Fantasy Baseball Takeaways: Max Scherzer fans 10 in Dodgers debut

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Max Scherzer is certainly no stranger to the spotlight. The three-time Cy Young Award winner has pitched in 22 postseason games in his career, including three in the World Series, so he has shown that he can handle the pressure of a big spot with all eyes on him. That was definitely the case in his debut with the Dodgers on Wednesday night.

Scherzer — who was acquired along with Trea Turner in a six player deal from the Nationals at the trade deadline — took the hill in Dodgers Stadium for the first time in front of a sell-out crowd of over 52,000 fans. If the atmosphere wasn’t electric enough, they were also facing the Houston Astros — the team that beat them in seven games in the 2017 World Series while the Astros were allegedly operating their sign stealing scandal. No pressure.

Scherzer quickly endeared himself to the Dodgers home faithful, punching out public enemy number one — Jose Altuve — to begin the contest. He then surrendered a solo homer to Michael Brantley before settling in. He would ultimately allow another run in the fourth inning, on an RBI single by Kyle Tucker, but that was the extent of the damage against him in a brilliant outing.

All told, Scherzer racked up 10 strikeouts on the night — including three against Altuve — while allowing just two runs on five hits and one walk over seven stellar frames. On the night, Scherzer threw 73 of his 109 pitches for strikes — generating 17 swings and misses and posting a CSW of 39 percent. He finished the evening by giving the Dodgers screaming fans a well-deserved curtain call. Not a bad way to make a first impression.

On the season, the 37-year-old hurler now sits at 9-4 with an outstanding 2.75 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 157/29 K/BB ratio across 118 innings in his 20 starts. If the Dodgers were already considered the odds-on favorites to repeat as World Series Champions in October, adding Scherzer to the rotation to go along with Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw seems to take things to another level entirely.

Starting Pitchers with an EDGE

Shohei Ohtani – 6 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 0 BB, 6 K, 35% CSW, 10 swinging strikes

The right-hander racked up six strikeouts on the evening and didn’t walk a batter — throwing 59 of his 86 pitches for strikes. He generated 10 swings and misses in the contest (four of them on his cutter that he threw only seven times) and posted a CSW of 35 percent. It’s been overshadowed a bit by his dominance at the dish this season, but Ohtani now sits at 6-1 with a 2.93 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 106/36 K/BB ratio across 86 innings in 16 starts on the season. 

Kevin Gausman – 6 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 0 BB, 8 K, 29% CSW, 18 swinging strikes

This was a much-needed bounce-back for Gausman, who had posted an 8.49 ERA and hadn’t gone deeper than 4 1/3 innings in any of his three starts coming out of the All-Star break. He was completely dominant in this one though, registering 18 whiffs — 12 on his fastball and four on his splitter. For the season, he now boasts a 2.31 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 157/39 K/BB ratio over 132 innings through 22 starts.

Eduardo Rodriguez – 5 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 4 BB, 10 K, 35% CSW, 15 swinging strikes

After rough outings in each of his last two starts, Rodriguez delivered an absolute gem as the Red Sox snapped a five-game losing streak in this one. It’s the eighth time in his career that he has reached double-digit strikeouts in a ballgame and the first time that he has done so this season. He hasn’t been much of an asset in fantasy leagues through his first 21 starts, registering a disappointing 5.33 ERA, 1.40 WHIP and 131/32 K/BB ratio over 104 2/3 innings.

Hitters with an EDGE

Mookie Betts – 2-for-5, 2 HR (17), 2 RBI, 2 R

Betts blasted a pair of solo homers in his first two at-bats off of Jake Odorizzi in this one, pacing the Dodgers offense in a victory over the Astros. He has now homered three times in three games since returning from the injured list. On the season, the 28-year-old superstar is slashing .274/.377/.523 with 17 long balls, 43 RBI and seven stolen bases.

DJ LeMahieu – 3-for-5, 2B, 4 RBI, R

LeMahieu paced the Yankees offensive attack in a lopsided victory over th Orioles on Wednesday. He delivered a game-tying RBI single in the fifth inning to make it 3-3, then a go-ahead RBI single in the seventh to give them a 4-3 advantage. He tacked on a two-run double in the eighth to cap off their scoring in the contest. With the three-hit effort, he’s now hitting .268/.345/.365 with seven homers, 44 RBI and four stolen bases on the season.

Luis Garcia – 2-for-4, 2 HR (3), 2 RBI, 2 R

The 21-year-old infielder looked to have unlocked his power at Triple-A Syracuse this season, and he has definitely carried that over to the big leagues with three bombs (in four total hits) since returning on July 29. He should be locked into a spot in the lineup for the remainder of the season and is worth a look as a middle infield option in deeper mixed leagues.

