Juan Yepez Powering up for Cards

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About a week ago it was looking like Juan Yepez could be sent back down to the minors. Instead, he’s become a regular again and is heating back up at the dish.

Yepez tallied his first career multi-homer game Monday versus the Marlins, smashing a three-run shot and a two-run blast for a career-high five RBI in the Cardinals’ 9-0 victory. It was the rookie’s third dinger in his last two games after he launched a solo home run Sunday.

Paul Goldschmidt also had a big night at the plate for the Redbirds. The red-hot slugger went 4-for-4 with his 19th home run of the season while adding an RBI double to fall a triple shy of the cycle. After winning National League Player of the Month honors for a ridiculous May, Gold is hitting .337 with eight more home runs in June.

The Cards also got stellar work out of Adam Wainwright, who shut out the Marlins for seven innings while collecting nine strikeouts.

As for Yepez, he was benched for a fourth straight game back on June 19, marking the fifth time in six contests he rode the pine. With Corey Dickerson’s (calf) activation seeming imminent at the time, Yepez was looking like the odd man out.

Instead, Dickerson had a setback and Tyler O’Neill (hamstring) and Harrison Bader (foot) both went on the IL, forcing Yepez back into the regular rotation. He came off the bench to homer in that June 19 contest and since then has posted a .333 batting mark with four home runs and 11 RBI across nine games.

Yepez has started eight straight games, including each of the last four in the designated hitter spot as the Cards have wisely abandoned giving Albert Pujols starts at DH versus righties lately. Between the DH slot and the banged-up outfield, Yepez’s playing time looks secure for a while.

With a 17 percent rostered rate on Yahoo, Yepez is still widely available. He’s also eligible at first base, third base and the outfield.

Starting Pitchers with an EDGE

Chad Kuhl vs. LAD – 9 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 0 BB, 5 K

When you shut out the Dodgers at Coors Field, yeah, you get top billing in this space. Kuhl just barely missed out on throwing a “Maddux” on Monday, needing only 102 pitches to complete the shutout of arguably the game’s best lineup in arguably the league’s toughest pitching environment. It was just the 27th individual shutout in the 28-year history of Coors Field. Kuhl has been able to tame his new home environment, posting a 2.48 ERA over six home starts this season versus a 4.39 ERA in eight outings on the road.

Kevin Gausman vs. BOS – 7 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 10 K

Gausman has been a little hit-or-miss over the last month, but he had the goods Monday against the division rival Red Sox. In a season-high 110 pitches, Gausman notched 18 swinging strikes, tied a season high with 10 punchouts and also tied a season low with just four hits allowed. The right-hander has been simply dominant against the Red Sox this season, yielding just a total of two runs – one earned – over 21 innings with a 27/2 K/BB ratio covering three starts. He’s now got his ERA back below 3.00 at 2.93 after Monday’s gem.

Adam Wainwright vs. MIA – 7 IP, 0 ER, 7 H, 1 BB, 9 K

Wainwright snapped a six-game winless streak Monday with a superb effort against the Marlins. His nine strikeouts were just one off his season high, and the veteran right-hander produced 16 swinging strikes on his 101 pitches. It was easily a season high in whiffs, as he hadn’t picked up more than nine prior to this outing. Wainwright is now 6-5 on the season and cut his ERA down to 3.07 after this effort.

Hitters with an EDGE

Gary Sanchez vs. CLE – 3-for-5, HR, 4 RBI

Sanchez launched a 430-foot, three-run home run – one of three homers hit by the Twins on Monday in Cleveland – and also added an RBI single in the Twins’ blowout victory. The four RBI were the most Sanchez has had in a game since he drove in five against the Mariners back on April 10. He also tied a season high with his three base knocks. Sanchez is up to nine longballs on the season and has now driven in 34.

Mitch Garver vs. KC – 2-for-4, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, BB

The Rangers banged out 15 hits and 10 runs Monday in Kansas City in a blowout win. Garver had the lone home run for either side and reached base three times. The 31-year-old has admitted contemplating season-ending surgery to repair a damaged flexor tendon in his right forearm. It’s an injury which has prevented him from catching since early May. Garver is still able to serve as a DH, although he hasn’t been doing much hitting this month, having entered action Monday in a 4-for-38 slide in June.

