K's for Days for Clayton Kershaw

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K’s for Days for Clayton Kershaw

Dodgers star southpaw Clayton Kershaw turned back the clock on Sunday night, with a dazzling 13-strikeout performance in a victory over the Cubs. The 33-year-old hurler allowed just one run on four hits across those eight innings -- allowing only a solo homer to Javier Baez in the fourth inning. It was the first time that Kershaw had struck out 13 or more batters since July of 2017.

He piled up a whopping 26 swings and misses in the ballgame. Twenty six. It’s easily the highest total of whiffs that he has had all season, and the fifth highest total of any game in his career. A jaw-dropping 22 of those swings and misses came on his wipeout slider. That’s insanity. All 13 of Kershaw’s strikeouts came on breaking balls, which according to ESPN Stats and Info ties for the second most strikeouts on breaking balls during the pitch-tracking era. Not too shabby.

It was also the first time that Kershaw has gone at least eight innings in a start since August of 2018.

A third-round selection in many fantasy drafts in March, Kershaw is once again on pace to deliver substantial profit from that position. With Sunday’s victory over the Cubs, he now sits at 9-7 on the season with a 3.25 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 124/18 K/BB ratio across 102 1/3 innings in 17 starts.

While injuries have been an issue for him in the past and have limited his workload, he has been a workhorse for the Dodgers this season. Only Sandy Alcantara (106 2/3) and Zack Wheeler (106 1/3) have thrown more innings than Kershaw has to this point in the season.

He’ll look to keep the good times rolling when he does battle against the Nationals in Washington on Saturday.

Starting Pitchers with an EDGE

Cole Irvin - 8 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 2 BB, 8 K

33% CSW, 11 swinging strikes

Cole Irvin delivered the finest start of his young career -- and spared an overworked Athletics bullpen -- by going eight strong innings of shutout baseball against the Giants. Irvin generated just 11 whiffs in the dominant outing -- five of those on his fastball. He has done a terrific job for the A’s this season, registering a 3.64 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 68/17 K/BB ratio across 94 innings.

Zack Wheeler - 7 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 8 K

27% CSW, 14 swinging strikes

Wheeler nearly single-handedly made sure that the Phillies salvaged a split in the four-game set against his former club on Sunday, hurling seven shutout innings -- providing enough cushion that even the Phillies bullpen couldn’t blow the save chance. The right-hander is having another outstanding season, compiling a 2.20 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 130/25 K/BB ratio across 106 1/3 innings.

Max Kranick - 5 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 0 BB, 3 K

28% CSW, 5 swinging strikes

Every pitcher will always remember his MLB debut, but Max Kranick did something during his that was extremely special. The 23-year-old right-hander went out and fired five perfect innings against the Cardinals on a rainy afternoon in St. Louis. He had thrown only 50 pitches in the game when a lengthy rain delay ended what could have been a debut for the ages. He’s an intriguing arm who could wind up being relevant in mixed leagues if he manages to stick in the Pirates rotation.

Tarik Skubal - 7 IP, 1 ER, 1 H, 3 BB, 9 K

36% CSW, 21 swinging strikes

Tarik Skubal delivered the finest start of his big league career on Sunday afternoon, allowing just one hit over seven brilliant innings against a red-hot Astros offense. It’s the first time that he has completed seven innings in a start and the nine strikeouts were a career best. Skubal generated 21 whiffs in the game -- with at least two on each of his five pitches, and six each on his fastball and slider. Over his last 10 starts, Skubal owns a 3.23 ERA and 76/22 K/BB ratio across 55 2/3 innings.

Hitters with an EDGE

Keston Hiura - 2-for-4, HR, 2B, 3 RBI, 1 R

Don’t look now, but Hiura has now homered twice in his last three games and has hit safely in three straight. The power has never been in question, the battle has been making consistent contact and cutting back on the strikeouts. And the strikeouts are still there, with five more in four games since returning on June 23. What this mini hot streak will do though, is raise Hiura’s FAAB price on Sunday night. It goes without saying, he’s worthy of the gamble wherever he may be available.

