Buehler Levels the Rockies
Walker Buehler turned in one of the most dominant starts of the 2019 baseball season on Friday against the Rockies. He punched out 16 batters and gave up just three hits and two runs in a complete-game victory. Two of the hits were solo home runs by Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon. Buehler threw 111 pitches, an amazing 83 of which were strikes and he did not issue a base-on-balls in the contest. He was locked in a duel with Rockies starter German Marquez, who pitched eight innings of two-run baseball. The game was still tied at two runs apiece in the bottom of the ninth inning when Matt Beatty ripped a two-run walk-off homer. The win improved Buehler's record to 8-1 with a 2.96 ERA and 0.86 WHIP after 15 starts. His previous career high for a strikeouts in game was 12 and this was his third double-figure strikeout game. It was the first complete game of his career.
Arenado's solo shot in the fourth inning brought an end to Buehler's streak of 20 consecutive scoreless innings dating back to June 3rd. The 16 strikeouts were the most by any pitcher in the National League this season, topping a 15-strikeout game by Max Scherzer against the Reds a couple of weeks ago. Chris Sale has the American League high with 17 punchouts in a single game this year. Buehler now has 100 strikeouts on the season, which ties him for 21st in the majors. Because of his heavy workload late last year as his team made it all the way to the World Series, the Dodgers babied Buehler in spring training and it caused him to get off to a sluggish start in the regular season. He's really turned it on of late though. Despite the slow start he owns a sublime 100:13 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 91 1/3 innings. He is one of the most elite pitchers in the game and plays for perhaps the best team in the majors. He is going to rack up a lot of wins and help a lot of his fantasy owners win championships this year.
Yelich is Transcendent
Christian Yelich homered for the third game in a row on Friday against the Reds. He took Sonny Gray deep to straightaway center field for his league-leading 29th homer of the season. He went 2-for-5 with three RBI in the ballgame. Yelich won the NL MVP Award last year and is playing at an even higher level in 2019 -- much higher actually. Last year he slashed .326/.402/.598 with 36 home runs, 110 RBI, 118 runs and 22 stolen bases. This year he is slashing a monstrous .349/.441/.760 with 29 home runs, 62 RBI and 17 stolen bases in just 69 games. If he continues at this pace it will be a truly historic season. What is amazing is that as fantastic as he's been he might not actually be the best hitter in the league this year. Cody Bellinger has been every bit as good with a .356/.451/.712 triple-slash, 25 dingers, 61 RBI and eight steals -- and he's done it in a less hitter-friendly ballpark. Both Yelich and Bellinger have identical 195 wRC+ scores. Mike Trout has a 193 wRC+ with nobody else above 164 (Anthony Rendon). In most seasons a 150 wRC+ will get a player into the MVP conversation.
Keuchel Makes Return
Dallas Keuchel made his first start of the season for the Braves on Friday against the Nationals. He gave up four runs (three earned) in five innings and took a loss. He fanned three, walked zero and yielded eight base hits, including a solo homer by Yan Gomes. Keuchel missed the first three months of the season due to a contract hold-out. He struggled to find a team that would pay him the amount of money he wanted on the free agent market. It isn't surprising that Keuchel wasn't crisp after such a long layoff. He will likely be better in his next start against the Cubs on Wednesday. He won the AL Cy Young Award in 2015 for the Astros. He shouldn't be expected to pitch at that level any longer, but he is playing for a good team and could make an impact in fantasy leagues this summer and down the stretch. He went 12-11 with a 3.74 ERA for the Astros last year.
Montas Gets the Axe
Frankie Montas was suspended for 80 games after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. The shocking revelation essentially brings his season to an end and delivers a huge blow to his fantasy owners. The Athletics will have just a handful of games left when his suspension ends and he will be ineligible to play in the post-season if the Athletics get there. Montas was in the midst of a breakout season. He is 9-2 with a 2.70 ERA in 15 starts. His turnaround compared to last season is remarkable. He struck out just 5.95 batters per nine innings last year and is up to 9.70 K/9 this year. Are the PEDs the reason for the improved performance? Maybe, but probably not. He isn't throwing harder -- his 96.6 mph average fastball is almost identical to his 96.5 mph career average. The key to his success seems to be a new pitch. He threw just two pitches (fastball/slider) in previous seasons and added a split-finger fastball this year.
NL Quick Hits: Jeff Samardzija allowed five runs over six innings, but managed to pick up a win over the Diamondbacks... Kevin Pillar went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer, four RBI and three runs scored to power the Giants to an 11-5 victory over the Diamondbacks... Alex Dickerson went 3-for-5 with a grand slam and a career-high six RBI in his Giants debut against the Diamondbacks... German Marquez struck out eight batter while allowing two runs (one earned) in eight innings against the Dodgers. He did not get a decision... Jose Iglesias went 4-for-5 with a pair of runs scored and two RBI, leading the Reds to an 11-7 victory over the Brewers... Yasiel Puig homered, drove in three runs and stole a base against the Brewers... Brewers starter Chase Anderson gave up six runs in five innings in a loss to the Reds... Marcell Ozuna went 3-for-4 with a solo homer, three RBI and a stolen base to lead the Cardinals to a 5-1 victory over the Angels... Aaron Nola was handed a tough-luck loss on Friday against the Marlins after striking out 10 batters and allowing two runs over eight innings... Jose Musgrove struck out eight batters while firing sevein innings of one-run baseball in a win over the Padres... Sandy Alcantara held the Phillies to just one run in 7 2/3 innings as part of a 2-1 victory...
AL Quick Hits: Mariners starter Mike Leake earned a win against the Orioles despite giving up eight runs (seven earned) on 11 hits over 5 1/3 innings against one of the weakest offenses in the league. Luckily for him he was spotted 10 runs of support to help him get one of the most unlikely wins of the season... Pedro Severino went 3-for-4 with three RBI and a pair of runs scored in the Orioles' loss to the Mariners... J.P. Crawford went 3-for-4 with a pair of RBI, a walk and a run scored in the Mariners’ win over the Orioles... Dwight Smith Jr. went 3-for-4 with a pair of runs scored and an RBI in the Orioles' loss to the Mariners... Mallex Smith went 3-for-3 with an RBI, two stolen bases, a pair of walks and a season-high four runs scored in the Mariners 10-9 victory over the Orioles... Willy Adames went 3-for-4 with a solo homer and a pair of runs scored in the Rays’ victory over the Athletics... Matt Olson went 3-for-4 with a solo homer and two RBI in the Athletics’ loss to the Rays... Brandon Lowe went 3-for-5 with a pair of RBI and a run scored to power the Rays to a 5-3 win over the Athletics... Cheslor Cuthbert went 3-for-4 with a homer, four RBI, and two runs scored against the Twins... Randal Grichuk went 3-for-4 with a homer, a walk, and three RBI against Chris Sale and the Red Sox... Eric Sogard finished 4-for-6 with a run scored versus the Red Sox... Nomar Mazara blasted a mammoth 505 foot home run on Friday, but it wasn't enough to lead the Rangers past the White Sox. Mazara's two-run blast off of Reynaldo Lopez in the first inning was the longest home run hit in Arlington during the Statcast era... Brad Peacock struck out 11 batters but took the loss after allowing two runs in six innings against the Yankees... Gary Sanchez finished 2-for-4 with a two-run homer against the Astros... Aaron Judge went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts in his return from the injured list Friday against the Astros...