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After dropping the first game of the series on Friday and adding rookie Conner Seabold and super-utility man Christian Arroyo to the injured list, the Red Sox started Kutter Crawford against the best team in baseball. This marked the fourth consecutive game that the Sox had a rookie start the game, which was the first time that has happened since the 1945 season that the Sox were in this situation. Crawford pitched well against the Mighty Yankees as he threw 88 pitches across five innings while allowing only one run to score. On the other side of the bump, Jordan Montgomery got the start and was just as effective. The southpaw whiffed four in 5 ⅔ innings of work and allowed two runs to score.
Things got a bit interesting after Crawford left the game as Alex Cora called on Ryan Brasier in the fifth. He promptly gave up three hits and allowed two to cross the plate while only recording one out. However, the never say die Red Sox kept grinding away and Alex Verdugo laced a single to left field off ace reliever Michael King in the bottom of the eighth inning bringing home Jeter Downs and tying the game at three runs a piece. They remained tied heading into the extras and the Sox called on Jake Diekman to hold the Yankees at bay. He did not and after back-to-back doubles from Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo, the game seemed out of reach for the Red Sox.
Interestingly, Aaron Boone did not call on Aroldis Chapman, who was on two days' rest, but instead went with Wandy Peralta for the save. Jeter Downs came up big with a single to right field that just got under Gleyber Torres’ outstretched glove and drove in Jarren Duran and Rob Refsnyder to bring the game within one run. After getting Xander Bogaerts to ground out to third, Wandy couldn’t get past the red-hot Alex Verdugo. The young outfielder smacked a single to right field bringing home Rob Refsnyder and Jeter Downs to win 6-5 in extras. That, my friend, is what you call a quality baseball game.
Hitters with an EDGE
Marcus Semien vs. Twins
2-for-4, 2 R, 1 HR (11), 4 RBI
Remember when Semien was ice cold? Yeah…he is not anymore. The 31-year-old second baseman was a double away from a cycle against the Twins on Saturday. The Rangers quickly got to Twins starter Devin Smeltzer and Semien made him pay with a three-run bomb that went for 412 feet. He is hitting .283/.322/.507 with 10 homers and one steal since the beginning of June and while he might not live up to that early-round draft price, he is making fantasy managers buy back in again.
3-for-4, 2 R, 1 HR (11), 1 RBI
Aguilar had two extra-base hits in Saturday’s contest against the Mets in Citi Field. The Marlins first baseman collected his 14th double off Carlos Carrasco in the fourth inning before ripping a game-tying 380-foot bomb to left field off the lefty Adam Ottavino in the top of the eighth inning. While the 32-year-old slugger has not been as productive as in years past, his .246/.292/.398 with 11 homers and 36 RBI is suitable for deeper fantasy leagues. With his .292 AVG hitting away from home this year, pay attention when the Marlins are out of the state to maximize those counting stats.
Austin Riley vs. Nationals
2-for-3, 2 R, 1 HR (22), 2 RBI
Riley got the game started off with a bang as he connected for a two-run bomb off lefty Patrick Corbin in the bottom of the first inning that flew 422 feet. He would later single to left field in the fourth inning and would later come around to score on Luis García's throwing error at third base. The 25-year-old slugger looks nothing like his 2020 version and is hitting .275/.342/.540 with 53 RBI on the season. The top of the third base pool is stacked with talent but it quickly falls off a cliff. Fantasy managers who believed in his 2021 results are laughing their way to the bank with all of those counting stats.
Pitchers with an EDGE
Carlos Rodón vs. Padres
9 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 12 K
40% CSW, 27 swinging strikes
Wowee! Rodón looked like the early 2021 version against the Padres on Saturday. The southpaw whiffed 12 batters in a complete-game victory which was his second one in the past two years. He even reached back for 98 MPH in the ninth even after throwing more than 100 pitches and retired 22 batters in a row. When the 29-year-old is on and commanding his eclectic four-seam fastball, he is hard to beat and he lowered his ERA to 2.70. He is scheduled to face the Brewers in San Francisco on Thursday.
Kyle Wright vs. Nationals
7 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K
42% CSW, 13 swinging strikes
While the overall line was adequate, Wright was much more than that after taking a deeper dive. He threw first-pitch strikes to 26 of 28 batters and his 92% first-pitch strike rate was the highest by any major league start this season. Wright used his nasty curveball 43% of the time against the Nationals and had an eye-popping 56 CSW% on that pitch alone. The 26-year-old has a 2.91 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and 10 wins in his breakout campaign for Atlanta. He is going to face the same Nationals lineup on Thursday in Atlanta.
Hunter Greene vs. Rays
6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 9 K
32% CSW, 22 swinging strikes
It has been a roller-coaster season for the young Reds fireballer. Greene was electric against the Tampa Bay Rays and his slider not only generated 10 whiffs but also picked up 10 called strikes too. The right-hander had been using that slider more and more in recent outings but relied on his 100+ MPH cheddar against the Rays on Saturday. That being said, it wasn’t all rainbows and lollipops as he walked four batters on the night. The youngster still has some work to do with his approach and arsenal but when he is on…he is oh so much fun to watch. He will face the Cardinals in St. Louis next Saturday.