George Springer – 4-for-5, HR (13), 2B, 3 RBI, 2 R

He started the game with a leadoff blast off of J.C. Mejia to give the Jays an early lead that they would never relinquish. Springer has missed a ton of time this season due to injury, but man has he been productive when on the field for the Blue Jays this season. On the year, he’s now hitting .296/.380/.641 with 13 homers, 27 RBI and a pair of stolen bases in 38 games.

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EDGE Priority Pickup

Rowdy Tellez, 1B, Milwaukee Brewers — Available in 86% of Yahoo fantasy leagues.

Maybe it’s time that the fantasy community as a whole should start taking Rowdy Tellez seriously and put some respect on his name. The 26-year-old slugger had gained some traction as a popular breakout candidate prior to the season, but was ultimately crowded out of the Blue Jays lineup after the acquisitions of George Springer and Marcus Semien. Now that he has landed in Milwaukee and finds himself in the lineup nearly every day, he has excelled. Over his last 12 games he has been on fire, hitting .400 (16-for-40) with five homers and 14 RBI. At the very least, he should be rostered in more leagues until he shows signs of cooling down.

Closing Time

Manuel Rodriguez vs. Rockies – 1 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 0 BB, 1 K (1st save)

With Craig Kimbrel, Ryan Tepera and Andrew Chafin all dealt prior to the trade deadline, fantasy managers had been speculating on who would get the first save chance in the revamped Cubs bullpen. Many thought that Codi Heuer could get the call, but he instead worked a scoreless eighth inning on Wednesday, getting the ball to Rodriguez. In just his third big league appearance, the 24-year-old hurler pitched around a two-out single to earn his first career save. He had registered five saves while compiling a 1.31 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 27/12 K/BB ratio across 20 2/3 innings in his time between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa this season. Perhaps manager David Ross will simply let Rodriguez run with the job and see how he handles it, in which case he should be a pretty popular option in free agent bidding this week. Heuer also remains an attractive option for those desperate for saves.

Michael Lorenzen vs. Twins – 1 2/3 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 0 BB, 3 K (1st save)

In what has been a disastrous season overall for the Reds bullpen, they nearly blew another victory for Luis Castillo on Wednesday, giving up four runs in the eighth inning to cut their lead to one. Thankfully, Lorenzen came on and put out the fire, recording the final five outs to end the night. Heath Hembree had seemingly established himself in the closer’s role, but he has allowed runs in each of his last four outings — including an ugly blown save on Tuesday where he allowed three runs in just 2/3 of an inning against the Twins. There’s surely a chance that Lorenzen could supplant him in the ninth-inning role.

Ryan Sherriff vs. Mariners – 1 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 0 BB, 1 K (1st save)

It doesn’t matter who you are, if you’re a member of the Rays bullpen there’s a chance that you’ll get your name called to protect a lead in the ninth inning this season. On Wednesday, it was Sherriff’s turn, and he responded by retiring all three hitters that he faced in order — including a strikeout of Jake Fraley. Sheriff becomes the eighth different Rays reliever to record at least one save on the season. Despite his success here, it’s very unlikely that Sherriff suddenly becomes the lead dog in this committee here and he can safely be ignored for fantasy purposes.

Thursday’s Matchup of the Day

Dylan Bundy (LAA) vs. Spencer Howard (TEX)

Woof. There are some bad pitching matchups on tap for Thursday, as 14 of the 24 hurlers on tap have an ERA of 4.50 or higher — with five of those sitting above 6.00.

There is at least some intrigue to this matchup however. Spencer Howard — who was acquired in the deadline deal that sent Ian Kennedy and Kyle Gibson to the Phillies — will be making his highly-anticipated debut with the Rangers.

The hope is that the Rangers, who aren’t competing for anything this season, will simply let the 25-year-old right-hander go out there and pitch every fifth day for the remainder of the season. The Phillies had shifted him into and out of the rotation, to the bullpen, to working limited innings while starting, and Howard was never able to get into a good rhythm. In 11 appearances (seven starts) this season, he sports a 5.72 ERA, 1.48 WHIP and 31/17 K/BB ratio across 28 1/3 innings.

On the flip side, what a miserable season it has been for Dylan Bundy. After pitching as one of the top pitchers in the American League — and finishing ninth in the Cy Young Award voting during the truncated 2020 season — Bundy has fallen on extremely hard times in 2021. He’ll enter Thursday’s start with a cringe-worthy 6.66 ERA, 1.41 WHIP and 70/27 K/BB ratio over 74 1/3 innings.

