Before we look at some of the hot performers from the past couple days, let's take a moment to appreciate a couple guys who've done nothing for months on end now.
Why? Well, because they're expected back Wednesday after recovering from their injuries -- in d'Arnaud's case, a torn thumb ligament, and in Longoria's case, a sprained shoulder -- and, also, because they've been out for so long that you may have forgotten what they bring to the table.
True, d'Arnaud's 2021 numbers are downright awful, but we're talking just a 23-game sample. Last year, he emerged as one of the studs at a position of duds, batting .321 with a .919 OPS, and while it's possible those numbers were themselves skewed by a small sample, he was fairly productive in 2019 as well. As few quality catchers as there are to go around, d'Arnaud seems like a reasonable dice throw.
Then there's Longoria, who was having a resurgent season at age 35. His expected stats, according to Statcast, are even better than his actual ones, thanks in large part to an average exit velocity and hard-hit rate that would both lead the league if he had enough batted-ball events to qualify. He had caught fire just before going down, too, homering five times in his last 12 games. His 2.92 Head-to-Head points per game this season rank right in between Austin Riley's 2.95 and Eduardo Escobar's 2.92.
Here's who else is making a case to be added ...
- We rank Anthony Santander, Rafael Ortega and Lorenzo Cain, and fire up the Dropometer for Matt Chapman, Casey Mize and Michael Conforto on the Fantasy Baseball Today in 5 podcast. You can follow us to get the latest episodes on Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.
BAL Baltimore • #25 • Age: 26
Perhaps you remember Anthony Santander parking 11 balls in the bleachers in just 37 games last year thanks in part to some extreme fly-ball tendencies. His BABIP suffered as a result, but the key to his success was him striking out just 15.2 percent of the time -- a mark he's been unable to repeat this year. But maybe that's changing? He's batting .429 so far in August, striking out just three times in 29 plate appearances. And here come the home runs: He has three in his past two games. It's too early to declare anything, but this is what success for him would look like.
CLE Cleveland • #24 • Age: 24
This performance marks two quality starts in a row for Triston McKenzie, who had alternated between good and bad in his first five turns back from the minors. You'd like to see more consistency, certainly, but the control is much improved overall. He has averaged 1.9 BB/9 in his six starts since returning compared to 8.3 BB/9 in 11 appearances before being sent down. We know the talent is considerable -- he showed it last year with a 3.24 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and 11.3 K/9 in eight appearances -- so now that he's not shooting himself in the foot, we can hope he's about to take off.
CHC Chi. Cubs • #66 • Age: 30
Rafael Ortega is a 30-year-old career minor-leaguer who's only getting the chances he is because the Cubs took a wrecking ball to their lineup at the trade deadline. But with a combined four hits in a doubleheader Tuesday, his numbers are looking pretty studly over not such a small sample of at-bats. He did find his power stroke for the first time in 2019 after showing he could hit for average and run a little earlier in his minor-league career. The expected stats look great, and he's batting leadoff more often than not. Time to take a flier, I'd say.
Alex Colome RP
MIN Minnesota • #48 • Age: 32
Alex Colome, who you may remember was intended to be the closer at the start of the year, has now secured each of the Twins' last four saves, adding another to the tally Tuesday. And since they've all come in the span of eight days, he's looking like the closer to have off the waiver wire right now. But his ratios are still dreadful and haven't improved much in the months since he lost his job. Also noteworthy is that such regular save chances are highly irregular for a Twins team that has checked out for this year. Saves are saves and all, but I'd personally opt for the Diamondbacks' Tyler Clippard or the Marlins' Dylan Floro over Colome.
Lorenzo Cain CF
MIL Milwaukee • #6 • Age: 35
It hasn't shown up in the stat line yet, but at age 35, Lorenzo Cain still looks pretty much like Lorenzo Cain. His 17 percent strikeout rate is in line with career norms, which usually has him flirting with a .300 batting average, and he already has three stolen bases in 11 games since returning from the IL, which wasn't a given for a player his age coming back from a leg injury. He's still getting to play most every day in a crowded Brewers outfield, too, so in the end, I expect the hitting stats to measure up. His home run Tuesday was a positive sign.