Sandy Alcantara (SP-MIA) Alcantara was brilliant again Thursday, limiting the Mets to 2 ER on 2 hits over 7 IP, striking out 6. The only blemish he allowed was a home run to opposing pitcher Steven Matz. Alcantara has picked up wins in 2 of his first 3 career starts despite walking 10 and striking out 14 over just 19 innings. Other than not putting up a strong BB:K ratio, Alcantara had demonstrated other strong qualities in his first several starts - limiting opponents to a .133 AVG, inducing groundballs at a 51.6% and keeping those that did reach base from scoring by having a 93.3% LOB rate. He pitched very close to those ratios Thursday as well, as he was able to induce 9 groundballs but did walk 3 more batters. The 23-year old should see a few more starts in September for the Marlins, with an eye on winning a start in the Marlins rotation in 2019.
Charlie Blackmon (OF-COL) Blackmon received Thursday afternoon off but delivered a pinch-hit 2-run single to help extend the Rockies lead in the 7th inning. In what has been a down year for Blackmon, his September resurgence couldn't have come at a better time. He has 5-multi hit games in the month and has scored 11 runs while driving in 6. Blackmon is in a long stretch of home games at Coors field which seems to be helping fuel the hot streak, and his 2018 splits (.336 AVG at home vs .239 on the road) are drastically worse than his career marks (.345 at home, .260 on the road). Despite what appears to be a downtick in offensive production, including an OPS that is down nearly 150 points from last year (.845) Blackmon still is a top tier player and fantasy weapon, as evidenced by his 57 extra base hits, 12 steals and NL leading 111 runs scored. With the Rockies battling for an NL West crown, barring injury, this should be the last day Blackmon receives off heading into the home stretch.
Seth Lugo (RP-NYM) Lugo earned a hold tossing 2 shutout innings and striking out 5 in Game 2 of Thursday's doubleheader. Lugo has fared quite well in 2018 since his transition to being used as a reliever (45 of his 50 appearances have been out of the pen). Overall Lugo's numbers are slightly better than 2017 when he was mostly a full-time starter, as he has increased his K rate to 8.91 K/9 and decreased his HR/9 to 0.85. Lugo has benefitted from a big decrease in BABIP (.325 to .266) and a steep decline in opponent's batting average (.279 to .214). One reason for this is Lugo has utilized his curveball much more in 2018 (17% usage in 2017 vs 31.9% in 2018) and he has baffled hitters with it, as opponents are hitting .177 this year vs it compared to the .291 clip he allowed vs it last year. It seems this change in pitch usage, coupled with the addition of a few additional mph on his fastball (91.1 mph avg last year vs 93.8 mph in 2018) have made Lugo a valuable bullpen arm for the Mets and fantasy owners.
Kyle Freeland (SP-COL) Freeland tossed 6 and 1/3 innings Thursday afternoon, allowing 3 ER on 4 hits while striking out 6; he also went 2-3 with a double at the plate. Freeland cruised through 6 innings allowing just a solo HR but allowed several baserunners in the 7th and was eventually pulled. Freeland has been the anchor of the Rockies staff this year and has found a way to be brilliant at home in Coors field, pitching to the tune of a 2.21 ERA over 81 and 1/3 innings at the leagues toughest park to pitch in. Freeland has improved his K/9 significantly since last year, bumping it all the way up to 7.81 from 6.17, while lowering his BB/9 (3.63 to 3.22). One reason for the improvement on last year is Freeland has been utilizing his off-speed pitches much more this year, which has kept hitters guessing more than last year. He dropped his fastball % (63.9% to 51.7%) while more than doubling the usage of his changeup (7.1% to 14.7%). Overall Freeland will take his 15-7 record, 2.96 ERA and 1.22 WHIP into his next start vs Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers next Tuesday.
Peter O'Brien (1B-MIA) O'Brien started both games of the Marlins DH, going 2 for 3 with a home run and 2 RBIs in game 1 and went 0 for 3 with a walk in game 2. A September callup, O'Brien who had gone 1-11 over the past 9 days since his callup showcased some of his legit power in this one. O'Brien has exhibited massive power at every stop across the minor leagues, including a combined 30 home runs across stops in the Dodgers and Marlins Farm System in 2018. Other than the power there isn't much to O'Brien's game as he hit just .216 in the minors in 2018 and slashed .141/.179/.391 with a massive 40.3% K rate during a 28-game stint with the Diamondbacks in 2016. The power makes for an intriguing late season add but expect lots of swings-and-misses.
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