Luke Voit Powers Up
The Yankees extended their winning streak to three games on Friday, sweeping a doubleheader from the Orioles with 6-0 and 10-1 victories.
The man primarily responsible for the offense in the nightcap was Luke Voit. He clubbed a three-run homer off of Asher Wojciechowski in the fourth inning, then victimized him again the very next inning for another three-run shot -- tying him with Mike Trout for the major league lead with 16 home runs.
The six RBI set a new career high for Voit, who achieved his fifth career multi-homer game in the process -- his second one this season.
The 29-year-old slugger has been a force to be reckoned with this season, slashing .285/.353/.629 with 16 homers and 36 RBI.
He has been an absolute game-changer from a fantasy perspective this season. Voit was a mid-round selection in most drafts -- going off the board at pick 191 overall in NFBC Main Event drafts in July. The profit that he has returned from that spot will lead many fantasy players to the top of their league standings this season.
Just as nobody expected this season -- even with eight teams making the postseason in each league -- the Yankees are in a dogfight trying to secure a playoff berth with two and a half weeks remaining in the regular season.
After beginning the season on a 16-6 tear, the Bombers have gone just 8-15 since to fall to 24-21.
Over that 23-game stretch, their offense has been anemic -- averaging just 4.04 runs per game.
There could be help on the horizon though. Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone announced Friday that there’s a “good chance” both Aaron Judge (calf) and Giancarlo Stanton (hamstring) will be activated by next weekend.
Both sluggers have been working out lately without any issues and are expected to take live at-bats at the team’s alternate training site over the weekend. Barring any setbacks, both should be expected in pinstripes by this time next week.
Judge has played just one game over the last month due to a calf injury, but was providing much-needed power for the Yankees before landing on the injured list. In only 18 games this season, he has slashed .292/.343/.738 with nine homers and 20 RBI.
Stanton has been sidelined for over a month with a hamstring ailment. Like his teammate, he was hitting well before he landed on the shelf as well -- slashing .293/.453/.585 with three homers and seven RBI in his first 14 games.
Adding both of them back to the middle of the Yankees’ lineup -- in addition to already getting Gleyber Torres back -- completely transforms their offense. The only question is will there still be enough time to secure a playoff spot.
The Yankees could also use some help on the pitching front, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to be coming. Boone admitted Friday that James Paxton (elbow) returning before the end of the regular season would be “challenging”.
Paxton had been making progress toward a return before experiencing renewed soreness in his elbow following his bullpen session on Wednesday. It sounds like his return should now be considered a long-shot, and even if he is able to return it would likely be in a relief role as there simply isn’t enough time for him to get stretched out.
Editor’s Note: Unlock our daily, weekly and rest-of-season projections, all-new weekly positional tiers, Lineup Adviser, Trade Analyzer, Player Tracker and much more! Get our in-season tools for as low as $3.99/month!
Race to 100
Indians’ right-hander Shane Bieber made a bit of history on Friday, becoming the fastest pitcher to reach 100 strikeouts in a season -- doing so in just 62 ⅓ innings.
The previous record holder had been Max Scherzer who accomplished the feat in 63 innings in 2018.
While it was a nice accomplishment for him, it came on a bit of a sour note as Bieber was also dealt his first loss of the season on Friday -- surrendering three runs on five hits over seven innings against the Twins.
Bieber has been outstanding this season, compiling a 7-1 record, 1.53 ERA, 0.87 WHIP and 102/16 K/BB ratio over 64 ⅔ innings in his first 10 starts. He’s seemingly running away with the race for the American League Cy Young Award.
After a ridiculous start to the season that had Rockies’ outfielder Charlie Blackmon hitting .500 through his first 18 games, he had been in a massive slump ever since -- slashing just .202/.279/.319 with two homers and 10 RBI over his last 25 games entering play on Friday.
He picked a good time to snap out of it. Blackmon clobbered a walk-off grand slam off of Angels’ left-hander Jose Quijada in the ninth inning on Friday, propelling the Rockies to a much-needed 8-4 victory over the Angels as they fight for the final playoff spot in the National League.
