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Week That Was

Week That Was: Rich Get Richer

by Nick Nelson
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Over the hill? Not so much.

Rich Hill was signed by the Red Sox out of independent ball last August and was impressive enough during a late-season stint in the Boston rotation (1.55 ERA and 0.66 WHIP in four starts) that he got a $6 million deal from the Athletics during the offseason.

So far with the A's, Hill isn't showing last year's glimmer to be fluke. Far from it.

With the help of a curveball that has befuddled big-league hitters, the 36-year-old southpaw has put up a 2.42 ERA over five starts with a whopping 37 strikeouts in 26 innings. Only eight major-league pitchers have tallied more whiffs.

Starting against an imposing Tigers lineup on in Detroit on Tuesday in his most recent turn, the veteran was unsolvable, allowing just four singles and two walks over seven scoreless frames. Hill now has a 1.96 ERA and 73-to-14 K/BB ratio in 55 innings dating back to last August. With each outing, he further solidifies his legitimacy. This guy needs to be owned in way more than 58 percent of Yahoo leagues.

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* Last week in this space we discussed the PED suspension of Blue Jays first baseman Chris Collabello. Late Thursday night, an even bigger bombshell was announced, with 2015 National League batting champ Dee Gordon drawing an 80-game ban after a positive test.  

The Marlins invested heavily in Gordon following a great first year in Miami, signing him to a $50 million extension in January. Fantasy players also invested heavily in the second baseman, who was a Top 25 pick in nearly every draft after piling up 205 hits and 58 stolen bases last season. He won't be eligible to return until the end of July.

It's puzzling to say the least that he would take this risk after inking a huge guaranteed contract, and Gordon is hardly anyone's prototype for a bulked up steroid user. He says he ingested the substances unknowingly and in this case more than most, it sounds kind of plausible. If you have a hard time buying it, though, I don't blame you.

* The Indians caught a tough break on Sunday when Carlos Carrasco strained his hamstring while running to cover first base. The electric righty was off to an excellent start with a 2.45 ERA through four turns, but he's expected to miss four to six weeks.

His injury does push Trevor Bauer back into the rotation, and he immediately gains fantasy relevance due to his strikeout potential, though his control is always going to be a concern.

* If you have to send a dominant pitcher to the DL, it helps to get a dominant hitter back. Carrasco's vacated spot on the Indians roster was taken by Michael Brantley, who himself spent most of the first month on the shelf while recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.

Brantley has been one of the American League's best players over the past two seasons, putting up an 876 OPS with 35 homers, 38 steals and an MLB-leading 90 doubles. He's been a little slow to get going, which isn't surprising, but we suspect he'll be up to speed in short order.

* Cleveland wasn't the only AL Central team to make a bittersweet roster swap this week. The Twins lost patience with Byron Buxton, who was striking out in half of his trips to the plate, and sent him to Triple-A. Heading down along with him was Max Kepler, another of Minnesota's brightest young outfield talents who was mostly functioning as depth.

Two top prospects down, one up. The team promoted 21-year-old phenom Jose Berrios, who has demolished every level of the farm system and ranks as one of the game's best pitching prospects. Berrios made his big-league debut on Wednesday and struggled with command on a cold night in Minneapolis, lasting only four-plus innings, but he's been a strikeout machine in the minors and carries a very high ceiling.

The Twins placed Kyle Gibson and Ervin Santana on the disabled list but neither of their injuries is considered serious. Berrios and Tyler Duffey – who posted a 3.10 ERA over 10 starts as a rookie last year – are stepping in for now.

* Two veteran members of the Minnesota rotation were disabled and another was demoted, with Tommy Milone being sent to the bullpen following a poor first month. Replacing him is Alex Meyer, who holds considerable fantasy intrigue.

Prior to 2015, Meyer was widely viewed as the Twins' best prospect and one of the more promising arms in the minor leagues. Acquired from Washington for Denard Span back in 2012, Meyer is a lanky 6'9" righty who throws in the upper 90s. His mechanics and control fell apart last year, and he spent most of his time in the Triple-A bullpen, but he came out strong in Rochester this year to earn an early promotion and is now going to get a look as a starter. He's a deep-league dark horse.

* The Athletics also shook up their rotation quite a bit. Chris Bassitt was placed on the disabled list with an elbow strain and Eric Surkamp was sent to Triple-A while two hurlers were called up. One of them is 26-year-old Jesse Hahn, who has put up a 3.23 ERA in parts of the past two seasons in the majors. The other is Sean Manaea, a 24-year-old lefty acquired from Kansas City in last year's Ben Zobrist trade.

Hahn is a solid pickup in deeper leagues but Manaea is more interesting. A former first-round draft pick, he has a 2.82 ERA and 10.8 K/9 ratio in 42 minor-league starts.

* On Friday night, Miami's Adam Conley carried a no-hitter through 7 2/3 innings before his manager made the decision to pull him at 116 pitches. He has been very solid thus far, posting a 3.67 ERA and 1.22 WHIP through his first five starts, and he's clearly trending up.  Conley is available in more than 80 percent of leagues.

* Charlie Morton's first season with the Phillies was off to a fairly encouraging start. Unfortunately, it's over almost as soon as it began. The sinkerballing right-hander tore his hamstring while running out a grounder on Sunday, and will have to sit out the rest of the campaign.

Adam Morgan gets the first shot as his replacement in the Philly rotation and has looked good in Triple-A, though he wasn't too impressive in 15 starts last year. Top prospect Mark Appel may not be far off.

* That's more like it, Chris Archer. A trendy AL Cy Young pick coming into the season, Archer was brutal through his first four starts for the Rays, going 0-4 with a ghastly 7.32 ERA despite piling up strikeouts in bunches. His owners breathed a big sigh of relief on Monday when he dominated a potent Baltimore lineup with 6 2/3 innings of scoreless ball, striking out 10 and walking none.

The 27-year-old righty should be locked and loaded going forward.

* On the same night Archer showed his (hopefully) true form, another AL East starter gave us a tantalizing glimpse of his potential. Nathan Eovaldi took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Rangers, ultimately finishing with seven shutout frames and only two hits allowed.

It was his first win of the season, and even after the gem his ERA registers at a pedestrian 4.38, but the sterling performance speaks to the promise many see in Eovaldi and his 97 MPH fastball. We still believe the best is yet to come for the 26-year-old, who has a 28-to-5 K/BB ratio in 25 innings.

* The Brewers placed Scooter Gennett on the disabled list after the second baseman strained his oblique during batting practice on Tuesday. Gennett was on his way to making people forget about his disappointing 2015 campaign, with an 877 OPS and four homers through 18 games, but now he'll be out for about a month. The Brewers have several backups that can play second, including Yadiel Rivera and Colin Walsh. None of them carry fantasy relevance.

* Angels closer Huston Street will also spend about a month on the shelf with an oblique injury. Joe Smith should get most of the opportunities in his stead and needs to be owned in all leagues.

* Michael Fulmer made his MLB debut for the Tigers on Friday night in place of Shane Greene (blister) and beat the Twins with five innings of two-run ball. If he continues to pitch well he has a chance to stick around.

* The Brewers shipped right-hander Taylor Jungmann to Triple-A after he went 0-4 with a 9.15 ERA in his first five starts.

Nick Nelson
Nick Nelson is a frequent contributor to Rotoworld's baseball coverage and regularly blogs about the Minnesota Twins at Twins Daily. Follow him on Twitter @NickNelsonMN.