Shohei Ohtani - 3-for-4, HR, 2B, 3B, 3 RBI, 2 R, SB

Every night this guy does something incredible. Ohtani drove home runs with an RBI double in the sixth inning, RBI triple in the seventh inning and then clobbered his 25th home run of the season off of Peter Fairbanks in the ninth. Oh, and he swiped his 11th bag of the year for good measure as well. He’s now slashing .277/.363/.668 with 25 homers, 59 RBI and 11 swipes. He’s a nine-category contributor.

Taylor Trammell - 2-for-3, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, BB

Taylor Trammell was a big part of the reason that the Mariners were victorious in the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader against the White Sox, smacking a solo homer off of Dallas Keuchel in the fifth inning, then a go-ahead solo blast off of White Sox closer Liam Hendriks in the ninth. He’s hitting just .168/.270/.378 with eight homers and 17 RBI on the season while once again keeping the seat warm for Jarred Kelenic.

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EDGE Priority Pickup

Steven Duggar, OF, San Francisco Giants -- Available in 73% of Yahoo fantasy leagues.

If you haven’t been paying attention to the red-hot Giants offense over the past two weeks, you may have missed what Steven Duggar has been doing. Based on his ownership, it looks like your leaguemates have as well. Now is the time to pounce. Over the last two weeks he's been hitting a ridiculous .412 with 11 runs scored, two homers, 10 RBI and four stolen bases. Especially given the overall scarcity of stolen bases, he needs to be rostered until he shows signs of cooling off.

Closing Time

Mark Melancon vs. Diamondbacks

1 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 0 BB, 1 K (24th Save)

Alright, show of hands, who had Mark Melancon racking up 24 saves before the All-Star break this season? Exactly. The 33-year-old hurler just keeps getting the job done, registering a 1.85 ERA and 1.12 WHIP across 34 innings.

Liam Hendriks vs. Mariners

2/3 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 0 BB, 1 K (20th Save)

It didn’t look like Hendriks was going to be needed in the White Sox second game on Sunday (after taking a loss in the first game), with the White Sox carrying a five-run lead into the final inning, but Hendriks was summoned after Mitch Haniger’s three-run blast tightened things up. The elite right-hander now boasts a 2.18 ERA and 0.76 WHIP over 32 1/3 innings.

Kendall Graveman vs. White Sox

1 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 0 BB, 0 K (7th Save)

Graveman continues to function as the ace of the Mariners bullpen and it looks like he’s the preferred option for save chances. He owns a brilliant 1.19 ERA, 0.66 WHIP and 21/4 K/BB ratio across 22 2/3 innings.

Jordan Romano vs. Orioles

1 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 0 BB, 1 K (6th Save)

While many of the late-inning options in the Blue Jays bullpen have struggled this season, Romano continues to excel in whatever role he’s thrown into. The 28-year-old hurler owns an excellent 1.26 ERA and 1.05 WHIP across 28 2/3 innings on the season.

Raisel Iglesias vs. Rays

1 1/3 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 0 BB, 2 K (13th Save)

Iglesias came on and got the final out in the eighth inning on Sunday, then stayed on to work a perfect ninth inning to close out the two-run victory. He has now converted each of his last three save chances and has 13 saves in 16 opportunities on the season. The right-hander now owns a 3.86 ERA and 1.01 WHIP on the year.

Archie Bradley vs. Mets

1 IP, 1 ER, 1 H, 0 BB, 0 K (1st Save)

The Phillies bullpen carousel continues to go around. It’s Bradley who was summoned to protect a three-run lead on Sunday, and he responded by serving up a solo homer to Kevin Pillar before getting out of the inning. It sounds like it’ll be a combination of Bradley and Jose Alvarado for the time being, and each could be worth a speculative add depending on how badly saves are needed.

Ian Kennedy vs. Royals

1 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 0 BB, 2 K (13th Save)

Back from a stint on the injured list -- and a few days down due to illness -- Ian Kennedy racked up his first save since June 4 on Sunday. The 36-year-old has been outstanding for the Rangers this season, compiling a 2.39 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 30/7 K/BB ratio across 26 1/3 innings. Fantasy managers should enjoy the good time while it lasts, as it looks increasingly likely that he’ll be moved prior to the trade deadline.