Adley Rutschman vs. SEA – 2-for-5, HR, 2 RBI

Don’t look now, but Rutschman is finally starting to heat up. The former top prospect was one of five Orioles players to go deep Monday in Seattle, with Ryan Mountcastle, Anthony Santander, Austin Hays and Jorge Mateo joining him. After an 8-for-56 start (.143) with no home runs to kick off his major league career, Rutschman has since gone 18-for-55 (.327) with three homers and nine RBI over his previous 15 games.

Priority Pickup

Keegan Thompson, SP/RP, Cubs – Available in 54 percent of Yahoo fantasy leagues

Thompson didn’t enter the Cubs’ rotation until barely over a month ago and has gone through some ups and downs, notably earlier this month in back-to-back starts against the Orioles and Yankees when he yielded a total of 10 runs. He’s figured something out in the last two outings, though, yielding a total of just one run over 12 innings to go along with a 16/3 K/BB ratio. It’s during those two starts that Thompson has started throwing a new slider variation that’s more of a “sweeper” which has grown in popularity around the game. He’ll try to keep it going on Tuesday against a Reds team which ranks 26th in baseball with a wRC+ of 86 against righties.

Closing Time

Kyle Finnegan gave up a hit but closed out the Nationals’ 4-2 victory over the Pirates on Monday. Regular closer Tanner Rainey was available to pitch, but manager Dave Martinez explained that Finnegan was already hot from warming up earlier in the game and he didn’t want to burn one of his better relievers without getting any outs from him. Rainey is still the clear closer here, with Finnegan next in line should something happen.

Tuesday’s Matchup of the Day

Charlie Morton (ATL) vs. Zack Wheeler (PHI)

As a fantasy analyst, one of the questions I’ve received a lot this year is “What’s wrong with Charlie Morton?” It’s taken much longer than expected, but he’s finally quieted those queries with his recent performance. Over his last two starts, Morton has allowed a total of just two runs while boasting a 20/0 K/BB ratio over 14 innings. He gave up four runs in the outing before that but also fanned 12 batters and had a season-high 20 swinging strikes. Wheeler got off to a slow start himself but has been dominant since late April, posting a 1.60 ERA and 75/14 K/BB ratio across 62 frames covering his last 10 starts.

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American League Quick Hits: The Royals traded Carlos Santana to the Mariners on Monday and to fill his roster spot promoted Vinnie Pasquantino. … Jesse Winker was one of seven players and 12 people in total to be suspended as a result of Sunday’s brawl between the Mariners and Angels. … Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Monday that Clay Holmes "has certainly earned that closer role" before mentioning Aroldis Chapman as a potential "back-end monster," as well. … Tyler Wells permitted just one run on one hit Monday against the Mariners. … Lucas Giolito allowed two runs over six innings in a bounce-back showing Monday in Anaheim. … Giancarlo Stanton homered and plated another run on a catcher’s interference Monday versus the A’s. … Elvis Andrus went 2-for-3 with a double, three RBI, a walk and a steal against the Yankees on Monday. … Sonny Gray shut out the Guardians for seven innings Monday, collecting three strikeouts along the way. … Kyle Lewis (concussion) took early batting practice on the field Monday and is nearing a rehab assignment. … Trevor Larnach will be sidelined for six weeks following core muscle surgery. … Gleyber Torres appears over his ankle injury but has been given a cortisone shot to combat an ailing right wrist.

National League Quick Hits: Bryce Harper is expected to need surgery to repair his fractured left thumb but is optimistic about making a late-season return. … Jack Flaherty landed back on the injured list Monday with a right shoulder strain. … Maikel Franco went 2-for-4 and hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning in the Nationals’ comeback win over the Pirates. … Oneil Cruz slugged his first home run of the season on Monday against the Nationals. … Kris Bryant (back) singled in one of his four plate appearances Monday for the Rockies in his return to the lineup. … BrIan Anderson (back) had a single and a couple strikeouts Monday in his return to action. … The Phillies have claimed Oscar Mercado off waivers from the Guardians. … Kolten Wong (calf) is expected to be back in the Brewers’ lineup Tuesday.