Nico Hoerner (Cubs) 2B, SS - Available in 61% of Yahoo leagues
Nico Hoerner has not only been one of the Cubbies best hitters as of late but also one of the hottest hitters in MLB. Over the last two weeks days, he is slashing a spectacular .353/.400/.451 with one homer, six runs, and three RBI with a chip-in steal across 55 plate appearances. Manager David Ross has rewarded the 25-year-old with a bump up to the two-hole, which puts him right in front of red-hot Willison Contreras. While he doesn’t offer much in over-the-pop or stolen bases, Hoerner plays daily (he has only sat out four games since returning from the injured list) so fantasy managers can just “set it and forget!”
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Corey Knebel vs. Cardinals
1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K (12th save)
In a low-scoring affair in St. Louis, Knebel had an easy go of it to pick up his 12 save of the season. He walked Juan Yepez to start the bottom on the ninth but quickly gold All-Star Paul Goldschmidt to ground into a fielder choice but Alec Bohm’s throwing error allowed Yepez to scamper to third base. The 30-year-old then struck Arenado looking and made quick work of Dylan Carlson and Corey Dickerson. The Phillies bullpen is a mess as Seranthony Domínguez and Brad Hand had picked up the last two saves before Knebel’s on Saturday. This appears to be a one-off situation but still one to monitor as there is no “true” closer in Philly.
Jorge López vs. Angels
1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K (16th save)
Jorge López entered the top of the ninth in pursuit of another victory against the Angels in Baltimore on Saturday. He stuck out both Jared Walsh and Luis Rengifo before hitting Michael Stefanic with a pitch on his helmet. He would then get newly acquired Angel, Jonathan Villar, to ground out to first to pick up his 16th save of the season. The 29-year-old righty has been lights out for the Orioles and found gold for fantasy managers. With Baltimore still in rebuild mode, López could find himself on another team by August 2. If he does move on, he will probably not be the closer and Felix Bautista could be an interesting flyer for fantasy managers speculating for saves.
Brett Martin vs. Twins
1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K (second save)
Hmm … it looks like we might be seeing who the Rangers will lean on for saves after Joe Barlow lost the role earlier in the week. This is Martin's second consecutive save in as many nights. The 27-year-old southpaw has been pitching very well out of the pen and has a 3.12 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and 22/9 K/BB ratio in his 31 relief appearances. This is a situation to monitor as the right-hander Dennis Santana has also been pitching well in Arlington.
Lou Trivino vs. Astros
1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K (7th save)
Oakland has gone back to Trivino for saves after Dany Jiménez landed on the injured list and the tag-team combo of A.J. Puk and Zach Jackson couldn’t get the job done. While his overall stat line is downright awful, Trivino has a 1.35 ERA and four saves in his last seven relief appearances. However, he also has a 9/4 K/BB ratio during the same time period. The A’s are tearing it down to the studs so you should expect to see Trivino on the move in the next couple of weeks. With ratios like these, don’t expect him to continue to close. Dany Jiménez is rehabbing and is the pitcher to speculate on…that is if you want to save speculate with the worst team in baseball.
David Bednar vs. Brewers
1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (15th save)
Bednar only needed to toss 16 pitches to collect his 15th save of the season on Saturday. Things got a bit rocky in late June after he gave up five runs in two games. However, he locked it back in and has four saves with four strikeouts in his four relief appearances in July. While there is a bunch of talk about the Pirates trading Bednar, I don’t think they will, unless they are blown away with an offer. Bednar is from the Pittsburgh area and the team thinks highly of the 27-year-old fireballer.
A.J. Minter vs. Nationals
1.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (3rd save)
Minter got into a bit of trouble against the Nationals and needed 25 pitches to pick up his third save of the season. Atlanta has been without veteran Kenley Jansen due to an irregular heartbeat and having been going back and forth between Minter and Will Smith. Jansen has begun throwing and appears to be close to returning to the team. Minter will then return to a setup role so if you are in a save+holds league, he should continue to be rostered.
Craig Kimbrel vs. Cubs
1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K (15th save)
Craig Kimbrel only needed 15 pitches to collect his 15th save of the year in a revenge outing against his former club. The 34-year-old veteran has been on shaky ground this month and entered the game with a 12.00 ERA in the month of July. While many fantasy managers know that he is a difficult reliever to roster, they also know at the end of the season he will give you those precious saves. Just don't watch him pitch because he will give you the heebie-jeebies.
Diego Castillo vs. Blue Jays
1.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K (fifth save)
In his third game in as many days, Diego Castillo was called upon to hold the Blue Jays at bay in Seattle. Things got a bit hairy after both Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Alejandro Kirk connected for singles. He escaped the jam with batters on third and second by getting Matt Chapman to ground out to the second baseman. The closing situation is a bit murky in Seattle. Paul Sewald threw 30 pitches on Friday and must have been unavailable for Saturday's contest. I would stick with Sewald but Castillo could be an interesting pickup if you are desperate for saves.
