Need another reason to be jealous of the Yankees? They're now one of those teams that strikes gold even when shopping the bargain bin.
We're talking several times over, this year alone.
They were totally in-your-face about it, too, Thursday against the Blue Jays. Gio Urshela, once a slap-hitting defensive specialist for the Indians, hit two home runs for a second straight game. Mike Tauchman, once a Quadruple-A player in the Rockies organization, homered for the fourth time in four games and the sixth time since entering the lineup on a mostly everyday basis July 18. His batting average during that stint: .415 (27 for 65).
And don't even get me started on Cameron Maybin.
The bottom line is these players can play. The advanced stats support what Urshela is doing entirely. He has always had a high contact rate, but the 27-year-old has rejiggered his swing to make it one of the most perfectly tailored for batting average -- we're talking a high line-drive rate, hard contact and an up-the-middle approach -- which explains why is xBA (.312) is among the top 10 in baseball.
By virtue of being labeled a Quadruple-A player, the 28-year-old Tauchman was obviously putting up numbers in the minors, and his plus batting eye and above-average power are translating with more regular opportunities. The advanced stats aren't quite as bullish on him, in part because of a subpar strikeout rate, but it's worth noting that number has improved considerably with his move into the starting lineup.
Both have been known to sit against same-handed pitchers on occasion (Urshela against righties and Tauchman against lefties), but that's a trend that will end if they continue to mash. Each actually has better numbers against same-handed pitchers, and manager Aaron Boone is doing his lineup a disservice when he plays it by the book.
If I'm putting these two to the add-o-meter and ranking their "addability" on a 1-10 scale, I'd consider Urshela about an 8 and Tauchman a 5. And there's a legitimate chance the former is an out-and-out stud the rest of the way.
BOS Boston • #44 • Age: 32
The jig is up. The days of Alex Cora faking us out with every save opportunity are over. Brandon Workman is the winner by default. Nathan Eovaldi hasn't gotten it together. Matt Barnes has faded to a lower-leverage role. Ryan Brasier got sent to the minors. Workman is the last man standing, which is why he's now responsible for four of the Red Sox's past five saves, picking up another Thursday. The only one he didn't record during that stretch was when he was attempting to go two innings and couldn't quite make it, getting bailed out for the final out. So yeah, he's the guy.
Mitch Keller SP
PIT Pittsburgh • #23 • Age: 25
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Thursday that Mitch Keller, the Pirates top pitching prospect, is back on his way to the bigs, expected to re-enter the starting rotation next week. And while his previous stint was less than successful, resulting in a 10.50 ERA, he did appear much more composed in the third of those three starts. His return trip to the minors had its ups and downs -- most recently, he struck out 12 while allowing four earned runs over six innings -- but for as hitter-friendly as all of Triple-A has become with the introduction of a juiced ball, his overall numbers are pretty impressive. The way this year has gone, you don't turn down an upside pitcher when you have a shot at one.
Dustin May SP
LAD L.A. Dodgers • #85 • Age: 23
Speaking of ... Dustin May looks like he's here to stay. Ross Stripling isn't any closer to returning from a stiff neck, and Tony Gonsolin, who looked brilliant in a spot start Monday, got sent back down. May turned in his own brilliant start Wednesday, showing some strikeout potential with that cutter of his. Though his fastball peaks at 98 mph, he'll succeed mostly by keeping the ball on the ground. It's an atypical skill set in a league that no longer allows for a diversity of skill, but his pedigree and the Dodgers' enthusiasm both suggest you should roll the dice on him.
CIN Cincinnati • #44 • Age: 27
The Punisher, as Aristides Aquino has come to be known, homered for the third time in seven games with the big club Thursday, giving him an incredible 31 homers in 85 games between the majors and minors this year. Adopting a wide-open, Tony Batista-like stance in which he's basically facing the starting pitcher straight on has helped him tap into his considerable power this year, and with the departure of Yasiel Puig, the Reds are committed to giving him as many looks as he can handle in right field, starting him in six of the past seven games.
Jason Kipnis 2B
ATL Atlanta • #22 • Age: 34
Remember back in mid-June when Jason Kipnis busted out of a 2 1/2-year slump while saying he had "found something with [his] hands." Well, apparently, he really had. With two more doubles Thursday, he's batting .323 (52 for 161) with nine homers, 10 doubles and about a .950 OPS since June 16. He's a top-10 second baseman in Head-to-Head points leagues during that stretch. How many Fantasy players actually need a second baseman is fair to wonder, but here's one with a studly past who has figured out how to tap into it again. Don't overlook him if you find yourself with an opening.
MIA Miami • #57 • Age: 26
Elieser Hernandez excelled as a starter back in June, so his return to the rotation in late July was a welcome development for Fantasy players. His first two times out didn't go so great, but he excelled Thursday against a powerful Braves lineup, recording seven strikeouts on 13 swinging strikes. He was mostly fastball-slider, having yet to reintegrate the changeup that rounded out his arsenal during his earlier starting stint -- something he may eventually need to do. Still, given his numbers in nine starts for Triple-A New Orleans of the impossibly hitter-friendly PCL (a 1.13 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 12.9 K/9), his progress is something to monitor. Having relief pitcher eligibility helps.