This past week we saw some masterful pitching performances, some which have silenced critics of theirs. Let’s take a moment and revisit some of them.
Max Scherzer: Tied a major league single game record with 20 strikeouts. This was a much welcome sight as Scherzer has struggled much of the season. We can only hope that we can expect to see half of this the rest of the season.
Clayton Kershaw: If there was ever a question who was the best pitcher in baseball, Kershaw answered loudly. He struck out 13 in a complete game shutout against the Mets. More impressive is this moved his season K/BB ratio to 77/4.
Jose Fernandez: He has actually had two spectacular starts since the last rankings update. Both games were near identical, striking out 11 in seven innings.
These didn’t affect the rankings much at all, although we did see Scherzer and Fernandez climb a little. This was just something I wanted to point out as they were major story lines for this past week and reminders just how dominant these pitchers are and can be.
Aroldis Chapman, RP, New York Yankees
Now that the flamethrower has returned it is time for him to climb back up the rankings.
Before season I initially would have had him ranked as the No. 1 relief pitcher if it was not for his suspension. Now that he returns he does indeed climb back up the rankings, but Kenley Jansen has been so dominant it did not feel right to dethrone him from the top spot.
Another reason for this is cause the Yankees are simply not a good team right now. It will be hard for Chapman to get saves for a team that can’t win right now. I know that is not always a reason to say a closer is not going to be good, but when we are talking about the best guys, I’m going to go with a player who is on a team who can win a bit more over one who is not.
On a related note, this has moved Andrew Miller and Delin Betances down the rankings. Not because they are not good pitchers (and I think they should still be owned for their great ratios and strikeout rates), but because relief pitcher rankings are tied to saves so much that they immediately have to drop.
Johnny Cueto, SP, San Francisco Giants
I thought Cueto was going to have a bit of a bouceback season, however, he has been even better than what I expected.
After eight games Cueto is 5-1 with a 2.97 ERA and a 8.27 K/9. His peripheral numbers state that this is no fluke either. In fact they show there is room for improvement.
Travis Shaw, 3B, Boston Red Sox
I didn’t believe in Shaw to start the season. I thought eventually Pablo Sandoval would take back over and Shaw would become, well, Travis Shaw.
Instead Shaw has proven to be much more than that. Now his BABIP, currently sitting at .415, means there is some regression coming. But there is plenty to like about him going forward and I now believe he can be a good Fantasy asset the rest of the season.
J.D. Martinez, OF, Detroit Tigers
The first of two Tigers who are making the list.
Martinez has shown little of what made us like him going into this season and that was his power. Currently his slugging percentage is down to .385, after it sit well above .500 the last two seasons.
I have been hesitant to drop him in the rankings, thinking he was going to snap out of this slump any day now, but it just is not happening.
Justin Upton, OF, Detroit Tigers
Upton has dropped significantly farther down my rankings than his teammate.
He has been downright awful this year, batting a horrible .208 with only two home runs and nine RBI. That’s right, he still does not even have double digit RBI after 36 games this season.
What is worse and what has me really worried about him, is he is striking out at an alarming 38-percent this season. It is hard to improve when you are striking out that much.
Michael Brantley, OF, Cleveland Indians
Brantley returned this season and I thought he would get off to a slow start, but ultimately be fine. Well I was both right and wrong.
I was right because he got off to a slow start hitting just .231 with not much else to show for it in 11 games.
I was wrong because he is not OK. Brantley has landed back on the DL with shoulder issues. MRI showed no more damage, so that is good news, but this is a pretty big setback as usually it takes a bit of time for players to return to their normal selves once they return from shoulder injuries. That return is now delayed once again for Brantley.
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