Anthony Rizzo went 4-for-5 with a homer, three runs and three RBIs vs. the Phillies on Thursday. After jacking a monster three-run homer off the right-field scoreboard on Wednesday, Rizzo was at it again on Thursday with his first four-hit game of the season, raising his average from .258 to .274 while clubbing his 13th homer. After a slow start to the season, Rizzo has been on a roll over the past month with 10 homers, 26 RBIs and a .330 batting average in his last 24 games. It's still early, but the 29-year-old is on pace for his fifth straight season of at least 25 homers and 100 RBIs.
Stephen Strasburg settled for a no-decision Thursday after allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits and two walks with five strikeouts over seven innings against the Mets. Strasburg didn't allow a run until the fifth inning and threw 64 of his 101 pitches for strikes, but Washington's offense let him down by scoring only one run while he was in the game. The strong outing still lowered his ERA to 3.25, however, as he continues to round into form after posting a 5.56 ERA through his first four starts. He's now allowed two earned runs or less in six of his last seven starts and appears to have put his early struggles behind him.
Josh Bell continued his ridiculous hot stretch Thursday by going 3-for-4 with a double, a homer, three runs, two RBIs and a walk vs. the Rockies. Bell fell a triple shy of the cycle while cracking his 16th homer of the year, 10 of which have come in his last 18 games. He's tallied 25 of his MLB-leading 47 RBIs during that stretch as well while hitting .423. The 26-year-old is clearly on his way to a monster season and needs to be started in all formats.
Aaron Nola walked away with the win Thursday after allowing three runs on four hits and four walks with six strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings against the Cubs. Nola improved to 5-0 despite seeing his ERA rise to 4.53 -- although that's still a considerable improvement over his 6.84 ERA at this time last month. Nola has now yielded three runs or less in seven consecutive starts, although his typically strong command has been spotty this year. His 3.9 BB/9 rate and 1.4 HR/9 rate are both the worst of his career, which explains why his ERA is nearly double last year's 2.37 mark. His 10.3 K/9 rate is also the highest of his career, however, suggesting he may be able to turn it around.
Steven Matz did not get a decision Thursday after yielding just one run to the Nationals over six innings despite allowing 10 hits -- four of which went for extra bases. He also walked two and struck out seven, lowering his ERA to 3.63 in the process. The lefty pounded the zone with 64 of his 88 pitches going for strikes, so it's not surprising that he gave up more than a few hits. He was able to keep the ball in the yard after surrendering nine homers in his first eight starts of the season, which appears to be a troubling trend based on his 1/5 HR/9 rate from 2017 and '18 combined. While still effective, he carries added fantasy risk every time he takes the mound, especially in more homer-friendly environments.
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