Mookie Betts (OF-BOS) Betts went 3 for 4 with 2 triples, 2 runs, 2 RBIs and a walk. He stuffed the boxscore again and is truly having one of the most remarkable first halves in recent memory as he improved his slash line to .357/.445/.697 with 23 HR, 49 RBI and 16 steals. Friday's effort bumped his hitting streak up to 11 games - 7 of which have been multi-hit performances including the last 5. Any way you slice his numbers it's hard to find anyone playing better - his O-Swing % of 18.3% is tops in the AL, as is evidenced by the fact he has more walks (44) than strikeouts (41). Provided he can stay healthy, it appears as though he is on his way to an MVP season.
Nathan Eovaldi (SP-TB) Eovaldi got shelled Friday night allowing 8 earned on 9 hits in 2 and 2/3 innings. He struck out 1. This was quite the disastrous outing for Eovaldi who gave up 4 runs in the first and was yanked after allowing 4 more in the 3rd inning. The outing bloated Eovaldi's ERA to 4.59 ERA but he still holds a great 0.98 WHIP. Entering the day, he was carrying career bests in BB/9 (1.1) and K/9 (8.2). Eovaldi is utilizing his cutter at a career high rate of 26.1% leading to him posting an elite 36.9% swing rate on pitches outside of the zone, a number that rates 1st in the American League for starting pitchers who have thrown more than 40 pitches. Granted Eovaldi only has 9 starts to his name in 2018 but the results thus far have been promising and owners may be able to look past the dud Friday. He should slot in for his next start sometime vs the Marlins the weekend following the All-Star Break.
Jonathan Schoop (2B-BAL) Schoop went 2 for 5 Friday. It was a nice effort from Schoop who snapped a 9-game hitting streak Thursday. By most standards Schoop has had a down year across the board but has turned it around thus far in July hitting .378 with 8 extra base hits. Digging into the numbers a little deeper, Schoop has a substantially lower batting average on fly balls (.229 in 2018 vs .293 in 2017) and ground balls (.174 in 2018 and .279 in 2018) which go along with a troubling .235 BABIP. To explain this, Schoop's Hard Hit % has dropped about 10 points from last season (36.1% to 26.2%) which could signify he's just not getting enough on the ball to get the grounders through the infield and the fly balls into the gaps for extra bases. The July hot start is encouraging and July was also his best month hitting wise last season as well (.343 9 home runs, 21 RBIs).
Daniel Mengden (SP-OAK) Mengden made a rehab start for AAA Nashville during the second game of their doubleheader Friday night, tossing 4 innings allowing 4 runs on 5 hits while striking out 3. He cruised through 3 innings allowing just 1 hit before it all unraveled in the 4th. His last start in the bigs prior to a right ankle sprain was June 23 and at his point he figures to line up to start one of Oakland's first few games following the All-Star Break. Prior to the injury, Mengden struggled mightily in June failing to finish 6 innings in any start and posting an ugly 11.57 ERA. On the flip side he looked unhittable at times in May, finishing the Month with a 1.51 ERA and only allowed 27 hits over 41 and 2/3 innings pitched. With a fastball topping out in the low 90s, Mengden sports a low K/9 (5.46) but has used his 5-pitch repertoire to pitch deep into game this season, accumulating innings and wins when the Oakland offense can back him.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr (2B/SS-TOR) Gurriel Jr. went 2 for 5 with a run scored and an RBI. He was also hit by a pitch. He has been a much better hitter since his third stint with the Blue Jays, as he entered play hitting .310 for the month of July and overall has raised his batting average 31 points thanks to 3 multi hits games in a row. Despite a great hit skill Gurriel Jr. still has a long way to go - his plate discipline woes have continued even through this call up as he has not drawn a walk in the 9 games he has played in and overall boosts a very poor 1.9% BB% to go along with a 21.4% K rate. His infield versatility could keep him up, but he most likely will need to improve his pitch selection at least a little bit to hold onto a spot.
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