It’s been easy to not pay too much attention to things going on with the Braves this season, but if you’re ignoring them you’ve been missing a heck of a run from Freddie Freeman.
Freeman extended his hitting streak to 23 games on Monday in a 4-for-5 effort versus the Mets. One of the hits was an opposite-field homer, as the first baseman fell a triple shy of the cycle. And, yes, it would have been possible for the slow-footed Freeman to notch a three-bagger. He somehow has six of them this season.
Freeman is now batting .367 with five home runs over his 23-game hit streak. It gets even better if we stretch the run back a bit. The 27-year-old batted .486 over an 11-game hitting stretch before it was snapped on August 23. He began his 23-game streak that next day. So, Freeman has a hit in 34 of his last 35 games. Oh, and the one where he didn’t have a hit? He walked twice and scored two runs.
I must admit that I avoided Freeman in drafts this past spring, as I was worried about a wrist injury that started last season and dogged him into the offseason and spring training. Freeman was good but hitting below his career marks prior to the ridiculous run he’s been on over the last six weeks. However, now he’s suddenly looking at a career-best season with a .302/.397/.566 batting line and 31 home runs. The home run total bests his previous career high by eight.
Rest assured, I’m not going out of my way to avoid Freeman in drafts next spring.
Editor's Note: Don't whiff on this special FanDuel offer: win your first contest or get your money back (up to $10) to keep playing. Try FanDuel now.
The Rangers’ lineup has been littered with big performers this season. The guy who’s batted at or toward the bottom of it for much of the year is one of them and probably deserves a little more credit.
Elvis Andrus had a big hand in Monday’s victory over the Angels, going 3-for-4 while hitting a game-tying homer in the seventh inning and scoring the winning run on an Ian Desmond walk-off single in the ninth. The big evening pushed Andrus’ season line to .298/.358/.426, and his home run leaves him one shy of his career high.
It’s a bit frustrating for Andrus’ fantasy owners that he’s rarely budged from the lower third of the order, especially since he’s the Rangers’ top on-base percentage guy with Shin-Soo Choo (hand) sidelined. However, even with a depressed runs total, Andrus has still been nearly a top-10 fantasy option at shortstop in what has been an absurdly good year at the position. His .298/.358/.426 triple-slash stats are all career bests.
Andrus is a player fantasy owners seem to end up with rather than target in drafts. However, as a guy who never gets injured and who steadily compiles stats, his owners usually wind up happy at the end of the season that they had him. The Rangers certainly are.
Pirates Could Shut Down Marte
It’s been two weeks since Starling Marte has played. Whether he returns to the lineup again this season is looking increasingly unlikely.
Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said over the weekend that Marte had been “getting really close” to returning to action but then had “another tough day” with his back spasms. The GM admitted that he’s not sure what the next step is for the outfielder, but shutting him down for the season would seem to be a distinct possibility.
“Now we need to take a deep breath and re-evaluate,” Huntington said. “The last thing we want to do is put somebody back out there when they’re not ready to compete and they could do some damage, or worse damage.”
Huntington added, in a more general sense, that “players tend to want to finish seasons healthy, even if it’s one game, they want to know they were healthy enough to go out there and compete again.” That would seem to indicate a token appearance or two late in the year is probably a best-case scenario for Marte at this point. Things could change, of course, especially if Pittsburgh sneaks back into the National League Wild Card race. However, fantasy owners just can’t count on getting any more out of Marte at this point.
It’s been an interesting season for Marte, who will turn 28 in a few weeks. The power has really fallen off, as he’s hit just nine home runs in 2016 after a career-high 19 in 2015. It’s a direct result of his flyball distance dropping significantly. However, Marte is also sporting a career-best .311 average and a career-high 47 stolen bases. The good news is that, even if the Pirates wind up shutting him down, he should have a normal offseason.
National League Quick Hits: Madison Bumgarner struck out 10 while yielding only one hit in seven scoreless innings Monday in a no-decision against the Dodgers. The Giants bullpen blew another lead in the ninth inning, costing MadBum a win … Giancarlo Stanton slugged a solo home run and drew a walk in his return to the lineup Monday. He required a pinch-runner after the walk, as it appears he’s still not ready to play a full game … Clayton Kershaw allowed just an unearned run while striking out seven across six innings in Monday’s win over the Giants … Addison Russell doubled and ripped a solo home run in Monday’s win over the Reds … Steven Matz (shoulder) will throw a bullpen session Wednesday. If it goes well, he could rejoin the Mets’ rotation Friday against the Phillies … Wil Myers hit his 26th homer and walked twice Monday in a victory over the Diamondbacks … Stephen Strasburg (elbow) has begun playing catch on flat ground. He’s hoping to be available at some point during the postseason … Daniel Murphy sat out a second straight game Monday with a sore left leg. It’s possible he could be back in there Tuesday … Jorge Soler (side) could be available off the bench as soon as Wednesday. He exited a game last Friday with tightness in his right side …
American League Quick Hits: Rick Porcello needed just 89 pitches to complete Monday’s win over the Orioles, as he allowed two runs and just four hits with seven strikeouts … Marco Estrada yielded just one hit while whiffing eight over seven shutout frames in a win over the Mariners … Jacoby Ellsbury has returned to New York for an MRI on his right knee. The results of the exam are expected Tuesday … Yordano Ventura tossed his first career nine-inning complete game Monday, allowing three runs and striking out five in a win over the White Sox … Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow admitted Monday that the club would have to “go pretty deep” into the postseason in order for Dallas Keuchel (shoulder) to return … The Rangers are hopeful that Shin-Soo Choo (hand) will return in time for the ALDS … Mookie Betts slugged a two-run homer and drew a pair of walks in Monday's win over the Orioles … Lance McCullers (elbow) will resume throwing off a mound soon but, like Keuchel, probably wouldn’t be ready until well into the playoffs … Ian Kinsler (head) traveled with the Tigers to Minnesota on Sunday. He began experiencing concussion-like symptoms after being hit in the helmet with a pitch … Alex Bregman (hamstring) missed his fourth straight game Monday. He remains doubtful to return before the end of the season … Yankees manager Joe Girardi has admitted that he doesn’t expect Starlin Castro (hamstring) to play again this season … Steven Wright (shoulder) has resumed a throwing program and hopes to try things from the mound by this weekend … Steven Souza will undergo season-ending surgery Wednesday for a left hip impingement. He’s expected to be ready for spring training … Jose Abreu singled and smacked a solo homer in Monday’s loss to the Royals …