The Rockies entered the home half of the ninth inning trailing 4-3 on Friday, when a solo homer by Ryan McMahon tied the game. With the bases loaded and two outs in the inning, Blackmon got ahead in the count 3-1 against Quijada -- knowing that all he needed to do was draw a walk to win the ballgame. He also knew that Quijada had to throw him a strike -- and he crushed it over the wall in center for the game-winning blast.
It was just the second walk-off grand slam in Rockies' franchise history -- the other coming from Ryan Spilborghs in August of 2009.
Despite his prolonged slump, Blackmon is still hitting a terrific .331/.383/.506 with six homers and 35 RBI on the season.
Injury Scare for Acuna Jr.
Ronald Acuna Jr. had the baseball world holding its collective breath on Friday night, as he was removed from the Braves game against the Nationals after fouling a ball off of his left foot.
The 21-year-old superstar was rolling on the ground in considerable pain afterwards and was unable to put any weight on it as he had to be helped off of the field.
Fortunately, X-rays soon came back negative for any fractures. Acuna felt considerable improvement after he got into the clubhouse -- and even felt so good after the game that manager Brian Snitker said that Acuna Jr. may be able to return to the lineup as early as Saturday.
That’s great news for the Braves - and for fantasy players - as Acuna has been a monster at the plate when he has been on the field this season. Through his first 32 games, he’s slashing .280/.434/.654 with 11 homers, 22 RBI and five stolen bases.
Padres and Giants Postponed
Friday's game between the Giants and Padres was postponed due to a Giants' player testing positive for COVID-19.
Shortly afterwards, they announced that Saturday’s game had been postponed as well to allow for additional testing and contact tracing to be conducted.
There’s no word yet on who the Giants player is that had the positive test. At this stage, Sunday’s game should be considered in jeopardy as well -- though there’s at least a slim chance that they could wind up playing a doubleheader on Sunday as long as no additional positive tests emerge.
Otherwise, they’re going to have a hard time getting those games in, as there are only two and a half weeks remaining in the regular season.
To the Left, To the Left, To the Left, To the Left
The Rays made a bit of history themselves on Friday night, as they were the first team to ever roll out a lineup of nine left-handed batters (at least since 1901).
It paid tremendous dividends as well -- as they piled up 11 runs on 12 hits in a lopsided victory over the Red Sox.
Nate Lowe led the attack with a pair of homers and four RBI, while Yoshi Tsutsugo homered as well.
Given how well it worked out, don’t be surprised if manager Kevin Cash utilizes the same alignment against a tough right-hander over the next couple of weeks.
American League Quick Hits: Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said Friday that Teoscar Hernandez's (oblique) recovery is going "exceptionally well.". He could be ready to be activated from the injured list when eligible on September 16… Athletics’ left-hander A.J. Puk is set to undergo shoulder surgery on Wednesday after experiencing another setback in his recovery earlier this week… Matt Chapman was in Colorado on Friday to get a second opinion on his ailing right hip… Stephen Piscotty (wrist) is slated to rejoin the Athletics’ lineup on Saturday… Rays’ manager Kevin Cash indicated that Yandy Diaz (hamstring) is still pretty sore and there’s no guarantee that he makes it back before the end of the regular season… Twins infielder Luis Arraez landed on the 10-day injured list with left knee tendinitis… Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Daulton Jefferies will make his major league debut Saturday in the Athletics' doubleheader versus the Rangers… The Mariners outrighted disappointing speedster Mallex Smith to their alternate training site… Chris Sale (elbow) began his throwing program last week. It’s the first step in his recovery from Tommy John surgery… Nathan Eovaldi (calf) will rejoin the Red Sox' rotation on Saturday against the Rays.