Monday’s Matchup of the Day

Trevor Bauer (LAD) vs. Anthony DeSclafani (SF)

It seems like there are always terrific battles going on in the National League West on a nightly basis, and Monday evening will be no different. As the only 10 PM EST start, all eyes in the baseball world will be on this one.

Bauer, a poster-boy for the sticky stuff brigade, hasn’t really seen his production fall off over his last two starts, despite a reduced spin rate. Where Bauer has had trouble this season is with the long ball -- serving up 17 home runs across 101 2/3 innings. That’s potentially troublesome for this matchup, as the Giants have slugged a league-leading 114 home runs on the season.

On the other side, Anthony DeSclafani has blossomed in his first season with the Giants, registering a 2.77 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 80/24 K/BB ratio over 87 2/3 innings. He has been especially good as of late, allowing just three earned runs over 27 innings during the month of June. Like Bauer, he also faces a significant obstacle in this one, taking on the vaunted Dodgers offense.

American League Quick Hits: Zach Plesac (thumb) is slated to begin a minor league rehab assignment with Double-A Akron on Tuesday. He’s expected to pitch two innings in that one as he works his way back to an Indians rotation that desperately needs him back… Josh Naylor suffered a fractured leg in a nasty collision with teammate Ernie Clement during Sunday’s game against the Twins… Jose Abreu left the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader after taking a pitch off of his knee. He’s considered day-to-day… The Rangers placed Willie Calhoun on the injured list with a fractured forearm. There’s no timetable for his recovery yet, but it’s going to be a while… The Orioles placed shortstop Freddy Galvis on the injured list with a strained right quad… The Tigers put Michael Fulmer back on the injured list with a cervical spine strain… Mitch Haniger homered and drove in three runs as the Mariners dropped the nightcap of Sunday’s doubleheader… Phil Gosselin had three hits -- including a go-ahead solo homer -- as the Angels rallied to beat the Rays… Jordan Lyles allowed just one run over seven strong innings in a victory over the Royals… Akil Baddoo had a game-tying RBI single and scored the game-winning run as the Tigers rallied to beat the Astros in extra innings… Vladimir Guerrero Jr. went 2-for-4 with a two-run double as the Blue Jays topped the Orioles… Josh Donaldson clubbed his 11th homer in a lopsided victory over the Indians… Rafael Devers went 3-for-4 with a homer and four RBI as the Red Sox crushed Gerrit Cole and the Yankees…

National League Quick Hits: Ketel Marte (hamstring) is set to undergo additional imaging on Monday. There’s no clear timetable for a potential return to the Diamondbacks lineup, though this may end up as an injured list situation. Pay close attention to his status on Monday… Kolten Wong (calf) showed improvement on Sunday, but is still doubtful to return to the Brewers lineup on Monday… Jesse Winker (hip) will return to the Reds starting lineup on Monday… Victor Robles was pulled from Sunday’s game after being hit in the knee by a pitch. He was diagnosed with a contusion and is considered day-to-day… The Padres placed right-hander Dinelson Lamet on the 10-day injured list with right forearm inflammation. There’s no clear timetable on how long he’ll be sidelined… Brandon Nimmo (finger) is expected to rejoin the Mets on Tuesday… Bryce Harper (calf) sat out Sunday’s game after being hit by a pitch on Saturday… Stephen Strasburg (neck) threw a 25-pitch bullpen session on Sunday… J.D. Davis (finger) is scheduled to start playing in minor league games on Wednesday… The Nats placed Erick Fedde on the IL with a strained oblique… Zach McKinstry blasted his first career grand slam on Sunday, powering the Dodgers past the Cubs… Trent Grisham went 3-for-4 with three doubles in a victory over the Diamondbacks… Yu Darvish struck out seven over six innings of one-run ball in a no-decision in that one… Buster Posey (back) collected two hits in his return to the Giants lineup on Sunday… Ronald Acuna Jr. clubbed his 21st homer as the Braves shut out the Reds… Kyle Muller struck out nine over five scoreless innings in a victory over the Reds… Ben Gamel went 3-for-3 with a homer and a walk as the Pirates topped the Cardinals… Trea Turner socked his 12th dinger of the season -- a go-ahead two-run blast off of Sandy Alcantara -- as the Nationals topped the Marlins… Max Scherzer struck out seven over six innings of one-run ball in a win over the Marlins…