Javier Baez (2B/SS-CHC) Baez went 2-3 with a Triple, Home run, walk and 2 runs scored Friday afternoon. The walk was a bonus for Baez who he rarely walks (3.8%) but is still putting up MVP like numbers for the Cubs. The free-swinging Baez still has a 24% K rate, but this is much more palpable then his 41.5% K rate he posted as a rookie back in 2014. Despite the lower strikeout rate, Baez is still swinging at a career high and NL leading 48.7% pitches outside of the zone but his O-contact% has fortunately risen 6% since this year to 58.4%. It is hard to nitpick at his batting approach as he has produced 29 doubles, 7 triples, 23 home runs and an NL leading 84 RBIs. In addition, he is 1 steal away from his first career 20-20 season. Overall, he sports an impressive .299/.333/.580 slash line on the season.
Anibal Sanchez (SP-ATL) Sanchez tossed 6 strong innings Friday allowing just 1 run on 2 hits while striking out 9. Coming off his last 2 starts where he allowed 7 ER over 12 IP, it was good to see the dominant outing from Sanchez who had impressed with a 2.89 ERA and 1.06 WHIP to go along with a 8.54 K/9. a 3.98 fip and 4.09 xfip show that he has maybe has been getting off a bit lucky, and a .249 BABIP has been a large factor in the low run totals. One big reason for Sanchez's success in 2018 may be a change in pitch usage. He has upped his cutter usage to 20% - a 12% increase over last season and has baffled hitters with it - opposing batters are hitting just .149 against it. In addition, batters are hitting .179 vs his changeup which he is throwing almost 4% more this season than last. If Sanchez continues to mix and match his 6 pitches, he may continue to be the veteran presence the Braves need for their playoff push.
Trevor Richards (SP-MIA) Richard pitched 5 innings Friday, allowing 1 ER on 4 hits while walking 2 and striking out 7. Richards is coming off of a trio of absolutely dominant starts where he has allowed just 10 hits and 1 run over his past 18 and 2/3 innings while striking out a batter per inning. Other an elevated pitch count of 101 Fridays start was no exception. The 25-year-old has done a great job of keeping the ball in the park sporting a .60 HR/9 and has allowed just 2 home runs in 51 and 2/3 innings of work in June and July. Richards has been particularly effective vs lefties, limiting them to a .191 batting average against and .282 SLG%. While Richards has baffled hitters to the tune of a .162 average on his changeup he hasn't been able to fool anyone with his curveball where he has been taken deep twice and opponents are clobbering it to the tune of a .394 clip. Overall Richards has a 3-6 record with a 3.92 ERA and 1.39 WHIP which he will take into his next projected start August 8th vs the Cardinals.
Starling Marte (OF-PIT) Marte went 3 for 5 with a 2B and 2 runs Friday night. Marte entered the game in a 3-16 slump over the past week, so the multi hit performance was nice to see. Otherwise, Marte has been tearing the cover off the ball over the past 30 days hitting .356 with a 1.035 OPS, 7 HR, 20 RBIs and 7 steals. Many people may have simply written Marte off following his 80-game suspension last year but he really does have the perfect blend of speed and power - sporting a .202 ISO, .489 SLG%, 37 extra base hits and 25 stolen bases. While he doesn't draw many walks (5.9 BB%) he does make contact on a solid 87.6% of pitches he swings at in the zone as he continues to push towards his 2016 career high batting average of .311.
Kyle Wright (SP-ATL/AAA) Wright tossed 5 and 2/3 innings of no hit baseball in his debut at AAA Gwinnett Friday, striking out 5. Wright, a top prospect in the Braves system had one of the stranger game lines you will see as he actually allowed 2 runs in the 6th inning due to 4 walks and 3 wild pitches. Wright wasn't completely overpowering at AA prior to his promotion, going 6-8 with a 3.70 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 8.64 K/9 and 3.54 BB/9 - but he did limit home runs allowing a .49 HR/9. That being said, the 2017 5th overall pick has ripped through the Braves system to get to AAA, but most likely will stay there for a while as there are already a surplus of other good, young arms around.
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