Cuban Missile Crisis
For the second time this week, the “Cuban Connection” of A’s sophomore Yoenis Cespedes and Dodgers' rookie Yasiel Puig homered on the same day, after both registered two-homer games on Tuesday. On Thursday, Cespedes would expel two more balls into the seats, both solo shots, leading to another A’s win. Cespedes’s two homer effort gives him 13 HR on the season to go along with 35 RBI. His average has climbed to .245 with four multi-hit games in June. “La Potencia” is starting to heat up and could be on the verge of some silly-good fantasy numbers. His stolen bases are down but he’s already halfway to last year’s home run total, and only 48 games into the season.
Yasiel Puig once again anted up with a huge game of his own. The rising fan-favorite Puig would single in his first at bat off Braves starter Tim Hudson before striking out and grounding out in his next two plate appearances. Puig’s fourth at bat came in the bottom of the eighth inning with the Dodgers clinging to a 1-0 lead. He stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and unloaded on hard-throwing right hander Cory Gearrin's first pitch, driving the ball into the right-field bleachers for his first career grand slam and putting the Dodgers up for good at 5-0. “Puig-mania” is sweeping the fantasy baseball world as he is owned in more than 85% of Yahoo leagues already, and his ownership in CBS leagues now sits at 90%. Through his first sixteen major league at-bats, the 22-year-old has 3 HR and 9 RBI to go along with a .438/.438/1.063 line. Whoa-chi-momma! Viva Puig!
…Not a Belly-itcher
There were two standout starting pitching performances on Thursday, one from each league. The National League standout was Shelby Miller, who mowed down the DBacks with 9 K, 6 hits and no walks, picking up his seventh win on the season. Miller allowed two runs in the first inning before going on cruise control and striking out seven of the last eight batters he faced. Miller now has back-to-back wins and 16 K over his last 13 IP while allowing only two runs in that span. Shelby will take a slick 1.91 ERA and 0.98 WHIP into Citi Field to face the Mets next Wednesday-- a juicy fantasy matchup, to be sure.
The American League standout starter was-- believe it or not-- the Yankees' Phil Hughes. Hughes, who was hammered for 5 ER in his previous outing, had a very solid bounce-back effort, shutting out the Mariners over seven frames with 7 K, with 3 hits allowed and 2 walks. So which Phil is he? Over his last three starts combined he’s allowed only 6 runs (5 coming in one game) over 18.1 IP. But Thursday was Hughes’s first win since May 10. He could be tested his next time out, playing in Oakland against the hottest team in baseball. With his yo-yoing results it is tough to advise him as a must-start. For the record, Hughes is 2-1 with a 3.44 ERA away from home.
AL Hot Shots:
- David Ortiz took offense to having Dustin Pedroia intentionally walked ahead of him, so he hit a 3-run walkoff homer. He’s hitting .325/.399/.624 with 11 HR and 42 RBI. Umm... pitch to the “Laser Show” next time?
- Robinson Cano sent his 15th home run of the season into the seats on Thursday off Aaron Harang.
- Lorenzo Cain hit his second homer of the season pushing the Royals to a Win.
- Ryan Doumit is streaking (No, NOT through the quad to the gymnasium; everyone is NOT doing it) for the Twins. Twins, Basil. He now has 3 bombs in his last 4 games.
- Adrian Beltre’s hammy seems to be fine as he had a dandy night going 3-for-4 with a solo homer.
NL Hot Shots:
- Gerardo Parra gets no love and he deserves some. The dude plays the game the right way and Thursday went 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored. He’s been a solid option for those who picked him up as a stopgap for Adam Eaton. He now is the owner of a .310 BA, 5 HR, 20 RBI and 5 SB. Not too shabby eh?
- The Cardinals teed off for five homers in the first five innings. If your name is Matt and you play for the Cardinals raise your hand. OK, Matts, you all homered (Adams, Carpenter and Holliday); additionally, Daniel Descalso, and even starter Shelby Miller went deep! Santa Maria!
- Hyun-Jin Ryu (foot) has officially been cleared to start on Friday against the Braves.
- Domonic Brown did not homer, but he did go 2-for-3 (with a BB!) a run scored and 2 SB, showing he’s not a one-trick pony.
- Cameron Maybin returned from the DL and was 2-for-3 on stolen base attempts Thursday.
- Jedd Gyorko continued his offensive assault for the Padres going 2 for 5 with an RBI double.
- Wilin Rosario hit his 10th homer on the year; he had gone homerless since May 18.
Situations to monitor:
- Aaron Hicks was not in the starting lineup as Clete Thomas got the nod Thursday. He could be a sneaky play in deeper leagues if he gets more PT. Hicks is still hitting only .177 on the year.
- Justin Upton has only 2 HR since April. Roto leaguers can be patient, but H2H owners have to be pressing the panic button. If you can unload Upton for a substantial piece you may want to investigate that option. He totaled only 10 RBI in May and has yet to help the Braves in June. Maybe the DBacks aren’t so dumb after all.
- Nationals’ manager Davey Johnson said that Bryce Harper will have his left knee examined by Dr. James Andrews on Monday. Harper had lingering soreness after running in a pool. Never good news when someone makes a trip to Dr. Andrews, so monitor this situation carefully.
- Jose Altuve was out of the Astros' lineup Thursday against the Orioles due to an "aggravated groin." He plans to play Friday, but we shall see.
If you want this article and other high-end fantasy baseball analysis delivered to you on a daily basis, sign up for our daily newsletter. And be sure to check out our 2013 Waiver Wire Watch List (updated daily) for in-depth analysis on gems that you may be able to find sitting on your waiver wire. It’s one of the best fantasy baseball features currently on web!
Follow Shawn Caswell on Twitter, or don’t: @CasKnowsRoto