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Rays Promote Vidal Bruján For Twin-Billing

Yandy Díaz

Yandy Díaz

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

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Just a few weeks after promoting future franchise cornerstone Wander Franco, the Rays will reportedly dip back into their overabundance of impact middle infield prospects to summon speedster Vidal Brujan ahead of Wednesday’s doubleheader against the Indians. The 23-year-old switch-hitting infielder/outfielder’s multi-positional versatility and stolen base prowess provide a pathway to immediate relevance for fantasy managers in shallow mixed leagues. Blazing speed has served as his signature calling card throughout his meteoric rise in the Rays’ minor-league system, as he racked up 151 stolen bases across five minor-league seasons, including 48 over 99 games in 2019, prior to the global pandemic last year. Yet, he’s tacked on some additional over-the-fence pop, slashing .259/.344/.471 with 21 extra-base hits -- nine home runs -- and 15 stolen bases across 189 plate appearances over 49 games at Triple-A Durham this season.

He’ll technically serve as the Rays’ 27th man for Wednesday’s twin-billing, however, Brujan is expected to remain with the Rays to help fill the void created by a hamstring injury to outfielder Manuel Margot, who has graded out as one of the best defenders in the game so far this season. While he’s spent the majority of his professional career on the infield dirt, he’s played much more in the outfield at Triple-A Durham, and logged time at a whopping six defensive positions -- second, third, short, left, center, and right -- this season. There is an extremely wide range of potential outcomes, especially since he’s cooled off somewhat in recent weeks after an impressive early-season power surge, yet the combination of defensive versatility, speed and solid plate skills should help Brujan carve out a semi-regular role as a Swiss Army knife-style specialist in Tampa Bay moving forward. Given the league-wide shortage of impact stolen base contributors, he’s at least worthy of a speculative roster spot in all fantasy formats.[[ad:athena]]

Starting Pitchers with an EDGE

Shohei Ohtani vs. Red Sox

7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K

28% CSW, 12 swinging strikes

Ohtani rebounded from a disastrous outing against the Yankees in his previous start by silencing a Red Sox’ lineup, which has been one of the hottest in baseball over the last few weeks, over seven frames on Tuesday evening at Angel Stadium. The 27-year-old two-way sensation, who was named to the American League All-Star roster as both a hitter and pitcher earlier this week, generated 12 swinging strikes and finished with a 28 percent CSW (called strikes plus whiffs) in this one. He’s allowed two earned runs or fewer in 11 of his 13 starts, while also crushing a major league-leading 31 home runs this season. Unreal.

Jose Berrios vs. White Sox

7.0 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 10 K

34% CSW, 12 swinging strikes

Carlos Rodon vs. Twins

6.0 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K

28% CSW, 14 swinging strikes

Berrios and Rodon locked horns in a throwback pitcher’s duel at Target Field on Tuesday night, racking up a combined 18 strikeouts, and allowing just three runs over 13 frames. Rodon was named to the American League’s All-Star roster earlier this week, and there’s a chance that Berrios could join him as a late-addition as well. Rodon closes out the first half with a remarkable 2.31 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 130/26 K/BB ratio across 89 2/3 innings (15 starts). Meanwhile, Berrios will get one final opportunity to make his case for a roster spot on Sunday when he squares off against the Tigers.

Luis Castillo vs. Royals

7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K

29% CSW, 13 swinging strikes

On the heels of a disastrous two-month stretch to open the 2021 campaign, Castillo has pitched exceptionally well, allowing three earned runs or fewer in eight consecutive starts since May 29. He’s recorded a microscopic 2.16 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 45/20 K/BB ratio across 50 innings during that span. The 28-year-old righty wasn’t overpowering, but he managed to avoid hard contact on Tuesday night as a solo homer from Michael Taylor in the fifth inning represented the lone tally against him. He’ll look to keep the momentum rolling when he faces off against the Brewers on Sunday afternoon in his final start before the All-Star break.