There’s talent in there somewhere. It’s possible that his last start was at least a step in the right direction, as he allowed three runs on two hits and four walks over 4 2/3 innings against the Athletics. If you’re a fantasy manager that’s still relying on him this season, may God have mercy on your soul.

American League Quick Hits: The Angels announced that Anthony Rendon will miss the remainder of the 2021 season due to a right hip impingement. … Tyler Glasnow underwent successful Tommy John surgery on Wednesday in Texas. He’s expected to miss the entire 2022 season. … The Rangers released David Dahl. … Josh Donaldson (hamstring) remained out of the Twins starting lineup on Wednesday. He hasn’t started since July 27, though he’s still considered day-to-day. … Collin McHugh (arm) threw a 21-pitch bullpen session without issue on Wednesday and could rejoin the Rays bullpen over the weekend. … The Athletics brought back Khris Davis on a minor league deal. … The Twins claimed Ralph Garza Jr. off of waivers from the Astros. … Kyle Schwarber (hamstring) ran the bases on Wednesday and should be cleared to begin a minor league rehab assignment shortly. … Roberto Perez was scratched from Wednesday’s lineup due to back spasms. … The Blue Jays placed Joakim Soria on the 10-day IL with right middle finger inflammation. … Matt Harvey was pulled from Wednesday’s start against the Yankees due to a knee injury. The Orioles are hopeful that he’ll be able to make his next start. … Eli White was scratched from the Rangers lineup due to right elbow tightness. He’ll undergo further evaluation. … Yuli Gurriel (neck) remained out of the Astros lineup. … Luis Arraez reached base five times in Wednesday’s loss to the Reds. … Matt Olson delivered a walk-off two-run double in the 10th inning as the A’s rallied to beat the Padres. … Enrique Hernandez homered, tripled and walked as the Red Sox topped the Tigers. … Jameson Taillon struck out 10 batters in a victory over the Orioles — the first time that he has done so since September of 2018. … Salvador Perez clubbed his 27th home run — matching his career-high — in a victory over the White Sox. … Oscar Mercado went 4-for-5 with a homer in a losing effort against the Blue Jays. … Steven Matz racked up eight strikeouts over six shutout innings in a victory over the Indians. … Kyle Tucker went 2-for-3 with a homer, walk, stolen base and three RBI in a loss to the Dodgers.

National League Quick Hits: The Dodgers signed 37-year-old southpaw Cole Hamels to a one-year, $1 million contract… Nick Castellanos (wrist) could rejoin the Reds as early as Thursday. … Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Wednesday that he’s unable to provide a timeline on Clayton Kershaw’s (forearm) potential return. … John Axford (elbow) has been shut down for the season after just one appearance in the big leagues due to a substantial injury. … Cardinals president John Mozeliak indicated that Jordan Hicks (elbow) could be used as a starter for the 2022 season. … The Mets placed closer Edwin Diaz on the paternity leave list. … Jack Flaherty (oblique) will make his third (and perhaps final) minor league rehab start on Friday… Jazz Chisholm was activated from the COVID-IL on Wednesday. … The Giants placed Anthony DeSclafani on the 10-day injured list with right shoulder fatigue. He’s only expected to miss one start. … Mike Yastrzemski was scratched from the Giants lineup due to right hamstring tightness. He’s considered day-to-day. … Josh VanMeter was scratched from the Diamondbacks lineup due to back spasms. … Luis Castillo fanned seven over six innings of one-run baseball in a victory over the Twins. … Filling in for Josh Hader (COVID-IL), Devin Williams recorded his first career save. … Freddy Peralta fanned nine over six innings of two-run baseball to beat the Pirates. … Bryce Harper remained hot, going 3-for-5 with a double and two RBI in a victory over the Nationals. … Rhys Hoskins homered, doubled and drove in three runs during that one. … Nolan Arenado clubbed a three-run homer in a loss to the Braves. … Dansby Swanson went 4-for-4 and scored three runs as the Braves topped the Cardinals. … Carlos Carrasco struck out five and allowed two runs over 4 1/3 innings against the Marlins. … Javier Baez swatted a go-ahead solo homer off of Anthony Bass in the eighth inning to sink the Marlins. … Patrick Wisdom went 3-for-4 with a double and three RBI as the Cubs topped the Rockies. … Tommy La Stella went 2-for-2 with a pair of walks and a run scored in his return from the injured list.