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After the fallout of one of the busiest trade deadlines in recent memory, a pair of former Cubs sluggers — Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez — each homered in their first game with their new ball clubs (the Yankees and Mets respectively) on Saturday.
On Sunday, the third pillar of the Cubs 2016 World Series Championship — Kris Bryant — would have a chance to join his former teammates and make a bit of history in his Giants debut. He did just that. In his second at-bat, Bryant blasted a 366-foot shot off of Luis Garcia to get the Giants on the board and start their comeback bid.
In doing so, he and his former comrades etched their names in the history books. According to STATS, Bryant, Rizzo and Baez became the first teammates in MLB history to all leave the yard in their debuts with their new team after having played together on the same club earlier in the season.
That’s a nice bit of trivia. It really should be four players though — and perhaps even more. Joc Pederson — who was dealt to the Braves in mid-July didn’t homer in his debut with the Braves. That’s a bit unfair though, as Pederson arrived at the park after that game had already started and he only received one at-bat as a pinch-hitter in the 10th inning. In his first start with the Braves the following day, Pederson did in fact blast a home run.
All eyes will now be on Kyle Schwarber when he makes his Red Sox debut, as he certainly won’t want to be the only former Cub not to immediately make his mark with his new team.
It wasn’t just former Cubs leaving the yard on Sunday either, one current Cub is taking advantage of the increased playing time after all the trades and made his mark against the Nationals over the weekend.
Rafael Ortega, a 30-year-old journeyman outfielder, entered the weekend with fewer than 600 MLB plate appearances under his belt — spread out over five seasons with five different teams. He has been entrenched as the team’s starting center fielder since Pederson was dealt to the Braves though and boy has he taken advantage of the opportunity.
Ortega swatted his fourth home run of the season in Saturday’s victory over the Nats, but really kicked things up a notch on Sunday. He clubbed a leadoff shot off of Erick Fedde to begin the game, then added a two-run blast off of the right-hander in the sixth inning. He wasn’t finished though. For an encore, he clubbed a game-tying two-run blast off of Wander Suero in the eighth inning — though ultimately all of his offensive exploits were wasted in a losing effort.
Since the All-Star break — and the Pederson trade — Ortega is slashing a ridiculous .429/.472/.796 with four homers, 10 RBI and two stolen bases (in five attempts) over 17 games.
Starting Pitchers with an EDGE
Jose Berrios – 6 IP, 0 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 7 K, 29% CSW, 11 swinging strikes
Berrios certainly took a step toward endearing himself to the Blue Jays home faithful in his debut on Sunday, racking up seven strikeouts over six shutout innings in a victory over the Royals. He now boasts a 3.31 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 133/33 K/BB ratio across 127 2/3 innings in 21 starts on the season. With Berrios, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Robbie Ray, the Jays now have a pretty formidable trio atop their starting rotation.
Vladimir Gutierrez – 7 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 2 BB, 4 K, 26% CSW, 7 swinging strikes
Despite generating just seven whiffs and posting an underwhelming CSW of 26 percent, Gutierrez delivered one of his finest starts as a professional, with seven strong innings of one-run baseball in a victory over the Mets. The 27-year-old now sports a 4.39 ERA, 1.36 WHIP and 46/30 K/BB ratio over 67 2/3 innings. While this start was terrific, Gutierrez remains nothing more than a streaming option in most mixed leagues.
Sandy Alcantara – 7 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 10 K, 28% CSW, 12 swinging strikes
Alcantara twirled an absolute masterpiece against the Yankees on Sunday, but wound up with a tough-luck no-decision after Anthony Bass and Richard Bleier combined to give up two runs and Alcantara’s lead in the eighth inning. The right-hander is in the midst of an outstanding season, registering a 3.12 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and a 120/39 K/BB ratio across 132 2/3 innings through 22 starts.
Hitters with an EDGE
Mookie Betts – 2-for-5, HR (15), RBI, 2 R, BB
Mookie Betts made his triumphant return from the injured list on Sunday afternoon — starting at second base in an effort to limit the overall amount of running he would need to do. He responded in a big way, with a pair of hits and a home run in a lopsided victory over the Diamondbacks. Be sure to get him back into lineups for next week.
Yadiel Hernandez – 4-for-5, 2 HR (4), 3 RBI, 2 R
Hernandez — a 33-year-old Cuban slugger — has been given an opportunity to play after the Nationals fire sale, and if Sunday is any indication he plans to take advantage of it. After delivering an RBI single earlier in the game, Hernandez took Kyle Ryan deep for a solo shot in the seventh inning, then walloped a walk-off blast off of Manuel Rodriguez in the ninth to give the Nats the victory. He’s now hitting an impressive .303/.358/.465 with four homers, 13 RBI and two stolen bases in just 109 plate appearances on the season.
J.T. Realmuto – 5-for-6, 2 2B, 4 RBI, 3 R, SB (7)
The hard-hitting backstop had an epic afternoon in a rout of the Pirates, with a pair of doubles, three singles, four RBI, three runs scored and a stolen base for good measure. All that was missing from this monster effort was a home run. On the season, the 30-year-old is now hitting .268/.355/.446 with 11 homers, 46 RBI and seven swipes.
Max Schrock – 5-for-5, HR (2), 2 RBI, 3 R
Schrock drew a rare stat at first base in this one with Joey Votto getting a well-deserved day off, and he did an outstanding job filling Votto’s shoes. His solo shot off of Marcus Stroman got the Reds on the board in the fourth inning and paved the way to a lopsided victory. Unfortunately, with Mike Moustakas set to return soon, there simply isn’t room on the roster for Schrock to see regular playing time.
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EDGE Priority Pickup
Rafael Ortega, OF, Chicago Cubs — Available in 95% of Yahoo fantasy leagues.