Tony Gonsolin vs. Marlins

5.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K

28% CSW, 9 swinging strikes

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts could’ve stuck with Gonsolin, who had thrown just 72 pitches (45 strikes), for a bit longer on Tuesday night, but clearly the organization isn’t taking any chances with a key component of their starting rotation for the second-half of the regular season. Regardless, it was the strongest outing of the year for the 27-year-old righty, who pounded the strike zone into the sixth inning, and limited the Marlins to just three baserunners. He’ll carry a sparkling 2.11 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 25/14 K/BB ratio across 21 1/3 innings (six appearances, five starts) into a home showdown with the Diamondbacks on Sunday afternoon to close out the first half.

Jon Gray vs. Diamondbacks

6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 8 K

33% CSW, 13 swinging strikes

Gray turned in yet another solid performance on Tuesday night, tallying eight strikeouts over six frames in a no-decision against the Diamondbacks. The 29-year-old righty has exceeded expectations from a run prevention standpoint, allowing three earned runs or fewer in 12 of his 15 starts this season. He’s emerged as a reliable option for fantasy managers, especially in deeper mixed leagues, but he’s a risky option against the Padres on Sunday in his final start prior to the All-Star break.

Jameson Taillon vs. Mariners

7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K

32% CSW, 11 swinging strikes

Taillon was staked to a massive early lead and delivered a much-needed gem for the free-falling Yankees, limiting the Mariners to one run over seven frames at T-Mobile Park. He induced 11 swinging strikes and finished with a solid 32 percent CSW (called strikes plus whiffs). The 29-year-old righty has experienced an uptick in strikeouts, but has struggled from a run prevention standpoint in his Yankees debut. He’ll carry an inflated 5.05 ERA, 1.30 WHIP and 82/22 K/BB ratio across 76 2/3 innings (16 starts) into a challenging road tilt against the Astros on Sunday afternoon to close out the first half.

Hitters with an EDGE

Luke Voit vs. Mariners

5-for-6, R, 3 RBI

Voit spearheaded the Yankees’ 12-run, 18-hit offensive explosion at T-Mobile Park, tallying a career-high five hits, including a two-run single to left field against southpaw Justus Sheffield in the second inning and an RBI single off lefty reliever Hector Santiago in the third inning. The 30-year-old first baseman has gotten off to a slow start since coming off the injured list in late-June, but this is the type of performance that could build some much-needed momentum heading into the second half.

Bryce Harper vs. Cubs

5-for-6, 2 R, HR (15), 4 RBI

Harper propelled the Phillies to a 15-10 win over the Cubs in a back-and-forth slugfest at Wrigley Field on Tuesday evening, matching a career-high with five hits, including a three-run homer off righty reliever Dan Winkler in the seventh inning. The 28-year-old fantasy stalwart hasn’t garnered headlines like some of his younger counterparts, but he’s been a solid five-category impact contributor, slashing .282/.386/.529 with 44 runs scored, 15 home runs, 30 RBI and seven stolen bases across 267 plate appearances this season.

Yordan Alvarez vs. Athletics

3-for-5, 3 R, 2 HR (16), 5 RBI, BB

Air Yordan launched a pair of homers on Tuesday evening, powering the Astros to an unlikely comeback victory over the Athletics at Minute Maid Park. The 24-year-old slugger kicked off his second multi-homer effort of the season with a majestic 420-foot two-run shot to center field off Chris Bassitt in the opening frame. He followed it up with an electrifying game-tying three-run shot to left field in the fifth inning. He’s put together a robust .308/.378/.559 triple-slash line with 53 runs scored, 16 round-trippers, 56 RBI and one stolen base across 296 plate appearances. He appears primed for a monster second-half performance, assuming his health cooperates.

Nolan Arenado vs. Giants

3-for-5, 2 R, HR (17), 2 RBI, SB (1)

Arenado stuffed the stat sheet with a monster three-hit performance on Tuesday night, lifting the Cardinals to a win over the Giants. He crushed a two-run tater off veteran righty Johnny Cueto in the opening frame and also singled and swiped second base -- his first steal of the season -- and scored on a Yadier Molina RBI single in the seventh inning. The 30-year-old third baseman hasn’t exactly lived up to lofty expectations of some fantasy managers, but he’s been far from a total flop in his Cardinals debut.

