What in the Melville?
You might not remember Tim Melville’s first 14.7 innings as a major leaguer, thrown in 2016-17 split between Cincinnati, Minnesota, and San Diego. I wouldn’t blame you for that as he had an 11.05 ERA, 2.59 WHIP, and 9.90 FIP with a hot 0% K-BB ratio. You might’ve even missed his 12 innings this year, an emergency start against Arizona during which he allowed just one run on two hits and two walks and then five shutout innings in Coors against the Braves thrown yesterday afternoon.
It’s hard to put much credence in any of the samples, but it’s clear that he’s markedly different than he was in 2016-17. First, he’s throwing 4 mph slower than he did in 2017, down to 89.7 mph, but he’s also not really throwing a fastball. In these 12 innings, he’s thrown his heater just 32% of the time. Instead, he’s decided to become a slider-first pitcher, throwing it 55% of the time so far.
Batters are just 1-for-20 with 9 K and 3 BB against the 83-mph slide piece. By performance, it’s essentially a 5-mph slower iteration of Jon Gray’s slider. Of course, Gray threw his 793 times before a foot injury ended his season while Melville has only thrown 111 so far. It’s hard to put your H2H playoff/roto stretch run faith in any Coors-based pitcher, let alone one who has come out of nowhere leaning on a single breaking ball. He gets Pittsburgh at home later this week and then a trip to San Diego next week. I’m still sitting on the sidelines for the weekend, but another solid start would at least interest me to stream him away from Coors. Be careful.
Built Ford Tough
Why does Mike Ford have 4 HR in his last 16 PA, including a pair on Monday night in Seattle? Ford (111 wRC+), Giovanny Urshela (141), Mike Tauchman (134), and Cameron Maybin (131) … it seems we just have to pick up every rando the Yankees trot out after an injury strikes and it’ll eventually deliver a fantasy windfall?! This is some Cardinals Devil Magic stuff going on.
Keller Melts Down
Brad Keller was rolling as he embarked on a two-start week (v. OAK & BAL) with a 2.75 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 59 IP over nine starts, going at least six innings in all but one (a 5.7 IP/1 ER start at WAS). It’s not hard to understand why he was being trusted across all formats as a middle/backend piece of a fantasy pitching staff, but he promptly pulled the rug out from under everyone with a blistering 1.3 IP/5 ER shellacking against the A’s.
While Keller is no stranger to the mega dud outing (7 outings of 5+ ER), this is by far the worst as he made it at least 4 IP in all the others. It feels like this is just the cost of doing business with the likes of Keller. The meltdown potential is ever-present with the rabbit ball, but it always seems to be right around the corner with guys like Keller and his 8% SwStr and 7% K-BB. Perhaps the craziest thing about Keller’s flop is that it doesn’t necessarily deter me from streaming him against Baltimore this weekend.
Dickerson Heating Up
Corey Dickerson is probably more widely available in shallower leagues than he should be given that he’s locked into the heart of the Philly lineup and seems to be heating up again with a 1.071 OPS and 11 RBI in his last five games, including a Monday night homer. He has hit lower than fifth just once since joining the Phillies on August 2nd.
Dexter Fowler has quietly taken over the leadoff role for the St. Louis Cardinals, batting there in 17 of his last 18 starts. He has a couple replacement appearances in that time, too, totaling 20 games during which he’s hitting .290/.398/.507 in 83 PA. He also has 3 HR, 19 RBI, and 12 R during that span and could be an interesting stretch run pickup as he’s quite widely available.
Fowler grabbed the leadoff role from Tommy Edman, who hit the ground running with a .940 OPS in his first 19 games. He then put up just a .546 OPS over his next 26 games, spent primarily in the leadoff role, but he has rebounded with a .953 OPS (plus 3 SBs) in his last 16 games, batting primarily 2nd or 7th. He has four multi-hit games in his last five, including a 3-hit effort in St. Louis’s 12-2 rout of Milwaukee. As you play your categories down the stretch, don’t be afraid to play someone like Edman over a “better” player simply for his SBs if that’s the category where you can really make up ground.
Musgrove’s Uneven Season Continues
I loved Joe Musgrove coming into this season, but I had a lot of trepidation about using him in this two-start week at PHI and at COL, eventually choosing to sit him in the far too many leagues where I have him. He conquered part one with a gem at Philly (6 IP/2 ER), but I’m still terrified of the Colorado start this weekend. His ER counts highlight just how volatile he’s been this year: 0, 5, 2, 8, 3, 2, 5, and 2. The duds were against the Cards, Mets, and Nats – quality teams – good freakin luck and godspeed if you dare use him in Coors this weekend. Love ya, Joe, but I’m scurred.
Random Catcher of the Day
How does a fake player go off? I don’t know, but Tom Murphy is doing it. Nearly four years after being exposed as a nonexistent player, Murphy is absolutely going off for the Mariners. He never got off the ground with the Rockies, posting just a .710 OPS and 10 HR in 210 PA from 2015-18, but this year he’s toting a .919 OPS with 16 HR in 202 PA. He has six homers in his last 26 PA which has no doubt elevated his status in short order, but he had a pretty solid .813 OPS prior to this run. Murphy only went 1-for-3 with a walk on Monday and it’s been a week since the last of those six homers, but I had to give him some run.
Random Catcher of the Day, Part 2
Josh Phegley was part of Oakland’s Monday explosion, going 4-for-5 with 3 R and 3 RBI. Phegley has quietly put together a capable C2 season hitting .260/.303/.435 with 10 HR, 51 RBI, and 39 R in 286 PA, landing him 13th at catcher on the Auction Calculator.
- Tyler Glasnow (forearm) throws a BP on Tuesday; likely to relieve in Sept. return
- Blake Snell (elbow) could throw one on Friday; not expected back until mid-Sept., though
- Joey Votto (back) has been activated – he’s a viable CI option w/a .796 OPS, 8 HR, 3 SB in last 267 PA
- José Peraza was demoted in a corresponding move – 61 wRC+, 5-for-10 in SBs… how he’d last this long?!
- Mark Trumbo (knee) is on a Triple-A rehab; could be a sneaky power option for Sept.
- Jose Ramirez (hamate) will miss 5-7 wks after surgery, effectively ending his fantasy season
- Germán Marquez (arm) hit the IL with dead arm and could be done for the season
- Luis Severino (shoulder) could begin a rehab this weekend; temper any Sept. expectations
- Adalberto Mondesi (shoulder) is due back this weekend, but as Justin points out Mondesi could be severely limited on the bases
- Pablo López (shoulder) returned on Monday night; 3.70 FIP, 1.13 WHIP makes him an intriguing pickup for the stretch
- Raimel Tapia (hand) hit the IL, clearing a full-time path for Garrett Hampson, though the injury isn’t expected to keep Tapia out much beyond the 10-day stay