We already discussed him earlier in the article, but it’s a bit crazy that Ortega is only rostered in five percent of all Yahoo leagues at this point. He seems like he should be locked in as the Cubs leadoff hitter for the remainder of the season and brings a nice combination of power and speed to the table — with a willingness to run.
Matt Wisler vs. Red Sox – 1 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 0 BB, 0 K (1st save)
Rays manager Kevin Cash is always willing to use anyone and everyone in his bullpen in any particular situation, which makes speculating on saves there exceedingly challenging. While Wisler was able to navigate around a pair of singles and close this one out, he isn’t a good bet to receive many more chances any time soon.
Kyle Finnegan vs. Cubs – 1 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 0 BB, 0 K (4th win)
Finnegan didn’t rack up his third save of the week in this one, but he was still able to strengthen his stranglehold on the closer’s gig in Washington. Finnegan came on to work the top half of the ninth inning in a tied game — a spot where most managers typically deploy their closer — and he responded with a perfect inning of work. He was rewarded for his efforts with a victory after Yadiel Hernandez belted a walk-off home run.
Ian Kennedy vs. Pirates – 1 IP, 2 ER, 2 H, 0 BB, 2 K
It looked as though Kennedy was going to fire a clean inning in his Phillies debut on Sunday until Michael Perez blasted a two-out, two-run homer off of him. Still, Kennedy looks to be entrenched in the closer’s role for the Phillies with Ranger Suarez being shifted to the rotation on Monday. He should be rostered in all mixed leagues once again.
Monday’s Matchup of the Day
Josiah Gray (WAS) vs. Ranger Suarez (PHI)
What an intriguing matchup we have here on the Nation’s Capital on Monday.
Josiah Gray — the prize of the deadline deal that sent Max Scherzer and Trea Turner to the Dodgers — will make his Nationals debut. The 23-year-old hurler has shown glimpses of his extreme strikeout potential in his first two big league outings, posting a 13/5 K/BB ratio across eight innings of work.
On the other side, we’ll get our first look at Ranger Suarez as a starting pitcher this season. The Phillies incumbent closer was moved out of the ninth inning role after Friday’s acquisition of Ian Kennedy from the Rangers. He’s only expected to go around three innings in this first start as he gets stretched out, but it’s hard not to be interested in a guy who posted a 1.12 ERA, 0.87 WHIP and 42/14 K/BB ratio across 40 1/3 innings on the season.
American League Quick Hits: Eloy Jimenez sat out his fourth straight game due to groin tightness, but has been improving and was able to work out on the field prior to Sunday’s game. He’s still considered day-to-day. … Chris Sale will make one more (likely final) rehab start at Triple-A Worcester on Saturday. … Alex Bregman was removed from Sunday’s minor league rehab game at Triple-A Sugar Land due to right hamstring tightness. … The Yankees placed Domingo German on the 10-day IL with right shoulder inflammation. … Michael Brantley was pulled from Sunday’s game due to right ankle discomfort. He’s considered day-to-day for the time being. … Brad Keller was removed from Sunday’s start due to tightness in his lower back… Rays left-hander Jeffrey Springs landed on the injured list with a right knee sprain. … The Astros placed closer Ryan Pressly on the paternity leave list. … Edward Olivares returned with a bang on Sunday, belting a solo home run in a loss to the Blue Jays. … Marcus Semien clubbed his 25th homer as the Jays swept the Royals in their return to Toronto… Liam Hendriks picked up a victory against the Indians after working a scoreless ninth inning. Craig Kimbrel worked the eighth before him. … Eric Haase delivered a go-ahead two-run double to lead the Tigers past the Orioles. … Jonah Heim clobbered a walk-off homer for the second straight day to brutalize the Mariners. … Andy Ibanez swatted a game-tying two-run homer in the ninth to set the stage for Heim’s dramatics. … Starling Marte swiped three bases as the A’s triumphed over the Angels. … Daulton Jefferies allowed three runs on three hits over five innings in a victory over the Angels in his season debut. … Reid Detmers suffered a loss in his MLB debut, allowing six runs on six hits over 4 1/3 frames against the A’s. … Shane McClanahan racked up seven strikeouts over six innings of one-run baseball in an impressive victory over the Red Sox.
National League Quick Hits: The Mets were unable to reach an agreement on a contract with first round pick Kumar Rocker before Sunday’s deadline. Reportedly, the Mets never actually made him a formal contract offer after their medical staff raised concerns about his elbow. They’ll now receive the 11th pick in next year’s draft, while Rocker will either play Independent ball or train on his own in advance of the 2022 draft. … Rhys Hoskins (groin) was held out of the Phillies lineup again, he’s still considered day-to-day. … Brandon Nimmo (hamstring) missed Sunday’s game as well, but they’re hopeful he’ll be able to avoid the injured list. … Andrew McCutchen sat out on Sunday after leaving Saturday’s contest with a knee injury. … The Dodgers optioned Zach McKinstry to Triple-A. … Dee Strange-Gordon opted out of his minor league deal with the Pirates and is now a free agent. … Willy Adames smashed his 13th homer of the season as the Brewers edged past the Braves. … Kyle Gibson picked up a victory in his Phillies debut, allowing two runs over 6 2/3 innings against the Pirates. … Adam Wainwright spun seven innings of three-run ball against the Twins to earn his ninth victory of the season. … Austin Gomber lasted just one inning in a loss to the Padres. … Ha-Seong Kim homered and drove in three to lead the Padres attack. … Julio Urias struck out seven over five shutout innings in an easy victory over the Diamondbacks. … A.J. Pollock went 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles and two RBI in the win. … Ketel Marte (hamstring) went 1-for-4 in his return to the Diamondbacks lineup.