Starling Marte vs. Dodgers

1-for-4, 2 R, 2 SB (16)

Persistent trade rumors and long-term extension speculation have swirled around Marte, who has put together one of the best seasons of his career, and served as their main offensive catalyst during Tuesday’s walk-off victory against the Dodgers. The 32-year-old outfielder notched his second multi-steal effort of the season and is now up to 16 thefts in just 49 games. He missed five weeks after suffering a non-displaced rib fracture back in mid-April, but has been phenomenal, slashing .288/.398/.441 with 41 runs scored, six homers, 18 RBI and 16 steals across 211 plate appearances. It remains to be seen whether Marte and the Marlins can come to an agreement on a long-term extension to keep him in Miami, but it feels like the perfect solution for both sides ahead of the major-league trade deadline later this month.

John Hicks vs. Tigers

2-for-4, 2 R, HR (4), 3 RBI

Hicks went deep for the fourth time in four games since being promoted to the Rangers’ major-league roster back on July 1, walloping a two-run homer off the left-field foul pole against Tigers righty Jose Urena in the fourth inning on Tuesday night. The 31-year-old veteran journeyman had made quite a splash upon arrival in Texas, putting himself back onto fantasy managers’ radar screens in the process. Given his big-league track record, there’s no reason to believe this level of consistent power production is remotely sustainable. There’s a legitimate chasing stats element to this hot streak, but he’s tearing the cover off the ball, and warrants consideration for a roster spot in all fantasy formats.

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Closing Time

Mark Melancon vs. Nationals

1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K (26th save)

Melancon fired a perfect frame against the Nationals on Tuesday night, protecting a three-run lead to record his major league-leading 26th save of the season. The 36-year-old veteran righty needed only eight pitches (six strikes) to retire Gerardo Parra, Alcides Escobar and Trea Turner to end the contest. It was a much-needed bounce-back after he was shelled for two runs in a blown save against the Reds his last time out. He’s converted 26 of 30 save opportunities so far this season and is headed to the All-Star Game at Coors Field next week.

Liam Hendriks vs. Twins

2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 B, 4 K (22nd save)

The White Sox didn’t take any chances on Tuesday night, deploying Hendriks to record the final six outs of their three-run victory at Target Field. The 32-year-old right-hander, who is headed to next week’s All-Star Game in Coors Field, responded by striking out four of the six batters he faced, and needing only 27 pitches (18 strikes) to slam the door. It was a much-needed dominant effort after allowing runs in three of his previous four appearances. He’s converted 22 of his 25 save chances this season.

Heath Hembree vs. Royals

0.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K (1st blown save)

It’s difficult to place a ton of blame on Hembree, who was put in a tough spot against the Royals on Tuesday night. He inherited a complete mess, thanks to fellow veteran righty Brad Brach, and some extremely sloppy defense, earlier in the frame. He entered with the tying runs already on-base wound up surrendering a game-tying two-run single to Nicky Lopez, who advanced to third on an errant throw from left fielder Aristides Aquino on the play. Not ideal. It’ll go down as a blown save for Hembree, but this wasn’t his fault. He should continue to receive the bulk of the save chances for the Reds moving forward.

Ryan Pressly vs. Athletics

1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (15th save)

Pressly fired a perfect frame against the Athletics on Tuesday night, slamming the door on the Athletics to collect his 15th save of the season. The 32-year-old righty hasn’t given up an earned run over his last 13 appearances, dating back to June 2. He’s converted 15 of his 16 save chances this season. He’s headed to the All-Star game at Coors Field next week.

