To The Max
Max Scherzer improved to 17 – 1 with yet another victory on Thursday. Scherzer allowed just two runs on four hits and a walk while striking out five over seven innings. That’s four straight Ws for the Tigers' ace. Scherzer has gone deep into games all season, racks up strikeouts, and stays away from the big mistake. He’s surely the front-runner for the AL Cy Young Award with his 2.84 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and 175/35 K/BB ratio over 158.3 IP. He’ll look to improve to 18 – 1 as he faces the White Sox for the third time in five starts.
Tim Lincecum may not be the same electric hard-throwing ace he once was, but he has been quite serviceable of late. Timmy had his best month of the season in July, as he sandwiched one horrible start (3.2 IP, 9 H, 8 ER) between three starts with 10+ strikeouts (23 IP, 10 H, 34 K, 5 ER). His walks are down, and he’s not giving up many runs either. Actually over his last seven starts, he’s allowed three or less runs in all but one outing (the 8 ER clunker on July 22). And the clunker came after he tossed 140+ pitches to secure a no-hitter. His start on Thursday was yet another fine performance as he tossed eight shutout innings, allowing just one hit and one walk, while striking out eight. I think it’s safe to say that Lincecum, while he won’t get much run support or blow a 95-MPH heater by you, is still a legitimate fantasy threat. His next start will come against the Nationals in D.C. He holds a 2-6 record on the road with a 4.06 ERA in 11 starts.
What I Was Watching Yesterday
Jose Fernandez vs. Pittsburgh
Fernandez may be the best young arm in the game. Period! While he may have gotten a no decision on Thursday, after leaving the game up 4 -2, he definitely pitched well enough to win. The 20-year-old phenom has gotten stronger and more poised as the season goes on. He pitches with the moxy of a veteran, the poise of a champion, and the absolute joy of a child. He’s always smiling and having fun in the dugout and its no wonder why. Fernandez has had an excruciating path to get to where he is now. Fernandez spent the past few years not only trying to focus on baseball, but also struggling to defect from Cuba. Before the age of 16, he’d been imprisoned multiple times after being captured attempting to flee his homeland of Cuba. When they finally made it over to the United States, Jose wasted no time making a name for himself as one of the best High School pitchers in the country-- boasting a plus curveball nicknamed “The Defector”, and a solid change-up to go along with a superb fastball. What I saw on Thursday was a grinder with amazing stuff. I actually make a point to watch as many of Fernandezezezez starts as I can because I believe he may be the next big thing in baseball. Yasiel Puig has gotten all kinds of hype, but this kid Fernandez is the real deal and then some. Please make time to watch him throw a game this year, he won’t disappoint. From a fantasy standpoint I don’t see a better keeper target than Fernandez anywhere in baseball relative to his ADP.
AL HOT SHOTS
- Alex Avila passed concussion tests after being forced to leave Thursday’s game. It’s good news as he’s been heating up at the plate lately with 4 HR and 23 RBI in his last 23 games.
- Bruce Chen shut down the Red Sox over 7.2 innings to improve to 5-0 on the year. Over his last 31.2 IP he’s allowed just 4 ER.
- Austin Jackson was 2-for-4 with a triple and two runs scored, as the Tigers mauled the Indians.
- Alex Rios has apparently been claimed off waivers by the Rangers, although a deal has not been announced. Rios does have a no-trade clause.
- Mark Reynolds does not wish to go to the minor leagues if he clears waivers. The Orioles name has popped up as a possible landing spot.
NL HOT SHOTS
- Yasiel Puig had yet another multi-hit performance on Thursday, as he hit a double and a triple.
- A.J. Ellis supported a fantastic outing by rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu (1 R over 7 IP with 7 K) with a three run blast off of a tiring Carlos Martinez. Martinez pitched well but was just outside the strike zone with too many pitches.
- Yadier Molina will be activated when eligible on August 15th. He’s nursing a knee sprain. Fantasy owners can breathe a sigh of relief.
- Rickie Weeks was placed on the 15 day DL with a hamstring strain, and Scooter Gennett was recalled from Triple-A Nashville. Gennett has no business being on your fantasy radar yet.
- Brandon Belt provided an offensive spark as he smashed a three-run tater in the Giants win.
- Cody Asche hit his first career big-fly as the Phillies went on to trample the Cubs 12-1
- Russell Martin played the hero in a pinch, as he notched his fourth walk-off hit of the season to give the Pirates their 70th win of the season. The Braves and Red Sox also share the 70 W mark which is tops in the Majors.
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Follow Shawn Caswell on Twitter, or don’t: @CasKnowsRoto