to get the hang of this whole big league hitting thing.
Hitters with an EDGE
Keston Hiura – 1-for-5, HR, 2 RBI
Just one hit for Hiura in an afternoon showdown with the Braves, but it was as big as they come. The homer came in the bottom of the 11th inning, a booming blast to dead central, and it gave the Brewers a 7-6 walkoff win. This after the Braves worked out to a 4-0 lead through the first three innings of play. While Hiura has just three taters on the season, he has now homered in back-to-back games.
Nathaniel Lowe – 1-for-5, HR, 2 RBI
Hiura wasn’t the only one playing walk-off hero on Wednesday. Nathaniel Lowe did likewise for the Rangers, lifting Texas to a 6-5 win over the Angels in 10 innings. The Rangers tried every which way to lose this one and still managed to survive.
Jared Walsh – 2-for-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB
Were it not for Lowe, Walsh would have stolen the headlines in this one, as his two-run homer off Matt Bush in the bottom of the ninth inning brought the Angels back from a late 4-2 deficit. Prior to Wednesday’s slick effort, Walsh had gone eight straight games without a homer.
Isaac Paredes – 2-for-4, 2 HR, 2 RBI
Paredes connected for solo homers in the third and eighth innings. Coming into Wednesday’s matchup with Detroit, Paredes had just two career homers in 65 big league games.
Pete Alonso – 2-for-4, HR, 4 RBI, 2 R
Nice day at the dish for Alonso, who had gone six straight games without a homer prior to breaking through against the Cardinals on Wednesday. Alonso has now posted four games of four or more RBI this season. He’s up to 33 RBI overall for the campaign.
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Pitchers with an EDGE
Nick Pivetta – 9 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 8 K, 0 BB
Pivetta started out the game on a sour note, surrendering a leadoff homer to Jose Altuve to open the top of the first inning. The rest of the outing? near perfection. After a rough beginning to the campaign which saw Pivetta post a 7.84 ERA across his first five starts, the 29-year-old right-hander has been on a clear upswing of late, allowing just two runs on 10 hits over his last three starts (22 innings).
Drew Rasmussen – 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 7 K, 0 BB
While it would have been nice to see a little more length out of Rasmussen against the Tigers, the rest of his numbers were sterling in this one. He has only lasted a full six innings once in eight starts this season, which limits his fantasy value somewhat, but Rasmussen has also only allowed more than two runs in one outing, back in April.
Gerrit Cole – 7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 5 K, 0 BB
Cole wasn’t striking out batters left and right, but he did a nice job of controlling the pace of the contest while improving to 4-0 on the season. The New York ace has been given up two or fewer runs in three of his last four starts.
Zack Wheeler – 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 9 K, 0 BB
One of the best overall starts we have seen this season. Wheeler has now tossed shutout efforts of seven or more innings in two of his last three starts after failing to achieve that feat in any of his first four starts to open the campaign.
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EDGE Priority Pickup
Paul Blackburn, P, A’s; Available in 29 percent of Sportzshala leagues
Blackburn’s appeal comes on a couple of fronts. He has been all kinds of consistent this season, allowing more than one run just twice in seven starts this season. In his other two outings falling outside of that parameter, he surrendered two and three runs to the Blue Jays and Rays, respectively. He also ranks as the No. 51 overall player in Sportzshala fantasy to this juncture. The big drawback on Blackburn is a lack of strikeout upside (he has fanned more than four batters in just two outings this season), but for fantasy managers in AL-only or deeper mixed-league formats, Blackburn offers the perfect arm for the back -end of a rotation so long as he keeps pitching with this kind of steadiness.
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Daniel Bard had allowed five total runs with two blown saves over his last three appearances when he trotted out for the ninth inning against the Giants with the Rockies up 5-3 on Wednesday. This time, at least, he managed to get the job done without issue, retiring Mike Yastrzemski and LaMonte Wade Jr. on groundouts before fanning Darin Ruf looking to end the game. Bard is 10-of-12 in save chances this season, but his consistency has waxed and waned over the first month-plus of the campaign.
It was a bad day to be a late-inning reliever in Wednesday’s matchup between the Rangers and Angels. First, Matt Bush blew the save for Texas when he surrendered a game-tying two-run homer to Jared Walsh. Not to be completely outdone, Raisel Iglesias would end up taking the outright loss when Nathaniel Lowe jumped him for a walk-off two-run homer in the bottom of the 10th inning, delivering the Rangers to a wild 6-5 win.
David Bednar improved to 8-of-8 in save chances after striking out two across two scoreless innings in Wednesday’s 3-2 win over the Cubs. Bednar did allow a single during his time on the mound, but that came with two outs in the ninth and he did not allow that kernel of a rally to develop into anything uncomfortable.
Clay Holmes now up to three saves for the Yankees? Clay Holmes now up to three saves for the Yankees. He tossed two scoreless innings with one strikeout and one hit allowed in Wednesday’s 3-2 win over the O’s. Both Holmes and Michael King could be in line for possible saves with Aroldis Chapman struggling, though Chapman remains the main man for the ninth until further notice.
Corey Knebel needed four pitches (three strikes) to retire the Padres in the ninth for his eighth save of the season. He almost certainly exerted more energy warming up in the bullpen than he did during the game itself. Knebel is now 8-of-10 in save chances over the first month-plus of action.
Victor Arano tossed a scoreless bottom of the 10th to deliver the Nationals to a 5-4 win over the Marlins. The accompanying save was Arano’s first of the season. Tanner Rainey remains the Nationals’ closer for the time being.
Daniel Hudson put up a scoreless ninth inning for his second save of the season in Wednesday’s 5-3 win over the Diamondbacks. Craig Kimbrel remains the team’s regular closer.
Thursday’s Matchup of the Day
Dakota Hudson (STL) at Chris Bassitt (NYM)
With just seven games scheduled for Thursday, it’s a day relatively light on intriguing matchups. To whit, this matchup between the Cards and Mets is the only one on the day which features two teams over .500. Both Bassitt (2.34 ERA) and Hudson (3.06 ERA) have turned in respectable seasons to date, with the former surrendering two runs over his last 11 1/3 innings and the latter posting three shutout appearances in his last five trips to the mound.
AL Quick Hits: Marco Gonzalez surrendered just one run in 6 IP. … Ty France whacked his sixth homer of the season. … Mike Trout is up to 11 homers … Shohei Ohtani allowed two runs on the mound and went 0-for-5 at the plate vs. the Rangers. … Tim Anderson singled three times and is hitting .338 on the season. … Aaron Hicks struck out twice as part of an 0-for-4 day. … Austin Hays doubled twice against the Yankees. … Jose Altuve hit his eighth homer of the season. … Lourdes Gurriel was forced out with left hamstring tightness. … Michael Wacha (intercostal) is set to start against the Mariners on Friday. … Daulton Jefferies was set for an MRI after experiencing tightness in his bicep. … Spencer Torkelson clocked his fourth homer of the season as he tries to find his rookie groove. … Jordan Romano is dealing with a gastrointestinal infection but expected to avoid the injured list. … Jake Odorizzi’s MRI revealed strains and soreness in the left foot/ankle region. … Terry Francona has cleared the COVID-19 protocol. … Carlos Correa (finger) returned to the lineup.
NL Quick Hits: Keibert Ruiz reached base five times on a single, two doubles and two walks. … Pablo Lopez managed just three innings. … Max Scherzer does not believe he is dealing with a major strain after being removed from his last start with discomfort on the left side. … Nolan Arenado connected for a two-run homer, his ninth of…