Raisel Iglesias vs. Red Sox

1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K (17th save)

Iglesias surrendered a solo homer to Hunter Renfroe with two outs in the ninth inning, but managed to preserve the Angels’ narrow victory over the Red Sox on Tuesday night. The 31-year-old righty has been on an excellent run, allowing just two runs on two hits with a 17/0 K/BB ratio across 10 innings of work over eight appearances since June 23. He’s converted 17 of 20 save chances this season.

Justin Miller vs. Giants

0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K (1st save)

This one pretty much came out of nowhere. With Alex Reyes seemingly unavailable after an ugly outing against the Giants on Monday night, Miller was summoned to record the final two out in the ninth inning on Tuesday evening. The 34-year-old righty, who was claimed off waivers from the Nationals over the weekend, got Chadwick Tromp to pop out and Jason Vosler to fly out to left field to end the contest. Obviously, Reyes is firmly entrenched as the Cardinals primary closer, but it’s notable that Miller even factored into the late-inning equation.

EDGE Priority Pickup

Anthony Bender, RP, Marlins

Marlins rookie right-hander Anthony Bender picked up his first career save against the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon, less than 24 hours after veteran stopper Yimi Garcia melted down in a four-run implosion against the Braves. The unheralded 26-year-old has excelled in his first opportunity at the major-league level, recording a microscopic 0.68 ERA, 0.72 WHIP and 34/7 K/BB ratio across 26 1/3 innings. There’s zero guarantee that he surpasses Garcia as the Marlins’ primary closer, but he’s certainly earned an extended opportunity in high-leverage situations moving forward. He’s pitched exceptionally well so far and is worthy of a speculative pickup for fantasy managers.

Wednesday’s Matchup of the Day

Michael Wacha (1-2, 5.26 ERA) vs. Cleveland Indians - 12:10 PM ET

Are you feeling lucky? Wacha is expected to take the ball for the first game of Wednesday’s doubleheader against the Indians, who have graded out as a below-average offense over the last month, and just lost Eddie Rosario to injury in the series opener on Monday night. Obviously, the return of middle-of-the-order mainstay Franmil Reyes changes the equation slightly for the Indians, but it’s still a favorable matchup for the 30-year-old righty, especially since it’s an early-afternoon matinee after both teams got a day off. There’s some definite streaming potential here for fantasy managers in deeper mixed leagues.

American League Quick Hits: White Sox placed C Yasmani Grandal on the 10-day injured list with a torn tendon in his left knee. He’s expected to be sidelined for the next 4-to-6 weeks … Angels placed Anthony Rendon on the 10-day injured list with a left hamstring strain … Rays are expected to promote top prospect Vidal Brujan from Triple-A Durham for Wednesday’s doubleheader against the Indians … Blue Jays acquired RHP Trevor Richards and RHP Bowden Francis from the Brewers for 1B Rowdy Tellez … Michael Pineda (elbow) will return from the injured list to start on Wednesday against the White Sox … Kyle Tucker (back) returned to the Astros starting lineup on Tuesday … Gleyber Torres was held out of the Yankees starting lineup on Tuesday due to a hamstring issue … Tuesday’s game between the Indians and Rays was postponed due to the path of Tropical Storm Elsa. It will be made up as a doubleheader on Wednesday … Vladimir Guerrero Jr. clobbered his 28th home run of the season in the Blue Jays’ loss to the Orioles … Adolis Garcia walloped his 21st round-tripper in the Rangers’ victory over the Tigers … Giancarlo Stanton went 2-for-4 with a three-run homer in the Yankees’ blowout win over the Mariners … Cedric Mullins, Anthony Santander and Pedro Severino homered in the Orioles’ win over the Blue Jays … Andrew Benintendi walloped a two-run homer in the Royals’ comeback victory over the Reds … Zack Collins went 2-for-3 with a two-run single to lead the White Sox past the Twins … David Fletcher collected four hits and Max Stassi went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer in the Angels’ win over the Red Sox … Eric Haase slugged a pinch-hit three-run homer in the Tigers’ loss to the Rangers … Elvis Andrus went 3-for-5 with a stolen base in the Athletics’ loss to the Astros … Alex Kirilloff went 2-for-4 with an RBI in the Twins’ loss to the White Sox … Hunter Renfroe belted a solo homer in the Red Sox’ loss to the Angels … Spenser Watkins allowed one run over five innings to pick up a win against the Blue Jays … Framber Valdez was charged with six runs (five earned) over five frames in a no-decision against the Athletics … Chris Bassitt served up six runs over 4 1/3 innings in a no-decision against the Astros … Dane Dunning gave up one run over five frames in a no-decision against the Tigers … Steven Matz was charged with four runs (three earned) over four innings in a loss to the Orioles … Jose Urena coughed up five runs over 4 2/3 innings in a no-decision against the Rangers … Kris Bubic was tagged for five runs over 4 1/3 frames in a no-decision against the Reds … Justus Sheffield was obliterated for six runs over 1 2/3 innings in a loss to the Yankees.

