Fantasy Baseball Daily Dose: Reds closing gap on Padres

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Don’t look now, Padres, but the Redlegs are breathing down your neck.

The Reds used an eight-run seventh inning to run away from the Cubs on Monday at Great American Ball Park, eventually finishing off a 14-5 victory. The win was Cincinnati’s fourth in five games, pushing them to 10 games above .500, tied for their high-water mark this season.

Meanwhile, after losing three of four in a weekend series versus the Diamondbacks, the Padres dropped their opener against the Rockies when C.J. Cron slugged a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning. The Padres’ lead over the Reds for the second Wild Card spot in the National League is down to just 1.5 games.

Aside from closing the gap on the Padres, the other big story of the night for the Reds was Joey Votto. After singling in the third inning for his 1,999th career hit, Votto singled again in the bottom of the seventh to reach a major milestone with career hit No. 2,000. He actually came up a second time later in the frame and added another single before being removed for a pinch-runner.

We’ve run out of superlatives to describe what has been a renaissance season for Votto as he closes in on his 38th birthday. His OPS sits at .952, which ranks sixth in baseball. His 26 home runs are tied for 11th. Fifteen of those home runs have come over his last 25 contests.

Votto is doing it differently now than he did in past years, as the first baseman is sacrificing some contact in order to add more power. His 24 percent strikeout rate would easily be a career high, but he’s also posting easily the best Statcast numbers of his career. Going into Monday’s game, Votto had a 93.1 mph exit velocity (96th percentile), 18.3 percent barrel rate (97th percentile) and 52.3 percent hard-hit rate (93rd percentile). Over the previous five seasons, his hard-hit rate hadn’t even reached 40 percent.

As he usually has been, Jonathan India was in the middle of the fun for the Reds on Monday. The rookie second baseman went 3-for-6 with a two-run home run and a bases-clearing double for the Redlegs. He also added a single. The five RBI for India represented a career high.

India entered June with a sub-.700 OPS but since then has been one of the best hitters in baseball. His OPS is up to a season-high .872, and he’s now hit eight long balls over his last 17 games to double his season total.

The Reds did have some bad news Monday as they had to place Jesse Winker on the 10-day injured list with an intercostal strain. However, the injury isn’t expected to be a long-term thing, with the hope being the All-Star could return when his 10 days are up next week.

Cincinnati will send Vladimir Gutierrez to the hill on Tuesday as the Cubs counter with Kyle Hendricks. Gutierrez will come into the outing on a roll, having won each of his last four starts while holding a 1.78 ERA.

The Padres, meanwhile, aren’t sure what they’re going to do pitching-wise Tuesday. They do have a plan for Wednesday’s starter, but it’s not a good one.

Starting Pitchers with an EDGE

Gerrit Cole vs. LAA – 5 2/3 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 9 K

Making his first start this month after recovering from a bout of COVID-19, Cole looked like himself against the Angels on Monday. Justin Upton hit a solo home run off the right-hander in the first inning, but that was the lone tally the Halos could muster off the right-hander. Cole topped 100 mph with his fastball and induced 16 swinging strikes as he guided the Yankees to their third straight victory.

Wade Miley vs. CHC – 7 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 7 K

Miley had one of his worst starts of the season his last time out but bounced back in fine fashion Monday. The left-hander faced little resistance from a Cubs’ lineup that’s been gutted, collecting his 10th win of the season as the Reds moved closer to the Padres in the NL Wild Card race. Miley lowered his ERA to 2.84, which ranks ninth in the National League.

Steven Brault vs. LAD – 5 2/3 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, BB, 4 K

Brault held the mighty Dodgers lineup in check on Monday as he cruised through 5 2/3 scoreless frames. He induced 15 swinging strikes on the night, needing just 76 pitches to navigate through his 5 2/3 innings. The left-hander has allowed a total of just three runs over 14 2/3 innings in his three starts since returning from a lengthy stay on the IL with a strained lat.

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Hitters with an EDGE

Kris Bryant vs. NYM – 2-for-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI

It’s been well documented that the Mets had interest in Bryant at the trade deadline (and dating back to the offseason, actually). The Giants got him, though, and on Monday he showed the Mets what could have been with a two-run home run and a solo blast in San Francisco’s win. The home runs were Bryant’s second and third with his new club, snapping a 13-game homerless drought after he went deep in his Giants debut.

Freddie Freeman vs. MIA – 3-for-4, HR, BB, 3 RBI

Freeman homered for the second consecutive game and 26th time this season on Monday in the Braves’ blowout victory over the Marlins. The first baseman’s OPS dipped below .800 in mid-June, but it’s now sitting at .896 following a fantastic nine-week run. Freeman and the Braves have gone 11-3 so far in August, ascending to the top spot in the National League East.