Gerrit Cole racked up nine strikeouts in a complete game (seven inning) shutout over the Orioles in the first game of their doubleheader… Brett Gardner smacked a two-run homer to lead the offense in that one… DJ Stewart smacked his sixth home run over his last six games as the Orioles dropped the nightcap as well… Masahiro Tanaka held the O’s to just one run over five innings in that one… Ken Giles (forearm) allowed a solo homer in one inning of work in his return from the injured list… Blake Snell punched out five over 5 ⅓ innings of shutout baseball in a victory over the Red Sox… Adalberto Mondesi homered, walked twice, scored three runs and stole two bases as the Royals dispatched of the Pirates… Kris Bubic earned his first career victory with five innings of one-run baseball in that one… Rougned Odor crushed a two-run homer in the ninth inning as the Rangers fell to the Athletics… Matt Olson blasted a grand slam and drove in five runs to lead the Athletics in that one… Jose Ramirez crushed his 10th homer in a losing effort against the Twins… Kenta Maeda dominated in a victory there, shutting out the Tribe over seven innings while punching out seven… Daz Cameron picked up his first big league hit -- a two-run single -- as the Tigers fell to the White Sox… Casey Mize carried a no-hit bid into the sixth inning but wound up on the losing end of the decision there… Eloy Jimenez crushed a go-ahead three-run homer in the sixth to lead the White Sox… Jared Walsh smacked his fourth home run over his last six games as the Angels fell to the Rockies.
National League Quick Hits: The Nationals placed left-hander Sean Doolittle on the 10-day injured list with a right oblique strain. Manager Dave Martinez described the injury as a “pretty good” strain and indicated that Doolittle is “going to miss some time”. It sounds like he can be dropped in all redraft leagues… Zack Wheeler (fingernail) might not be ready to rejoin the rotation on Monday versus the Marlins… The Phillies designated veteran infielder Neil Walker for assignment… Mike Moustakas was held out of the Reds lineup on Friday due to a sore left foot… Steven Matz (shoulder) is expected to be activated from the injured list “soon” per Mets’ manager Luis Rojas… Cole Hamels (triceps) is expected to join the Braves' rotation next week… Nick Senzel (undisclosed) is not expected to be activated from the injured list this weekend…. The Diamondbacks optioned struggling right-hander Kevin Ginkel to their alternate training site… Padres manager Jayce Tingler announced Friday that Chris Paddack felt much better on Friday and did not require a walking boot after leaving Thursday's start with a sprained right ankle… Tommy Pham (hand) took batting practice off the machine on Friday and continues to inch closer to a return to the Padres lineup… The Padres placed Matt Strahm on the 10-day IL with right knee inflammation.
Trevor Rogers was torched for nine runs (eight earned) over three-plus innings in a loss to the Phillies… Andrew McCutchen and Rhys Hoskins each homered and plated three for the Phillies in that one… Aaron Nola struck out 10 in a complete game (seven inning) shutout there… Marcell Ozuna went 5-for-6 with a homer, double and four RBI in an extra-inning loss to the Nationals… Trea Turner stole a pair of bases in the victory for the Nats while Juan Soto reached five times and drove in three runs… Michael Conforto homered, drove in four runs and scored four times as the Mets routed the Blue Jays… Dominic Smith blasted a grand slam to help the cause there… Wilson Ramos went 3-for-4 with a homer, double, four RBI and four runs scored in the rout as well… Jacob deGrom struck out nine over six innings of one-run baseball to cruise to a victory in that one… Josh Bell went 3-for-4 and swatted a two-run homer in a loss to the Royals… Joey Votto clubbed a two-run homer as the Reds topped the Cardinals… Luis Castillo went the distance in that one for the Reds, allowing just one run while striking out six… Stefan Crichton recorded the final two outs against the Mariners to earn his first career save… Caleb Smith allowed just one run over three innings in his Diamondbacks’ debut… Jon Lester fired six scoreless innings in a no-decision against the Brewers… Brandon Woodruff struck out a career-high 12 batters over seven shutout frames in a no-decision on the other side there… Ryan Braun delivered a walk-off sacrifice fly to lead the Brewers to victory in that one.