Welcome back! The MLB trade deadline is heating up with the Angels making the first major splash and pushing their chips into the middle of the table for Shohei Ohtani. If Thursday's action was any indicator, Ohtani is ready to put the team on his back even more than he already had.
In the first game of a doubleheader against the Tigers, Ohtani tossed the first complete game and shutout of his career, allowing just one hit and striking out eight batters. He showcased his impressive arsenal, with his fastball and sweeper accounting for the majority of his pitches. Ohtani's pitching form has been remarkable, with a 3.43 ERA and 1.07 WHIP, while he also stands at 38 home runs with a batting average of .298 and 12 stolen bases. He's the premier player in Fantasy Baseball right now and he's the most exciting player to watch as a baseball fan, too.
We'll touch on some other big happenings from Thursday's action and then preview what's ahead in Week 19.
Let's dive right in.
Pitchers to keep an eye on
As we discuss pitchers who are making their marks, Justin Steele has to make the list. In 10 of 19 starts this season, he has allowed one earned run or fewer. His most recent outing against the Cardinals saw him go for six innings, giving up just one earned run while striking out four. Steele's fastball and slider combination have been impressive, and he has managed to improve his walk rate and limit hard contact. With a 2.87 ERA and 1.12 WHIP, he's proving to be a valuable asset in Fantasy Baseball.
Tanner Bibee is another pitcher on a roll. He has kept his opponents to three earned runs or fewer in seven consecutive starts. In his latest appearance against CWS, Bibee pitched for 6 2/3 innings and struck out six. His four-pitch repertoire has been impressive, featuring a four-seam, slider, changeup, and curve. With a 3.11 ERA and 1.19 WHIP, Bibee is proving to be a potential waiver wire savior.
Kodai Senga is also putting together strong performances, especially in his recent outing against the Nationals on Thursday. He pitched for six innings, allowing just one earned run and striking out five. Senga's use of the cutter has been effective, contributing to his impressive results. With a 3.17 ERA and 1.24 WHIP, he's returning more value than expected given his draft cost.
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Week 19 preview
Lars Nootbaar: From Scott: "Nootbaar has had a big month of July so far, batting right around .300 with his usual high OBP and four home runs. Having just one lefty on the schedule should help him continue to perform his best, and he closes out the week with three games against the Rockies staff."
T.J. Friedl: From Scott: "Friedl is enduring one of his coldest stretches of the season but seems like a solid bet to bounce back with the second-best hitter matchups this week. He doesn't start against every lefty, but there's a good chance the Reds stick with him against ones like Drew Smyly and Patrick Corbin."
Ranger Suarez: From Scott: "Suarez has taken some lumps recently, but his ground-ball tendencies still give him a higher floor than most of what you'll find on the waiver wire this time of year. He also happens to have two great matchups, at the Marlins and against the Royals."
Kyle Gibson: From Scott: "Gibson has had some strong starts of late, collecting whiffs at a nice rate with his sweeper. His matchups at the Blue Jays and against the Mets might seem dangerous at first glance, but they're both middle-of-the-road offenses statistically."
News and notes
- Shohei Ohtani exited Thursday due to cramping. It's hot out there and this man was working overtime!
- Lucas Giolito is scheduled to make his Angels debut Friday in Toronto. Any thoughts on the move?
- We had a trade! David Robertson to the Marlins for Marco Vargas and Ronald Hernandez.
- Zach Eflin could potentially make his next scheduled start Tuesday against the Yankees after an MRI on his left knee didn't show anything overly concerning.
- Tommy Edman is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment Saturday. He's been out since July 7 with right wrist soreness.
- Mets manager Buck Showalter said that Starling Marte is still dealing with migraines. He may seek out a second opinion in the near future.
- Esteury Ruiz participated in batting practice and throwing Thursday and will begin a rehab assignment at Triple-A Friday.
- Willson Contreras was hit in the back of the head by Ian Happ's back swing in the first inning Thursday and exited immediately. Latest update says he's expected to be in the lineup Friday.
- Miles Mikolas was ejected for throwing at Ian Happ on consecutive pitches after he hit Contreras with that back swing.
- Ryan Helsley will throw another bullpen session Saturday. He's not eligible to return until mid August.
- Mason Miller threw a 20-pitch bullpen session Wednesday. He'll complete at least one more bullpen session before throwing live batting practice. Looking to stash Miller? 31% rostered
- Noah Syndergaard is scheduled to start for the Guardians on Monday in Houston. He was acquired in the Amed Rosario trade.