Brandon Lowe vs. BAL – 3-for-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI

The Rays hit five home runs (one of them being the inside-the-park variety courtesy of Brett Phillips) off of Matt Harvey and the Orioles’ bullpen on Monday. Lowe had two of the dingers, taking Harvey deep in the fifth inning and Paul Fry deep in the sixth. He’s hit six home runs this month and 28 for the season, which is the eighth-highest total in baseball. Lowe’s OPS is up to a season-high .835, which is quite a feat after he posted a sub-.700 OPS in April and May.

Priority Pickup

Yohel Pozo, C/DH, Rangers – Available in 100 percent of Yahoo fantasy leagues

Pozo came into 2021 having posted a .631 OPS in High-A in 2019 in his last season, so he wasn’t exactly on the radar of the Rangers or fantasy managers. However, the 24-year-old has had a breakout season at Triple-A Round Rock, batting .337/.350/.608 with 19 home runs to earn a promotion to the majors. Pozo has garnered three straight starts in the designated hitter spot for Texas, and he cranked a three-run homer in his debut before collecting a couple more hits in his second game. While it appears the Rangers plan to play him mostly at DH, Pozo has catcher eligibility on some platforms. He’s always been elite at making contact, so if Pozo’s newfound power sticks, he becomes very appealing as a fantasy option.

Closing Time

Chad Green pitched around a hit with the help of a couple strikeouts to nail down a save in the Yankees’ 2-1 win over the Angels on Monday. He’s the third different reliever in as many days to record a save for the Yanks, joining Albert Abreu and Wandy Peralta. In total, the Bombers have had five different relievers pick up saves since Aroldis Chapman (elbow) went down.

Scott Barlow took a blown save but was credited with a win on Monday in the Royals’ win over the Astros. He entered in the eighth inning with one out, a runner on second base and the Royals clinging to a one-run lead. Barlow retired the first batter he faced before giving up a game-tying RBI single. After Kansas City re-took the lead with two runs in the bottom of the eighth, Barlow yielded another run in the ninth before hanging on to finish out the win. Barlow looks like the clear best bet for saves with the Royals right now, especially with Greg Holland (shoulder) going on the IL.

Tuesday’s Matchup of the Day

Corbin Burnes (MIL) vs. Adam Wainwright (STL)

These two go about it in different ways but have both been highly effective this season and are both coming off of magnificent performances. Burnes tied a major league record in striking out 10 batters in a row against the Cubs on his way to a 15-strikeout gem across eight shutout innings. As for Wainwright, he fanned seven in a two-hit shutout of the Pirates, needing just 88 pitches to complete the stellar outing. The Brewers are running away with the National League Central, while the Cardinals have inched their way back into the Wild Card hunt following an undefeated road trip. 

American League Quick Hits: Carlos Rodon (shoulder) threw from 90 feet on Monday without issue and expects to rejoin the White Sox’ rotation next week … Gary Sanchez (COVID-19) is expected to be activated to start one of the games during Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Red Sox … Ryan Mountcastle (concussion) went through a full workout Monday and is on track for activation in the next few days … Luis Robert went 3-for-4 with a homer, three runs scored and a stolen base on Monday versus the A’s … Adalberto Mondesi is dealing with some scar tissue in his right oblique, which will prevent the switch-hitter from swinging left-handed for the time being … The Twins optioned Trevor Larnach to Triple-A St. Paul on Monday … Gio Urshela (hamstring) ran at 80 percent effort level on Monday and could begin a rehab assignment later this week … The Rays signed David Robertson to a major league contract Monday … Bradley Zimmer went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer and a walk Monday as the Indians fell to the Twins in extras.

National League Quick Hits: Clayton Kershaw (forearm) played catch Monday, the first time he’s done so since being shut down late last month … Connor Joe celebrated his 29th birthday with a home run, a singled and a couple runs scored on Monday against the Padres … The Padres signed Jake Arrieta on Monday and will give him a start Wednesday in Colorado … Antonio Senzatela held the Padres to two runs over seven innings on Monday but took a no-decision in the Rockies’ win … Aristides Aquino went 2-for-4 with a homer, three RBI and a walk Monday as the Reds beat the Cubs … Touki Toussaint struck out seven while limiting the Marlins to two runs over 6 1/3 innings on Monday … Cole Hamels was placed on the 60-day IL Monday with renewed shoulder discomfort, ending his season before it started … The Pirates signed Yoshi Tsutsugo on Monday, designating John Nogowski for assignment.

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