Sunday's Matchup of the Day
Before you return to work on Monday, don’t forget to tune into the Rays vs. Reds at 1:40 PM Eastern. It will be the sixth start of the season for Shane Baz and the fifth start for Nick Lodolo. Outside of his first game of the season against the Minnesota Twins, Baz has lived up to the preseason hype. The 23-year-old right-hander has a 1.21 ERA, .99 WHIP, and 26/6 K/BB ratio across 22 ⅓ innings since posting that five spot in 2 ⅓ innings. On the other side of the bump, will be Lodolo, who looked brilliant in his first start off the injured list against the mighty Mets. The 24-year-old southpaw struck out eight over 4 ⅔ innings on Tuesday. The Rays' offense has been on the struggle bus as of late and has a lowly .237 AVG with a 23 K% against left-handed pitchers. We could easily see another high strikeout outing from Lodolo on Sunday.
American League Quick Hits:
Christian Bethancourt was traded to the Rays for OF Cal Stevenson and RHP Christian Fernandez. …Red Sox released RHP Hansel Robles. … Daniel Lynch (blister) is likely to return to the Royals rotation on Monday. … Jeremy Peña (illness) misses his third straight game. … Frankie Montas (shoulder) played catch on Saturday. … Rays to place Wander Franco on the injured list with a wrist injury after leaving Saturday’s game in the first inning. … Ken Giles was placed on the injured list with tightness behind his right shoulder. … Matt Brash was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma. … Connor Seabold heads to the injured list with a flexor injury. … Christian Arroyo lands on the injured list with a groin strain. … Jeter Downs was recalled from Triple-A Worcester. … Gavin Sheets smacked a three-run homer against the Tigers…Johnny Cueto racks up 5 strikeouts in eight innings against Detroit…Spencer Torkelson picked up his 10th double against the White Sox. … Pablo Sandoval whiffed 10 Orioles in 6 ⅓ innings in Baltimore but settles for a no-decision. … Dean Kremer struck out seven en route to his third win of the season. … Martín Pérez was left standing shellshocked in Arlington after allowing six batters to cross the plate. … Devin Smeltzer gave up eight hits and seven earned runs against the Rangers. … Framber Valdez lasted eight innings, gives up two runs but settles for his fourth loss of the season. … Zach Logue was effective in his spot start against the Astros and picked up his third win of the season. … Every starter for the Guardians had at least one hit as the team racked up 23 hits in a rout against the Royals. … Harold Ramirez went 3-for-5 and drives in three runs against the Reds. … Drew Rasmussen threw four scoreless innings while striking out six batters in Cincinnati. …Aaron Hicks hits his sixth homer of the year and third in four games. … Alek Manoah was effective through 7 1/3 innings but settles for the loss against the Mariners...Robby Ray struck out six Blue Jays but settles for a no-decision. ... Carlos Santana connects for his fifth homer of the season and brought in the crucial two runs in a victory over the Blue Jays.
National League Quick Hits:
Jeff McNeil is expected to go on the paternity list on Sunday and should miss a couple of games at the beginning of the week. … Starling Marte is headed for an MRI after leaving Saturday’s game with a groin injury. … James McCann left Saturday’s game early with side tightness and will have an MRI to determine the extent of the injury. … Cardinals activated Corey Dickerson from 10-day IL and Connor Capel was optioned back to Triple-A Memphis. … Reds activated Tyler Stephenson from the 10-day IL. … Cardinals announced that OF Harrison Bader is probably out until late July. … C.J. Cron missed Saturday’s game after being plunked on the wrist Friday .… Jacob deGrom’s next start will come for Triple-A Syracuse and is just a step away from returning to the majors. … Giants designated Jake McGee for assignment…Giants activated Luis González from the injured list. … Diamondbacks are promoting top prospect Corbin Carroll to Triple-A Reno. … Ranger Suárez (back) is hoping to return in mid-July. … Kyle Gibson limited the Cardinals to two-hits over seven innings of work. … Paul Goldschmidt swiped his fifth stolen base against the Phillies. … Dakota Hudson was effective in a six-inning no-decision against the Phillies. … Jordan Luplow hit his 11th homer and drives in two against the Rockies. … Kris Bryant puts a ball in the bleachers for the second night in a row for his fourth homer this month. … Jon Berti continues to run and swipes his 26th base of the season while picking up three hits against the Mets. … Francisco Lindor connected for his 15th round-tripper of the season. … Jack Suwinski is in a 0-for-20 skid with eight strikeouts. … Ben Gamel hit a two-run bomb in the seventh inning to put the Pirates in the lead. … Brandon Woodruff picks up yet another quality start while striking out nine in six innings. … Brandon Drury went 4-for-5 while driving in two against the Rays. … Juan Soto collected two more hits, connect with his 17th homer, and brought his average up to .242. … Yu Darvish was effective over seven innings, strikes out six but settles for a no-decision against the Giants. … Brandon Belt collected two hits but leaves the game with knee soreness. … Seiya Suzuki collected two more hits bringing his average up to .258. ... Gavin Lux picked up two hits and is now hitting .299 on the season. ... Marcus Stroman went four scoreless in his first start off the injured list. ... Clayton Kershaw reached double-digit strikeouts against the visiting Cubs.