Fantasy Baseball: Red-Hot Blue Jays Win Eight Straight

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The Blue Jays are playing some scorchingly fun baseball lately. They accomplished quite the feat on Thursday evening: a four game sweep of the New York Yankees. For some perspective, the last time the Jays swept a four-game series at Yankee Stadium was back in 2003. They’ve now won eight games in a row, and 11 of their last 12. Although they’re in fourth place at the moment, they have the second best run differential in the AL East at +145, second to the first place Rays, who are at +179. 

Starter Jose Berríos looked strong in his 6 2/3 innings pitched, giving up only five hits, his only misstep being a two-run homer to Anthony Rizzo in the sixth inning. Fans were otherwise treated to the Bo Show: Bo Bichette opened the game with a HR, then delivered a clutch RBI single in the seventh. The shortstop went 3-for-5 on the evening, including two RBI and a stolen base. 

Randal Grichuk put the Jays on the board again as he went deep in the fifth inning, for his 22nd home run of the year. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. added to the tally by knocking his 42nd round tripper of the year in the ninth. He also became the youngest player in Blue Jays history to reach 100 RBI in a season. He’s currently ranked third amongst lead leaders in that category. Teoscar Hernandez also had himself an evening at the plate, going 3-for-4 including a double. 

Toronto is certainly cooking with gas lately. However, whether or not this momentum will be enough to grant the Jays a postseason berth in such a strong division, is up in the air. FanGraphs currently has the chances of the Jays winning the division at 41.3%, and a slightly higher chance of winning a Wild Card spot at 41.7%. With the first week of September winding down — and in a volatile game like baseball, the Red Sox have a one game lead in the Wild Card standings, with the Yankees next, being just a half game ahead of the Blue Jays. 

Anything is possible.

Pitchers with an EDGE

Cal Quantrill vs. Twins

7 2/3 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 5 K, 23% CSW

Quantrill improved to 5-3 with a 3.04 ERA for the season; quite an excellent turnaround. This was also the seventh time in his last 11 starts that he’s allowed one run or fewer.

Sean Manaea vs. White Sox

7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 9 K, 30% CSW

Manaea was quite brilliant in his seven innings; he was able to induce 13 swings-and-misses, contributing to an admirable 30% CSW (called strikes plus whiffs) for the afternoon. With his velocity higher than average on all pitches, Manaea’s strategy was very sinker-heavy, as he threw that pitch 73 times, out of his 101 pitches total. 

Carlos Hernandez vs. Orioles

6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 1 K

Though he only struck out one solitary batter, no home runs were allowed by Hernandez in this brilliant outing. He’s allowed two earned runs or fewer in seven of his nine starts since joining the starting rotation on July 18.

Hitters with an EDGE

Jorge Soler vs. Nationals

1-for-4, HR, RBI, BB

Soler’s solo home run to center field gave the Braves a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the sixth. Soler is 11-32 (.344) in his last seven games, including two home runs, three RBI, and five runs scored. 

Jazz Chisholm, Jr. vs. Mets

1-for-4, HR, 2 RBI

The 23-year-old’s go-ahead eighth inning home run eventually pushed the Marlins to a 3-2 victory. Chisholm also made a smooth over-the-shoulder catch in the fourth inning, to rob Kevin Pillar of a hit. 

Anthony Rizzo vs. Blue Jays

1-for-4, 2 RBI, HR

Rizzo’s game-tying two-run home run off Jose Berrios brought the Yankees right back into the game in the sixth inning. It wasn’t enough to fend off a series sweep, as the Yankees fell to the Blue Jays, 6-4.

Closing Time

Dylan Floro vs. Mets

1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K (9th Save)

Floro’s three-out save consisted of a groundout sandwiched by two swinging strikeouts to lock in a win for the Marlins. He’s converted nine out of 14 possible save opportunities.

Carlos Estevez vs. Phillies

1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 1 K (6th save)

A consecutive single, double, and groundout caused Estevez to allow one run; however, he was able to get J.T. Realmuto swinging for the final out of the game. 

Emmanuel Clase vs. Twins

1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K (22nd save)

A breezy three-out save for Clase. The 23-year-old has now converted 22 out of 26 save opportunities, and has a 1.48 ERA in 60 2/3 innings pitched over 62 appearances.

Giovanny Gallegos vs. Dodgers

1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K (6th save)

A pop-out capped off by two swinging strikeouts sealed Gallegos’ sixth save of the year. His success as of late makes a strong case for Gallegos to move into the closer’s role, so expect him to lock in more saves down the stretch.

Andrew Chafin vs. White Sox

1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K (3rd save)

Chafin locked down his third save in an Athletics uniform, allowing just a double to Romy Gonzalez, but was otherwise able to protect the three-run lead. He threw 13 pitches in the ninth inning, 10 of them for strikes.

Priority Pickup

Alejandro Kirk – C, Toronto Blue Jays – Available in 85% of Yahoo Leagues

The 22-year-old catcher has been tearing it up at the plate lately, and that’s certainly helped the Blue Jays’ winning ways. The 22-year-old backstop is an excellent contact hitter — and has made a case for himself to consistently be in the Blue Jays lineup. George Springer’s recent knee injury has given opportunity to fill in at designated hitter when Kirk is not catching. The backstop has been hitting well for the past month, carrying a .297/.357/.541 line including nine runs scored, six doubles, four homers, and 14 RBI over 84 plate appearances in August, and the first week of September.

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Friday’s Matchup of the Day

Shohei Ohtani (9-1, 2.97 ERA) vs. Framber Valdez (9-5, 3.08 ERA)

Though it’s easy to say that any time is must-see baseball time when Shohei Ohtani takes the mound, his opponent for tomorrow has had a fantastic stretch after his return from the injured list, piling on strikeouts and pitching deep into games. Framber Valdez carries a strong 3.08 ERA and a 103/45 K/BB over 111 innings pitched. Ohtani is working to a 2.97 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 135/41 K/BB ratio in 20 starts on the mound. In case you somehow forgot that he’s a two-way sensation, he’s up to 43 home runs on the year, good for the most in all of Major League Baseball. 

American League Quick Hits

X-rays turned up negative on Matt Manning‘s left knee. … Eloy Jimenez (knee) was out of the White Sox lineup on Thursday. … Twins placed RHP Randy Dobnak on the 10-day injured list with a right middle finger strain. … Yankees placed RHP Jameson Taillon on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to September 7, with a right ankle tendon injury. … Gerrit Cole (hamstring) is likely to avoid a trip to the injured list. … Zack Britton underwent UCL reconstruction and repair surgery in addition to having a bone chip removed…Michael King (finger) is expected to come off the injured list on Sunday. … Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo told reporters that George Springer (knee) could return to the lineup on Friday. … Orioles placed RHP Matt Harvey on the 10-day injured list with right elbow inflammation.

National League Quick Hits

Wade LeBlanc (elbow) has been shut down for the remainder of the season. … Tomás Nido could begin a rehab assignment for his left thumb sprain over the weekend. … Jacob deGrom told reporters on Thursday that his elbow ligament is «perfectly fine.». … Stephen Vogt left Thursday’s game against the Nationals with a hip injury.