National League Quick Hits: Rockies manager Bud Black said during an appearance on MLB Network Radio on Tuesday that German Marquez won’t be traded … Brewers acquired 1B Rowdy Tellez from the Blue Jays for RHP Trevor Richards and RHP Bowden Francis … Corey Seager (hand) has resumed swinging a bat … Carlos Carrasco (hamstring) threw 20 pitches in a live bullpen session at Citi Field on Tuesday … Tyler O’Neill (finger) was set to return to the Cardinals starting lineup on Tuesday before being scratched due to a food-related allergy … Buster Posey (thumb) remained out of the Giants lineup on Tuesday … Giants recalled Tyler Beede from Triple-A Sacramento … Tuesday’s game between the Brewers and Mets was postponed due to inclement weather. It will be made up as a doubleheader on Wednesday … Wil Myers went 3-for-5 with a three-run homer and five RBI in the Padres’ win over the Nationals … Edmundo Sosa went 3-for-5 with a solo homer to power the Cardinals past the Giants … Andrew McCutchen slugged a grand slam, Jean Segura went 4-for-6 with two RBI and four runs scored, and Rhys Hoskins went 3-for-5 with a solo homer and four RBI in the Phillies’ win over the Cubs … Bryan Reynolds walked twice and drove in a pair of runs to propel the Pirates past the Braves in a low-scoring affair …David Peralta went 1-for-2 with a pair of RBI and two walks in the Diamondbacks’ win over the Rockies … Juan Soto slugged a solo homer in the Nationals’ loss to the Padres … Javier Baez crushed a pair of home runs in the Cubs’ loss to the Phillies … Brandon Crawford went 4-for-5 with three RBI in the Giants’ loss to the Cardinals … Orlando Arcia went 2-for-3 with a solo homer and a stolen base in the Braves’ loss to the Pirates … Kyle Farmer went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer in the Reds’ loss to the Royals … Chris Taylor went 2-for-5 with a stolen base in the Dodgers’ loss to the Marlins … Raimel Tapia singled and stole a base in the Rockies’ loss to the Diamondbacks … Aaron Nola tallied eight strikeouts and allowed four runs over six frames in a win over the Cubs … Ryan Weathers surrendered four runs over 5 1/3 innings in a win over the Nationals … Adam Wainwright served up three runs over five innings in a win over the Giants … Pablo Lopez recorded eight strikeouts over four innings of one-run ball in a no-decision against the Dodgers … Chad Kuhl posted seven strikeouts over six innings of one-run ball in a no-decision against the Braves … Ian Anderson gave up one run over five frames in a no-decision against the Pirates … Merrill Kelly allowed two runs over 5 1/3 innings in a no-decision against the Rockies … Johnny Cueto posted seven strikeouts and allowed four runs over six innings in a loss to the Cardinals … Erick Fedde coughed up six runs over 4 1/3 innings in a loss to the Padres … Jake Arrieta was obliterated for seven runs over 1 2/3 innings in a loss to the Phillies … Dodgers designated OF Steven Souza Jr. for assignment and also signed RHP Neftali Feliz to a minor league contract.