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Baseball Daily Dose

Daily Dose: Stephen's Surge

by Ryan Boyer
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

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It’s easy to root for Stephen Piscotty given what he’s been through personally this season. His fortunes on the field have started to turn.


Piscotty drove in the only two runs in the Athletics’ 2-0 victory over the Astros on Monday, cranking a solo home run to break a scoreless tie in the seventh inning and adding an RBI single in the eighth. He also contributed an additional single. It was the outfielder’s third straight game with a homer.


Through his first 45 games this season, Piscotty was batting an ugly .222/.277/.335 with just three home runs. In 37 games since then, he’s hit .302 with seven dingers and 25 RBI. Over the last 30 days, Piscotty has been a top-20 fantasy outfielder.


The batted ball data says that Piscotty has earned his turnaround, as he entered play Monday sporting a robust 43.4 percent hard-hit rate from May 28-July 8. His overall hard-hit rate of 40.9 percent this season would easily be a career high. That he only has a .287 BABIP when he’s hitting the ball that hard suggests that he’s been unlucky so far.


Piscotty has crept up to the No. 6 spot in the red-hot A’s lineup after often being relegated to the eight-hole, and he’s already surpassed last year’s home run total with his 10 bombs this season. There isn’t a whole lot of upside here, but Piscotty has become mixed league-viable again.

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Puig Out; Toles In


Yasiel Puig’s turnaround this season coincided with the Dodgers’. They’ll both have to do without each other for a while.


Puig slugged a three-run home run Sunday against the Angels but also suffered a strained right oblique in the game. An MRI on Monday determined that the strain is the Grade 1 variety, which is good news, but it will still knock him out of commission for multiple weeks.


Puig was one of the worst-hitting regulars in baseball for the first six weeks of the season, as he put up an ugly .200/.250/.250 batting line with zero home runs over 28 contests. Since then, however, the 27-year-old has hit .307/.373/.601 with 11 longballs, 28 RBI and three stolen bases across 48 games. He went deep in each of his last two tilts before going on the disabled list.


While the Dodgers figure to miss Puig’s hot bat and good glove, they have recalled an interesting guy to replace him. Andrew Toles has missed a chunk of time this season at Triple-A Oklahoma City with a hamstring injury, but he’s scorched the ball when healthy with a .326/.363/.500 batting line, four homers and two steals over 34 games. Toles entered play Monday having batted .294/.341/.483 with eight dingers across 217 plate appearances over the previous two campaigns for the Dodgers, with his 2017 campaign being cut short by a torn ACL.


Toles started in center field for the Dodgers on Monday in San Diego and should see regular starts there against righties while Puig is out, with Joc Pederson shifting over to left field and Matt Kemp to right. He ripped a two-run double and reached base three times in the Dodgers’ win Monday.


How much Toles runs while he gets his chance with the big club is up for debate and could highly impact how much fantasy value he ultimately produces. Toles once stole 62 bases in a minor league season back in 2013. He swiped 23 bags over just 82 games in the minors in 2016. However, the 26-year-old has managed just one stolen base in 80 games so far in the majors and he has just two steals this year in the minors. He’s also coming off last year’s major knee injury and this year’s hamstring strain, so he might not be overly anxious to test things out on basepaths.


What seems pretty clear is that Toles can hit, as he’s a career .311/.350/.462 batter in the minors and entered Monday with a .824 OPS during his relatively brief time in the majors. How much counting stat juice he puts up is a fair question, but he’s a guy I’m willing to take a shot on in deeper leagues to find out.


No All-Star Game for Posey


Buster Posey was elected to his sixth All-Star team earlier this week, but injury will keep him from participating.


Posey has been battling inflammation in his right hip and he and the Giants have decided it would be best for him to get an injection and rest rather than take part in the Midsummer Classic. The former National League MVP will continue to play this week.


The Giants have been resting Posey more often this season as he deals with the hip issue. He’s on pace for 131 games, which would be the lowest total of his career aside from the 2011 campaign when he blew out his leg. The hope, obviously, is that the injection and rest will help get him fresher going into the second half.


Manager Bruce Bochy said Monday that Posey’s hip ailment has “without question” affected the catcher’s power this season. Posey has hit just five home runs, putting him on pace for a career-low nine. His slugging percentage of .405 is 69 points lower than his career mark coming into the season.


Of course, Posey’s power had already been heading south even before the hip issue cropped up. His home run totals over the previous four campaigns have gone from 22 to 19 to 14 to 12. It’s reasonable to assume the hip injury hasn’t helped, but Posey is probably never going to approach 20 dingers again.


That said, a .280/.362/.405 batting line for a catcher representing a disappointment just shows you how high the expectations for Posey are. He’s been a top-five fantasy catcher even with the lagging counting stats.



American League Quick Hits: Brett Gardner went 4-for-6 with a homer, three RBI, and three runs scored Monday as the Yankees trounced the Orioles in the second half of a doubleheader … Gerrit Cole fanned 11 over six scoreless innings versus the A's on Monday … Danny Duffy struck out nine across six shutout frames but settled for a no-decision Monday in Minnesota … Astros manager A.J. Hinch said Monday that it's looking "more and more unlikely" that Carlos Correa (back) returns before the All-Star break. … Gleyber Torres (hip) could begin a rehab assignment during the All-Star break … Gary Sanchez (groin) will take batting practice Tuesday and hopes to begin a rehab assignment this weekend … J.D. Martinez went 2-for-4 and launched his 28th homer Monday in the victory over the Rangers … Jose Berrios limited the Royals to a run over seven innings and whiffed eight to pick up his ninth win Monday … Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic has reported that the Yankees are "showing increased interest" in Manny MachadoFrankie Montas struck out only two but pitched six scoreless innings on Monday in Houston … Jason Kipnis (hamstring) went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer in his return to the Indians' lineup Monday against the Reds … Steve Pearce went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer Monday versus the Rangers … Christian Vazquez will be sidelined for 6-8 weeks following surgery on Tuesday to insert a pin into his fractured right pinkie finger …


National League Quick Hits: Aaron Nola allowed just one hit and struck out 10 batters over seven scoreless innings Monday as the Phillies beat the Mets in the second half of a doubleheader … Scott Schebler went 4-for-5 with a home run and three RBI in the Reds' defeat of the Indians on Monday … Kris Bryant (shoulder) homered in his first rehab game with Double-A Tennessee Monday and will play a second game on Tuesday before being re-evaluated … Clayton Kershaw fired six scoreless innings and struck out five in a victory over the Padres on Monday … Kyle Hendricks fanned eight and yielded just one unearned run in a no-decision Monday in San Francisco … Starlin Castro homered and doubled Monday as the Marlins edged the Brewers in 10 innings … Anthony DeSclafani worked seven innings of one-run ball Monday in a win over the Indians … Gregory Polanco went 2-for-3 with a home run, four RBI, a walk, a stolen base, and two runs scored Monday in the Pirates' defeat of the Nationals … Yu Darvish (triceps, elbow) played catch Monday … Todd Frazier was placed on the disabled list with a left ribcage strain … Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports has reported that the Dodgers "have stepped up pursuit of a position player and are looking beyond Manny Machado," including kicking the tires on Scooter Gennett, Brian Dozier and Asdrubal CabreraMaikel Franco clubbed a solo home run and reached base three times in the first game of Monday's doubleheader against the Mets … Vince Velasquez (arm) is expected to rejoin the Phillies’ rotation Wednesday against the Mets … 

Ryan Boyer

Ryan Boyer is a baseball writer for NBC Sports Edge. He can also be found on Twitter.